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Meet Trailblazer Crystal Gornto

Today we’d like to introduce you to Crystal Gornto.

Crystal, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
It all started in 2011 when the Super Bowl came to Dallas. At the time, I was selling cardiac medical devices, enjoying financial success in a male-dominated career, but not feeling personally fulfilled. There was a moment when I learned about the reality of local human trafficking, that completely rocked the heart of this native Oklahoma girl, to the core. It sent me on a journey to re-evaluate my purpose and my legacy. That journey led me to leap. I quit my lucrative career, that I’d worked so hard to earn, and liquidated all my retirement to start something that would encourage other women on a journey to more joy and purpose in their own lives. I wanted to start a community, to connect women and encourage them, to not be held back by all the negative noise in their minds, and to live the “stories of their hearts”. HeartStories was officially incorporated in January of 2013.

Our red heart-shaped headphones are a reminder for women to replace the negative noise in their minds that often tries to remind them that they’re not good enough or that this season of life is only about taking care of everyone else. Because that story is a lie. They’re a visual reminder to replace that negative soundtrack with a story of LOVE for themselves and for each other. When they see, or pop on our red headphones for a picture, they’re a symbol, that they’re replacing the negative noise with the kind of truth & love that can only be found in the context of authentic friendships. The kind of love that changes the world. #tomorelove

I began blogging 5 days a week in January of 2015, to be a consistent voice of encouragement, connection, inspiration, and sometimes, a friendly punch in the gut, for busy women who need to know their story matters (857 posts to date) . We host our live monthly HeartStories GNO events to reconnect busy women, to inspire the joy they crave and the courage to pursue their purpose. We held our first event in 2014 and began our monthly GNO’s in April of 2016 (26 monthly events to date)

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Oh holy cow, no! It’s not been smooth, even though that is exactly what I expected. I had a long track record of success in sales, I had no reason to believe this venture would be any different. I won’t say I was wrong, but my expectation of “success” was naive. I had NO idea how hard this road was going to be. I truly believed that all women would gravitate to this idea and we’d be off and running.

That was definitely “part” of the story in the beginning. But I fumbled to figure out a financially sustainable way to connect, encourage and inspire busy women. The crowdfunding money was poured into building an app, to reconnect women in their closest friendships, that turned out to need way more funding, time and resources than I could have dreamed. Our online shop to share the stories and products of women social entrepreneurs was so meaningful and important, but the margins turned out to be too small to sustain it.

It felt like I was starting over, time and time again… until the end of 2015. I hit my lowest low. I’ll never forget that day. My retirement money was long gone. The app was in storage. Many close friends, and even some family had become disinterested, and almost annoyed when I talked about my work. They encouraged me to quit and go back to my “successful career”. At least then, I would work fewer hours and make a lot more money. Their words, that were meant to encourage, pierced my heart. I questioned everything. In December of 2015, I closed down the online shop, and literally slid down the wall in my office, sobbing. I knew I wasn’t supposed to quit. I still knew I was called to do this work, but I had NO idea what to do.

Then, I remembered a coach I followed online had mentioned a woman named Tara Gentile and her book, “Quiet Power Strategy” with a headline that read, “There’s a better way to run your business: your way.” I knew there was something there for me. I’d been trying to run HeartStories by following in the footsteps of others. That Christmas, I read, underlined, and earmarked Tara’s book to death. I did every single worksheet. When I finished, I could clearly see the intersection where my talents and interests met the needs of the women I so desperately wanted to serve. That process gave birth to the HeartStories GNO events in 2016 which was an enormous turning point both for the business, and me, personally.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about HeartStories – what should we know?
Most women today are so busy trying to keep all the plates spinning, that they don’t make space for the rest and rejuvenation they need. At HeartStories, we’ve created a fun monthly GNO event series that helps women reconnect with their girlfriends, and themselves, to inspire the joy they crave and the courage to pursue their purpose. The HeartStories GNO is like a mini-retreat in the middle of the week.

We focus our monthly event themes on topics that are relevant, fun, and helpful to busy women. Some of the themes have been: beauty, style, fitness, a cooking class, vision board party, 80’s themed birthday party, tips on getting “holiday ready” like flattering photo posing, gift wrapping, gift giving, Ya-Ya Sisterhood, laughter yoga, a floral workshop, interior design, home organization, thoughtful Thanksgiving gatherings, self-care, cookie decorating, Derby party (with fascinator making), hand-stamping class, and SPA party (complete with a plethora of spa treatments)!

Upon arrival, the ladies are given raffle tickets to enter in the jars of their choice for numerous raffle prizes from our incredible sponsors, ranging in value from $25 – $250 each! They are then pampered by our rejuvenation sponsors offering champagne, hair styling, makeup touch-ups, and chair massage. Next, they enjoy laughter, wine, hors d’oeuvres, and fun crafts or activities. We often feature a successful woman as our special guest of the evening, who shares the backstory of her real life and how she built her business with us. Then she teaches us something new. We always wrap up the evening by 9:30 so the ladies get home early enough to get the rest they need for the next day.

Tickets are on sale here. They’re only $39 for the early bird and $49 the week of the event.

There are many companies focused on supporting women founders, networking for women in business, professional development and self-development. There are weekend retreats, online classes, and workshops for just about anything you want to learn. There are loads of places around town for fun Girls Nights Out.

HeartStories is none of those, and all of those at the same time.

It’s not a networking group, although that happens naturally and beautifully within our community. It’s not simply a personal or professional development course, class or workshop, although we touch on all of those things. And it’s certainly not just a fun Girls Night with no purpose or intention.

We are a brand, laser focused on rejuvenating the lives of a busy woman by reconnecting them (face-to-face) with their closest friends, to inspire the joy they crave, and the courage to pursue their purpose. To live the stories only they can live. Their HeartStories.

I am most proud, when I hear stories from women about all the beautiful ways their lives have improved by having a fun, intentional, and consistent gathering with their girlfriends each month. When they tell me they’re better wives, mothers, friends, and contributors in the world because of the courage they’ve built through being connected with HeartStories, THAT is what makes it all worth it.

What’s the most important piece of advice you could give to a young woman just starting her career?
The advice I would share with other young women just starting their journey is to adjust their expectations. It is going to be harder than you expect it to. It will take longer and cost you more than you think it will, in many areas of your life. You will constantly feel like you have NO CLUE what you are doing.

Do it anyway. Keep going. Read books. Hire a coach. Take online courses. Join or start a mastermind group of other women, in all different stages of a similar journey. (They will be your rock and believe in you when it feels like no one else does.) Partner with like-minded, like-hearted women and men, every chance you get. There is more than enough business for everyone and collaboration increases business for all. Sponsorship is the lifeblood of HeartStories and for that, I’m eternally grateful.

Not only should you learn to accept that the waves will always come. You must believe you will learn to ride them.

It’s worth it.


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Image Credit:

Meggie Taylor Photography, Brittnie Renee Photography, Katherine Gail Photography, Jessica Cernat Photography, Tamytha Cameron Photography, Give Photography, Josie Marie

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