Audio (Podcast)

Michelle Miles, the Woman Behind Fort Worth Woman

Sarah Webb
By Sarah Webb

Michelle is the woman behind Fort Worth Woman,  a network for all the vibrant working women.  She’s originally from San Antonio and now resides in Fort Worth sharing her adventures and inspiring women.

In this interview we talk about her village, her tribe, her squad; women who support her, support her dreams and support her family.

fortworthwoman.com

Introduction:00:09Welcome to Plaid Radio by Plaid for Women and the #NoMeanGirls movement. Enjoy today's show and be inspired to change the world.
Sarah Webb:00:18Welcome to Plaid Radio. I'm your host, Sarah Webb, and I'm with today's guest, Michelle. Michelle is the woman behind Fort Worth Woman. She is creating a network for all vibrant working women. She's originally from San Antonio, Texas and now resides in Fort Worth, sharing her adventures and inspiring women everywhere. Thanks for joining us, Michelle.
Michelle Miles:00:36Thank you. Thank you for having me. You make me sound way cooler.
Sarah Webb:00:40I feel like I know you because I follow you and you post pictures of what you're doing and our lives actually are so similar with kids, but, give us a little bit more [about] what it was like growing up in San Antonio and then how did you even end up here in Fort Worth?
Michelle Miles:00:55Yeah, born and raised [in] San Antonio. My parents have run San Antonio Woman Magazine for over 15 years. So, I grew up in that environment with the whole marketing aspect and the whole publication and I just kind of grew up doing and experiencing all of that stuff. [I] decided to go to TCU for college and that's how I ended up in Fort Worth at first. So, I landed in Fort Worth in 2005 and then I met an ROTC boy in the fall of my freshman year, who swept me off my feet. We actually met at the rec center, and neither one of us was working out at the time, which is ironic for being at the rec center. We were super young, and we actually broke up for an entire year and then, long story short, got back together and actually had our first date at the Potbelly on University. I still take my kids there, which is just crazy. And basically the rest was history. I graduated, went through Grad School, was ready to follow him through some of this Army stuff and due to circumstances related to the economy in 2009, just basic luck, and my husband's hard work, we stayed in Fort Worth. It took me almost that entire time, because we've been married nine years in August, and took me that whole time to realize that when you marry a Fort Worth born and raised boy, you never leave. So we're here for good in Fort Worth. Then I was a first-grade teacher for three years and a school counselor and then when I became a mom, that's when Fort Worth Woman was born.
Sarah Webb:02:24Well, I'm glad the city has been so welcoming to you and hopefully you get to enjoy it as much as we do. Having grown up here, I find myself [saying], “oh well that used to be this” and I'm sure it'll be like that for you soon as well. So, what are some of the things you enjoy about Fort Worth that's just a little bit different than San Antonio.
Michelle Miles:02:54Both places are great, but Fort Worth has a coziness about it that's really hard to resist. My Dad's always referred to Fort Worth as how San Antonio used to be, and I can't fully attest to what he means by that, but I can totally confirm that I get his point. Fort Worth is a big small town and when I think of Fort Worth, I think about the first time when I got here for college and I went to the grocery store. I called my mom from the grocery store and I was like, “mom, that stranger danger thing that we have talked about for 18 years, everyone here says ‘hi’ and is talking to me and I feel like a jerk if I don't talk to them. So, what do I do?” My mom's from New Jersey, but she's been in Texas so long she's now Lonestar approved, but she just said, “honey, that's how Fort Worth works. You need to say hi.” And that's what I love about it. You go somewhere and you're never alone because everyone says “hi.” And there's just a constant... there's a support here. People all around you, they want you to be successful here. That's what gives it that small town feel. Especially women. That's so rare, just to feel supported wherever you are. I mean, sure there's a competitive edge, but for the most part there's just a lot of Mr. Rogers going around here, kindness is a genuine thing. Maybe I watch too much Daniel Tiger with my three-year-old, but this city is just full of actual kindness and I love that.
Sarah Webb:04:17At Plaid for Women we have our campaign, #NoMeanGirls, and it's all about celebrating the success of one another and just because I'm shining bright or I'm doing something great doesn't take away from what you're doing and [that idea that] there's room enough for all of us and I do think Fort Worth has that [same] spirit. One of the things we're talking about on Plaid Radio this month is our tribe, or our village, and how we're supported through community. How has your tribe become more critical to you as you've grown your personal family?
Michelle Miles:04:49Oh goodness, I could not be the mom or business woman running Fort Worth Woman that I am, without my tribe. It's a combination of everybody. My husband is my cheerleader, supporter, editor, my biggest encouragement, and the best dad in the entire world. He gives his all to our kids and he just works so hard. It's because he works from home, and because of his flexibility in doing that, that I'm able to even get out and do the things that I can. Most of my meetings are nap time meetings, I just cross my fingers and toes that they both stay asleep and I just jet out and come back and it's because of him that I can do stuff. I'm also extremely close to my parents. They're the kind of people who just know when a bad day is coming before I do, and they just pick me up off my knees before I even hit the ground. They adore my children and they're my mentors and they push me personally and in this whole business aspect. I was a school counselor before [and] this whole advertising aspect of Fort Worth Woman and this native marketing aspect that I work on is just, it's totally out of my comfort zone and so I'm having to learn a lot very quickly. Then the rest of my tribe is made up of the most incredible friends. My best friends include moms, married ladies, gentlemen, [and] single gals; having a Trifecta of these is what I have found to be the true key. What I've learned in having kids is that you don't only need mom friends to keep you afloat. I mean, sure, mom friends are insanely important. They keep you from Googling all the scary stuff. They tell you what's normal. They give you that kind of sympathetic but loving look when you're saying something about your toddler's antics and they think you're a little crazy. Mom friends just keep you going, but there's something to be said for the perspective of non-moms. My best friends who aren't moms quite yet, are the ones who aren't afraid to call me on my fears and they keep me on my toes. They've showed up when I've needed it but never said it, and they also just ask to hang out with my kids when I'm not around. That's probably the most beautiful part of that, because each of these people that I've mentioned, they love my children as their own and there's just a massive comfort in knowing that both my son and daughter will be learning from other people outside of just my husband and me. I feel like that's the overarching idea of a village. I hope that they gain the perspective of the world from the group of people that actually are our world to us, and it's more than just what we could provide for them.
Sarah Webb:07:23Yeah. I think as women we do have the tribe or the village and a lot of times we talk about that around childhood, having kids, and like you said, so many times I have been saved from Dr Google when someone's says, “that's normal, it'll pass” or “you're going to be okay.” I think that's so important but, I like having non-mom friends and male people in my village and tribe, because they share a very different perspective than me. They're able to bring in a different world view or really challenge me on my thinking. Those are the closest friends that you're able to disagree with and still be friends with and I appreciate having those challenging conversations. Sometimes it sharpens my belief on whenever I'm espousing on and other times I'm able to change my mind a little bit [and realize], "I didn't think about it coming from this point of view.”
Michelle Miles:08:15Absolutely! It rounds everything out for sure. And I want my kids to learn those same ways of approaching a situation.
Sarah Webb:08:23Yes, absolutely.
Michelle Miles:08:24The world is not black and white and I just want them to see the gray and they're going to see the gray when they experience situations outside of just my husband and me. So our village is everything to us.
Sarah Webb:08:36You talked about being a working mom and owning your own business. How do you personally manage your time and do you even believe in the concept of balance?
Michelle Miles:08:45No! I'm so sorry, I cannot help but smirk and I have my hands on my face because I have to admit, I am so tired. And in the spirit of just full transparency, balance is a constant goal for me. I love to do it all. I love to be at every event, support every friend, have my kids in every activity, have every single speck of family time that I can squeeze out of a situation. But I also have a baby who is six months old and doesn't sleep and I'm just so tired, you know? Like I said, luckily my husband works from home and that makes what I do possible. I just do quick meetings during nap times and cross my fingers and toes that someone stays quiet and no babies cry so I can make a phone call. When my son was super little, like in that slug stage where he could sleep in the car seat anywhere, and while my daughter was at school, at that point you could find me at any coffee shop or restaurant and I would just be typing away while he was asleep. Now that he's not in the slug stage, I'm trying to find my new normal. You just kind of go through different seasons with babies and I'm just in a new season and I'm trying to figure out what to do with it. I'm currently building a small home office at the top of our stair landing so hopefully I can be a little closer and manage nap times that way, because right now, kids wake up and I run upstairs, take care of them and then I run back downstairs, and I try to tie up [what I’m working on] and it's like the second I hit my keyboard, somebody wakes up and need something. So, hopefully that will help a little bit. Balance, it's just hard, but I'm learning to appreciate the times that it does come and make the most of it. I'm [also] learning to respect the times when it's important for me to make [balance] a priority. Whether that's getting up at 5:00 AM or working at 9:00 PM or just enjoying a seven minute or 30-minute nap break, whatever I can. My goal is just to make the most with what I have and remember that I'm a mommy first, which is hard sometimes because I love working, but babies aren't babies for very long and babies don't keep. I just don't want to miss opportunities with them because my nose is in the computer, but I also don't want to let people down. I'm realizing there's a balance in being the best mommy and then also the most dependable, quality business woman and I'm consistently drinking from a fire hose on both accounts.
Sarah Webb:11:01I've gotten past the balance of everyday or every week. As a mother who now has little bit older children, my kids are six and eight, you will eventually get to sleep. So, rest in that, it will happen eventually. Although I did have one come into my bed last night, but you're definitely in the throes of it. When I stepped back and looked back at the times when I was you, [when] my kids were a little younger, I think about my life balance as more of like the continuum of my life. [Along the lines of], “this is what balance looks like now that my kids are this age” vs “what my balance looked like when my kids were small like yours.” I used to be very meticulous on not tracking hours of spending time but looking at it more on a daily and weekly basis of what I would consider balance. I've learned to step back little bit. [For example], Spring Break is coming up, so I'm working really hard right now so that I can take that week off and be really focused on my kids. That may mean that this week I'm putting in a bit more time on what's going on in my life, work and all of that, so that I'm able to take the time off and have that balance. So, as a mom who's a little bit further down the road, I think you're in the necessities. You're at the point where your children will not survive without you. When you get a little bit past that, balance can be bigger than the daily, weekly part.
Michelle Miles:12:26Yes. Balance for me is in 30 minutes increments. We're making it and it's wonderful and I just… I have to learn to preplan and I also have to learn to just let things go and thank goodness that Fort Worth Woman is just kind of a natural organic account to begin with. I try to show the real genuine side [and] be like, “Hey, I had full goals to go to two places today, but instead here we are in the backyard. Because that's how life was, you know?” Luckily, I can add that in and do that. So, there is a beauty to the organic process and just show our life and how we are!
Sarah Webb:13:04It's real life. Yeah, exactly! I think that's what makes you endearing to people is that we get to see the real part. Sometimes it's not pretty when you post a picture of your toddler having a slight meltdown, we've all been there, and we're like, “thank goodness she's normal!” Tell us a little bit about the comradery of business owners and working with women in Fort Worth. How has that been for you?
Michelle Miles:13:27For me, Fort Worth women are just incredible. They truly are. I'm very accustomed to overly competitive, insecure, selfish women. I'm just sensitive to those kinds of people, [simply] because I've experienced so many. But Fort Worth women are just a whole new breath of fresh air. I feel like women here actually applaud the success of those around them and they actually want to see other people succeed. It’s that idea that when someone next to you succeeds, you can rise as well. I never [fully understood] until I lived here that the phrase, a rising tide does indeed raise all ships. I mean it's true and that's just... I've met some of the most incredible people here and they're all so, so loving and caring and just positive. It's a huge encouragement. There's just something different here and it's very special.
Sarah Webb:14:19So, you talked a little bit about your parents as counselors in your business and coming from San Antonio Woman, the magazine and, you're definitely doing something a little different, but about women promoting women… who else do you have in your business circle that helps advise you and helps make decisions with you? Who do you look to bounce ideas off of?
Michelle Miles:14:42Oh gosh, there’s a lot. A lot of people. My parents are a huge part. My husband's a huge part. The women that I've connected with that were like, “Hey, I see influence that you have here. I want to incorporate my business into this.” I sit down with them and [brainstorm]. “Hey, how can I help you?” “How does this work?” “How can I make this personal for you?” There are so many different businesses that I'm working with at once that I truly feel like I can call on someone at a moment's notice and get genuine feedback. I also have a dear, dear, dear friend of mine… she is probably one of my best friends and she is significantly older than I am, and she was one of my professors at TCU… we get together once a month and she basically just remembers everything about my life all the time. She's the most incredible person and she's one of those people that sits down and says, “okay, what are your next three goals for the next six months,” and then, “what are your next three goals for the next 10 years?” And she just keeps my mind looking forward; she keeps my wheels turning all the time. Then I also have a group of women that I just call my “think tank girls.” They may not even know that they're my think tank girls, but they're the people that I just call and chit chat with or meet for coffee. Sometimes I'll just combine them all together at a table, even though they don't know each other, and we all just sit and inspire each other and just create this genuine think tank of “what can we do to better our city?” “What can we do to better our businesses?” “How can we help each other,” and it just becomes this positive forward movement. So it's truly... it's a huge collaboration of a bunch of people.
Sarah Webb:16:29That's beautiful. What advice would you give to someone moving into a new community? Especially as an adult? I feel like it's harder to find your tribe or your village if you've moved somewhere and you're completely new. What advice would you give someone?
Michelle Miles:16:45Explore. Even by yourself. This city is so gosh darn friendly. Get out there and experience what all's here. Between the people, culture, art, history, events, food, you can hardly go wrong. Having an open heart and an appreciation for tradition is what I feel is the key to this city and if you’re open, this city will be open to you. Fort Worth is also one of the most philanthropic and upstanding cities I've ever seen. Just get involved. Get involved with your local nonprofits. Get involved with events nearby. You'll meet the most incredible people and you will only benefit the new place that you'll quickly call home. I have yet to meet someone who doesn't see that kind of special spark about Fort Worth.
Sarah Webb:17:32I think getting involved in a nonprofit activity is a great way, no matter what city you're in. You're meeting people with a soft heart who want to make something better, no matter what the cause is. Whether it's rivers and parks, or saving pets, or working with children. Getting involved in the philanthropic part of any city can be a great thing and I [know I] always feel so blessed afterwards when I'm helping someone with something. It's like, I wasn't even here for myself, I was trying to give to others. It's just a natural way to give back.
Michelle Miles:18:01Absolutely, absolutely and this city appreciates that! I just feel like it's really easy to get to the heart of the matter here. There's just not so much of the extra details that kind of sidetrack you. It's just all about making a difference and that's what's so beautiful.
Sarah Webb:18:18Well, we've talked about the #NoMeanGirls campaign and possibly as a school counselor you saw a lot of that with young women, but did you ever experience [mean girl] treatment when you were in [grade] school or middle school and have you experienced any as an adult?
Michelle Miles:18:37Yes, sadly on both accounts. It's everywhere and it's hard to avoid. It was one of my biggest fears when I realized I was [pregnant with] a girl. I just kept looking at her when she was first born thinking, "Oh my gosh. Sometimes things are going to be so hard. Women can be so mean." I can't specify a particular occasion, because I mean there's a bunch and it spans a whole lifespan, but I can tell you what I've learned overall. I just fully believe that the mean girl treatment stems from insecurity. It took me years to learn that, [but] once you realize that, it takes the pressure off of you a little bit; I wish that I could go back and coach the high school version of me through that. I've just learned, that when someone gives you that treatment, take the time and self-check yourself, make sure you're on the fair and right path, make sure you know there's nothing you could change or do better, and if you're on the fair and right path, keep going and don't let someone else's insecurities put a halt on your success or your joy. My motto this year for myself, I put it on my account constantly is, I want to go out in the world and do well, but more importantly I want to do good. I just feel like being kind is far more important than being recognized, being a good listener is far more important than being the loudest in the room, and doing good deeds for others is far more essential than creating a group around you to make you feel strong. That's also where I feel like the mean girl treatment comes into [play], there just becomes these groups of women and then they attack another group of women and it's just… just be strong on your own two feet. As long as you run the fair and right path, you can hold your head high and really join up with anyone and everyone at the same time. I was [also] thinking about the whole mean girl treatment and I think it's also important to remember that we need to recognize that not every girl is a mean girl. You know? I feel like once you've experienced the mean girl treatment a few times, you see every woman [possesses] the potential to do that to you, and that's true, but there are also some incredible women out there. So, I just want to encourage people to give everyone a fair chance and let someone else celebrate your success with you. Not everyone's going to burn you and the people that don't, truly impact your life.
Sarah Webb:21:00Yeah, I think that's a great reminder and, Oh, Man!, I have a lot of advice to give my High School self. Michelle, it has been so fabulous getting to know a little bit more about you, learn your history and [about] your family. How can our listeners or readers on the blog learn more about you or follow you?
Michelle Miles:21:23Well, I'm on Facebook and Instagram. That's where a lot of the social media channels for Fort Worth Woman [reside] and where a lot of the natural events happen. I also have a website which is fortworthwoman.com, and that's where you'll find my posts. That's where you'll [also] find my Woman of the Month where I feature a particular woman. We try to kind of dive into her heart for her business and city. I have my Women on the Move section, where you can basically give a shout out to a woman who you know is doing really awesome things in our city, or her job, or just who she is as a person and you can just send out a little blurb about her. Then I have my Women in Business Directory, where were working on sending all search engine traffic back to a particular woman's website to help with her business and grow that. The website's in the works, it's launched, but we're continually building it [out] and trying to add more to it to make it fit Fort Worth. One of my favorite ways to connect with people is, just email me. I love the personal connections with people, and I know that email does not sound like [it’s] the most personal, but typically someone emails me at Michelle@FortWorthwoman.com and we get to chit chatting back and forth and pretty soon we're having coffee. My favorite things are when young, new people come to Fort Worth and they just say, “Hey, I'm new here,” and they just send me an email asking me four or five questions about the city and how to get involved. That's how I met some of my greatest friends. So, always feel free to email me, I try to respond as quickly as possible. Just know that this is meant to be personal and I'm here to support and connect with everyone and connecting with my people. There’s a huge village out there and everyone's welcome!
Sarah Webb:23:09Awesome! And for our listeners, I will put all of those links in our show notes, so you can track Michelle and see what she's doing. So again, thank you for joining us. It has been a pleasure to learn more about you. And that's a wrap for Plaid Radio.
Sarah Webb
A bit about me, I'm a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, employee and volunteer. I am married and have two children - one who aspires to be a secret spy ninja and the other wants be a doctor for toys...Read More
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