Carly Meyer Bentley
Carly Meyer Bentley believes that women have come a long way in the workplace, but the gap in financial literacy remains extensive.
Through her meaningful and momentous organization, The Freckled Strawberry, Inc., she’s created a long-needed “movement of the sorority” that is assembling women from all backgrounds and helping them to ascend, aspire, and achieve. In the words of this Financial Consigliere for Women, “She can, she will.”
The Freckled Strawberry is a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering independence in women through individual development, career advancement, entrepreneurship, and financial intelligence. Based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, they serve women all over the world, helping them gain comprehensive knowledge of finance through a suite of resources such as their vast cooperative of female professionals and entrepreneurs. The fee for the knowledge and network? Zero. It is truly a philanthropic project and one that Carly has prepared for her whole life.
Prior to launching The Freckled Strawberry in December of 2021, Carly worked in the finance industry for over 20 years. This not only gives her the ability to provide counsel to others, but valuable insight as a woman who succeeded in a male-dominated field. She’s walked in the shoes of those she now supports as “The silent partner for trailblazers, lady bastons, and high performers.” “I call myself ‘consigliere’ because I am someone who gives it to you straight and will take your secrets to the grave. Because of that, people open their hearts to me,” Carly shares.
Carly’s “can-do” attitude has been an immensely important catalyst for this thriving organization that she’s meticulously crafted to be welcoming, inviting, and human. And for so many grateful women, she’s making financial independence attainable. “A lot of successful women find themselves in a difficult situation, but most don’t talk about it. Whether a bad relationship, a bad workplace experience, or life obstacles, we can let them defeat us or we can let them push us and transform us. We can choose to rise up and not be a victim,” Carly elucidates. And she speaks from personal experience. After ending an abusive relationship, Carly made a transformative pivot. “I was a single mom for many years, managing a career and taking care of my son. It was hard, but I rose, and then I took all those ups and downs and channeled them into The Freckled Strawberry.” That model, constructed from one woman’s experience, ambition, and altruism, was a huge hit. In the first 28 days of being live, they had reached nearly 40,000 women in all stages of business and from all industries, and to date, they’ve already supported 221 women. “It’s as if women were just waiting for this,” Carly shares.
We spoke with Carly to learn more about her journey and the amazing organization she created to champion the women’s movement of the decade.
What compelled you to leave an astoundingly successful career as a leader in finance to launch a nonprofit committed to lifting up women?
I realized that big corporate financial firms were not moving fast enough to address the financial needs and demands of women, and were not speaking to the real issues women deal with on a daily basis. Too many women were ignoring or deferring money matters to others, without understanding it themselves. I realized I could have conversations about money with women through a unique feminine voice, without interrupting them, or speaking over them, and in a language they could understand. Through The Freckled Strawberry, I deliver a financial conversation in a female voice, from a feminine perspective, putting her needs first. Now, I can facilitate difficult conversations with my heart open, my ears listening, my intentions engaged, and my technical skills prepared provide them with truly personal guidance and the capabilities to build financial independence. Women leave our conversations with a better understanding of money matters, and how it relates to the overall health and wellness of their lives.
Where did the name come from, and how does the concept of "strawberries" reflect in the women you serve and the services you offer?
People think I chose the name because of my red hair and freckles. While this may be partially true, the strawberry plant resonates with me because it is a female plant. The main plant is referred to as “The Mother” and vines that grow from that are fondly referred to as “the daughter plant.” All life comes from The Mother plant, who feeds the daughter from her vines. Our collaboration as women reflects the way women can nurture each other. The crown of the strawberry plant is the productive engine of the plant. The Freckled Strawberry’s trademark conversation was born from the strawberry plant—The Seven Conversations to the Crown™. This is our unique process through which we provide strategic advice, financial education, and intentional relationships for women. They receive access to resources and connections to professionals that will help them level-up. From us, she receives a consigliere that stays with her throughout her lifecycle.
While you are the founder and CEO of the organization, you see yourself as a "consigliere." Tell us about this.
Entrepreneurs have always disclosed to me their most valued dreams, wants, and wishes. They would literally lean in and whisper to me their intended plans of buying another company, selling an existing one, purchasing real estate, running for office, and even getting divorced or married. I honor the position of being the confidant entrusted with their most intimate secrets. They do this because they know they will get my confidence as well as my honesty. The “consigliere” is an advisor that speaks the truth and protects “the boss,” even from herself.
The Freckled Strawberry was instantly popular within days of its launch. Why do you think this is?
Empowerment. Women are owning their space more now than ever, and they own more positions of power than in decades prior. They’re internalizing their strength and claiming their space in personal opportunity, career advancement, entrepreneurship, and family matters. Now, women are generating more income, creating wealth of their own, and refining their relationship with financial matters and decisions. We’re poised to collaborate with them, and we’re doing it every day.
Carly is past president of the Princeton Merchants Association, holds a bachelor’s degree from Northern Illinois University, completed the Robert Morris RMA Commercial Lending Program, is a Registered Investment Advisor with FINRA, and holds her Series 7 and 66 securities licenses.
Carly Meyer Bentley
CEO, Founder, and Empresaria
The Freckled Strawberry, Inc.
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