Interview // Nicole Smartt, Owner of Star Staffing

Tell us about your business / current project.

Star Staffing is the career advice and placement experts in Northern California. We've been ranked as one of the fastest-growing companies in America appointed by Inc Magazine. We provide career advice and connect job seekers with local employers. We're currently located in Petaluma, Santa Rosa, Napa, Fairfield, Sacramento, and Lodi. 

If you could describe yourself in five words, what would they be?

Competitive, Driven, Hard-working, connected, resilient

Tell us about your co-conspirators. Who are the ladies you collaborate with on a regular basis?

I collaborate with inspiring, motivating, and go-getting ladies every day. From my teammates at Star to our vendors, clients, friends, and the community at large. I am constantly connecting, cultivating, and building on fierce lady partnerships.

How can young women get involved with an organization like The Lady Project?

They could start a forum group or smaller group in local cities to bring more awareness. 

Talk about the importance of finding your tribe.

Just as it's essential for kids to see people they identify with in movies, on TV, and in real life, it's just as essential for adults. Finding your tribe means you have a support network that understands you and your goals and will show up for you when you need them. It also means you get to invest in your tribe's future, which is both personally and professionally rewarding. 

Who inspires you these days? (Can be contemporary or a historical figure.)

Sheryl Sandberg inspires me! I recently attended her talk in San Francisco, where she talked about her new book, Option B. It's incredible that she was able to overcome an unimaginable tragedy, and she's been able to help others heal from pain at the same time. She took her own tragedy and made positivity out of it.

Why did you choose the career that you have?

I didn't know what I wanted to do. I applied for a front desk administrator position at a staffing firm when I was 18 years. I learned as much as I could, took on as many tasks and projects as I could, and one door leads to the next and the next. I went from front desk to recruiter to manager to sales representative and finally, 7 years later, I was owning my own company. The role is beyond fulfilling, rewarding, and every day is something new. We're making a distance every day and impacting many lives.

How do you think your work helps women locally and nationally?

Empowering other women is one of my key goals. Helping women find work that is meaningful to them and that supports their life goals serves an important purpose for individuals, their families, their friends, and the world. In the staffing industry, I think it's even clearer than in specific career goals - I get to see and support all kinds of women make a great living and help them achieve their career goals, and by extension, enrich their whole lives.

What changes to your business are you hoping to make in the next year?

We're looking to get more advanced in technology to continue our growth and competitive advantage. We're also looking to expand more with three additional offices in Central Valley California. 

What current events do you think are impacting you or your business directly right now?

We're constantly impacted by the changes in employment law. We play a large role in advocating for the staffing industry and sitting on boards within our industry to have real-time data on what's currently happening and what the future holds. 

When did you take your biggest risk (in life or business)? Was it worth it?

The biggest risk I took was joining forces with Star Staffing as an owner. I had never owned a business and I was 25 years old. It was absolutely worth it. They say, "If it's both terrifying and amazing then you should definitely pursue". I don't want to live with regrets and while many people told me not to invest in Star, I went with what I knew. I took a chance on me and it was worth it. We, as individuals, are our best investment! 

When things get rough, how do you keep yourself going?

Funny youtube videos, my goats, and great support! Challenges define us if they don't break us. I deeply believe challenges mold us into who we need to become in order to face the next part of our life. We come out stronger with more wisdom and character! After a rough day, I will either work out or spend time with my goats (I have 12). They're a huge sense of rejuvenation for me. 

What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given?

The best piece of advice I received is from a Teddy Roosevelt quote, "In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing". 

Do you label yourself a feminist? Please explain.

Absolutely, and I think we should all be feminists! Equality is the central hub of happy, healthy society. Women make up 56% of the United States, and yet not a single woman was in the room when the newest healthcare bill was created, which shows me we still have a lot of work to do to make equality a part of daily life. In my work, I see the effects of a sexist system, and I do everything I can to empower women and men, but I work extra hard to help women. 

If you had a theme song, what would it be and why?

Independent Women by Destiny Child

What's your favorite restaurant in the city where you live?

My favorite restaurant is Rossos. They're located in Petaluma, CA. They have scrumptious pizza. 

Where do you find your inspiration?

Everywhere! From reading an article to speaking with a friend to even daydreaming with my goats... inspiration is everywhere if you know how to look for it. 

Do you have a favorite internet resource for finding tips of your trade? How about any seminars you've been to that have taught you a lot?

I typically search social media for articles. Some of my favorite sites include Forbes, Career Contessa, Inc, and Elite daily. I enjoy listening to audio CDs while I drive so I'm always learning. I attend two to three webinars a week to gain more knowledge and understanding of products and services. 

What do you like about being part of The Lady Project?

Lady Project is an excellent organization I wish I knew about earlier. It provides ongoing education to learn and grow which is essential for career success. It provides networking and building strong women friendships.