Literally, not 24 hours have passed since writing my “A” blog post, and I’m already back at the computer working on the letter B. This is significant only because a) I have a million other things to do, and b) I haven’t been writing lately with any regularity, so what used to come easily to me is now like running a marathon the day after giving birth to quadruplets: Pure. Dumb. Effort.
If this is your first stop, my challenge is to write 26 posts on the same theme, each topic starting with a letter of the alphabet. Today is B and my topic is Boss Babes.
The term is sort of new, but the idea is anything but. Boss Babes is a term for entrepreneurial women who must learn marketing, sales, finance, operations, customer service, personal branding and everything else concerning starting their own company from scratch. They run it, they are in charge of it, and they are doing it [mostly] on their own. They are smart and savvy; they learn from their mistakes, and they keep going despite some of the negative connotations about strong women owning a business–especially if they are building companies or delving into industries traditionally dominated by men.
As I work on creating another company, I have been blessed to have two exceptional examples of Boss Babes, women in my industry who not only DID it (well), but dominated or are still obliterating any competition.
They were Boss Babes before anyone ever coined the super cute term.
I first met Cydney Neil at a haunted house convention on the west coast, where she was a keynote speaker. Her looks are model-striking, and if you know nothing else about her, you’d suspect she was someone important based solely on her presence and her confidence that reverberates around you like sound waves after a bomb blast.
For 26 years, Cydney owned and operated (almost single-handedly) arguably the most popular and detailed haunted house attraction in the United States, Rocky Point Haunted House in Utah, and she did it long ago–long before the mass production of expensive animatronics, set designs, realistic body forms, Amazon Prime, and other technology used today. She did it with her brain, creativity, determination, and laser-focused dedication. She developed a (at the time) ground-breaking program for her actors and jumped out ahead of anyone else with her use of sponsors and marketing.
Cydney is one of my dearest friends, confidantes, and the epitome of a business woman. She rocked the world of haunted attractions FOR YEARS and did it before anyone else. So far, no other woman has come close to competing at her level in the haunt industry, and even today, mega attractions across the U.S. are still using the sets they purchased from her when she closed Rocky Point’s doors in 2006.
During my final season with Talladega Frights, Cydney went on her own ‘final tour’ and visited haunted attractions across the country to film a documentary as somewhat of a farewell love letter to the industry to which she’d dedicated so much of her life. We were undoubtedly the smallest, least-known haunt she visited (and we were on 20 acres), but she and I had developed quite a bond as women in business, and she wanted to spend some time in smalltown Bakersfield, Calif., to see what I had accomplished. The picture here is during her visit while we were in production.
The second Boss Babe is a woman I recently met in person, because after I read her book, I knew I had to know her. Bobbie Wiener, aka Bloody Mary, is, quite frankly, a badass in business. Bad Ass Boss Babe.
In her book I Can Do This: The Bloody Mary Story, she explains how an unexpected divorce left her without an identity (or money) of her own, so, in her mid-40s, she embarked on an expedition to learn a new trade that, today, has blossomed into a line of products and government contracts that make her early challenges seem like minor irritations on the way to streets of gold. (Don’t believe me? Search her name on Amazon and see how many pages pop up.) But it was the WAY she progressed during those challenges–even selling her car at one point and working for free in order to gain experience–that makes her story so jaw-dropping stunning.
Oh, and you know those icy, dead bodies floating in the water during the final 30 minutes of the movie Titanic? That’s her handiwork. She did the makeup on those actors.
At the end of her book, she leaves readers with an epilogue of “12 Tips for Success” that alone are worth the book’s weight in gold. She shares lessons about partnerships, trust, obstacles, education, persistence, mistakes, and giving back. I think I highlighted something on almost every page.
I met up with Bobbie recently at a haunt convention, and she graciously gave me over two hours of her time to pick her brain, ask questions and get advice. She’s warm and friendly–but there’s a badass, take no prisoners aspect to her personality that also says, “Don’t mess with me.”
And in that, mayhap, a lesson for all Boss Babes.