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Local Profile’s 2023 Women in Business: Alana C. Matthews

The annual Women in Business Summit is scheduled for September 8, 2023
Photo: Alana C. Matthews

Women in Business brings together over 600 influential women from various sectors such as global enterprises, non-profit organizations, small businesses and government agencies within the North Texas community. It serves as a platform to celebrate, unite and empower the leading ladies of the DFW area.

On September 8, 2023, women across North Texas have the opportunity to connect with notable guest speakers, participate in enlightening panel discussions and meet like-minded professionals.

Meet one of our speakers:

Alana C. Matthews is the founder of Alautus Clothing Company, a women’s custom luxury clothing company based in North Texas. The mission behind Alautus is to infuse confidence through luxury custom pieces and reclaim the history of custom suiting to serve women’s needs. Before Alautus, Matthews was executive vice president of business operations and general counsel of the NHL team the Dallas Stars. When Matthews joined the Stars, she was the first female executive at the C-suite level for the franchise and the youngest general counsel in NHL history. Matthews and her husband, Grant, live in Frisco and have three sons, Declan, Thatcher and Alston.

What is the biggest challenge women face in the workforce? How can they overcome it?
Women face many challenges in the workforce. Women are not paid the same as their male counterparts. Women face the so-called “motherhood penalty” and disproportionately take on the burden of caregiving, housework and invisible work at home and in the office. Our biggest challenge in my mind is getting greater representation for women in decision-making leadership roles and retaining these positions. We need more women in leadership roles to lead the way for others.

What’s your biggest motivation?
I am motivated by curiosity and keen awareness of the transient nature of life. I am not interested in wasting time and I seek challenges. I really like the fact that I am highly intrinsically motivated. It is a true skill of mine. I really do not let external pressures, other people or fear motivate me.

How do you change a company’s culture to promote inclusivity and diversity? What are you leaving for future women now that wasn’t there before?
At Alautus we have a series called Women Helping Women – it is a connection space where I bring together women in my network in a curated small group to meet each other. We highlight other brands founded or run by women trying to actively live by our belief that women should help other women. A retired female engineer heard us talking about this and she was stunned. She could not believe that we were helping other women with no ask or angle in return. She never had that support from other women in her career. I love that now we have a network where women want other women to succeed and they will open their network (and wallet) to do so. Regarding promoting inclusivity and diversity in company culture, I would highlight that change is made through committed and consistent action. Multiple trained resources can be valuable in the creation of a diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging plan. My opinion is just one of many. I believe that we need to consider the views of many when trying to serve many.

What was the most difficult decision you’ve made in your career so far?
I am a very decisive person so I really cannot think of a difficult decision. If I had to pick one, it would be turning down high-profile job offers that I am sure most would love to have but just did not fit for the version that I wanted next.

What was your breakthrough moment?
In my career thus far, a breakthrough moment for me was when I moved from general counsel with the Dallas Stars to head of business operations and general counsel. This move set in motion a transformation for me by validating my own sense of my capabilities and it launched me into business leadership. I was no longer only a lawyer but a business leader as well. I said yes to many opportunities, challenges projects, and extra work and learned along the way. All of these steps in new areas adding new responsibilities allowed me to thrive in this new role and move out of one lane into a new lane.

What advice do you have for women hoping to break through?
Trust your intuition. Stay curious and strong in your self-belief. Know that you can learn and figure things out. Given enough time, curiosity, and persistent effort, I know that it is only a matter of time until I will conquer the challenge at hand. To break through, you must have an unbreakable belief in your own abilities and a clear vision of where you are going. I believe in the magic of compounding. Every bit of knowledge you gain builds up your mountain of opportunity.

How do you promote a healthy environment for yourself and your employees?
Listening, empathy, flexibility and compassion are important to me when building a healthy environment. Listening is crucial. Most people I find want to be heard, feel seen and have their feelings validated through active listening.

What is your most noteworthy achievement as an agent of change? What are you most proud of?
I am proud of my work with the Dallas Stars. My personality assessment revealed that my lead characteristic was “challenger” and it is so accurate — my favorite thing to do is ask “why.” As an agent of change with the Dallas Stars, I am still quite proud of the conversations I brought to the executive level about inclusion, diversity, leave policies, hiring policies, compensation and pursuing excellence. 

I was the first female executive ever in a Dallas Stars official team photograph in franchise history and that means a lot to me for the future women who will come after me. That being said, I am actually most proud of stepping away from the team to launch my own company, Alautus. Our mission at Alautus is to serve women as they make their own mark on the world by providing them with the luxury experience of custom suiting. An outfit can profoundly impact your mindset and self-confidence and it can create lasting impressions on others. I see myself now as an agent of change by uplifting, encouraging and cloaking women in confidence. I am proud of our mission and proud to show the leap of faith it takes to actively pursue one’s own life and career goals. We can build our lives on our terms, careers on our own terms, and we should dress accordingly.

How long should you be willing to fail before you succeed?
Until you succeed. Don’t stop learning or adjusting or trying. Failing is a teaching moment. It is an opportunity to learn. I do not see things as failures. I have a very short memory when it comes to “failures”. I learn and move on.

If you had to start all over again, what would you do differently? What would you keep the same?
With Alautus, I would have started smaller, more simple and lean. As a person with very high expectations of myself, I erroneously thought that things had to be complex or overdone to work or have value. Start small and learn and try things. Most people balk when they hear that I left sports to launch my own company while pregnant with my third child. I would have kept the timing the same. I stepped away from the team at the right time to fully focus my energies and skills on Alautus. Being a mother and bringing in a new little one while launching actually was a gift even though it was physically exhausting. I became an even more efficient person having to manage kids, a newborn and a startup.

What do you do if you find yourself in situations where things are not going the way you want them to?
I take a deep breath and ask what this would look like if it were simple. How can we simplify this situation? What is the simplest form of this issue? I remind myself that all things are opportunities to learn. I stay calm, recognize the brevity of the challenge and focus on moving forward while learning. In all honesty, I remind myself that my self-worth is not defined by moments of mistakes or hardship. It is what it is — a hard moment — and that is all. Keep moving forward.

Who is your biggest role model? How can you be a role model to others?
Sara Blakely is my entrepreneurship role model. I love studying history and the entrepreneurs before me. I am influenced by many of the biographies I read. I hope to show that you can build a business and a life on your own terms. I love speaking to women about careers, family, time management and dreaming big dreams. My three boys came along while I was building Alautus. It takes stern stuff to raise three young boys, nurture a strong partnership with my husband and build a successful company all at the same time.

What is your motto?
I have several mantras and mottos. I have written on my wall “Who Do You Want To Be?” I see it every day to remind myself that I am in control of my life and who I am. “Everything is hard before it is easy.” And “Forward Always”

What book do you recommend every professional woman read?
#1 - Fair Play by Eve Rodsky
#2 - Mindset by Carole S. Dweck, PhD.
#3 - Confidence Code by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman
#4.- Playing Big by Tara Mohr
#5 - Tools of Titans – Tim Ferriss

I recommend reading or listening to podcasts or some other form of continuous education. I get so many ideas from reading about other industries or other entrepreneur stories.

The 2023 Women in Business Summit is currently sold out, but you can still email [email protected] to join the waitlist. For more information about the upcoming event click the link here