The Mamalode Starter Series is an exciting opportunity for us to introduce you to some of the amazing people we get to meet. Starting something takes enormous amounts of work, faith, help and community. Every week we'll share another story of starting. So, community of Mamalode, read up, get inspired and check out these wonder-folk.
Interview with the Founder of HeartStories, Crystal Gornto.
Tell us a little bit about your business and how you started it.
I started HeartStories because I got to the point that I couldn’t not do it. I was selling cardiac medical devices, working with surgeons and cardiologist. I was making more money than I realized was possible and was feeling challenged. But my heart was longing for more. More meaning, more purpose, more time with my kids.
I was first exposed to the tragedy of human trafficking in 2011 when the Super Bowl came to Dallas. One day, sitting at my desk, I watched a video about a little girl, in a red dress, with a number pinned on it. She was one of many being sold repeatedly to grown men for pleasure. Something shifted in me that day and I knew my life would never be the same.
I knew I had to do something more meaningful with my life. Something that made a difference in the world.
I had no idea what that could look like at the time. I was already busier than a one-legged man in a butt kicking contest. I very rarely saw my kids. I couldn’t add in anything else.
But that nagging in my heart wouldn’t leave me alone.
I hired a coach named Michelle James, who focuses on helping entrepreneurs emerge what’s already in them to do in the world. And we did. What I discovered throughout that process is that I have a huge passion to help women see all the beauty and greatness in themselves and then live from that place. I want women replace the old, negative soundtrack in their minds with truth and love. To believe that their voice, their talent, and their unique gifts are desperately needed and it’s their responsibility to use them.
So in 2012 I left my job, liquidated my retirement, and started HeartStories.
It’s been quite a journey already. We ran a successful crowdfunding campaign. We built a web app to connect women more consistently and intimately with their (10 or fewer) closest friends to provide a daily way to replace the “noise” of our huge social networks with the love of those who really know us. We had our first live event last February. It was beautiful to see our community come together, sharing and supporting each other in living our HeartStories.
The path of HeartStories has been a winding road, certainly not direct points on a map. I’ve worked hard at trusting that if I kept going in the right direction, the right path will unfold. And it has.
We recently opened Shop By HeartStories, which is like an Amazon marketplace, specifically for women, who care about making a difference with their purchases. Our focus is telling the stories of female social entrepreneurs, who are changing the world, one good product at a time. We’re not telling the made for TV kind of stories. We’re telling the real stories of the lives of these women. We’re going to the hard places and the passionate places that remind them why they do what they do. We’re amplifying their stories and their message, all in one place. Because we firmly believe that we can help each other.
What do your kids think about your job?
They LOVE it. I think they wish I didn’t work at all, but they also wish they could stay home to play legos all day and never go to school. They especially love that I take them to school and pick them up every day, because they remember what it was like before.
I have no doubt that I’m setting a great example for them by loving them with my whole heart AND running a business that fuels my passions while helping others. I’m showing them that people can change the world, but it’s not easy. I work a lot during the week, but weekends are ours. We play, get dirty and have fun.
We talk every night about our highs and our lows for the day. When they ask for mine, I tell them. I try to tell them a work high and a family high. Then, I tell them something hard about work. They get to see my humanity, as a person, not just their mother.
Tell us about a total mom + biz fail?
My biggest mom failures happen when I’m trying to be super mom and do way too much (Hmmm, maybe like all the time)! The one that still hurts my heart was last year. They do a “Ma-Spa” big event for Mother’s day and it was my first time. I had a “load” of work to get done that morning and I stayed at my desk a few minutes too long. I had no idea there was a performance piece and they started early. And I was late. I missed all the songs they sang to the mothers about how special we are and how much they love us. As I snuck in the back, Noah’s eyes met mine and there were tears. For both of us. He was broken hearted and so was I. That was a serious fail.
But as failure does, it taught me.
I won’t ever be late to Ma-Spa or any other event for that matter.
Share with us a total win (brag away!)
The biggest win for me so far is the incredible conversations I get to have with these female entrepreneurs. Because I went through the really hard stuff, I can relate to them. I wholeheartedly want to help them. We have an instant bond, over a life that often feels isolated and lonely. It’s a win because I feel like I’m offering them something of deep value and at the very same time, I’m serving the current HeartStories community by sharing the stories of women who are living out everything we say we want. It’s an absolutely beautiful picture of the way business can and should be done.
What's your relationship with Mamalode?
A little over a year ago I made friends with a gal in Dallas named Jennifer Anhalt. She’s a financial advisor and loyal advocate for entrepreneurs. She told me about Elke and this incredible magazine. I’ve adored you ever since. It’s sheer genius to give mothers this kind of resource. I’m incredibly humbled that you’d share my story.