Meet Haley, founder of SkillPop
Meet Haley– she has lived in Charlotte, with her husband, for about 5 years now. She runs a startup called SkillPop where they work to make in-person learning accessible through community-based pop-up classes. Haley believes in doing work that you care about, in the power of good community, and in making people feel welcome.
SkillPop is a company based in Charlotte, NC working to make in-person learning accessible. We host pop-up classes on everything from photography to marketing, all taught by local professionals with skills to share and hosted in interesting areas of the community. Since launching in 2015 SkillPop has expanded to Raleigh, NC, Greenville, SC and in Nashville, TN; between all markets, the company has taught over 10,000 students.
What is a typical day like for you?
Every day is different, and my weeks ebb and flow depending on what we have going on as a company. Most days for me are a mix of meeting with my team, working on new launches or projects, and talking to partners or teachers – with some HR & finance work woven in as well. If I’m not a class in the evening, I’m usually cooking, going on a long walk, working on a project around the house or spending time with my husband & friends!
Favorite part about being an entrepreneur?
Far and above, I love working on something that I feel really passionately about. It sounds so simple, but I love what I do and I don’t take that for granted!
Emails! My inbox feels like a constant game of catch-up that I can never win.
What did you do before you went out on your own?
Before launching SkillPop I was a project manager for local tech company Passport. Prior to that, I was in product development for Newell Rubbermaid.
Why did you pick Charlotte as the home of your business?
I lived in Charlotte before launching SkillPop so it was a natural place to start a business, but it’s been a perfect community for us and the amount of support we’ve received from day one has been incredible.
What inspired you to go out on your own?
I truthfully launched SkillPop because the idea of making in-person learning more accessible was something that I couldn’t shake, and I needed to see if it worked. Having said that, it helped that I was working for a tech-startup before launching my own company! There’s something about sitting in arms length from the CEO and seeing a more of how businesses run and grow that makes launching a company feel more attainable.
What do you do when you’re not working?
I spend a decent amount of time cooking and working on house projects with my husband, but we also love exploring Charlotte and trying new places in the city. I’m a big reader, I enjoy traveling, and I love a quiet Friday night with Netflix, pizza and a glass of wine.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned from being out on your own?
I’ve learned to trust my gut. There are five thousand ways to build a business and I’ve gotten more advice than I can remember over the last two years. All of it is well-intentioned, much of it is valuable, but it isn’t all advice that makes sense for me and for my business, so trusting my gut is something I had to learn early on.
Talk about a time you failed big time and what you did next.
The funny thing about starting a business for the first time is that you’re doing everything for the first time. And as much as there are great resources out there to learn from, there are also a thousand different ways to run a business and plenty of spaces to make mistakes! So far, we haven’t had a terribly rocky road – although there have definitely been moments where I did something different than I would have done in retrospect. I take a “one-day-at-a-time” approach to entrepreneurship, though. Good or bad, each step is still that – a step – and we keep moving forward.
Who do you look up to or look to for inspiration/advice?
So many teachers in the SkillPop community are inspiring to me – we have a group made up of some of the top creatives, business leaders, and makers across Charlotte, Raleigh and Greenville and it’s incredible to watch their businesses grow! I also love to read and gain a lot of inspiration that way; Gretchen Rubin & Laura Vanderkam are two of my current favorite thought-leaders.
What’s your motto, or some words you live by?
I always say “don’t follow the rules that aren’t there.” Think life is supposed to be lived out a certain way? Who says? Realizing that those rules were never really there to begin with freed me up to make the big decisions that have helped me get where I am today.
What advice would you offer to someone who wants to be an entrepreneur?
Trust yourself. Try to find that opportunity that both brings you joy and meets a real need. Don’t wait too long to bring your idea to market – test, launch, iterate and re-launch. You’ve got this!
Where can people stalk ya?
What’s your “power color”?
A Note from BW on Haley…
We chose Haley to represent the EDUCATION space. She’s brought people together in a new way in Charlotte, through hands on and accessible learning. Not only is she brilliant (ahem, she’s an ex-engineer), everything she touches turns to gold, and it’s not because she’s lucky: she works SO hard, remains steadfast to her (and the company’s) values and busts ass to make things happen (example: has brought SkillPop to 2 new cities this year!). On top of that, she’s probably the most humble person you’ll ever meet and when you do, she will tell you she works for SkillPop. We look up to you Haley, and truly admire everything you do for this city.