Founder Spotlight: Cristina Rodgers
Meet Cristina Rodgers, our DivInc alumnus featured in this month’s Founder Spotlight series.
Cristina (Cris) began her success as an entrepreneur at a young age. By 17 she had $1.75 million in personal retail sales at a local mall, and by 19 she was managing a $4 million store. In the next 9 years she worked with four companies to improve their business practices and bring them from the red to the black.
Cris' success is admirable, and below she's been kind enough to introduce herself and answer a few questions about her path to becoming a successful entrepreneur.
My first taste of entrepreneurship was as a Brownie in Girl Scouts. After selling that first box of cookies and getting those $6 in my tiny hand for a product someone was excited about but that hadn't even been delivered yet.... I was hooked.
I have always loved expressing myself through my clothing and my style and when I found out that you could help others express themselves through "Dress" and make a decent living doing it, I immediately thrived. I was lucky. My success in sales was noticed by others and I quickly found myself being scouted and poached and promoted until I realized I didn't want to help corporate structures make millions of dollars anymore. I wanted to have more impact.
In 2011 I moved to Salt Lake City, Utah to recover closer to family post kidney failure. Recovering well and feeling reinvigorated to help individuals, I took a job as an assistant to an overwhelmed, self-made retail boutique owner and used my corporate knowledge to create 30% growth for her in one year. I knew then that I wanted to be in business creation, I knew my ideas could help others, I knew the power of supporting another person's idea and being willing to talk, and solution-find, and trial-and-error. The boutique owner recommended me to another business owner in town who needed help, so on and so forth, and now I'm on my 4th go of company creation with MENS GOLD BOXX.
Tell us about your company, what it offers, and how it’s unique
MENS GOLD BOXX is a luxury fashion brand for big and tall (B&T) men that FITS, at less than a luxury price. One thing we offer that's different is updated cuts and fabric for B&T men. Most companies cut for "one size" of Big and Tall man, when really there are 3 types; Big, Tall, and Athletic. Simply by differentiating those we become the best fit option for ALL B&T clients. Additionally we offer regular single item retail or you can get a subscription where we will style you for free. I can't understand when a subscription company charges for a "styling fee" ....like, were you going to send me a box of junk if I didn't pay to have it styled? We only create products that are on trend so if you fill out your profile with your sizing and preferences, you'll get a box of clothing you LOVE to wear and our sizing algorithm will make sure you never receive anything that doesn't fit (even if you accidentally order the wrong size).
Here at MGBXX.com, we got you.
What was your experience like with DivInc? Did it help you break down any barriers? Did you change as an entrepreneur after the program?
It took me completing the DivInc accelerator to really see the worth I carry as an individual. As women and women of color we aren't always encouraged to be the star or shine too brightly, so I always saw myself as support staff to someone who really was "worthy" of being the leader, someone others would respect, someone more worth the rise. Maybe because I didn't see representation of someone like me doing the things I wanted to achieve so I just thought I wouldn't be able to. DivInc gave me the tools and support I needed to not feel like I had to do things alone, while also helping me understand that my ability to succeed did not depend on anyone else. I walked on FIRE at Tony Robbins UPW conference, yet it took weeks of love and encouragement and understanding from the DivInc crew to get me to my best self. And I keep growing every day.
What other resources have been helpful?
There is a company Called HELLO ALICE, they've been mega in terms of network connection sharing, entrepreneur empowerment, and personal growth content. I want to send everyone their way to sign up for the HELLO ALICE community and start participating with their resources.
Have mentors played a role in your success? If so, who and how?
It was a DivInc mentor Steven Strauss, who came to have a founders lunch with us and let me know that one of my primary shame points, my learning difficulty Dyslexia was actually a "superpower." Based on statistical research done on successful entrepreneurs and inventors, a disproportionate amount had dyslexia of some type, making them better at the constant creative solution finding job of being a visionary in some field. Just him giving me this other filter to view myself through really helped unlock me mentally. It was such a gift, and all from a lunch. Steven Chairs a nonprofit I volunteer with now called IMPACT DYSLEXIA https://impactdyslexia.org/
I encourage anyone with dyslexia or who knows anyone with dyslexia to check it out!