A Conversation with Nicole Smithee
In the second installment of the “Power & Purpose” series, I had the pleasure of speaking with Nicole Smithee. Mrs. Smithee is the CEO and co-founder of Iridescent Women, “a community of women committed to awakening the brilliance within each other, one real conversation and true contribution at a time.” Smithee is a phenomenal woman whose faith and passion for empowering women are worthy of emulation. Read along as we talk about the importance of humility, community, and faith in business.
Sarah: Tell me about yourself. What are your passions?
Nicole: I’m passionate about living life to the full. Not just surviving, but really living. I want to help people learn how to be loved and valued by God. I’ve been passionate about this since I was 12-years-old. I’m also passionate about helping women be brilliant and cheer each other on.
I’m passionate about my husband, Ben. He and I have been married for two years, soon to be three years in November. I love Liberty Church, I volunteer there as well. I really enjoy traveling. I also love a good story. I like history podcasts, documentaries, and books. I like history because it gives me the context to see where we we’ve been and [how we’ve developed] as a society.
Sarah: What role does your faith play in navigating the business world? How do you balance faith and work?
Nicole: I don’t see [faith and work] as being separate, [they’re always] together. Western society often compartmentalizes things but that shouldn’t be. I always worked in ministry, as a volunteer for my church. I never saw it as, “this is the place for work and this is the place for church.”
Everywhere I go, I’m doing ministry. If I get to help people, I get to do it in the name of Jesus.
That’s why I started Iridescent Women, to help elevate the voice of women. Jesus represented the heart of God for women. He always elevated them and heard their voices. [As believers], that’s what we have to represent. The success of anything that I do is connected to the health of my soul, and that’s connected to my faith in Jesus. They are deeply integrated.
Sarah: What inspired you to create Iridescent Women?
Nicole: I never thought I would be a CEO. Three summers ago, I was speaking at a young adult conference on a college campus. Before I spoke, I remember looking out at the audience [from backstage] and seeing people genuinely worshiping Jesus. I was taking it all in and praying, thanking God that I got to see other people worshiping Him. I felt led to look [closely] at certain faces in the crowd and I noticed that all of them were young women.
At that moment, I felt in my spirit that I needed to minister to young women.
I went back to my hotel room and called my husband, at that time my fiance, and I was telling him that I needed to walk in obedience and minister to women. In order to do that, I knew that I needed to meet them where they were. I realized that I needed to go digital and make [my ministry] easily accessible to women. [Iridescent Women] became an online platform because I wanted all women to share their stories and experiences.
I also learned that it matters who you share your dreams with. That was Ben for me. He helped me give [my vision] life and he affirmed my dreams. After I talked to Ben, I spoke to Alex. [She and I] have been dear friends [through our time at] church.
She also had a passion for helping women. I told her that I wanted to do this and that if she wanted to be a part of it, she could join. She told me that she was all in because it also aligned with her vision. It’s great to have a comrade and sister like Alex. I’m really grateful that I got to start this ministry with her.
Sarah: How do you deal with the doubt that comes when your dreams seem delayed?
Nicole: I think there needs to be a few things:
We need the grace to be able to endure those moments. That grace comes through my relationship with Jesus.
I find the grit in Jesus as well. He gives us the grace and the grit to move forward. You also need to normalize that process of waiting. It’s a normal component of going after your dreams. Don’t quit; give yourself some grace and pivot where you need to. We’ve had to pivot at Iridescent Women in order for [our ministry to] evolve.
We live in an impatient society. We’re used to getting everything quickly. That’s not good for character building. I want my character to be more like Jesus and perseverance helps me to be more like Him.
If God told you to do [your mission], you need to walk in that. Some people quit before they get a chance to start fulfilling their dreams.
The people that you surround yourself with plays a big role in this too. You need to have people who care and believe in you. I have that with Alex. We are each other’s cheerleaders, even on the bad days.
You have to have those people in your world who will show you a lot of grace and remind you of your capability.
For young entrepreneurs, Nicole encourages them to stay hungry and humble. She says, “You have to be willing to deal with discomfort and inconveniences. If you have that hunger, don’t lose it. Once you start something and get more established, you need to develop that hunger to keep growing and developing your passion.”
She also encourages young entrepreneurs to “always have the posture of being a student. If you don’t know the answers, ask someone who does.”
For Christians who want to start a business, Nicole wants them to “affirm the dream inside. If you feel like God is calling you to [fulfill that passion], go for it. Do good in the name of Christ.”
She also encourages them to trust God for future success. She says, “Be bold, have faith, and believe that God will provide. Believe for bigger than what you’re believing for right now because we serve a big God.”
“Strength and honor are her clothing; She shall rejoice in time to come.”