Since 2011, Hera Hub has supported hundreds of women business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs. This year, Hera Hub celebrates its 8th anniversary by recognizing members of the community in a special anniversary member spotlight series. For this series, members were asked to share what inspired them to start their business, highlight their proudest moments in business and what they believe women must do to encourage the next generation of women to pursue entrepreneurship.

Meet some of the incredible women who discovered Hera Hub and explore the various ways they each create impact.



 Dr. Joel P. Martin — President, Triad West Inc.

What inspired you to start your business? 

I’ve started several businesses and each one came out of a need to be productive, creative, and to make a difference. I’ve been passionate about each one. I opened a children’s daycare center because when our daughter was a little one there wasn’t one where we lived there was a need. As she got older, I wanted to pursue my creative abilities that were my strong suit. I’d worked at an advertising agency before marriage and daughter and struck out on my own taking her with me to find clients. One thing led to another, responsibilities increased, services scaled, employees were hired and eventually, I was one of the first women to own and operate a full-service advertising agency. My next business, today’s Triad West Inc, is a consulting, training and coaching company. Our clients are global and corporate. After that, I began the Positively Powerful Woman Awards and programs to empower, educate, and inspire women in business by acknowledging the accomplishments of women in ways that empower all people. We honor diversity and inclusion in our awards and thus far have over 50 women business leaders who have received the award.

What business accomplishment are you most proud of?

Being a role model for my daughter. She said when she was young she was the only one whose mom owned and operated her own company. I’ve had many accomplishments that I’m proud of having to do with learning transformational leadership. Most recently, delivering managerial effectiveness for a global technology firm, but her saying that was a big moment for me. Now she’s a director of photography and an award-winning cinematographer. I am very proud of her as is Bob, my husband.

What do we need to do as women to encourage the next generation to pursue an entrepreneurial path? 

I think that there are many paths to career fulfillment. If being an entrepreneur is a passionate expression of her fulfillment, and this is a strength of hers, what she needs around her are positive role models, be willing to risk, ask questions, and learn all that she can. I don’t mean to go to college per se, although I did, to be where it is that she wants to be magnificent. Having great mentors, coaches, surrounding herself with brilliant people. Her business needs financial health, legal counsel, and exposure. Not all of this will come through her so knowing business development is key.

Learn more about Joel:

Joel P. Martin, Ph.D., is a recognized entrepreneur, international coach, trainer, speaker, and author. She is considered one of the premier transformational trainers and training designers internationally and a thought leader in this industry. Dr. Martin is the founder of Triad West Inc., a more than 15-year-old global company headquartered in Scottsdale, AZ which excels in diversity, inclusion, and cultural competency, team alignment, breakthrough performance, and strategic implementations.

Connect with Joel:  Facebook  | LinkedIn |



 Laytricia Towery — Principal Interior Designer, 918 Design Co.

What inspired you to start your business? 

918 Design Co. started as just a thesis project in design school during my senior year. After developing my branding and final project, I decided that this was something I wanted to take from a concept to reality. I have always had a entrepreneurs heart and mind and I knew one day that I would run my design firm.

What business accomplishment are you most proud of?

My greatest business accomplishment is creating and executing the opening of 918 Design Co. I was raised in an impoverished community in Dallas, TX and none of my family members owned business, much less went to college and I achieved both. I am proud to be able to work for myself doing what I love.

What do we need to do as women to encourage the next generation to pursue an entrepreneurial path? 

We need to be open to sharing, mentoring, bringing others along on our journey and encouraging them on multiple levels to achieve their goals and dreams despite the situation or level of fear.

Learn more about Laytricia:

With a passion for both design and helping others realize their vision of a beautiful space, Laytricia combined the two and 918 Design Co. was born. She earned her Bachelors of Science in Interior Design in 2016 and has 19 years experience helping homeowners transform their homes and personal space and experience in commercial interior design.

Connect with Laytricia:  Facebook  | Instagram |


 Gwen Beren — CEO & Founder, Illuminous Marketing

What inspired you to start your business? 

I was inspired to start my business when I became frustrated with the slow speed of innovation within the corporate world. I wanted Illuminous Marketing to bring the brightest and most cutting edge digital marketing ideas to clients rather than becoming stifled in yesterday’s marketing practices. I’m happy to say that this decision to take a leap of faith into the world of entrepreneurship has been the best decision I ever made for myself. I am constantly learning new marketing techniques to pass along to clients and use my creative skills to create content that helps businesses shine online.

What business accomplishment are you most proud of?

The business accomplishment that I’m most proud of is preserving through several attempts at scaling the business to find the right fit. As a solo-preneur making 100% of the decisions for business direction, there are bound to be missteps. Rather than throw in the towel and go back to corporate – even when I felt that it would be easiest to do so – I am proud that I’ve stuck with it and continued to try new things. I attribute much of that success to the many programs that Hera Hub offers like the Strategic Planning and Duplicate Yourself workshops that helped me form and refine the systems that I need to grow.

What do we need to do as women to encourage the next generation to pursue an entrepreneurial path? 

As women, we need to be supportive of one another no matter the path, but especially as entrepreneurs. The female experience has nuances that need to be supported and nurtured by building one another up. For me, becoming a mother was a challenge that I never could have prepared for in balancing the demands of business and the demands of a small child. Encouragement and sometimes commiseration has made all of the difference to me in my journey. Leaving behind petty differences and drama and focusing on being positive role models for each other and for the next generation is so important.

Learn more about Gwen:

Gwen Beren is the CEO and Founder of Illuminous Marketing, Inc. located in Carlsbad, California. She founded the company in 2012 with the vision to help businesses shine online with digital marketing strategies with a focus in SEO and social media marketing. She is a voracious reader, eager learner, and loves the ever-changing and challenging nature of digital marketing.

Connect with Gwen:  Facebook  | LinkedIn |


 Dr. Cindy J. Lin — CEO & Co-Founder, HOVE Social Good Intelligence

What inspired you to start your business? 

My relentless belief that we all want to act on positive solutions to tackle big problems. And we can start simply by shifting where and who we buy things from. If every single one of us purchased our daily products from companies who are proactively creating positive programs for our planet and health, and/or adopting sustainable processes that minimize, do no harm, or improve our planet’s condition, we can make millions of dents on the pollution and human health problems. HOVE Social Good’s mission is to enrich people’s lives with well-researched information, social good alternatives, and thoughtful data storytelling.

What business accomplishment are you most proud of?

I am most proud of the development of our detailed Social Good Rating Criteria that evaluates a company’s give back actions and/or sustainable practices. To date, we have evaluated near 2000 companies and have included over 1100 companies in our Social Good Company Database. And we are the only company that is cross-matching social good efforts by companies and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

What do we need to do as women to encourage the next generation to pursue an entrepreneurial path? 

  • Keep true to our vision and fight for success no matter what.
  • Be confident as a model to show that women entrepreneurs are the wave of the future.
  • We need to work together as a collective and support more women to pursue their dreams even against challenging professional and personal barriers.
  • Get started on our business and help guide ourselves and others to supportive hub communities.

Learn more about Cindy:

Dr. Cindy J Lin is the CEO and Co-Founder of the mission-to-action lifestyle company, HOVE Social Good Intelligence. HOVE highlights people and companies who are proactively creating positive programs for our planet and health, or adopting sustainable processes that minimize, do no harm, or improve our planet’s condition. We help you find, review, fall in love with the best companies and products that positively impact people, planet, and community so we can ALL collectively use business as a force for good.

Before founding HOVE, Dr. Lin achieved her childhood dream of working at the US Environmental Protection Agency, where she spent 19 years engaged in international and national water protection projects, water quality standards development, polluted waters regulation, and sweeping environmental policy changes. She served as the US Regional Expert on the Clean Water Act, Applied Climate Change National Work Group and as the Water Adviser at the US Embassy in Beijing, China. Dr. Lin is an avid ecologist, environmental scientist and engineer by training. She received her doctorate in Environmental Science and Engineering, masters in Environmental Chemistry, and bachelors in science in Biology, all from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Connect with Cindy:  Facebook  | LinkedIn |


 Hilary Hartling — CEO & Brand Strategist, Brand Polish Co.

What inspired you to start your business? 

Inspiration has been the driving force of everything I’ve done and will do in my career.  First, at Disney marketing movies from global entertainment giants – Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Touchstone, Dreamworks – for 15 years…I thrived in the corporate world because I surrounded myself with movies, filmmakers, creative executives and visionaries that inspired me on a daily basis.  Talk about a master class in branding!  Disney taught me a lot and one day I had a realization that I wasn’t done growing and while I had my dream job, it was time for me to spread my wings and begin building my dream business.

I founded my brand strategy consultancy with a clear vision in mind: to empower visionary, purpose-driven entrepreneurs to do work that inspires them and their audiences by building intentional and impactful brands.  I believe inspired people do their best work, and that work can change the world.

Now, on a daily basis, I get to help entrepreneurs clarify their message, focus their brilliance and attract their best clients while staying in their zone of genius and building a business they absolutely love.  Talk about inspiring!

What business accomplishment are you most proud of?

The business accomplishment I’m most proud of is being one of a few women in a senior position at a huge corporation that had a voice and a seat at the table and then taking all the blood, sweat, tears, long hours, stress, exhilaration and excitement from climbing the ladder in my corporate career and having the courage to leap into the world of entrepreneurship, essentially “starting over” and building from the ground up once again, and creating exactly what I envisioned.  And don’t worry, there’s more vision coming!

What do we need to do as women to encourage the next generation to pursue an entrepreneurial path? 

We simply need to encourage and teach them that doing work that inspires them matters; that the big dream that’s on their heart is actually possible and within their grasp.  Women coming up today have so many more amazing role models to use as mentors and we need to continue modeling HOW we do it, why we do it, and the impact we are creating in the world.  We need to share our stories, of challenges AND wins, so they are prepared for their entrepreneurial journey ahead and we can create shortcuts for them from the experience and knowledge we’ve gained.

We need to mentor the younger generation of women, and this looks like giving free, valuable information and content on our platforms and it also means hiring these up-and-comers as interns and team members so they can learn directly from us. 

Learn more about Hilary:

After spending 15 years marketing movies from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Touchstone and Dreamworks, helping launch multi-million & billion-dollar franchises, and managing global brands with fiercely loyal fans, Hilary Hartling has a deep knowledge and innate skill in growing and leveraging strategic brands.

Hilary made the leap from corporate to founding her own brand strategy business to apply her experience in helping others create unforgettable brands to inspire their audience.  She’s on a mission to help visionary entrepreneurs, experts and business leaders make an impact by translating their brand vision into aligned strategies and clear messaging that resonates.

Connect with Hilary:  Facebook  | LinkedIn |

 Riyam Arabo — Co-Owner & Project Manager, Babylon Leads

What inspired you to start your business? 

I had just graduated college and my business partner and I didn’t want to get into the 9-5 cubicle work style. So we started seeking business opportunities until we found a gap for Text Message Marketing service among local retail stores. We immediately developed the software and started selling it in the states of California and Michigan.

What business accomplishment are you most proud of?

We started this business as a Text Message Marketing service but have been able to develop it into a software solutions business. We are now able to provide customers a variety of software including websites, mobile apps, e-commerce, and inventory and warehouse management systems. My most notable accomplishment is being able to carry the business from $16,000 in debt in the first year, to more than $250,000 in revenue by the third year without any loan assistance from family or institutions.

What do we need to do as women to encourage the next generation to pursue an entrepreneurial path? 

As entrepreneurs, we’re very busy building our own businesses that we seem unavailable to the next generation of entrepreneurs. To encourage them, we need to be more accessible as mentors. This accessibility must be consistent (i.e. once a month) and connecting (i.e. introduce the mentee to other women entrepreneurs).

Learn more about Riyam:

Riyam Arabo is the co-owner of Babylon Leads, a software solutions company based in San Diego. She co-founded the business in 2016 and is currently responsible for project managing the software development process while ensuring customer expectations are met by the development team.

Connect with Riyam:   LinkedIn |


Sarah Dupree — Brand Photographer, Sarah Dupree Photo

What inspired you to start your business? 

My firstborn son, Max inspired me to start my business.  I actually started out as an entrepreneur in a completely different business. When Max was about 3 months old, and it was time for me to go back to my old job as a Graphic Designer for For Rent, he was diagnosed as being a failure to thrive. He was losing weight and I needed to stuff him full of rice cereal and formula every chance I got or they were going to have to put a feeding tube in him.  Leaving him in the care of someone else was not an option for me.  So I started freelancing as a Graphic Designer.  I made enough money to sustain my business but never really felt passionate about what I was doing.  Like so many other moms, this is when I picked up my first camera and quickly fell in love with photography.  So, shortly after my second son was born, I started shooting product photography for Boot Barn. During that time, I found my voice as an artist with documentary style wedding photography, so left the corporate world again and started shooting weddings.  This long, seemingly unrelated path has all led me to my current success as a Personal Brand Photographer.  Finally, I was able to take my background from the advertising world, and blend it with the documentary style of shooting I love!  Now, I offer lifestyle business photography for busy mompreneurs so they have beautiful, real-life behind the scenes images to share on social media – which is amazing because now I get to help moms just like me!  So, even though Max no longer needs me to feed him rice cereal (he’s 10 now), he still inspires me today because he’s the one who started me down the mompreneur path and led me to a place of service that fills my heart with pure joy.

What business accomplishment are you most proud of?

Throughout my career, I’ve been featured in a ton of publications and have been asked to speak as an expert for podcasts and in person.  I’ve also partnered with high-end names and created some incredible photography along the way.  But what makes me most proud is whenever I see one of my clients post a photo from her branding session, and I go to check out the engagement that photo’s received.  It’s literally always higher than previous posts!  Then I’m not only proud of myself, but I’m also proud of the mama who’s out there hustling and is seeing a real difference in the content she’s putting out there.  These sessions are a lot of work.  Not just for me, but for my clients as well, and to see all of that hard work pay off is a feeling like no other.

What do we need to do as women to encourage the next generation to pursue an entrepreneurial path? 

We need to continue to show support, encouragement, and love for one another.  Being an entrepreneur is so much work, and most of it is lonely.  Women especially work better when we have a tribe of like-minded people by our sides to lift us up, or just to lend an empathetic voice.  The struggles we go through are unique and it feels like only other entrepreneurs seem to understand what we are feeling.  The more we can band together and help one another, the more success future women entrepreneurs will find because they will be able to step into a space that welcomes them with open arms, courage, and wisdom.  The path of entrepreneurship will no longer seem lonely or scary, but instead, seem inviting and full of hope.

Learn more about Sarah:

Sarah studied Advertising at Cal State Fullerton and started out working for large agencies like Saatchi & Saatchi and Yamaha in various administrative positions. She longed for more creative work and became a graphic designer – first for For Rent Magazine, then transitioned to freelance once her oldest son was born. But somewhere along the journey, she fell in love with photography.  Her first photography job was as a product photographer at Boot Barn. Sarah then ran a successful wedding photography business for years that specialized in documentary style imagery. Today Sarah is a personal brand photographer for mompreneurs.

Connect with Sarah: FacebookLinkedIn |


 Gina Williams — Owner, Pinpoint Local

What inspired you to start your business? 

After selling my last business, an e-commerce store, I was tired of trying to get people to buy things.  I really wanted to make an impact on people’s lives and went in search of a way to help others reach their goals.  I dabbled in coaching and started blogging, but found that I really missed working with a team.  That’s when I found PinPoint Local and decided to buy into the franchise.  It checks all of the boxes—the flexibility and control that comes with working for yourself, while being part of a team, and most importantly I get to spend my days making a real difference in people’s lives and businesses!

What business accomplishment are you most proud of?

I think it’s pretty cool that my partner and I were able to grow our craft beer business, on a shoestring budget, to the point of being saleable in just 3 years.  That’s a fun revenue trajectory!

What do we need to do as women to encourage the next generation to pursue an entrepreneurial path? 

Let’s be an example.  If we want our daughters to have big dreams, we must have big dreams.  If we want them to believe they can, we must first believe in ourselves.  If we want them to dig deep and reach their goals, we must show them how to be brave, strong and tenacious.  If we want to encourage the next generation we cannot tell them, we have to show them.  We must speak to ourselves as if we are speaking to them.

Learn more about Gina:

Gina Williams takes the guesswork out of digital marketing and helps small businesses get more local clients online. After almost 10 years as COO of a small construction company, Gina co-founded and sold an eCommerce craft beer business.  Eager to find a way to help others reach their goals, she authored her first best-selling book and became an expert in keyword research. Today, she helps people grow their businesses through proven website design and SEO services with measurable results.

Connect with Gina: Facebook  LinkedIn |