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Erin Joy | How a focused niche has been the single most effective thing we’ve done to make a name for ourselves

Erin Joy, Founder and CEO | Black Dress Circle | St. Louis, MO USA

A strategic consultant, trusted confidant, and straightforward advisor, Erin Joy has made it her life’s mission to provide female business owners with the resources, services, and support they need to be successful in business and life. She is founder and CEO of Black Dress Circle®, a facilitated, member-driven entrepreneur roundtable program.
Erin has received multi-year recognition as a top consultant in the St. Louis area. She received a Master of Arts in human resources management from Washington University in St. Louis, and is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in business psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology.


When was your organization founded, and where? What is the story behind how your organization began?

2011 in St. Louis, MO – I had been a consultant to the housing industry, which crashed in 2007. By January 2008, I decided to pivot and leave the industry. I launched a small coaching & consulting company, and just when I was starting to get on my feet, I learned my daughter was on the way. I went to work for one of my clients for a brief period. In February 2011, I launched Black Dress Circle and I decided to carve a niche of working with women entrepreneurs and now I’m a specialist in my work.

What is your favorite story to tell about this organization and how it has come to succeed?

Creating a focused niche has been the single most effective thing we’ve done to make a name for ourselves. People can immediately place who we are, how we help, and who we should know. Word-of-mouth marketing works in our favor.

What leadership habits and cultural values have led to your company-organization’s success and recognitions?

Self-care, open communication, freedom to fail, team ownership and investment, critical thinking, self-development, innovation, and integrity.

Are there any interesting activities that your staff does as a group that are reflective of your company-organization’s culture?

My 15+ year team member, Shannon, now works remotely. So remote that she’s in another country all together! After 12 years of working together in St. Louis and knowing that her goal was to move overseas, she made it happen and we didn’t miss a beat thanks to our culture of open communication and innovation.

What roles does diversity play in your organization?

While we operate with a small long-standing team, we are vocal advocates of diversity and strive to be inclusive with our events and partners, and actively cultivate relationships with diverse business owners.

What role does technology play in your company-organization’s growth?

With a team member in Europe, technology plays a huge part in both our company’s daily operations and growth. We leverage technology to meet and collaborate remotely on a daily basis, and as far as growth we’ve recently broken into the online learning space (which has been a goal for many years), and are preparing to launch our first virtual roundtables. We’ll be leaning heavily into technology for years to come.

What is the current state of your industry?

The coaching and consulting industry are, like every other industry, being impacted by technology at a rapid pace. Both industries are healthy and growing with steep competition from solo practitioners to ‘big five’ firms.

How many worldwide locations does your company-organization you have and where are they?

One location in St. Louis, MO but with a team member in Europe we’re kind of international.

How is your company-organization better prepared to compete?

We’re a lean, high-performing team with a strong network (essential for resources and connections), and a variety of partners to support us. We also focus on credentials through awards, affiliations and academics.

While trekking up the mountain of building a business, we all want to know ‘where the bears are’. And that’s what we do at Black Dress Circle… we empower our clients to tell each other where the bears are, and guide them along the journey.

Erin Joy

What makes your company-organization’s products-services-solutions special?

PhD-level business psychology is at the foundation of our work, so the consulting focus is not only on the WHAT but the WHY. I am an entrepreneur myself, building a national and eventually international enterprise, so we’re on a similar rollercoaster as our clients. We share about our journey (the good, the bad, and the ugly) so they can learn from us and know they’re not alone.

What changes or growth do you predict for your organization in the coming years?

Making bigger strides in the online learning space, franchising our entrepreneur roundtable program to other women in other markets, increased emphasis on speaking and thought leadership through articles and books.

How did your organization first become acquainted with the Women World Awards?

My marketing firm and I are both huge fans of leveraging awards to elevate visibility and expertise within industries. They brought the prestigious SVUS awards opportunity to my attention and I knew I wanted to participate.


Black Dress Circle | St. Louis, MO USA

Black Dress Circle is a business consulting and coaching organization that specializes in creating and facilitating roundtable groups of female entrepreneurs, so they can discuss issues, share experiences, frame decisions, and leverage collective knowledge alongside others who understand the unique challenges of managing emerging and evolving companies. 

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