THE JILLS OF ALL TRADES™ Co-Founders, Megan Boswell and Corinne Neil recently joined James Kademan , host of the Authentic Business Adventures Podcast series for a rolicking and candid hour in the studio to share their start-up story, their decision to be female-focused despite lots of advice to do otherwise, and how a night out with the gals for a glass a wine can be rich ground to uncover your next business idea. READ MORE & LISTEN IN…
Thanks to Madison Startups for giving THE JILLS a shout-out. We so appreciate the support.
Madison Startups article, by Audrey Meis
Imagine yourself as a professional with talents that led you to a career of solo work. Now imagine yourself within a system of empowered entrepreneurs that are all searching for their next gig. This is exactly what Corinne Neil and Megan Boswell had in mind when they founded the Jills of All Trades.
With the trademarked term of “Work Solo-Not Silo,” the Jills of All Trades is a Madison-based network that launched in 2016. It showcases and supports the professional talents of individuals, particularly women, in a precise area of expertise, such as consulting, creative directing and independent contracting.
“Jills members recognize the power of aggregation to amplify the voice of women solo-entrepreneurs across the nation to lead the new project-based economy,” Neil said.
Working as an independent professional, Neil recognized that hunting for the next gig was a constant challenge.
Coming from the opposite side, Boswell realized how hard it was to find trusted, on-demand talent. During her corporate career, she ran into resource gaps that hindered team productivity when searching for freelancers.
Neil and Boswell, who met through their sons, shared the vision that there must be a solution to this two-sided issue, and from there, the Jills of All Trades was born.
Neil has a background in education and curriculum and content development, while Boswell has experience in marketing and design and launched her own consulting company three years ago. For the most part, company tasks are handled between the two of them, and they make sure to block days to work specifically on the Jills of All Trades.
”As we scale, the plan is to have a community manager as the ‘Jills Hub Leader’ in locations across the U.S.,” Neil said.
These Jills Hub Leaders will take on the “vetting” process of adding new members to the Jills website. Right now, becoming a Jill requires a check of references and portfolio. Men also have been featured on the site and are encouraged to join.
The Jills of All Trades website currently features just under 50 professionals. Their titles span from “Graphic Designer” to “Clinical Trial and Research Consultant.” Project seekers can browse profiles or create a posting for a job.
There is no middleman when potential customers reach out to contact a Jill. The company generates revenue through membership fees, and it also offers a fee-based service to help potential clients match directly with a specific Jill to meet the needs of the job.
With statistics on their side, Neil and Boswell see a bright future for the Jills of All Trades. Fifty-three million people in the United States are currently working as independent professionals, which is about 35 percent of the workforce. That number is expected to increase to 70 or 80 percent in the upcoming decades, according to Neil.
”Independent, project-based, contract-by-contract is the future of work,” Neil said. “And we think women are well poised to lead this new economy.”
ORIGINAL ARTICLE LINK:
May 11, 2017
About three years ago, Corinne Neil and Megan Boswell began talking about a trend they noticed: Women promote other women more than they promote themselves. They realized it was even true within their friendship.
“We realized we were bolstering one another, and learning from one another,” said Neil, a freelance curriculum developer. “And slowly, we wanted to expand that to other people.”
Neil and Boswell, a brand strategist who spent 12 years working for American Girl, decided to form a company they say harnesses that energy: Jills of All Trades, an online network where women working as freelancers can connect and mutually reinforce each others’ careers.
The idea is that “solo-preneurs” of any stripe — from web developers to fashion designers — can enjoy a “watercooler effect,” and stay on top of trends and best practices for freelancers. It’s also a platform where the “Jills,” as Neil and Boswell call them, can find work. The hope is that they’ll recommend each other and promote each other in their own networks and perhaps collaborate on projects.
“We believe that women will champion other women,” said Boswell.
The network is also a place where potential customers can look for a freelancer who meets their needs. In that regard, there is already some steep competition: The website Upwork is a well-established global platform for freelance gigs. But Neil and Boswell assert that Jills of All Trades puts the customer and the professional on a more even footing.
On Upwork, clients name the terms of what they’re looking for, and freelancers compete for jobs by outbidding one another. On Jills of All Trades, bidding is not part of the equation. The focus is on clients doing a bit more legwork to find the right person for the job.
People can search through the gallery of Jills, which currently features 37 entries, to find a freelancer.
“The talent shouldn’t be in the dark. The talent should be forward. They need to be in the spotlight,” said Boswell.
While the platform is designed with women in mind, men — “Jacks” — can also join.
Boswell and Neil say they want to keep expanding the network, and eventually bring on other people to serve as “gatekeepers” for Jills in hubs across the U.S. They’re also trying to build out features, like an option for paying clients through the website, and forums where members can chat.
The two pitched their company at the most recent 1 Million Cups presentation, a weekly event sponsored by the Kauffman Foundation that highlights young businesses in Madison.
ORIGNAL ARTICLE LINKS:
A special shout-out to BRAVA Magazine for featuring THE JILLS OF ALL TRADES™.
GIVING SOLO PROFESSIONALS PRESENCE
THE JILLS OF ALL TRADES
By Kate Bast | Photographed by Kaia Calhoun, Styled by Julie Mierkiewicz | Brava Magazine
Megan Boswell and Corinne Neil first met at a neighborhood meetup, and that was all it took for an idea to spark between them. The inspired duo launched their business and online platform called The Jills of All Trades to connect independent female professionals with each other and businesses on project-based work. They hope it will become a national, even international one-stop shop—“a powerhouse of online talent,” says Neil (right).
It fills a need, says Boswell (left), in this age of the shared economy, where companies are trying to figure out how to embrace workers who are less tethered to their jobs thanks to technology and a desire for greater flexibility, balance and different ways of collaborating and sharing resources.
The pair has worked in both the corporate and freelance worlds. Of the latter, they deeply know: “It’s hard,” says Neil, “to do the work while also hunting for the next job and trying to self-promote when you’re only one person.” The Jills’ platform removes that barrier, getting female contractors, freelancers and consultants out of those limited work silos and into a visible network with large-scale promotion power.
The Jills’ network is membership based. Boswell and Neil help each member curate her professional bragging rights, with bios, statements and headshots. Member Jills connect with each other at events and meetups, and have the benefits of a built-in peer network, for community, but also for potential collaboration on each other’s projects. Interested businesses connect directly with each Jill—there is no middle man, or woman—and Boswell and Neil also offer a fee-based connection curation service for clients.
The Jills’ broad talent pool includes creative types like designers and photographers, along with business strategists, attorneys, engineers and even postdoctoral scientists looking to market their expertise to the corporate world.
But it’s not just a job network. At its core, says Boswell, “It’s about women championing other women."
original article link: http://bravamagazine.com/giving-solo-professionals-presence/
SPRING CLEAN YOUR LIFE
CLEAR THE CLUTTER, PURGE WHAT HOLDS YOU BACK— AND THINK FRESH.
By Meg Rothstein | Illustrated by Stacey Anderson | BRAVA MAGAZINE
Thanks to Meg Rothstein for soliciting tips from the JILLS to feature in her article...
While we’re prepping our flower beds, opening our windows wide and chasing dust bunnies out the door, we can put the classic spring cleaning momentum to work in other areas of our lives. If we take the time to clear all the clutter—including the various things that fill our minds, take our time, deplete our energy and weigh us down—a good spring clean helps us live a little lighter in many ways.
“We are a consumerist culture that really values achieving, getting, accomplishing, accumulating,” observes UW Health psychologist Shilagh Mirgain. “Often, a reflection of success is how much ‘stuff’ we have, how many awards we’ve won, how many achievements we’ve racked up. Early in life, especially, many people spend a lot of energy really focused on that.”
It stands to reason, then, that we not only have a potential plethora of things but also deep emotional ties to things, whether actual physical possessions or more line items on our vita or resume. Additionally, we house the “stuff” of shame, such as disappointments or social connections that deprive us more than they nourish us.
“We can sometimes equate more with better. As well, things can tie us to our life’s history—those highlights, those things we’re proud of—but this can also be a trap we fall into,” says Mirgain. “All these ‘things’ take up space. Over time, they can no longer serve their purpose.”
The result? “We can become so cluttered—whether it’s having all these Facebook friends that we must keep up with, or business networking we must do, or even just physical items we have to dust in our homes or activities for our families that have us running ragged. We can, over time, become overwhelmed and disconnected from our deeper truths about who we are, what we stand for, what we value and wish to do with our lives,” Mirgain cautions.
But there is much hope—and ’tis the season to bloom. We can start by taking back control of all that stuff to make room for possibility—for those things, concepts, people and ways of being that can bring us nourishment, creativity, energy, serenity and wholeness.
How? We asked our BRAVA THRIVE Conference, THRIVE Career Workshop and THRIVE Luncheon speakers for their expert spring cleaning tips and tricks, for freshening up the way we work and live.
Going through the motions at work? Use spring as a reason to stop and think about how things could be better—and make a plan of action. This might take you all the way to a new career, or you could find that just a few tweaks will help you rekindle your passion at your current job. –Darcy Luoma, life, leadership and systems coach, Darcy Luoma Coaching and Consulting
Schedule a fresh professional headshot each year to keep up to date. Clean off your bulletin board to start a fresh mood inspiration visual each year and place your mood board prominently. Out with the old! –Megan Boswell, co-founder, THE JILLS OF ALL TRADES™
Design some notecards and commit to mailing handwritten notes of thanks or encouragement every single week. –Corinne Neil, co-founder, THE JILLS OF ALL TRADES™
Clean up electronic devices. Part of my nesting habit is to clear my desktop, organize folders, put up new professional pictures and change the background on email templates. It helps me feel renewed. –Amy Gannon, co-founder, Doyenne Group
Start to think of yourself like a business and carve out dedicated time to identify what you do, how you do it, who you’re helping, who helps you and how people know about you. It’s a great exercise in recognizing where you’re on track and where you might be off the rails. –Corinne Neil, co-founder, THE JILLS OF ALL TRADES™
Take stock of where you are in your career and ask yourself if you’re satisfied. If you are—awesome! If you’re not, visualize where you want to be, a deadline and what personal development investments you need to make to get there. Make a plan, take action and seek out a mentor or coach who can help you get there. –Lisa Peyton-Caire, assistant vice president of Life, Learning & Events at Summit Credit Union
Clean up your resume. What have you accomplished since your last update? What mission-critical projects have you completed ahead of schedule or under budget? Have you taken on any new leadership roles or improved your expertise through recent education? Get your resume job search ready. –Deborah Biddle, leadership and development coach, High-Performance Development Solutions
Pull out your calendar and starting making some dates. Schedule time for coffee at least once a month to build more personal connections with colleagues. –Corinne Neil, co-founder, THE JILLS OF ALL TRADES™
A focused professional surrounds herself with people who energize, support and inspire her to be her best self. But sometimes we’re affiliated with toxic co-workers or colleagues that don’t support our brand—our values, attitude and work ethic. Set your boundaries, role model the desired behavior and fuel your mind with thoughts that nurture, support and set you up for success. –Ellen Bartkowiak, career management expert, EllenCoaching
Every one of us has a distinct type of sparkle that sets us apart from the rest. Just like maintenance sealing is essential to preventing stains on your granite counter tops, you need healthy boundaries to save yourself from the inner tarnishing caused by unhealthy relationships. Boundaries are not selfish and do not cut us off from others. They create a special seal around our hearts and lives, making sure we have time for those who desire and deserve us. Remember, you chose the black diamond granite for its gorgeous twinkle. Give yourself the same attention: Boundaries needed to say “no” to those whose energies dull your shine. Take care, and self-care, to sparkle. –Jessica Schultz, therapist, lifestyle coach and founder, BeYOUtiful Minds & Fitness
We are a reflection of those we spend the most time with, so be sure to make time for and surround yourself with those people who make you the happiest, best version of yourself. –Darcy Luoma
Do as one of my friends does: Maintain internal bliss and simplicity with an occasional “friendship garage sale.”
With compassion, grace and wisdom, she considers the people in her life and asks, “Are they bringing me value or do they always take more than they give?” As needed she minimizes interactions, gently communicates her boundaries or discreetly withdraws from the relationships. –Susan Young, change expert and author of the forthcoming book “Shift, Shed & Shine”
Let go of the “shoulds.”
Who do you spend time with because you “should,” even though that time drains you and makes you feel badly about yourself? This is your one and only life, so take the time to make sure that the majority of your relationships feed your spirit—it will increase your energy and joy. –Theresa Kim, life coach and founder of Suite 101 Experiences
Unplug to reconnect.
As enterprising women, we often get caught up in our smart phones, laptops and other devices while pursuing our dreams and changing the world. But some of the biggest and most important impacts we will ever make are with family and friends. Be fully present in the moment with the ones you love most. Your life will be richer for it. –Lisa Peyton-Caire, assistant vice president of Life, Learning & Events at Summit Credit Union
Nothing heals and energizes like love and someone to share your life and dreams with.
Once you find “The One”, hold on tight and nurture your love like you would any cherished possession. –Lisa Peyton-Caire, assistant vice president of Life, Learning & Events at Summit Credit Union
Feather Dust Those Finances
In order to reduce the amount of paper documents I have and storage I need, I recently created just three zippered binders to hold important papers, taken from the contents of my file drawers. With so many online records these days, you really only need to keep a baseline of information on your finances. Binders are a great way to organize documents you need to keep but don’t access regularly.
I created document binders for:
- credit card, retirement, insurance premium, savings and checking account information
Job and Health
- paystubs, health care records, will and power of attorney paperwork
- for home information and product warranties
I was able to dedicate my desk file drawers to only those files I add to or access often, including flex spending, medical, my daughter’s school and activity paperwork, pet records and receipts. I now have drawer space for files filled with travel dreams and inspirations. –Amy Crowe, certified financial educator, personal finance guru and motivational speaker, Summit Credit Union
Set up a spreadsheet to track and log expenses, donations and mileage and find a simple app to capture all your receipts. –Megan Boswell, co-founder, THE JILLS OF ALL TRADES™
Second to health, financial freedom is the most powerful asset a woman can have. With it, we have choices and options to shape our lives according to our own desires, and to move freely even when the unexpected arrives on our doorstep (and it will!). Assess your financial position this spring, be honest about where you need to make improvements, and take action. Don’t hesitate to seek out advice from a trusted financial coach or adviser. –Lisa Peyton-Caire, assistant vice president of Life, Learning & Events at Summit Credit Union
Spring Break Stay-Cation
Schedule a “stay-cation.” It doesn’t cost as much as taking a vacation and the benefits and peace of mind are priceless, says Sheba McCants, an arts, wellness and community enthusiast, and community engagement and events coordinator at Domestic Abuse Intervention Services. Her tips for uninterrupted and effective breaks:
Install a text auto-responder on your phones— at home and at work—and designate a “proxy” to handle your work responsibilities while you are away.
Set boundaries with yourself and others for your break to protect space and time to accomplish your goals.
Create systems that will help you stick to your boundaries and goals.
Have some fun and be a tourist in your own town. Think outside the box. Are there places within walking distance of where you live that you have never been?
Take sleep seriously. Restore your natural circadian rhythm.
Pay attention to who you are while you are on your stay-cation. Who are you when you are just you— free to be whoever you are?
Are you constantly filling your calendar with musts? You’re allowed to fill it with wants, too! If you put exercise, fun and relaxation on your calendar, then you are sure to have time for it. –Darcy Luoma, life, leadership and systems coach, Darcy Luoma Coaching and Consulting
Learn to play more. World-changing women often forget to play and replenish. Make play a practice. Schedule time for it like you would any other important meeting or task. You’ll live longer! –Lisa Peyton-Caire, assistant vice president of Life, Learning & Events at Summit Credit Union
Release and surrender are words that come up over and over when people are in times of growth. Take time to think of something that you try to control but can let go. What is one tiny thing you can toss out of your anxiety closet? Do something creative: It will help you get out of your head and figure out a true and aligned way to release and surrender more in your life. –Theresa Kim, life coach and founder of Suite 101 Experiences
Track your time daily for a month. Once you have the whole month recorded, take a hard look at it and determine whether your current time distribution matches your priorities. It is amazing how easy is to say no when you have that picture—it helps you see that you simply can’t afford to take on one more thing without letting something else go. –Tania Ibarra, CPA and visionary problem solver and strategist
We’re all spiritual beings who long for peace, joy and connection in life. Shape all your pursuits to align with what feeds your soul and brings you joy, fulfillment and peace of mind. Everything after that will fall into place. –Lisa Peyton-Caire
After a winter inside on the couch, I love being able to spend more time outside in spring. The fresh air and vitamin D make me feel like a whole new person. –Darcy Luoma, life, leadership and systems coach, Darcy Luoma Coaching and Consulting
Nothing is more important than our mental and physical health. With it, we can do anything. Without it, our dreams and desires are compromised. Take a strong look in the mirror and assess your health—be honest— and get to work on improving in those areas where you need the most reinforcement. Strive to be physically and mentally strong and stable just as you would want your professional or business enterprises to be. –Lisa Peyton-Caire, assistant vice president of Life, Learning & Events at Summit Credit Union
Did you know that when we “stockpile” bulk food we are likely to eat a lot of it in a short time? In fact, we eat almost half of it in just a few days. Clean house! Get rid of your bulk, family-size containers so when summer comes and we take off our sweaters we will be comfortable with what is underneath. – Ann Garvin, health educator, professor and award-winning writer
Shine Up & Show Up
We can spring clean for an improved sense of community, too. Here are some invaluable tips from Deborah Biddle, leader and development coach and founder of High-Performance Development Solutions.
Renew your mind and behavior. Most of us believe that we are ethical and unbiased, objective and fair. But are we really? This spring, reset your thought processes to create more inclusivity and respect.
Check your initial thoughts. Your first impressions may be clues to any biases you have. Ask yourself, “Would I feel the same way, if this person were part of a different group?”
Be logical. Process how many people you actually know that conform to your particular bias. You will likely find the number to be quite few. Avoid allowing urgency or professional pressures to cause you to override logic and default to bias. Stop and really see people for who they are.
Treat people how you want to be treated. It sounds basic and like something your grandmother might say but it’s true: When the urge to act on your bias creeps up, practice new language or new behaviors contrary to your bias. Add one new behavior each week for a month. They will soon become inclusive habits.
Call out micro-aggression. With body language, words and distinctly pernicious behaviors, we send subtle and not so subtle signals that adversely impact our current and future interactions with individuals we encounter at work and throughout our circles of influence. Don’t stand by and watch these indignities occur. Say something.
Promote connectedness. Value difference and concentrate on commonalities. Lead to connect ideas and people —as one who builds bridges between cultures, between gender, between generations, trying to find common ground. Reach out to people who are different and talk about music, food, movies, books or sports. As you realize how little difference exists, bias begins to fade.
And get ready to THRIVE! Learn more from the experts in this story at BRAVA’s THRIVE Conference April 28. Shilagh Mirgain talks about flow—the new work/life balance—and the other experts in this story lead inspiring women’s workshops that empower, enrich and educate and even nurture entrepreneurial spirits. To register: THRIVEWITHBRAVA.com
original article link: http://bravamagazine.com/spring-clean-your-life/
START-UP CITY FEATURE
BY BRENNAN NARDI
"MADISON STARTUP KEEPS THOSE WHO WORK SOLO FROM BEING SILOED. THE JILLS CONNECTS INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS".
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Megan A.C. Boswell’s teenage daughter, who gave her mom and her mom’s business partner Corinne Neil tips on how to use Twitter. That’s where I stumbled upon THE JILLS OF ALL TRADES, read about the venture and discovered that it is a Madison-area startup.
Naturally, the smart and savvy duo eventually mastered the art of tweeting. I’m grateful for the ease and efficiency of social media in discovering unique, local people and products—and then making those one-on-one connections. I’m from Generation X and old enough to remember life before the digital age, when networking and community building happened via the newspaper and at Junior League. I also recall a time when an amazing concept like THE JILLS, an online platform for independent contractors to connect with companies that need highly skilled, on-demand talent, would have been dreamed up in a larger city, likely on a coast, and even more likely, a product of “the Jacks.”
Thankfully, Boswell found her way to the Midwest through American Girl. She spent 14 years as head of global design and development before launching a brand strategy and design business for two and a half years to allow more time with her kids. Neil enjoys a successful career as a curriculum and content developer. Unlike Boswell’s corporate career, Neil’s solo career offered a flexible schedule and a healthy life-work balance. One of the challenges for Neil was the time, energy and sometimes anxiety associated with landing the next gig, and the one after that. Also, freelance work can be isolating, and Neil began to yearn for a more networked and sustainable lifestyle, while still retaining the variety and autonomy she loves most. So she started talking to Boswell and other friends about what it might look like for all of them to thrive in their careers without sacrificing quality of life. A lightbulb switched on, and THE JILLS was born.
In 2015, THE JILLS focused on customer development and was accepted into the startup accelerator Madworks, where they put their ideas to the test in the company of peers and mentors. Madworks companies receive support through the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Law and Entrepreneurship Clinic, a resource for fledgling companies without the capital to finance expensive but essential legal counsel.
Each Madworks company receives a $5,000 grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation after completing the 10-week program. THE JILLS used it to launch a website with plug-in tools—and still have money in the bank. Armed with the tagline “Work Solo-Not Silo,” the company sells monthly ($35) and annual ($365, or a dollar a day) memberships to join THE JILLS community and gain access to an online roster of project-based talent, project opportunities, networking meetups, marketing and promotion and curated tips and trends. THE JILLS distinguishes itself in the marketplace with a broad talent spectrum (from writers and graphic designers to Ph.D.s, lawyers and software developers), no job bidding or transaction fees and direct communication between the Jill and the client. Both members and nonmembers can also earn cash rewards
What’s also sustainable and scalable, the founders hope, is the community-driven platform on which THE JILLS is built. The plan is to grow THE JILLS around the globe but anchor the membership to geographic hubs that promote team building and relationships. Future growth also includes a suite of administrative tools for members to manage their work more efficiently and effectively.