Michelle Crawford, co-founder of Society+, which is a GrowFL 2017 Florida Companies to Watch honoree, was drawn to entrepreneurship because she wanted to exercise her creative muscles and make a social difference. "I was tired of working for someone else in a gray cubicle with gray carpet and gray walls under fluorescent light," she said. "I was doing creative work but I wanted to start something from nothing where we would treat people well and do something different that included a social component and changes the conversation in our society. I wanted to do something meaningful."
Society+ is the only plus sized retailer with a respected and high visibility industry voice as a co-founder which means its clientele see it as a truly authentic brand. Co-founder Jessica Kane is that voice. Crawford credits Kane's reach and thought leadership for much of the company's success. "She lends the brand authenticity," Crawford said. "Before she helped launch Society+, she started a plus sized magazine and developed hundreds of thousands of followers and fans on social media."
The current version of Society+ was not Crawford's original vision. She pivoted to it after listening to her audience. "I started different apparel company before Society+," she said. "I kept hearing questions about plus sizes and looked into the industry. I saw there was a significant disconnect between supply and demand. I started paying attention to how curvy girls were treated. Carl Lagerfeld said he did not want curvy girls pictured in his clothes because it diminished his brand. I thought this is not OK. I don't want any woman diminished. I pivoted the whole business – we don't sell dresses we sell confidence."
Crawford says that the company's recognition by GrowFL not only speaks to the success and potential of Society+, but also to entrepreneurship in Florida. "Being honored as a 2017 Florida Company to Watch is a reflection of the hard work of our team and Florida's dedication to high-growth, second-stage businesses," she said. "We see a bright future for entrepreneurial businesses in Florida, and we are grateful that Grow Florida sees the same in Society+."
Crawford's advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is to begin with a clear goal and exit strategy. "The number one thing is to begin with the end in mind," she said. "Understand where you want to be and what the endgame means for you. Structure your business around that. Build your team with that end in mind."