From being a nationally renowned public speaker, entrepreneur and advocate for empowering women, nothing can stop Alexa Carlin. At 17 years old, she took her first dive into entrepreneurship. By 21 she was told she had a 1 percent chance to live. Now the 26-year-old is using her love for spreading positivity and being a force of motivation to empower women all over the country by bringing them together to learn and grow at the Women’s Empowerment Expo (WEX).
As a freshman at the University of Florida Carlin had the opposite of an average college experience. She was designing jewelry for Omnipeace, an L.A.-based fashion company. “I was shipping out thousands of bracelets from my dorm each week. My roommates were shocked,” Carlin said.
This was her first taste of what it was like to be an entrepreneur. She fell in love with the feeling of turning an idea into reality. In her junior year of college, Carlin started her blog, Hello Perfect. The goal of the blog was to redefine “perfection” and help to spark confidence in young women. She asked viewers to write in their answer to “What is perfection?” She used her blog as a way to show women that everyone has a different view and mindset of perfection. This blog helped women and girls focus less on what perfection is and focus more on loving themselves. Her blog gained the attention of hundreds of viewers, including celebrities such as Marc Jacobs, Steve Madden and Shaquille O’Neil.
By senior year Hello Perfect was doing better than she could have imagined. Carlin was celebrating 1,000 likes on Facebook with her friends when tragedy struck. She was rushed to the hospital after feeling ill for several days. Her blood pressure was dropping rapidly and she went into Septic shock. The doctors put Carlin into an induced medical coma; her family was told she would not make it through the night.
Carlin defied all odds. She survived the night, was in the medical coma for six days then spent an additional 10 days in intensive care unit. This traumatic experience changed Carlin’s life. “It completely changed my outlook on life. I vowed from then on I’d never let anything hold me back,” Carlin said. Carlin followed through with that vow immediately by continuing on with school that year and even graduating on time with the rest of her classmates.
Carlin was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. There is no known cure. “I still had so many dreams I wanted to accomplish I was only 22. I needed to stay busy so I wrote a cookbook,” Carlin said. Even during her darkest times and sickest days Carlin was still keeping herself busy and using her time to educate and better the lives of others by writing a gluten-free, vegan cookbook.
Close friends and family encouraged Carlin to share her remarkable story. This opened the door for her career in public speaking. Due to her sickness, she was not always able to travel so she turned to social media to tell her story.
The community she built up through telling her story on social media was what motivated her to start WEX. “I was feeling so isolated, they helped to take away that feeling and give me a sense of purpose. I loved this community,” Carlin said. The other driving factor behind WEX was when Carlin was able to speak publically, at these events she noticed that many women stayed within their own circle. Carlin wanted to create a platform in which powerful women from all backgrounds could connect and share their ideas and stories.
Carlin started off small, hosting local events with three to four guest speakers but the turnout at these events continued to grow and Carlin realized what a difference she was making.
This May 26, Carlin will host the 2nd annual WEX convention in Washington, D.C. She is hoping for an outcome of 3,000 people. There will be 50 guest speakers from all different industries. At the event, there are different breakout rooms where women can connect, a main stage for public motivational speakers and even VIP networking rooms offered. Carlin said there is no break in the action. It’s a day full of events angled toward powerful women sharing their stories and knowledge. The keynote speaker this year will be Cleo Wade. Wade is a poet, artist and public speaker. She is known for her book, “Heart Talk: Poetic Wisdom for a Better Life.”
Through Carlin’s experiences and successes, she has walked away with one main piece of advice she wants to pass on to other women. “What I’ve learned through my journey is sometimes you can’t overcome obstacles, there will always be challenges. Instead, don’t look to overcome but to find opportunity through the challenges and obstacles you face,” Carlin said.