“If you would have asked me two years ago if I was going to quit consulting and focus exclusively on educational content and building a community, I would have thought we were living in an alternative universe.”
This is what I said on a podcast recently when reminiscing on our journey towards building the Sohuis brand. Sohuis has always meant more to me than being an outlet for my own entrepreneurial journey and creativity. What started out as just an idea I had while my husband and I were on our way to breakfast and I was nursing my (then, 5 month old) daughter in the backseat of our car – has transformed into something much greater and more meaningful than its original intent.
I created Sohuis because I hated pumping on the floor, under my desk, in my office at work. I created Sohuis because I quickly figured out that our society is not kind, and most of the time, unsupportive, of working mothers – much less mothers in executive-level positions. “Society expects us to work as if we don’t raise children, and raise children as if we don’t work,” and that saying hit home for me hard that Saturday morning on our way to breakfast.
I created Sohuis to change the dynamic between my personal and professional life – to work on projects that I deeply cared about, and to have the freedom to merge my new identify with my former one. My journey to entrepreneurship has been a twisting, interesting endeavor, and I’m beyond grateful that its lead me on this path.
Helping women amplify their stories with branding and marketing education
While a lot of my former work involved larger brands and global teams, I have always maintained deep, rooted love for supporting women. Being raised by a single mom and having grown up in that dynamic, I have been inspired by so many women in my youth, I feel like it’s a part of my DNA.
I set out in the fall of 2018 to test the validity of a concept that was initially sparked in me from Danielle Leslie, a well-known course creator who’s made millions teaching others how to productize their knowledge and create life-altering online courses. Prior to this, I had never created a course in my life. I loved teaching, and I was constantly asked to host workshops and share my unique frameworks with others, so naturally, an online course was an expected (yet surprising) next step branching off of workshops I was already doing. The biggest difference though, was that I was going to unapologetically create educational content to exclusively help female founders tell their unique brand stories.
With the knowledge acquired through all my years of implementing successful brand strategies, I knew that the magic of branding lied in a founder’s ability to speak her vision, deeply understand her customer, and uniquely serve the needs of that customer in her special way. Once I validated my flagship program, the Sohuis StartupBlueprint, I launched my first beta program that had over 100 registrants with 24% of them actually completing the beta.
It wasn’t all unicorns and rainbows after that though. From there, it actually got a lot harder.
After a successful beta, it came to fruition that the program was way too long and required too much commitment from my ideal customer. And then, after several successful mini-cohorts, I was commonly presented with the question of, “now what?” Our conversations went a lot like this…
“Thank you so much, I loved the program it was a game-changer for my business, what can/should I do next?!”
And here I was….
With the exception of 1:1 consulting, which was not a model I wanted to rebuild after having consulted for the past 7 years, I quickly noticed that Sohuis was ill-equipped to continue to serve the diverse needs of our founders. The Sohuis StartupBlueprint Program gave them everything they needed to know about rethinking failure, iterative growth, brand vision, mission, values, and they left having a clear focus on their ideal customers. They received the fundamentals needed to get started, but now they wanted to put those concepts into action – they wanted to grow.
Community, tools, strategy, accountability
Luckily, we are not the first to build a digital community. Brands like Girlboss, Create & Cultivate, Yellow.Co, Hey Mama – and countless others – have paved the way for us and allowed us to follow in their footsteps. While some would say those communities are our ‘competitors,’ I would disagree.
These brands serve the needs of their female-driven communities by covering a broad spectrum of content related to working women. We, in a sense, do that too. However, Sohuis is special in that we are building a community to empower early-stage founders with marketing and branding-focused tools, resources, and education to help them grow their business. Marketing is reported as the #2 challenge all female founders face, with funding and access to capital being the #1 challenge. We want to break down the complicated nature of marketing and cut through the noise that makes it almost impossible for ‘non-marketers’ to keep up with.
Marketing and Branding have become a complicated (dare I say, terrifying) experience for most entrepreneurs. The women who come through our programs are smart, resilient, brilliant entrepreneurs with incredible ideas – and yet, they’re caught in this endless fear cycle of not knowing how to brand their business in a way that’s meaningful and authentic to them, while also being relevant to their audience.
Our community is set out to change this. We are going to provide the tools, principles, best practices, resources, templates, and education female founders need to break through these barriers – and we’re going to do it at an affordable price.
Our membership is $29/month and includes the following member benefits:
- Weekly branding and marketing strategy hour: This serves to provide our founders with consistent access to marketing-focused topics, and gives them a platform to receive answers to their specific challenges
- Exclusive access to the Sohuis Vault: This is our entire library of marketing and branding courses and on-demand trainings that cover a wide-array of marketing topics. We also plan to add new trainings and courses on a monthly basis so that our founders can dive deep in to particular subjects.
- Access to mentors: If there’s one thing I’ve done right over the past 7 years, it was connecting with incredible women from all walks of life and entrepreneurial paths. I’m very proud of the network I’ve built, and they are ready to give back, mentor, and pass the ladder down to those who are climbing up.
- Private community: Like other communties, we thought it was critical for our founders to have easy-access to each other. Slack provides us a way to authentically connect with one another, share resources, celebrate wins, and push each other forward.
- Encouragement, accountability, celebrations: The way I see it is, we are their girl-squad – the Sunny to their Cher, the peanut butter to their jelly. We’re here to encourage them, hold them accountable to their goals and celebrate every win along the way.
With future partnerships and collaborations that are in the early stages at the moment, we have the capacity to offer more and bring that much more value to our founders’ membership experience.
So, if you’re a female founder who’s looking to build this ship at sea with us and benefit from the education and accountability we can provide, then I encourage you to join as a founding member! If you’re a potential partner who would want to help us succeed with our noble cause, please contact me at [email protected].
Thank you for being here and watching our journey unfold – and cheers to more women building brands, businesses, and creating opportunity for themselves and others.
AUTHOR, JESSICA KORTHUIS
Jessica is the founder of Sohuis and creator of the Sohuis StartupBluprint, a online accelerator designed to help female founders define, distinguish and differentiate their brand in 30 days or less. She has a passion for writing and educating and an obsession with teaching others how to bring their brands to life.
Jessica has been featured by Girlboss, the Lean Startup Company, is a 40 Under 40 Award recipient and has been listed as a “Woman to Watch in 2019 and Beyond” by the national publication, Biz Journals. She is a contributing writer to Girl CEO Inc., proud mompreneur, and to keep up with her super inspiring and fun content, follow her on Instagram @jessica_korthuis.