Cortney Gumbleton doesn’t mind her commute from Azle to Fort Worth because it means she gets to listen to podcasts and keep her chickens.

At the end of January, Gumbleton launched The FoundHers Club podcast. The assistant director of TechFW, Gumbleton tells the stories of women who started businesses in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

“I’m so inspired by all of the women around me. Their stories just fascinate me,” Gumbleton, 37, said. “And I felt like I have a duty and obligation to capture these stories, to share them with the world.”

A few years ago, Gumbleton sold her house in Fort Worth and moved to Azle to what she describes as a “steel barndominium.” On the new farm, Gumbleton’s husband built her a chicken coop as a birthday gift. She went to Tractor Supply and bought chicks and was hooked.

Chicks are kind of like potato chips, she said, and it’s impossible to just have one. At one point, she had 75 chickens — and named every one.

“They brought me so much joy,” Gumbleton said. “And honestly, buying the chickens was part of my self-care plan. It forces you to wake up early; you’ve got to wake up at 5:30, 6 o’clock because they’ve got to get out of the coop. It was really good for me to have that discipline, instead of sleeping in.”

(Alexis Allison | Fort Worth Report)

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After her chicks became chickens, she realized she had more eggs than she knew what to do with. They were all shapes and sizes, each one unique, unlike what is found in grocery stores. Her entrepreneurial spirit kicked in, and she saw a business opportunity.

She ordered custom carts and labels that said, “The Happiest Hens in Azle, from the Gumbleton Homestead.” Gumbleton started by giving away the eggs to friends in her Rotary Club. Then she started selling them on the Tanglewood Mom’s website for $7 a dozen.

Within 24 hours, she had a waitlist of over 50 people wanting eggs. Next, the executive chef at Perch, now Branch & Bird in the Frost Bank Tower, wanted to start carrying her eggs. Gumbleton started to look into other opportunities, which led to a line of simple syrups with ingredients from her farm.

From there, Locavore was born. A local commercial kitchen incubator, it allowed chefs to have a space to cook with professional level equipment they could not afford otherwise.

Early in the business, Carlo Capua, now deputy chief of staff for the mayor and council, joined Gumbleton as a partner. He was operating a kitchen rental program out of his own restaurant and saw the need for people to have professional kitchen space.

In working with Gumbleton, Capua said he learned she is fearless and the most creative person he’s worked with.

“She has an idea, she runs with it,” he said. “And she’s got this larger-than-life personality, and it attracts so many people and it’s easy to jump on the Cortney bandwagon and jump on the Cortney bus with their idea because she’s really compelling.”

Locavore closed permanently in December because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gumbleton said, but she keeps looking for opportunities.

Along with her creativity in business ventures and love of her chickens, she has another passion — storytelling.

The FoundHers Club episode 3: Following Her Dreams

“There’s just so many commonalities between all of us,” Gumbleton said. “And at the end of the day, we’re all people. We’re all super relatable.”

With her podcast, Gumbleton wants to inspire people by giving women founders a platform to share their stories in a genuine, raw and vulnerable way.

“When I became an entrepreneur, that’s when I really started getting connected with a lot of other small business owners, and especially the women,” she said. “That’s when I started getting to know them, hearing about their story. It just kind of just came naturally.”

Don’t expect a Cinderella story in each episode. Gumbleton wants to be sure people know life isn’t easy, and neither is running a business. The podcast has three episodes out; the first featuring The Bright Factory founder Meghan Forest Farmer, the second highlighting Eosera founder Elyse Dickerson, and the third showcasing Chief Creative Officer for M2G Ventures, Katie Murray.

All these women inspire Gumbleton, compelling her to capture and share those stories. Not enough women in business get featured in media, she said, and those who are tend to be repeated instead of outlets finding new women to feature.

“I think it would be nice for people to dig a little deeper and look a little harder within the entrepreneur ecosystem, because (women are) there,” she said. “Why are they retelling the same stories over? We’ve heard it. Honestly, when I see it, I’m like, I’m not even going to read it because I’ve heard their story 50 times and 50 different ways. Let’s discover new stories. Let’s lift new voices.”

Through The FoundHers Club, Gumbleton hopes to use her degrees in social work to encourage her guests to share more than their business plans, but what helped make them into who they are.

Her own experience as a child led her on a path to entrepreneurism. As a kid in Wisconsin, Gumbleton and her friend purchased stickers for 25 cents and went door to door selling them for $1.

She also had an obsession with “The Baby-Sitters’ Club” books, which led her to starting her own babysitting business. Growing up, she realized she was always looking at small details and thinking of ways to improve it. Something as simple as the shampoo bottle running low would make her wonder about a product that could hold it upside down and how that could be developed into a business.

Cortney Gumbleton, host of The FoundHers Club podcast, hopes to use storytelling to shine a light on women in business. (Cristian ArguetaSoto | Fort Worth Report)

Gumbleton’s friend and Fort Worth Regional Director for Better Business Bureau, Amy Rasor, said Gumbleton’s brain never stops and she is an innovator.

“She is not afraid to take a leap,” Rasor said. “She thinks of something and goes full-fledged into it. She does her research and really works hard to achieve her goal.”

These qualities make her a good leader, Rasor said, adding she is straight to the point, says what’s on her mind and never asks someone to do something she wouldn’t do herself. She believes Gumbleton will bring out the best in the women she interviews for the podcast.

Gumbleton left her home state after 9/11 when she joined the Navy. That led her to Fort Worth, where she worked as a military police officer on the NAS JRB Fort Worth base.

“I tell people that I tried the barbecue and just decided I was going to stay here, and I did,” Gumbleton said.

The barbecue led her to attend Texas Christian University and then graduate school at the University of Texas at Arlington. Both of her degrees are in social work.

Instead of working with individual clients, Gumbleton said, she worked more on a macro level, identifying community problems and needs. From there, she would find solutions and convince people to invest in those solutions.

That led her to her current position at TechFW.

“So, here I am working with entrepreneurs,” she said. “I love it. Talking about customer needs, that’s what I love. Because it’s just psychology. And once you realize, it’s not just me. All these other people have that same need.”

Capua said Gumbleton is skilled at finding institutional voids and solutions. While her ideas are practical, he said, they are also fun and creative.

“And they are realistic to address those gaps and to really create a more robust entrepreneurial environment and ecosystem,” Capua said. 

She feels a calling to help people improve their lives, Gumbleton said.

“Because life is really hard; and there are all these different ways to improve our lives,” she said. “Why not make that accessible? Why not remove barriers to access and put it out there for everybody? You know, like, all kids should have access to Wi-Fi. All kids should have access to laptops and food and clothing.”

Her podcast highlights women in business trying to make these kinds of changes, who are creating businesses that can change lives.

“There has never been a better time to support the movement of women business owners and women founders,” she said.

Cortney Gumbleton bio

Birthplace: Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, “Yes, I’m a cheesehead,” she said.

Moved to Fort Worth: In 2003, after joining the Navy. 

Family: Her father is a police officer, and her mother owns a restaurant. Her husband is Jarod Gumbleton.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in social work from TCU; a master’s degree in social work from UTA; completed two years of a doctorate at TCU;  certificate in women’s leadership from Cornell University

Work experience: Served seven years in the Navy, social worker at Catholic Charities Fort Worth, social worker at TCU in the Counseling and Mental Health Department, executive director of The Jordan Elizabeth Harris Foundation, founder and co-owner of Locavore, and now the assistant director of TechFW

Volunteer experience: President of the Future Business Leaders Association in high school; volunteer experience on dozens of committees, including the Fort Worth Food and Wine Festival and Association for Fundraising Professionals; LeadershipFortWorth graduate; board member of The Welman Project, Women’s Policy Forum of Tarrant County, and Amphibian Stage; member of the Sparkyard Advisory Council, TechFW M Crew mentor,  and Rotarian for the Downtown Fort Worth Rotary Club, among other activities.

First job: A housekeeper for a hotel in Green Lake, Wisconsin, called the Heidel House 

Advice for someone learning to be a leader: Lift every voice. Ask for suggestions from the quietest people in the room. They might not have the courage to speak up, so be the person to let them know you value their opinion and want it to be heard.

Best advice ever received: Avoid analysis paralysis. Not making a decision is making a decision.

Kristen Barton is an enterprise reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at kristen.barton@fortworthreport.org. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Kristen Barton

Kristen Barton is an education reporter for the Fort Worth Report. She has previous experience in education reporting for her hometown paper, the Longview News-Journal and her college paper, The Daily...

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