Female Factor celebrates fourth year
Published 3:00 am Thursday, August 13, 2015
Four years ago, a few women met for lunch to discuss the idea of creating Female Factor. Now more than 200 women meet monthly to discover “all the factors that make (them) uniquely female.”
“We look forward to starting our fifth year,” said Karen Herring, advisory board member. “What was just an idea has grown into Female Factor”
Herring said putting together Female Factor is one of the highlights of her career, and she enjoys being able to mingle with her female friends while continuing to make new ones. “If you can say you have five good female friends, you are truly blessed,” Herring said.
To celebrate the fourth anniversary, Female Factor hosted Stacy Brown, founder of Chicken Salad Chick, to share her story about how she became the Chicken Salad Chick. She told her story about how someone told her to “come into reality,” but that didn’t define her reality.
“Although it should be a beautiful and wonderful thing, when that word is said to us, it’s not typically said that way,” Brown said. “If someone says, ‘It’s time to come into your reality,’ they aren’t typically saying ‘You need to dream bigger.’ They are trying say that you are not dealing with what is real, but the fact is you are the only one that knows what is real for you.”
Her business began “with a storm,” as Brown described it. After her divorce, she needed to find a way to support her kids and herself, and she knew she could cook.
“I considered myself to be a chicken salad connoisseur,” Brown said. “That does not mean that made great chicken salad. It means that I ate a lot of chicken salad.”
Brown believed if she could make a great chicken salad, people would buy it from her because it is so difficult to make.
Her batches of chicken salad were selling left and right until the health department gave her a call, telling her that she could not sell food out of her home. It was time to take the next step.
She called up her good friend, Kevin Brown, now her husband, and they invested in a small takeout spot. On Jan. 7, 2008, they opened their doors and sold all 12 flavors of 40 pounds of their chicken salad within two hours. Day two came with 80 pounds of chicken salad, and that still sold out in those first two hours. Business was booming.
The hunt for an investor began, bringing ups and downs along the way, but the Browns finally found the right one and are still working together today.
“We were able to build a team that has opened 39 restaurants in seven states,” Brown said.
“We will open 12 more in 2015. And we have 150 sold to be open as far west as Texas, as far south as Orlando … and they are all schedule to be open in the next few years.”
Even after all the successes with the business, life threw some more obstacles to test that hard-earned reality.
Brown’s husband was diagnosed with colon cancer in November 2013, giving him the initiative to create the Chicken Salad Chick foundation, raising money for cancer research and fighting hunger.
“By the end of 2016, we are projecting to have raised over $1 million for cancer research and hunger in our communities,” Brown said.
Brown told the ladies at Female Factor that she decided what he reality would be and no one else could control that. She challenged them by asking, “What is your reality?”
As she walked off the stage, she received a standing ovation. According to Dianna Lee, advisory board member, that is only the second standing ovation ever given at Female Factor.
“If you lean on your God-given gifts and talents … your reality will be better than you ever dreamed of,” Brown said.