Porsha Thomas’s story is one of trial and error. Through it all she has learned the value and power of her voice.
The Lola member, Porsha Thomas has a story whose chapters are captivating and impressive. She has always been a writer and found a passion for writing at a young age. But after a lot of trial and error, Porsha has found success in running her collective for freelancing women: GOWRKGRLS™. When she isn’t working you can find her cooking, traveling or yoga-ing.
Location: Atlanta, GA
Age: 35 years
What I do: I run GOWRKGRLS™
Briefly describe who you are, what you do for work and for fun
I’m ambitious, perceptive, fun-loving, and a perfectionist (unfortunately) from an old cow town called Lubbock, Texas. In 1995, I started planning quite extensively what I wanted to do with my life. Yes, I was 10.
In the 5th grade, I knew that I would be a writer and I also knew that I loved computers (Oregon Trail lovers, what’s up?!). If I wasn’t riding my bike up and down 29th Drive with my best friend Amy, I was using Canon Printshop to “design” greeting cards, letterheads, banners and brochures promoting all of the businesses I planned to launch soon. What this means is that I’ve been creating branding and marketing content for 26 years now, but today I’m getting paid to do it.
I run GOWRKGRLS™ . We’re a collective of freelancing women providing brand & marketing strategies for women who sell things.
Activities I think are fun are cooking, traveling, yoga-ing, relaxing, and binge-watching trashy Reality TV or True Crime documentaries.
Share your career story with us
So as previously mentioned, I realized I had a knack for writing in the 5th grade. My English teacher, Mrs. Morgan, is who made me aware of my talent. From that point on, I was like, “sorry, Mom. I don’t want to be a lawyer. I’m going to do Journalism!”
I left the cow town for a university just outside of Dallas, Texas to major in Editorial/News Writing. These were the late 2000s though, folks, so at the time, Print Journalism was a gigantic question mark. Me being the computer kid I’d always been must’ve been pretty overt though because the day we covered digital publications in my news reporting class, my professor told everyone, “…And this publication (DailyCandy) would be a great place to work for someone like Porsha!”
I agreed. Food and fashion? I was like, “Sign. Me. Up.” And low and behold, there was a Dallas edition of the New York-based DailyCandy! Ultimately, finding my way to that website contact form and submitting an inquiry about “Internships at DailyCandy Dallas” changed my life.
My editor, Brittany, didn’t go into an office. She worked from home and from cute coffee shops. She shared my love of vintage clothing. She knew the owners of all the cool businesses in town, she wrote about all the cool things, and I was smitten. She was my introduction to freelance life. I decided then that a conventional 9-5 would never be my thing.
And so the story goes on to me starting my own digital publication and failing miserably (but hey, we don’t all start out being excellent business owners, do we?). Then I used that miserable experience to create a community called Ladypreneur League. My mission was to ensure that my fellow boss women didn’t make the same mistakes I did, and if they did, they had a community to support them. It took a few more years and a few more “a-ha” moments, but that little community morphed into today’s female-business-focused creative agency.
Throughout these entrepreneurial ventures, I honed my copywriting and digital marketing skills by working at women-owned small businesses and creative agencies. I jumped industries for a spell to produce events and build community in a physical coworking space. It was an experiment to see whether Ladypreneur League should make a move towards physical coworking. It served its purpose – it burned me out and let me know where my time and energy should actually be going!
Were you inspired by anyone or anything when deciding on your career path?
I’ve had both positive and negative influences that made me take the career path I did. I appreciate both. A positive is my experience at DailyCandy. Brittany was probably the most influential person and DailyCandy was the most influential role because of the type of work I’ve gone on to do. Negative number one is my experience at the coworking space – being told “our employees should expect to grow horizontally,” when I asked why I was continuously passed over for the Marketing roles I applied for since I’d been doing that type of work (in addition to my real work) all along. Negative number two would be working with women business owners who are all about the causes in public: women helping women, Black Lives Matter, etc, then finding out that behind the scenes, their offices are rife with entitlement, manipulation, distrust, and also white savior complex…that’s been a thing too. My negative experiences taught me a lot about people in general, and they certainly shaped the way I work now and who I choose to do business with.
What does success look like to you?
It’s realizing that I used to long for the days I could start my workday at 10A after yoga & meditation, work from my cute desk in my cute apartment, in my cute neighborhood, and drink matcha tea while I met with clients that I wilfully chose and not because I needed the money.
Has COVID-19 affected your view on what you do for work or how you work? If yes, why and how?
COVID-19 caused me to see the work we’re doing at GWG is necessary. We’ve all been forced to work in a new way. Business structures have changed, businesses are offering new services, and new technologies are being created to serve the world we live in. We’re all having to learn how to create genuine connections virtually. Understanding our clients and their audiences so that we can position their brands properly is paramount these days. Storytelling is everything when there are limits imposed on how we can connect with each other.
What struggles have you faced as a womxn in your career field? Did you overcome those struggles? How? What did you learn as a result?
Most of my jobs have been at companies owned by women so I can’t really say that I feel like being a woman has been a hindrance in my career. I’ve struggled with being overqualified and expected to contribute the bonus parts of my skill set without proper compensation…by women.
This is why GOWRKGRLS™ is a collective. The talented women who offer their services through GWG set their own pricing. Everyone contributes their opinions when making decisions. We’re transparent about how things are working (or aren’t). This approach is 100% shaped by what I’ve struggled with in my career. Imagine fair trade marketing and branding solutions and that’s GWG!
What womxn do you think (past or present) have owned and told their stories in the most powerful way?
You know whose story really resonates with me? Josephine Baker. Since childhood, I’ve been enamored with Josephine Baker. Born in St. Louis in 1906, dropped out of school at 12, homeless, street corner-dancing, and married by 13, divorced and off to NYC at 15 to get better at dancing, married and divorced again by 19, and then off to Paris to become the woman we all know today – civil rights activist, performer, and in my eyes, a fierce proponent of following your dreams at all costs.
Can you share any resources that have helped improve your communication or storytelling skills?
Journaling. I’ve been keeping an account of my life since 2009 called “The PT Chronicles” and let me tell you, 24, 25, and 26-year-old Porsha is hilarious! She was experiencing things and living her life with a vibrancy that was present in the writing. The writing in my 30s is a lot more analytical. Now I’m reflecting, figuring stuff out, and having epiphanies and all of that, but it’s a definite treat to be able to have a glass of wine and scroll up to 2010 sometimes to just see where my head was at!
What are some unexpected, unique or inspiring ways you’ve seen womxn tell their stories
I’ll tell you what I appreciate in a story that can be unexpected I guess, but it shouldn’t be, and that is speaking with candor. Telling all the parts of the story and not just the parts that make you look good. Owning up to the bullshit roles you played in the events that shaped your life. Like when I mentioned not being compensated for doing work that was beyond what I’d been hired to do – those events would’ve looked a whole lot different if I would’ve advocated for myself in those moments and been like, “nah.. you need to pay me to do XYZ (you know, in a nice PR way)…” Yes, I was being taken advantage of, but the fault also lies with me. When you’re telling your stories, own up to your own bullshit.