Michelle Y. Talbert embodies the definition of a New Yorker: a multi-talented, creative, hard worker—a hustler.
Talbert is the founder and chief curator of HerPower, a coworking space in Sunrise Florida. This multi-functional workspace serves as an event venue, podcast studio, and an online brand that facilitates networking between women entrepreneurs. Michelle made it clear that although HerPower is women-centric, it is men-welcoming, as they are an integral part of its success.
She was married and divorced by 22, graduated from law school at 30, and began to online date simultaneously. She is living proof of her belief that “your talents rise up to meet you.” Her first passion project was a book co-written with an ex-boyfriend she met while online dating. The unique collaboration, “Don’t Do What We Did,” received so much buzz that it fueled HerPower.
Michelle was not only the co-writer of, “Don’t Do What We Did,” but also the social media marketer, and brand specialist in this endeavor. Overwhelmed with the number of messages in her inbox from women who wanted business and social media advice, all of her talents rose up to meet her, and alas, HerPower was born.
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important that you hear from Michelle Y. Talbert about how her focus has changed in order for HerPower to survive through these difficult times. We had a chance to pick her brain and here is what we learned:
Fiverr: Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.
I am currently in Washington, D.C with my children.
I am originally from New York, the best city in the world, and have lived in Florida for the last five years. I am a mother of two and as of six years ago, a proud grandmother.
Fiverr: What inspires you? What do you love about being a business owner?
Business itself inspires me as I think it is a form of art.
I love to be creative and I think that being a business owner gives you an opportunity to do so. Entrepreneurs are very creative. As an entrepreneur, you have to think of ways to get capital, create revenue, and market your brand.
Most of us, as solopreneurs do not have an infinite budget, and constraint leads to creativity.
Fiverr: Where did the idea for HerPower come from?
I believe that in the big scheme of things lies a three-part ecosystem: the relationship to yourself, the relationship with the people you share a roof with, and the relationship to the outside world. It all began an idea to build a business model that could combine all three parts sustainably.
I worked on the relationship with myself at first and that drove me to spend a lot of time on social media. In 2011, I was focused on my book, “Don’t Do What We Did.” I was trying to understand how to market the book and when it took off, publications like Ebony magazine wanted to talk to me.
Driven by the market, I realized there was a need for empowering, strong, black female voices. In 2015, the HerPower Hustle podcast was my new project and the relationship to others became part of it all. I interviewed important people who could motivate the strong female following I cultivated, people like Peter Shankman and Guy Kawasaki.
Fiverr: How is your business managing with COVID-19 happening right now?
In the honor of transparency, HerPower is down 90% in revenue, and it is pretty scary.
I took a risk recently when I left my full-time job and decided to put all my money into the HerPower coworking space. It grew rapidly, and in January, things were going great.
Now, I am doing my best to focus on plans to have a grand re-opening and strengthen the online engagement with our community.
Fiverr: What was the hardest decision you’ve made in the past few weeks?
HerPower is a popular podcast recording studio, and with all of the restrictions COVID-19 has put on public spaces, it is hard to turn people away.
In such a trying time, I want to keep doing what I love to do and help people connect their passion with their audience, but I cannot justify calling someone to work for an hour of recording time. I want to be able to pay my people what they deserve and honor our clients at the same time, but it’s a hard juggling act right now.
HerPower is very different from most coworking spaces. Our model is what I call an a-la-carte approach. If you give us two hours’ notice, we can fit you in if there is open availability. Prior to COVID-19, some clients were working until midnight after their day job.
The hardest thing about all of this is not being able to provide flexible help that people need and are used to from HerPower.
Fiverr: What tools/resources/website/content have you found to be the most helpful/informative?
Every day, I like to make time to stay up-to-date with world news and my favorite blogs/websites.
I benefit the most from reading The Plug, Forbes, Fiverr, and Black Enterprise articles.
I also spend a lot of time looking through the websites of my peers. I am part of a group of entrepreneurial women and they are a great resource for all women and entrepreneurs. This is a group of four women of color all around the country—from Chicago, New Jersey, and Florida.
Fiverr: When everything begins to settle, what is the first thing you’ll focus on?
I just finished a Zoom call with the Women of Color coworking space owners and we are all ecstatic for our grand re-opening.
I want to make sure the community knows that we are still here, here to stay, and want to re-welcome them with open arms. I want to lift up my community as well as HerPower.
As for long-term plans, I want to solidify the online to the offline component and cement a strong online presence by allocating money strictly for that goal.
Fiverr: What advice would you share with other small business owners at this time?
You have to have a community that you are a part of, a place where you don’t have to be strong, where you can be vulnerable, where it will be confidential.
Sometimes your family may not understand. As a business owner, it is nice to be a part of a networking group like the Women of Color coworking space owners because they can feel my struggle as if it were their own—and it is. I also advise other small business owners to reach out to their mentors, and if they don’t have any, then connect with one.
We all need to be able to reach out to someone who can be reassuring of the fact that we are all in this together.
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Michelle Y. Talbert is a great part of our Fiverr community and you can often catch her hosting online events for us.