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An Interview with Mari Ribeiro - Traveling Trademark Lawyer & Elevation Coach!

In this interview, Her Expat Life spoke with Mari Ribeiro, a trademark lawyer and CEO of Ribeiro Law about life as an expat and female entrepreneur.

1. Congratulations on starting your own business, Ribeiro Law! Tell us more about this venture and what made you decide to start your own business?

Thank you so much! I own and run my own virtual law firm helping savvy entrepreneurs block trademark theft and helping millennial entrepreneurs, professionals and creatives elevate their lifestyle through our Elevation Coaching.

Honestly, I didn’t choose the entrepreneur’s life, the entrepreneur life chose me! I started my career working as a lawyer at a law firm and then one day, out of the blue, I was called into my boss’ office and I was told that today would be my last day working with the firm. I was handed a 2-week pay check and told to pack up my office by the end of the day. The cases had dried up and I was dismissed after two years.

At the time I felt so rejected and unwanted. So, I decided to open up my own law firm but at the same time I was brushing up my resume and applying to work at other law firms. And I said “Okay, God, which ever one takes off first – either my firm or being offered a job - then that’s what I’ll do.” Because I don’t come from a family of lawyers or entrepreneurs, I put almost all of my focus on interviewing and applying for jobs. And after some time, I got hired again. Then the exact same thing happens again. One day my boss came into my office, and he said, the exact same thing my former one told me: today is your last day, here is a 2-week pay check, pack your things by the end of the day.

It wasn’t until I got laid off the second time around to learn the lesson that there is no such thing as “job security” for me an employee. I finally understood that if I wanted “job security” I would need to create it for myself by being my own boss. This time, I was fully committed to being an entrepreneur so that only I could be responsible for my own salary.

So, I said, “Okay, God, I hear you now. I'm not supposed to be an employee.” And I started putting some energy, attention and focus into building my own law firm. I needed to be laid off two times, one right after the other, to fully commit to becoming an entrepreneur over 7 years ago.

2. Can you tell us about the challenges you faced as a female entrepreneur and how you overcame them?

The challenges that I faced as a female entrepreneur was more personal than professional. I found challenges around my mindset; I thought so negatively about things, my perspective was always focused on what could go wrong and I had a lot of self-doubt. I was always afraid I would make a mistake and when I didn’t get the results I wanted to see in my business, I would be really hard on myself. I only knew how to be a lawyer, which is different than knowing how to run a business that happens to offer legal services.

So my biggest challenge was getting out of my own way and understanding my thought processes so I could shift them to think and feel more confidence. Before I could get to a place of confidence, I had to start from a place of courage. At the beginning, it was even a challenge just to tell people that I now have my own business and how I could help them. It felt strange to market and promote myself when I never had to do this before. So I started investing in my personal development: reading books on mindset, healing my relationship with money, listening to affirmations to strengthen my courage and release self-doubt, learning how to trust myself as the creator of my own reality, taking courses on how to have sales conversations with potential clients.

But most importantly, I invested in a business coach to help me see my challenges and guide me through them. I still work with a business coach to work on my personal and professional development so that my business can thrive. And it’s why I started supporting my clients as an Elevation Coach so their business can thrive too.

3. What advice do you have for aspiring female entrepreneurs?

First, know that you can do it. And you can do it in feminine, graceful, beautiful ways that don’t require you to take on these masculine characteristics in order to enjoy success in your business. You don't have to act like a man, you don’t have to think like a man, you don’t have to assert yourself like a man if you don’t want to.

Second, I would invite female entrepreneurs to get very clear on knowing what success looks like for you personally. Too many of us have been told what success looks like without even asking ourselves if this matches with what we truly want for ourselves. A few years into my career I had to learn that my unique definition of success as a trademark lawyer and Elevation Coach didn’t include a huge office, lots of staff and me wearing a suit. I had these things, and I didn’t feel successful.

I started exploring my own definition of success and realised that it included the freedom to travel whenever I wanted instead of being chained to a desk; hand selecting the best clients to work with instead of dealing with rude clients just because they pay my invoice; having a fully remote team that was reliable without me having to micromanage them; working less hours and making more money by leveraging technology, automation and systems; having a business that worked for me and not the other way around; creating a firm that didn’t require me to be in any one specific location but instead could support my untethered lifestyle; and enjoying my work with ease and grace instead of constantly feeling stressed or overworked.

When we start to be honest with what our personal definition of success looks and feels like, we can start creating it in our business and avoid living a life that someone else told us we should live.

4. How do you help clients? You talk about blocking trademark theft and scaling businesses. Can you give more detail on what this means?

Of course! I make sure no one can copy or steal your brand so that you can confidently scale your business. The brand is the face of your business. It’s how your clients and customers choose your product or service over your competitor.

When your brand is unique and catchy, your competitors will want to copy or steal it so that they can snatch your clients and customers. The only way to avoid this is by registering your brand as trademark. That’s where I come in as a trademark lawyer.

The trick is getting your trademark registered before someone else does it first. The sooner your brand is trademarked, the less likely you’ll have to rebrand your whole business and start from scratch.

Most of my clients have big plans to scale their businesses to national and international levels. T