To Top

Life and Work with Susan F. Moody and Leeanne Gardner

Today we’d like to introduce you to Susan F. Moody and Leeanne Gardner.

Once upon a time, Susan was working at a job that although it was financially rewarding it was also soul sucking. It was during this time that her husband was considering that he would retire within in the next few years. Knowing that it would not be a good thing to both transition simultaneously, Susan started exploring her next chapter in life. What would she really like to be doing that would not only nourish her soul but also put some money in the proverbial cookie jar?

With this in mind, Susan started exploring her strengths, her desires, and her life’s passion. Of course, this was not a new process for Susan because by this time she had already started over 10 businesses. This was simply a “What would I like to do next?” moment. And, what kept coming up was her desire to once again help others create a life doing what they would like to do versus what they felt they had to do.

So Susan, being an advocate of life-long learning, went back to school and received her 2nd coach certification. It was also during this time, that her friends kept asking her to write about her story and her process for seemingly always getting what she wanted in her life. Thus, she went on to write Cz the Day! Unbeknownst to Susan, once she wrote and published the book, she was going to be prompted to be in the spotlight and share her story from the stage.

Being a “behind the scenes” type of gal, this was not a very comfortable place for Susan to be. So, to get more comfortable with her voice, Susan started her own radio show based on the title of the book. This allowed Susan to be in front of a larger audience, share success stories and strategies from other entrepreneurs and find her own voice.

It was during this time that Susan met Leeanne Gardner at a Thought Leaders Conference for Women – one in which they were both speakers. At that conference, Susan asked Leeanne to be a guest on her radio show. Leeanne, who loves to speak and be in the spotlight, had never been on the radio and thought “Why not?” and a studio date was set. On April 16, 2016, Leeanne appeared on the Cz the Day! radio show sharing her story of how she had lost her passion for life and what she had to do to regain it.

Growing up, Leeanne had a beloved horse and competed in horse shows until her parents divorced. When she had to sell her horse, it broke her heart. So much so, that she built a wall and didn’t have anything to do with horses for the next 17 years. She grew up and threw herself into creating a highly successful corporate career. So much so, that she lost herself in the job and didn’t have much of a life outside of the office.

It was at the point of near burnout that Leeanne started checking in with her colleagues about the meaning and importance of having balance in your life. She found when she asked others, “What lights you up?”, that most people couldn’t answer that question. That spurred Leeanne on to create her company Unbridle It where she integrated using horses to help others realign with their passion for life.

After the radio show that day, Susan and Leeanne started to explore what they could create together that would blend Leeanne’s gift of helping others find their passion and Susan’s gift of creating a strategic plan to integrate that passion back into their life. And, so the Passionista and the Actionista created Starshine Associates. As with most businesses in the early stages, you figure it out as you go along. They were both building their separate businesses and simultaneously creating a joint business. They started by offering coach and consulting services for small business owners. Through listening to their clients’ needs and concerns, they established that small business owners, especially those that work remotely or from their homes, just weren’t getting what they needed to create a sustainable business model through the traditional methods.

They recognized that the secret ingredient for creating a flourishing business is support for the business owner. And, that no one succeeds by going it alone. So they created an enhanced, yet affordable membership-based version of their services specifically for entrepreneurs based on those needs. Their collaborative small business communities foster the sharing of resources to provide solutions for your business and support for YOU, the heart and soul behind the business! Membership includes business education seminars, wellness workshops, peer-to-peer mentoring and accountability partnerships.

They started their community offering as StarshineAZ focused on women-owned businesses. As the concept gained momentum, they rebranded as Starshine Communities and now small business owners have a choice of being a member of their women-only communities, their open communities or their online community. Starshine Communities, Inc., an Arizona Benefit Corporation, offers a welcoming environment where you build relationships, grow your business and take care of YOU.

Has it been a smooth road?
As with most new businesses, especially when you are changing the way to do business as we are, the road is not very smooth. But it is not meant to be. To remain relevant, you must be able to ebb and flow with the realities of owning your own business. Yes, you want to be as prepared as you can be for the journey ahead, but the unexpected will pop up.

“Having started multiple businesses, I believe the struggles consistently fall into 3 categories: money, mindset, and marketing,” says Susan. “So much so that we even offer a program of that same name. As a new business owner, you are constantly worried about cash flow which equates to finding new clients.”

“Being newer to entrepreneurship, Susan has had to talk me off the ledge several times,” inserts Leeanne. “It is great to be enthusiastic and believe in your idea, but it is also important to surround yourself with others who will cheer you on during your highs, and lift you up when you are low.”

Our main advice is to please not go it alone! We have all heard the scary statistics that over 80% of new businesses fail within the first 2 years. What is not often shared is that of the 20% that do make it, 94% of those business owners have worked with a coach or a mentor. 94%! That is one of the main reasons we have built in mentoring as a key component of our membership.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Starshine Communities – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Our business model is based on “The Brilliance of Collaboration. The Power of Community.” We are most proud of the connectedness we have with our members. We truly feel that we are stronger together and our members exemplify our values of authenticity, kindness, and generosity. We share a common bond of creating businesses that are based on what is important to us. At the end of the day, we want to know that through our businesses we made a difference.

We are all CEOs – Chief Everything Officers. When we run our own business, it affects every part of our life. One of the things that set us apart is our focus on self-care in addition to a business building. Along with business education seminars, we also offer wellness workshops and… go on fieldtrips.

“Business owners, especially women business owners, get so focused on taking care of everyone and everything in our lives,” says Leeanne, “but who is taking care of you? How are you maintaining a healthy lifestyle while putting everything you have into creating a business?”

“Most of our members are solopreneurs,” says Susan “so we have to be reminded and questioned, Leeanne and I included, of what will happen to your business if something happens to you?”

We would also like to share how grateful we are that our collaboration vs competition community business model is resonating with so many small business owners. We currently have three communities in the West Valley and are launching the next phase of our business where others can create a Starshine Community in their area. We would like to invite Phoenix Voyager readers who might be interested to connect with us for more information.

What advice would you give to someone at the start of her career?
For us, it all goes back to having the support you need to achieve your goals. Unfortunately, we have found that that support does not always come from your family and friends. So, our best advice is to surround yourself with other like-minded professionals who have already experienced the practicalities of business ownership and are willing to share their expertise and experience.

“Leeanne and I have a particular passion for working with women-owned businesses and helping aspiring entrepreneurs bring their business vision to life,” says Susan. “So much so that we partnered with Silver Lining Riding 501c3 to launch our fiscally sponsored project ‘Reach for the STARs’, a scholarship program for female entrepreneurs.”

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: VoyagePhoenix is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in