Omaha Woman Turns ‘Total Disaster’ Into Booming App


Carina Glover launched HerHeadquarters, an app connecting women entrepreneurs to local and national brand partnerships with women-owned businesses. (Carina Glover)
By 
Molly Ashford
The Daily Record

During Carina Glover’s senior year at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, she set about on her first business venture – an event planning business called Chiffon Events.

The launch party was catered, complete with fancy gift bags, and the event had all the fixings to be an incredible debut of what was set to be an equally admirable endeavor. Glover invited a host of potential clients to begin networking.

There was a catch: No one showed up.

It took that “total disaster” of a launch party to inspire Glover to create HerHeadquarters: an app connecting women entrepreneurs to local and national brand partnerships with women-owned businesses in industries such as, but not limited to, beauty, fashion, entertainment, public relations and event planning.

Glover recently was recognized by American Express in collaboration with IFundWomen of Color, a funding platform for Black women entrepreneurs, for the 100 for 100 program, which recognized 100 Black women nationwide with $25,000 grants as well as 100 days of business development and networking opportunities. An Omaha native and Marian High School graduate, Glover’s warm and articulate demeanor is evident. She is passionate about her work, and her belief in HerHeadquarters had led to the company working to expand into global markets at a faster pace than she could have predicted.

Glover attributes much of her current success to her adaptability. After the disastrous launch party, she sat down to reflect on what led to the event unfolding the way that it did.

It didn’t take Glover long to realize that not partnering with those who offered may have led to its downfall.

“All these women were reaching out saying they were event planners or caterers or decorators and would like to partner with me,” Glover said. “At the time, my mindset was ‘If you’re good at something, you should be able to do it by yourself.’ So, I turned all of them down.”

With lessons learned in hand, Glover struggled through the first year and a half of business before completely rebranding and hiring a business coach. Within a month of the overhaul, she had received emails from the Grammys and the NFL Honors Awards.

Though still located in Omaha, Glover was booking clients nationwide, frequently traveling to Los Angeles and connecting with other entrepreneurs around the country. Often, she would hear them complain about the difficulties of securing quality and beneficial brand partnerships.

Despite Glover’s evolving client base and Chiffon Events' emergent success, the work no longer felt fulfilling. She remembers one night she was back home in Omaha.

“It’s about 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning,” Glover said. “I was praying for some direction, because I started to feel that I wasn’t doing what I was supposed to be doing. And after I got done praying, all of these conversations with all these women are flowing through my mind, and I’m hearing their challenges about brand partnerships.”

Right then, the blueprints for HerHeadquarters were beginning to take shape. Glover says the idea came to her so clearly that she could see it.

By the next day, Glover knew in her heart that this app was her calling. She took down Chiffon Events’ website, finished her existing contracts and set about conducting focus groups with 200 women nationwide about their perceptions of the product.

The app officially launched in June 2019, about a year and a half after Glover began conducting market research. It debuted in Omaha, Los Angeles, New York, Houston, Miami and San Francisco.

Since then, the app has expanded into over 50 U.S. cities, and there is a growing waitlist of women entrepreneurs from over 10 countries.

“International is definitely in our plans,” Glover said. “We didn’t expect to have that waitlist so quickly. Now we’re in a place where we are looking to scale.”

The app, which is a subscription-based service tailored to women who own brands and businesses in a variety of sectors, has created an environment for women to support other women by uplifting each other’s ventures. Users of the app vary greatly in age and experience, from small startups to multi-million-dollar companies.

“The one thing all these women have in common is that they are all trying to grow their business, they are trying to run a profitable and sustainable business and they are smart enough to incorporate brand partnerships into that strategy,” Glover said.

In recent years, partnerships and collaborations have become one of the best ways to grow a business. According to a global 2018 study from Partnerize of more than 1,200 companies, 74% reported that partnerships and affiliate marketing are a high or very high priority for their business strategy.

Given the emergence of large-scale brand partnerships and affiliate marketing opportunities —such as Adidas’ collaboration with Kanye West or the Apple credit card issued in partnership with Goldman Sachs —it seems clear that partnerships are a lucrative business opportunity.

However, for those just starting, partnerships that could get them off the ground can be hard to come by.

“I’m trying to make these quality partnerships just as accessible to all women who want to incorporate them into their business strategy,” Glover said.

In addition to providing access to a network of powerful women, Glover said that she realized this year that women need access to capital in order to truly grow their businesses.

As a result, the company was able to award two business grants in 2020 – something that Glover hopes to incorporate into the business model for the long-term.

“We position women to become, to obtain and to stay in positions of power by giving them access to the network and the capital that they need,” she said.

Glover also highlighted the adaptability that she has seen amongst business owners during the pandemic. One user who owns a full-service nail salon in Houston had to shut her doors in the early days of COVID-19. She posted on the app seeking another woman-owned business to partner with in making at-home spa day kits.

The nail salon owner partnered with a woman based in San Francisco who owns a skincare line. The pair jointly marketed their creation, reaching a nationwide audience. Glover sees this as an example of perseverance, but also as an example of the benefits of partnerships that reach across the country.

When she was creating the app, Glover noticed that many brand partnership platforms only focused on partnerships within the users’ area. By making space for trans-national partnership opportunities, HerHeadquarters is proving to fill that gap.

“My goal is to make this app so valuable – and I’m not talking about valuable in the perspective of money – but I want this app to become so big and valuable to these women that they depend on it for the success and sustainability of their business,” Glover said.

As far as the grant from American Express, Glover said that she is honored to have even been considered. She plans to continue to push HerHeadquarters into new markets with the money.

“I feel honored because 100 is a fraction of the number of amazing Black women out there doing phenomenal things,” Glover said. “I felt honored, but it was also eye-opening for me. They saw me, and they picked me. It made me realize that maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on myself, and that I’m doing better than I sometimes think that I am.”

Find more information about the HerHeadquarters app at herheadquarters.app. Find more on the 100 for 100 program at ifundwomen.com/americanexpress.

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