If you opened your own business, what would it be?
I did open my own business this past year and it is exactly the work that I need to be doing! I wanted to have more influence and impact on the city I have grown to love so it is added into the conversation of best city, Midwest. I have always considered myself an unpaid advocate for the city of Des Moines but figured there was no reason why I shouldn’t get paid for doing the work that I love.
11 Eleven Productions: a full service production company specializing in business development, networking and event production. The goal of 11 Eleven is to connect the best and the brightest talent Des Moines has to offer and jointly produce amazing endeavors that enhance the offerings of the city.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I think I would tell younger not as gay Jen to embrace the failures, find the lessons so they’re not wasted experiences, and have faith in herself, the process and the universe that it will provide and lead her to the correct path. At the end of the day, all of us can’t learn and grow without the pain and failure. The journey is what makes us more confident in where we stand today because we know we’ve exhausted all the steps of yesterday.
I am able to connect with people of all walks of life and find ways to involve them and make them feel valued. I am a person who not only cares but also tears down walls, embraces every opportunity to grow, and constantly identifies ways to make the community around us better. My superhuman power, I can usually find the women in the room who are not gay but are “curious” and don’t even know it yet!
What makes you feel fulfilled?
Giving back to the community. Surrounding myself with people who cultivate my personal growth. Helping others fulfill their dreams and in the process assist them in seeing their amazing worth. Providing business advice. Choosing my life and myself every day.
When asked to describe yourself, what’s the first word that pops into your mind?
Minimalism: Living a Meaningful Life – Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus. This book was life changing for me because it showed me having and consuming less opens the doors to having more.
Anything Jen Sincero – I love the You are a Badass series but what got me hooked on her style of writing was The Straight Girl’s Guide to Sleeping with Chicks. Apparently, she has a book called Don’t Sleep with your Drummer. I’m not in a band but I will probably read because I love her!
What makes your heart race?
Taking risks. Making a difference. Roller coasters. Creating and executing events. Connecting people. Networking. Endless possibilities of tomorrow. The thrill and process of business deals.
Organization or cause near to your heart-
My passions focus on equality for everyone specifically LGBTQ+ rights, women and inclusion. This is why I serve as Vice President of Girls Rock!Des Moines and Capital City Pride Board of Directors because until we fully integrate the LGBTQ+ community, see women get equal pay and young females be offered the same opportunities as boys then there’s room to do work.
What keeps you up at night?
I am such an entrepreneur and innovator at heart that my mind never shuts off with the limitless possibilities of whatever projects I currently have going on, what is potentially next and my never-ending to-do list. Just to give a little insight as to why I don’t go to sleep at night, I am working on a large-scale outdoor event venue outside the metro and a new bar downtown. I have been in contact with producers in two different cities about taking my annual sell out event Drag King DSM to them in 2019/2020 and serving on the board for two non-profit organizations that are working boards, not boards of governance. I’m already tired thinking about all of it.
What is a belief you once held but no longer do?
My definition and perception of what true success is. Whether we are cognizant of it or not, when you ask someone when you first meet them where they work or what they do for a living; you are measuring and/or sizing up their worth or how successful they are based solely on an occupation. The thing is that most of us do it without even taking notice because it’s social conditioning. People are mutli-facted and just like most words in the English language; there are many definitions for one singular word so why would “success” be any different? People who chase other individuals’ dreams, jobs, lives; they are never going to fulfill the life meant for them and feel unfulfilled in the end. I have found in my mid-late 30’s if I am putting the best version of myself out into the world then I will always be successful and it will never look like another’s. Local female bad-ass, fellow entrepreneur and mentor, Tricia Rivas taught me that.
What are you interested in connecting with other women about?
I am interested in connecting with other women who are movers and shakers like myself. I love to hear what other women are out there doing to make both our for and non-profit communities better. I think this is so important to keep all of us connected and inspired considering Iowa was ranked 49th in growth of women-owned businesses just 4 years ago in 2015.