Success Stories To Live By


If you’re a businesswoman, chances are you get exhausted, discouraged and sometimes anxious. The reasons could be too much business, not enough business or a long string of culprits in between. Here are two success stories to get you out of bed on those mornings when you just want to hide under the covers. 

Wild Friends is a nut butter company founded by two best friends, Erika Welsh and Keeley Tillotson, along with Tillotson’s father, Bruce. It all started in 2011 when the women were roommates at the University of Oregon. They shared a passion for peanut butter and started whipping up their own more healthful versions with unique flavors such as cinnamon raisin.

Before they knew it, they were making nut butter by night and selling it by day. They sold to their friends and at farmers markets and soon realized they barely had time for school. The pair landed on Shark Tank just before the start of their junior year then decided to forego college in favor of their business. Four years after Shark Tank, sales were projected at $7 million, and retail chains Whole Foods, Kroger and Costco were watching. More investors got involved, and Tillotson’s father started traveling around the country getting Wild Friends onto more store shelves.

Wild Friends jars sport the face of a winking chipmunk, and today’s flavors include almond cashew, organic honey sunflower and, for those with more conventional tastes, good old creamy peanut butter.

Now consider the story of Sara Blakely, inventor of the women’s undergarment Spanx. In her early 20s, Blakely was employed selling fax machines, and at age 25 was the company’s national sales trainer. 

Blakely’s inspirations for Spanx were Florida’s heat and humidity, and her employer’s policy requiring that women employees wear pantyhose. By age 27, Blakely was investing $5,000 of her own money toward research and development of the product that would one day be Spanx. But when she introduced her idea to male-dominated hosiery mill representatives, she was rejected every time. One day, one of those reps called her back, admitting that his daughters changed his mind. 

One of the most memorable product demos of all time has to be the one Blakely performed in a ladies’ room when she slipped into a pair of Spanx in front of a Nieman Marcus buyer. Soon, Spanx were in more stores, and Blakely sent some to Oprah Winfrey, leading to Winfrey’s November 2000 pronouncement of Spanx as a “Favorite Thing.” It was around this time that Blakely quit her day job.

Of course, there was more to it than that, but you get the idea. In 2014, Forbes listed Blakely as the 93rd most powerful woman in the world.

So, on those mornings when you think you just don’t have what it takes, spread some Wild Friends nut butter on your toast, pull up your Spanx and get back out there.


Teece Aronin

Teece Aronin is a blogger and columnist. Teece writes a humor/health and wellness column for the Oakland Press and is the Featured Writer for October at Her artwork is available at the store, phylliswalter, and Teece seriously considers any request for workshops, coaching, and speaking engagements. Read her blog at, contact her at and follow her on Twitter @taronin

CAWLM is now 517 Magazine!

517 Magazine

Embodying the best elements of Capital Area Women’s LifeStyle Magazine and Greater Lansing Business Monthly, 517 Magazine is your guide to living and working in Lansing.

Click here to read 517 Magazine!

Social Media