Fairygodboss of the Week: Joanna Lovering

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Photo Courtesy of Joanna Lovering.

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April 17, 2024 at 7:32PM UTC
For an entire year, Joanna Lovering hustled on the weekends to build Copper + Rise. Now a full-time entrepreneur and leader of the executive presence coaching firm, Lovering says the hustle paid off in allowing her to do the work she's "on this earth to do."
Recently, Lovering shared her journey from psychology major to human resources manager to executive coach. She also shared the advice and influences that helped her create a successful business, and the challenges she's overcome along the way. Keep reading for the details of her inspiring story. 
Fairygodboss of the Week: Joanna Lovering
Founder, Copper + Rise
Tell us a little about your career. How did you get where you are now?
I often say that at first glance, my resume must look a bit bizarre: it starts with an undergrad degree in drama directing and psychology, then flips to a marketing track in the beauty industry. After I left the workforce to attend graduate school in organizational psychology, I held a number of internal human resources roles in leadership development and coaching. As the years went on, the companies I worked at got smaller and smaller... until I ended up in a company of one, Copper + Rise. 
I first launched Copper + Rise as a style coaching firm because I wanted to focus my efforts on helping women make positive changes in their wardrobes. In October 2020, I expanded my services to encompass all things executive presence, which includes how you speak (communication), how you act (influence) and how you look (style). 
Although it’s been a winding road, there’s one thing that has remained constant in my professional life: My love and passion for empowering others to move towards their professional goals. Now, using executive presence coaching, I give women the tools they need to work through the challenges and thrive. This is what I’m on this earth to do!
What's an accomplishment that you are proud of?
Making the leap to full-time entrepreneurship. Copper + Rise was a nights and weekends side hustle for about a year until I decided to focus 100% of my time on it. It was a scary decision, leaving a steady paycheck, health benefits and an office behind. 

The first few months of working full-time on Copper + Rise were a pretty sudden adjustment. I had worked in offices for my entire professional career... until suddenly, I didn’t. I had to get used to my office being in my apartment, my schedule being completely my own and my only co-worker being my dog. It took a while to feel comfortable in my new life, but I’m really proud that I gave myself time to settle in and find new routines. And now I love it!

What's a challenge that you've faced and overcome?

At the beginning of my business, I was having a lot of trouble coming to terms with the fact that more than half of my time and energy had to be spent on marketing and sales in order to build credibility. I kept complaining, “I didn’t start a business to sell stuff! I started a business to do stuff!” I admit that I was quite resistant to the concept of “selling,” as I was petrified I would be seen as inauthentic. I wanted to connect with my people, not come off like I was in it for the money. 

Over time, however, I’ve been able to reframe my perception of what selling my services really means: I’m allowing people to buy something that will genuinely bring value. I’m not tricking them, I’m giving them the option to solve a problem. That reframe allowed me to bring new energy to this side of my business and let go of the negative ideas I had around it.

What's the No. 1 career tip that you'd like to share with other women?

Let your values guide your career, not jobs. Remember that your passions are what will sustain you throughout your career, not a company or the people who lead it. Be sure to have a firm grasp on what you truly love, and that will help you make decisions in each step in your career, as well as mitigate your fear and doubt.

Why do you love where you work?

After three and a half years of entrepreneurship, I can now say that I’m feeling more grounded than ever in my decision to start my own business. At the beginning of my career, I was dead set on only working for companies with household names — a.k.a., large corporations with national, if not worldwide, recognition. I felt a sort of safety in that. 

As I became more confident in my expertise, I realized that, well, I’m not great with authority. I tend to question the rules, and the corporate hierarchy of approvals and red tape frustrates me to no end. So, I decided that the only way forward was to be my own boss. 

I will admit that in the beginning it was a relatively terrifying situation: not knowing what I didn’t know, and feeling like I was wading through uncharted, shark-filled waters. Running your own business requires experience, fantastic people to support you and confidence in your abilities. And that takes time. I’m glad I was patient with the process, though, because I’ve never felt so filled with purpose and supported in my business as I do now.

Who is your Fairygodboss? Why?

My grandmother. Born in 1916, she passed away after a full 98-year life that included an impoverished childhood with immigrant parents, motherhood, getting a college degree at age 60 and owning her own successful business. She also insisted on reading the paper every day, living at home and driving her car (to everyone’s chagrin) until she passed away. 

My grandmother is the one who taught me one of my most valuable lessons: that I don’t ever want to be dependent on anyone else for financial freedom. She always pushed me towards success and had shrewd, pragmatic advice whenever I needed it. Whenever I trudge through the hardships of entrepreneurship, I often think to myself, WWGD: What Would Grandma Do?

The amazing thing is that I’m named after her — Joanna — and I am proud to carry on her legacy of perseverance, strength and grit.

What do you do when you're not working?

Three years ago, I started playing piano again after a 25-year hiatus! Pre-pandemic, I spent a lot of money on Broadway shows; I would often grab a single day-of ticket on a rainy day. Travel has always been a love of mine, especially more unusual and adventurous trips. But, of course, those are on hold for right now. These days, while still quarantined, I love snuggling with my senior rescue Bichon-Poodle, Toby.

If you could have dinner with one famous person — dead or alive — who would it be?

Michelle Obama! Granted, there’s a line of people in front of me waiting patiently to have dinner with her, but I’d be happy to wait. Why? Because I want to learn how she continuously dealt with her critics with such grace and poise when she was First Lady. An incredible role model for women all over the world, her heart has always been in her work.

What's your karaoke song?

This question may seem like an easy question, but for me, IT IS NOT! I have a note on my phone with a list of my favorite karaoke songs. Yes, you read that right — I take my karaoke very seriously. Some of my more popular karaoke performances have been with the following songs: “Eye Of the Tiger” by Survivor, “Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson, “Criminal” by Fiona Apple, “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor, “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen, “A Whole New World” (a duet!) from Disney’s Aladdin...The list is much, much longer than this.

What's your favorite movie?

"Bridesmaids." Whenever I need a chuckle, whenever I need to remember old friends, and whenever I want to see Melissa McCarthy in her breakout role, it is my go-to... because “I’m ready to PAAARRRRTTTYYY!”

What book would you bring with you on a deserted island?

So... here’s something about me that not many people know: I’m not a consumer of books. Never have been! It’s just not my favorite pastime. I must prefer reading magazines (my favorite is New York Magazine). The last physical book I read was published in 2013, and I’m not ashamed! It was Tina Fey’s "Bossypants."

What's your go-to self care activity?

Skincare! I absolutely love treating myself to a nighttime skincare routine before bed. Be it a moisturizing sheet mask, an exfoliation treatment or a facial massage with a gua sha and jade roller, it’s my favorite way to wind down from a busy day, take time for myself and get ready for my beauty sleep.

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