A Junior League of Austin Business Spotlight
The Junior League of Austin’s Mission Statement includes “developing the potential of women.” Current active member, Stacia Damron, is doing just that with the company she founded: Hiking in Heels Sorority Rush Coaching.
Hiking in Heels is the first, and only, sorority recruitment coaching program of its kind. It works with over sixty universities nationally and assists with every aspect of the process, even offering on-call hours for moms and daughters during recruitment. Stacia was kind enough to share some insight on Hiking in Heels, tips on the sorority recruitment process, and advice for starting a business.
What made you want to start Hiking in Heels Sorority Rush Coaching?
Stacia: Much like the college admissions process, the sorority recruitment process is increasingly competitive and sometimes daunting to families familiar with sorority and fraternity life and those unfamiliar with these student organizations.
Families often feel nervous and overwhelmed when it comes to the idea of recruitment. Hiking in Heels Sorority Rush Coaching helps moms and their daughters navigate every aspect of the sorority recruitment process, making them feel better prepared and more confident.
While attending The University of Texas, I was actively involved in recruitment for my sorority. It was then that I realized many amazing potential new members (called PNMs) were not receiving bids from sororities on campus because they were not adequately prepared for rush week. To make sorority life more accessible and inclusive, I created a go-to resource for everything recruitment-related to help moms and daughters of all backgrounds navigate the process more smoothly. Some of our PNMs are the very first in their family to go to college. Some are the first in their family to join a sorority. Many others are Legacies whose families want help navigating the process to make it less stressful and more fun—as it’s supposed to be!
What has been your favorite experience since founding Hiking in Heels?
Stacia: Each year, we give one free coaching package to a PNM. I am grateful that we are able to impact a young woman’s college experience by making sorority life accessible to them. Becoming a member can be an incredibly important experience over the course of their college career and beyond. With every family, it is especially rewarding seeing the happy photos and hearing the excited calls on Bid Day as the girls receive their invitations and celebrate!
This year, we are also very excited to announce the launch of our first ever Hiking in Heels scholarship, which can be used for tuition or sorority dues. Details will be announced soon on our blog.
Do you have any advice for those looking into the sorority rush process for the upcoming school year?
Stacia: Timing is extremely important. Know your deadlines. For universities with a competitive fall sorority recruitment, Letters of Recommendation (LORs) and Recommendation Information Forms (RIFs) should be completed and turned in by May.
For schools with a competitive spring sorority recruitment (also called deferred sorority recruitment), it’s also a best practice that RIFs and LORs are turned in by May. Some schools will not list these as a requirement, or they will say it is the sorority’s obligation to provide RIFs and LORs for a PNM. Disregard this. While submitting LORs and RIFs does not guarantee a PNM a bid, submitting these materials early helps the chapters get to know a PNM better, which can be an advantage during recruitment.
Can you share any tips for an aspiring JLA entrepreneur?
Stacia: If you have a great idea, don’t sit on it! Validate it. You can always start small. Build a website or run a beta test with a small group. Invest in yourself and market your idea to see if anyone is interested. There is no pressure to immediately quit your day job, and your first effort doesn’t have to be perfect. Start somewhere and grow your goal. Success often lies in our willingness to step out of our comfort zones and execute the steps it takes to make ideas a reality.
Where can we find more information about Hiking in Heels Sorority Coaching?
About the author: Ashlen Lenderman has lived in Austin for two years. She works in education technology sales and enjoys playing guitar and fishing with her husband in her free time.