Judith Martinez is the CEO and Founderof InHerShoes, the modern woman's community for courage. A SoCal native, Bay Area educated, first generation Filipina-American, Judith's work is redefining traditional standards of what it means to be a successful woman today.
An award-winningsocial entrepreneur, she has built programs alongside Echoing Green fellows, co-authored the first book by students for students on student leadership, worked with global leaders like former White House Chief of Staff, Leon Panetta, and shared her voice at the United Nations Youth Assembly. Passionate about intersectional leadership and environment-centered design, she is a Forbes 30 Under 30 nominee and a Vital Voices and TRESemme Global Leadership Fellow.
Q: What's your background, and what are you working on?
My formal background looked like following a yellow brick road straight to law school. As a Philosophy and Pre-Law major while at university, much of my experience and training in higher education looked like going to law school, being a corporate lawyer, and “finally” reaching what I always viewed as “success.” Looking back now, 6 years into building and growing InHerShoes, my life looks nothing like what I thought it would. In all the best ways.
Today, I am the CEO and Founder of InHerShoes, the modern woman’s community for courage. Our mission is to catalyze courage for young girls, women, and our allies to live a life they love one act of courage at a time. We challenge folx to answer for themselves “what would you do if you were 1% more courageous?”, then go out into the world and actually do something about it.
Q: What motivated you to get started with InHerShoes?
As a Philosophy major, I loved how much my studies prepared me for law school, but even more so, I loved engaging in what felt like the unanswerable questions of life. Little did I know how much questions in the classrooms would lead to me questioning my own life in big ways. One question I never thought I would have to face was: what do you do when you finally get the “yes” you have been chasing your whole life, only to realize all you want to say is “no”? For me, the “yes” I had been chasing my whole life was an acceptance to my dream law school. When I finally got it, I realized just how much I was chasing a dream that was never really mine; but rather, a dream people had for me. Sometimes it takes being presented what you don’t want to realize what you actually do. It can be a very scary thing to be brutally honest with yourself, but it can also be one of the most rewarding and liberating.
In realizing I authentically did not want to be a lawyer, but rather, really wanted to pursue social impact work, I secretly declined my dream law school acceptance and chose to create what is now InHerShoes, the destination community for people to grow and live inside their own courage.
Q: How have you attracted members and grown InHerShoes?
Attracting and building the InHerShoes community would not be possible without honing in on who we are and creating a team that reflects that. I believe InHerShoes is where we are today because we are clear on who we are, what we stand for, and what future and positive impact we are committed to creating in the world. From there, sharing, inviting, and building a community that centers on that shared vision becomes possible. Once you are clear on who you are, it also makes having the vision come to life attainable. Things like offering our programs, mentorship opportunities, training, and resources all become an extension of that clear vision and mission.
Q: What's your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?
As a non-profit, especially in a year like 2020 amidst COVID, our business model has pivoted and shifted to meet this moment in so many ways. Through a combination of grants, our generous donors, and offering our training to Universities and corporations, InHerShoes has grown through this new digital, online world we live in. We are also creating a new online community for InHerShoes members to catalyze their courage online and offline in a safe way.
Q: What are your goals for the future?
Continuing to scale and grow InHerShoes across the globe is a future we are excited about. We are looking forward to continuing launching new chapters abroad positively, impacting 1 million lives around the world. Having InHerShoes’s mission be available to young girls and women all over the world, and seeing how their courage can impact the communities they care about, is a goal we will always have.
Q: What are the biggest challenges you've faced and the obstacles you've overcome?
When I first started InHerShoes, things like revenue, scale, and having the “perfect” business plan would have been on my list. But looking back now, so many of my biggest challenges I have faced and overcame have been about my own capacity and growth as a leader. Questions like: what kind of leader am I?, what does it take to not just build a team, but lead one effectively? How do I deal with challenging problems or people? Seeing how much running a business truly makes you stretch and grow as a person has been some of the biggest challenges and also most rewarding and humbling obstacles I have overcome.
Q: Have you found anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Learning to be comfortable with the uncomfortable has been incredibly helpful in building up InHerShoes, and in any venture I am involved in. Learning to be flexible and agile in moments of change or discomfort are skill sets that are incredibly advantageous and valuable in work and in life.
Q: What's your advice for female founders who are just starting out?
Go for it! There are so many moments where we talk ourselves out of what we want to build or start, that we lose sight of why we are starting out to begin with. Do not let the fear of failure or the need for things to be “perfect” before you take action stop you. Besides, what would you do if you were 1% more courageous?