Celebrating Life’s Moments with Entrepreneur Kristen Ley

Today on the Brava Podcast we’re going to hear from a powerful creative entrepreneur and CEO who turned her passions into a thriving business by simply celebrating life’s moments. I’m SO excited to introduce you to Kristen Ley, CEO, er, actually I should say, “Chief Confetti Maker and Founder” of Thimblepress. The in below to get real with Kristen and her start-up story, learn more about differentiating products in a competitive space and advice on how to make your dream a reality.

Kristen Ley and Brava Podcast


Interview Kristen Ley is a party in a podcast! Can’t wait to get started with our interview (1:40)

Kristen has been creating art as early as she can remember. Her parents have always been very encouraging with everything Kristen has gone for despite her family coming from a medical background. She went to school for art and design. She graduated with a BFA in business and graphic design and a minor in marketing (2:40)

She started her career with an internship at Matchbox Studios in Dallas and loved it (4:30.)

She remembers going to the library in Charleston, SC to learn the ins and outs of how to start her business…from scratch! Her and her colleague hustled to launch and sustain their own marketing and branding business (5:00.)

Then she was offered a full-time offer to be a full graphic design artist that was closer back to home and she took the job. After about a year she quickly realized she was not wired for a 8 to 5 job (7:15.)

She used her letterpress as a creative release for years before making it part of her future career. During Christmas of 2012 she was convinced by her friend to start an Etsy and have a craft show (8:00.)

In 2013, she decided to make it official and launch Thimblepress, LLC inspired by her grandmothers and mother who influenced Kristen’s crafting (11:15.)

Thimblepress comes from the deep desire to want to encourage, lift up others, and show others how they can be present and celebrate friends and family (13:00.)

Kristen used to have 20 employees. Over the years she learned a lot about herself and her personality and realized a larger team is not for her. She’s very interested in the enneagram and it also helped her learn more details about her personality and how she can lead in the best way possible. Now she has a very lean team and she loves it both for her business and her wellness (17:45.)

When it comes to competitors, she keeps herself in her lane and focuses on her customer’s happiness and loving them like they are family and friends (20:00.)

My strategy? Do what’s best for me!
— Kristen Ley, CEO and Founder of Thimblepress

Looking to launch your own product? Kristen wants you to know that you are already amazing and a success no matter what. Allow opportunities to flow into your life and jump, even if you are afraid. Believe in yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself, how do you expect others to believe in your business? (21:56)

Stay in touch with Kristen’s next steps and business ventures! She recently launched KristenLey.com to be open and honest with her own business. Check it out! Be sure to check out Thimblepress too and celebrate others along the way!

Thank you readers, to tuning into the Brava Podcast. If you like the show please leave a review on iTunes

What from our conversation inspired you today? What do you hope to hear next? Tweet or message us on Instagram @BravaPodcast to tell us what you want to hear, even if it’s your own story! 

Paying Off Debt with Financial Hype Woman Berna Anat

Today we’re going to be discussing a lesson that they didn’t teach me in college. How to pay off debt. Honestly, with how many students now end up in college debt you would think this would be a no brainer to add to any curriculum!

Whether you are ready to take on your college debt head-on, pay off your car loans or get that credit card bill to zero this conversation is going to make that a whole lot easier.

Meet Berna Anat, your new and much needed financial hype woman.

In today’s conversation you are going to leave with at least 3 takeaways: 1) how to start tackling that loan 2) how to look forward and start investing in your future and 3) that finance is not a scary word – and that you can do this. Let’s get to it.


Berna may have a career in finance but believe it or not, Berna doesn’t have a background in finance! She is a financial literacy creator who teaches young people, especially young people of color, about money (1:40.)

She had $48,000 in college debt and $12,000 in credit debt and knew it was time to switch her mindset. When she googled “budgeting advice” and “how to pay of credit card debt” she realized the information that was coming up was written by men, a stark contrast to her own voice (6:00.)

For Berna, “financial literacy” means learning the rules of the money game as it stands in 2019. It can be different for each person sees it: how do I set-up my money habits now for how it will make sense down the road. She thinks it’s incredibly important for women right now because we have so much purchasing power (7:30.)

Did you know that not until 1974 could women not have their own lines of credit? (9:30.)

Last year we reached 1.5 trillion, yes trillion, of student debt in the U.S. and women hold 65% of that value and are paying off student debt slower than men after graduation (10:00.)

Looking to pay off your student debt? Berna has tips for you. First and foremost, put more of your paycheck towards your debt than you were previous comfortable with and learn to live off less of your paycheck (12:10.)

Focus on your smallest loan first to kick off the momentum (15:00.)

The gender wealth gap affects women differently. Women of color are often erased in the 81 cents ratio. For instance, Hispanic and Latina women earn as little as 51 cents to the dollar. (16:00.)

It’s not as simple as 81 cents! We can’t keep erasing the women who exist inside of this gender pay gap and are suffering more than others.
— Berna Anat

Investing is for everyone and you don’t need a lot of money to invest. (19:10.)

Go out and claim the damn dollar you’re worth!
— Berna Anat

Currently one of Berna’s next professional financial goals is to create a 6 month business emergency savings. 6 months of the costs it takes to run her business. Another goal is to make enough consistent money to be able to hire help to continue to develop her brand and company (23:13.)

Want to dive into more information about budgeting, financial literacy and investing? Check out Berna’s website and sign up for her newsletter!


Check out this amazing free investing course collab between Ellevest and The Budgetnista!

Meet Nadia De Ala

Ladies Get Paid



Thank you readers, to tuning into the Brava Podcast. If you like the show please leave a review on iTunes

What from our conversation inspired you today? What do you hope to hear next? Tweet or message us on Instagram @BravaPodcast to tell us what you want to hear, even if it’s your own story! 

5 Ways to Never Stop Learning with Walnut Capital


BRAVA celebrates women and their accomplishments, normalizes the success of women, and advances women through a community of their contemporaries. You could be in undergrad, just starting off your career, beginning your family, or maybe transitioning into your side-hustle after your retirement. For whatever your next step may be, you need to create the right space in your life to keep learning along the way.

I’ve partnered with Walnut Capital, Pittsburgh’s best in city living, to help share how I use my space and my community to further my education and never stop learning! Continue reading below to find 5 ways to keep guiding yourself in small and big ways.


1. Take an online course: Getting your graduate degree or MBA isn’t always a must for furthering your education in the direction you particularly may need. Try enrolling in an online course! The benefits? They are a minimal cost; they can be specific to further an expertise you are looking to hone in on; and they sometimes can be done at the comfort of your own home! I’ve tried classes with Brit+Co and really loved how simple and easy they were to sign-up for. There are other classes like the Code Academy, SkillShare, and OnlineCourses.com that can really up the ante on your knowledge base on…almost anything you have your eye on!


2. Listen to a podcast: Branch out of your comfort zone by plugging in for 10-20 minutes a day on the way to work with a conversation that feels completely new! That may mean the powerful women on the Brava Podcast, CEOs sharing their start-up stories on NPR’s “How I Built This”, or maybe it means your favorite role model talking all things finance. Whatever it may be, tuning in is a great way to keep learning a habit.


3. Attend community events: Each month, I look to my apartment community to find new and fun events to explore in the Pittsburgh area! Walnut Capital has a blog that lists different local events from yoga outside in the city to Earth Day celebrations to local weekend markets that promote local businesses. Find your community’s calendar and work to attend at least one event each month to step outside your comfort zone and try a new spot.

4. Read books: It was hard for me to get back into reading after completing my MBA. It almost felt like I was still reading for school! The trick? Pick books that actually interested me! Not the biggest revelation, but honestly, it’s what I needed to tell myself. My favorites as of late? “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert, “The Power of Moments” by Chip Heath and Dan Heath, and “The Tipping Point” by Malcom Gladwell.


5. Ask: …about educational opportunities! Whether it is at work or in your community, the first step is reaching out to see what resources may be available to you already. There may be seminars and trainings at work that are free to you, which you never knew about. Arrange meetings or grab coffee with your leadership team and learn more about how they got to where they are. The same can be applied to role models in your community! Reach out and see what stories they have to share. It may inspire your next big move!

If we don’t continue to change, we don’t continue to grow. How do you keep learning? Comment and share below!

This article was brought to you in paid partnership with Walnut Capital.

Negotiating, Equality, and Inclusivity with Talent Recruiter Jeesoo Sohn

What does it take to build talented teams and to grow outstanding companies? Inclusivity, equality, and transparency. Today, I’m thrilled to have Jeesoo Sohn on the Brava Podcast. Jeesoo is a Senior Talent Recruiter for Glossier focusing on managing and leading talent efforts to create the strongest people powered eco system. Prior to Glossier she worked with Pittsburgh’s own Duolingo as their lead recruiter . From today’s conversation you’ll learn how to work towards inclusivity and diversity in the workspace, how to negotiate your way to equal pay and benefits and more!

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Jeesoo has an educational background in…music! She studied music at Carnegie Mellon. In college she learned a little bit more about herself and that while she was passionate about music, she realized that she enjoyed her work at her part-time job in the Office of Admissions (1:57.)

Duolingo’s decision for diversity and inclusivity in the workplace was a natural next step for the team (4:00.)

On why it’s important to have women represented equally in the workplace: “when you have the same type of person you’re going to be making very unilateral decisions that only reflect the values of those people” (5:00.)

Inclusivity drives diversity.
— Jeesoo Sohn

Want to practice inclusivity…now? The familiar is a lot more comfortable than the unfamiliar. Be sure to ask questions and genuinely get to know people with different backgrounds than you. Jeesoo suggests to never judge others and that we all probably have much more in common - that is where she leads from (8:02.)

My first rule when starting a new job? You should ALWAYS negotiate!
— Jeesoo Sohn

You need to know what your bottom line is when negotiating. Physically write it down and never stray from that bottom line (10:14.)

Salary is not the only thing you can negotiate when entering a new position. You can negotiate title, sign-on bonuses, re-location and more! Whatever is right for you (12:07.)

Jeesoo is a fantastic planner and it’s one of the best ways she can stay organized to produce the best work-life balance (13:40.)

Jeesoo’s favorite quote? “It’s better to have a whole than an a$$hole.” - Her explanation? “It’s more beneficial for the business and the team to wait for a quality candidate than a quantity candidate.” I couldn’t agree more (16:00.)

Thank you readers, to tuning into the Brava Podcast. If you like the show please leave a review on iTunes

What from our conversation inspired you today? What do you hope to hear next? Tweet or message us on Instagram @BravaPodcast to tell us what you want to hear, even if it’s your own story! 

Differentiating Your Product with CEO and Beauty Guru Lauren Napier

Today on Brava we’re uncovering the success of the entrepreneur and expert behind Lauren Napier Beauty with the founder herself. In today’s episode, Lauren highlights key takeaways of how you can differentiate your brand, gives details about how she launched her beauty line and products, and talks about how she pays it forward along the way. Tune in below or on iTunes to hear more about how this make-up artist turned CEO is changing and challenging the beauty space.

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Lauren loved her career as a make-up artist but one of the things that propelled her to start her own brand was learning from her surroundings and wanting to create her own working environment (2:20.)

She believes that you have to have resilience as a leader (3:30.)

There is a transformation that people take when they put on make-up but also a transformation when they take it off. Lauren saw first-hand how her clients were hesitant to take off the “veil” of sorts they put on which upset her because they were beautiful just the way they were with or without make-up (4:20.)

The quality of Lauren’s beauty products is key to differentiating her product (7:50.)

The beauty industry is really focused…on playing up and preying on our insecurities. The philosophy of itself [Lauren Napier Beauty] is that there is beauty in taking it off.
— Lauren Napier

My goal is to make people feel good about their authentic self (10:30.)

Shoutout to Squarespace (not sponsored) for being an amazing partner for entrepreneurs (and podcasters alike!) That was Lauren’s first step in finding a space for her idea to flourish (12:15.)

Lauren thinks it is key to be “everywhere” - different search engines, website support, social media and more! (15:00.)

How did Lauren start her beauty brand? She was traveling and was using a face wipe that was completely dried out that just would not do! Her first step? Putting her idea into action (18:00.)

Ask question, research, fact find, you will find the answers!
— Lauren Napier

She cutout all of the extras and the frills for a year to help save her money and utilize it to launch her company (21:00.)

Be patient with yourself. It’s very important to know you don’t have all of the answers.
— Lauren Napier

There is powering in sharing! Some people want to hoard information but Lauren believes what you give is what you get and shares her manufacturing lists, her contact lists, etc. with your colleagues. You can be generous without wanting something back (23:00.)

Lauren believes it’s important to be able to stand proudly behind her product and that is why she manufactures her product with solar energy and has created completely recyclable packaging (26:15.)

She’ll be celebrating five years for her business in May! Check out LaurenNapier.com now to support her next steps! #YouGoGirl

Thank you readers, to tuning into the Brava Podcast. If you like the show please leave a review on iTunes

What from our conversation inspired you today? What do you hope to hear next? Tweet or message us on Instagram @BravaPodcast to tell us what you want to hear, even if it’s your own story!