Meet Leslie Bailey, co-founder, and CEO of Indy Maven – a platform that provides content and community for like-minded women in Central Indiana. While traditional media outlets have often ignored what women want, Indy Maven aims to inform, inspire, and delight women in the greater Indianapolis area. Since its establishment in 2019, Indy Maven serves as women’s most trusted lifestyle resource that was created by women, for women.
What drew you to becoming an entrepreneur?
Both of my parents were entrepreneurs. My mom was a hairstylist who ran a catering company for a period of time and my dad started a racing series. They both loved what they did and so I think I saw the ups and downs of running your own business and I felt like I knew what I was getting into. As a mother of two young children, I wanted to have autonomy and be in charge of my own flexible schedule, but also allow them to see me build something myself.
Why did you decide to start Indy Maven?
My co-founder Amanda Kingsbury and I felt that there was a gap in the local market when it came to women’s storytelling. There hasn’t been a media outlet that was dedicated to women in our community for a while and we knew there was a need so we decided to fill it.
What advice would you give to those thinking of starting their own business?
Go for it! You will NEVER know if it will be successful until you try. But also be mindful of what success looks like to you. How is it measured? Is it by money, notoriety, social media followers – you have to know in advance what goals you’re chasing and why. Surround yourself with people who know things that you don’t or are amazing at what they do. For example, Indy Maven wouldn’t run without our fabulous executive editor Abby Gardner. She knows this industry like the back of her hand.
Why do you feel it is important to be known as a local business?
Though many of our team members have lived other places we’ve all found ourselves back in Indy because we’re so passionate about this city. It’s important for us that people know that Indy has REALLY cool things going on and we’re honored and proud that the women in our city allow us to be a thriving local business that they trust to share their stories and connect them with one another.
What is the biggest challenge in your industry?
Education. Influencers, social media, and celebrities have all blurred the lines of transparency when it comes to paid content vs earned media (aka good old-fashioned journalism). It’s also a challenge to get some brands to understand how digital marketing and advertising work – what it is and what it isn’t. And, I can’t believe I have to say this, but why we should pay people for the work that they produce. Journalism is an important part of our society and it shocks me that some people think that the people behind the content they consume shouldn’t be compensated for their hard work and talent just like anyone else.
What new events or plans do you have in the near future?
Indy Maven’s first virtual conference will take place on Friday and Saturday, April 23 and 24th! The theme of the 2-day conference is “Pursue Your Passions” – we can’t wait to inspire the women of our city to follow their pursuits!
What is one fun fact about yourself or your business that people may not know about?
I was recently named to the first class of the Forbes Next 1000 list— a list of 1,000 entrepreneurs to watch in 2021 and on the same day, found out I’d been nominated for the Techpoint Mira Rising Entrepreneur award AND it was my birthday. It was an exciting week.
Anything else we should know?
It’s been part of our mission from day one that everyone who works for us is paid—no one works for us or writes for us “for exposure” including our interns. We believe in paying people, especially women, for their work.
Click here to explore and learn more about Leslie’s company, Indy Maven.
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