Updated: Oct 14
Her journey to partnership: Starla Kay Mathis
Wow! I’m in a partnership and it’s…working well. Partnerships are like marriages, you listen to understand, you support where strength is needed, and you balance each other to reach a common goal. I have that “marriage” partnership with my business bestie, Lateva Woolfork as we create an ecosystem of support, confidence, and accountability for women in business, Create. Connect. Collab. is the baby we birthed together.
I’m no stranger when it comes to partnerships–I have worked with my husband, Reggie Mathis for 17 years before our marriage of 10 years! We have built a successful media and marketing agency together while raising our children.
Now, how did the girl with a preference to work alone on school projects create multiple partnerships throughout her life? That’s right; growing up, I preferred to work alone on a project because I knew it would get done…the right way. I never liked depending on someone else for them to pull their own weight: not on a school project, not emotionally, and definitely not financially. What was the tipping point that helped me link arms to create magic?
During my undergrad at Ball State University, I dove headfirst into involving myself in many organizations. I noticed how the production studios, the editing labs, and the recording booths did not contain many other students who looked like me. I wanted to help bridge this gap. So, my friends and I created a television show. This show served as not only a creative outlet but a safe space for us to have hands-on experience in producing and creating an entertaining, educational, and empowering television show. Around my friends, I was known as the great delegator, and for the show, I was the Executive Producer. I proudly wore both of those titles as we were nominated for a regional Emmy during our first season! This was my first experience in partnership, and it taught me the value of leadership and collaboration.
After college, I struggled to find my creative outlet. I worked a dead-end job where I was routinely turned down for management roles. I was rejected from marketing teams, and I was demoted from a position where the team intentionally didn’t want me to advance. How did the great delegator find herself stuck in a job denying her advancement?
Frustrated with my current career situation, I decided to build a shared table for myself and other women where “NO” would never be an option.
I began to study entrepreneurs and found a common denominator in their success: many of them had a tribe to help share resources, be vulnerable with, and encourage one another. I then worked to create a new safe space by hosting monthly masterminds with friends.
This is where the magic happened. We began to move the needle in our personal lives and professional endeavors. I wanted every woman to feel this amazing synergy and Create. Connect. Collab. was it!
From 2017 to 2019, I wanted to reach more women to experience this magic. We were empowered, we were confident, we were doing the things we knew we always wanted, and we were supported by each other. But…I couldn’t do this alone.
I met Lateva in 2019 at an Indy Creators Society event and she came out to a Create. Connect. Collab. meet up in January 2020. After that event, she asked me to meet with her. We jumped on a call one-on-one for the first time.
She was the literal opposite of me, she asked so many questions, and she was super energized and a pusher. She immediately jumped in and asked, “So what’s the plan for Create. Connect. Collab.?” My first thought was, “I don’t know this woman. I can’t share with her my ideas for this.” I stumbled a little and responded with something very surface-level.
We continued to talk and began to authentically connect by sharing our personal lives and upbringing. After our call, I realized how amazed by her I was. I prayed and talked to God. I asked God, “Is she who I need to work with? Please, let me know.” I felt peace and alignment when Lateva and I talked again, and our partnership began to develop.
Was I really ready for a partnership? To be all in 100%, to split 50/50, to sign our name on the dotted line. If I’m being honest, I was nervous to begin this journey of being in business with someone I didn’t even know for a full year. God said, “Go,” so I listened. It wasn’t easy, we had to build our relationship, “our marriage,” as we were building our business. The journey wasn't without its hurdles. However, our unwavering commitment and shared passion propelled us forward. We focused on leveraging our innate individual strengths, utilizing strategic online platforms, and building genuine connections one interaction at a time.
I’m blessed to have crossed paths with a like-minded individual, a fellow visionary who shares a passion for fostering growth and collaboration among women entrepreneurs. Our shared vision was to create an ecosystem where women in business could come together to not only share their stories and experiences but also to learn, collaborate, and thrive collectively.
We recognize that behind many successful women are stories of overcoming challenges, navigating uncharted waters, and breaking glass ceilings.
We look to provide a platform for these stories to be told, celebrated, and transformed into valuable lessons for others. It is bigger than networking; it is about creating meaningful relationships, sharing knowledge, and amplifying each other's voices. Slowly but surely, our community has grown, attracting women from diverse backgrounds and industries, all united by a common goal to Create. Connect. Collab.
Her journey to partnership:
Can I be vulnerable? Looking back, I can't help but cringe at the words I once uttered: "I don't work well with other women; they're catty," "I'm not really a girl's girl," and the infamous, "I do better when I'm with the boys." Those sentiments, born from my naivety during high school, starkly contrast with the reality I stand in now.
Presently, I find myself a woman blessed with my husband Curtis, our six daughters, and two emerging businesses–both dedicated to uplifting women in their personal and professional pursuits. It's as if everything around me breathes life into the ethos of supporting women.
But how did I get here? Frankly, it was a journey beginning with loneliness—a heavy anxiety that left me feeling isolated, detached from the world and disheartened. I felt like the four walls of my home would close in on me, especially in a new city void of family or friends. Motherhood and womanhood intermingled, enveloping me in a cocoon of uncertainty.
It was in the midst of these emotions I embarked on a soul-searching expedition. Having left behind a career in healthcare, I confronted those thoughts of purpose, prayers and doing something bigger than me… desperate to be filled with new aspirations. Amidst this void, I discovered a longing to create, forge connections, and build something from the ground up. And so, I did what many do when cornered by circumstance—I launched a business.
Building my blog, The All Purpose Woman, and starting Socially Coordinated Consulting put me on a path looking for women who thought like me. Women who had succeed at building a business and mothering, women that weren't afraid to share information.
Finding my tribe led me to local organizations like The CityMoms and the Indy Creator Society. Through these connections, I found women who resonated with my ambitions—kindred spirits united by shared dreams. Finally, there was movement…I was a happy girl!
My journey was paved by the raw honesty of sharing my story, of bearing my vulnerabilities (which I sometimes think I share too much) with other women. A profound transformation occurred as I divulged my story and voiced my needs. This personal exploration, navigating the complexities of entrepreneurship while shattering barriers breathed life into my vision—a haven where women could flourish collectively. And thus, my commitment to cultivating an inclusive environment became the driving force behind the partnership I forged with Starla Kay Mathis, my now business partner, sister, bestie, confidant all rolled in one. We both recognized the momentum of women aligning, constructing businesses, and championing each other—we embraced it wholeheartedly.
It's WHO WE ARE
& WHAT WE DO!
Create.Connect.Collab., is the culmination of our union and extends beyond a mere business venture. It is a living testament to our bond and resilience, collective creativity, and the collaborative spirit intrinsic to women. Ours is a partnership, a sisterhood—multifaceted yet anchored in our mission to revolutionize the entrepreneurial landscape in Indianapolis and beyond.
A journey characterized by learning and growth, trust-building and respectful disagreements. Our partnership is anchored in showing up—for our business, each other, and the entirety of our lives, for that's a pivotal part of who we are.
The path to establishing our partnership and Create.Connect.Collab. was no small task. Starla and I encountered many challenges, testing our resolve. Hours morphed into days spent familiarizing ourselves with each other's strengths and work styles. When asked about the secret to our partnership, our response remains unvaried: "We stay in our lane." Our growth was nurtured by recognizing our strengths, ensuring our collaborative efforts bloomed within our respective “zone of genius.”
Starla is a detail-oriented, safe space creator and woman that I admire in all that she does…I sometimes cry when I think about where we are today and how God’s timing is so perfect. We had different kinds of “Ciara” prayers, and God saw fit to answer them. The one thing we don't often talk about is our background. We both share a “Trauma Bond,” and in some ways, I think this truly holds us to a standard of not failing each other.
Yes, there are moments of overlapping and, inevitably, times when our shared proximity intensifies the occasional friction. Yet, what fuels our journey is our mutual commitment to showing up—for each other, for our shared vision, and for the relentless drive to empower women in all their pursuits. As our partnership evolves, so does our network, our business model, and our team—all harmonizing under the banner of our shared passion. In our partnership's tapestry, the threads of diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and skill sets interweave, a living testament to the symphony that women create when we link arms. We have grown our partnership to not only collaborate but with other women-led organizations like our members, Maven Space, NAWBO, and Indyhub. We want to connect women to as many resources as possible, and I think each of us looks to build more and do more!
Written by Starla Kay Mathis and Lateva Woolfork. Photography by Tanisha Pinex of Prolific Visuals.