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Abingdon Chelsea Welch
CEO, The Abingdon Company
Redmond, OR

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“It's important to always keep an open mind and listen to those who have succeeded. As they say in sports, if you want to get better, play with people who are better than you.”

Tell us about yourself Born in England but raised in Burbank, CA, I am told I am unlike most CEOs. I have a spirit for adventure and excitement, especially when it has to do with flying. At the age of 14, I first took interest in aviation. My fascination grew just as I did and followed me through college and my service as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Africa. By the time I hit 22, I couldn’t wait any longer and I finally earned my private pilots license after just 34 days of training.

Now 30, I’m carrying out my adventurous spirit to the corporate world as well, working as CEO of The Abingdon Co., a company that specializes in high-end aviation watches and paper airplane jewelry for female adventurers like myself. I also serve as the driving force behind The Abingdon Crew, a group of high-flying and talented female pilots that includes the acrobatic Melissa Pemberton and the nimble Jacquie Warda.

I still fly, all the time in fact. When I’m not working on acquiring my seaplane license or teaching at the “I Fly Elite” flight school out in Las Vegas, you can catch me in Season 3 reruns on the Discovery channel’s reality show “Flying Wild Alaska”. But I also want to give other women the same chance I had to make their dreams of flight come true. My company runs its annual “It’s About Time” scholarship to give women from around the world the chance to come out to the International Women In Aviation Conference so they can learn about all the various jobs in the aviation industry and where they might fit into it.

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What inspires you? I am inspired by deadlines, my skeptics, and my customers. My deadlines keep me on track – so I like making a deadline for every task I have. If my skeptics say I can’t do something, I immediately set out to prove them wrong. And my customers prove to me that this company is not just about making a product that turns a profit. It’s about creating a brand that unites like-minded women around the world who have a passion for living life in time zones – not zip codes.

Do you have a favorite quote? Act as though it were impossible to fail. ~Anonymous

What are the most pressing issues facing women today? Though it is constantly improving, I believe women still hold themselves under a glass ceiling, sometimes not even realizing it. I know I’ve caught myself doing it. Our culture still holds women as inferior to men. Former President Jimmy Carter’s book, A Call to Action, discusses how women are considered less then men beginning at birth and carrying through to the professional workplace where “women still get 23% of the pay of an average man, and if you look at the Fortune 500 companies, only about two dozen of them have women CEOs. And at that high level, women get 42% less pay than a man.” I don’t mean to sound grim, but as women leaders, we need to confront these issues in order to resolve them.

What are the biggest keys to the advancement or success of women? Communication is the key to success. Having dialogues with other women to help promote ideas, support each other, bring each other together in joint ventures – all of these things begin with communication.

What are the biggest keys to your success? It’s important to always keep an open mind and listen to those who have succeeded. As they say in sports, if you want to get better, play with people who are better than you.

Where did the inspiration for your business come from? The Abingdon Co. began during a roundtable dinner conversation between a mix of energetic women pilots and airplane mechanics back in December 2006. I listened as my colleagues repeatedly expressed their desires for a fully functional aviator’s watch that is fashionable, versatile and, most importantly, made for women. In that moment, I decided to form the first company dedicated to developing top quality, realistically priced watches to meet the needs of female pilots, mechanics, and adventurous women all over the world.

Located in sunny Redmond, Oregon, The Abingdon Co. has taken off with its unique collection of timepieces and is continuing its aim toward creating new designs catering to the traveler of today. Quality is a top requirement for any Abingdon watch as we know our customers are tough on their timepieces. Genuine leathers, Surgical-Grade stainless steel, Japanese movements and Swiss Manufacturing are standard equipment with all of our products in order to ensure reliability and strength.

Where is your product sold (if applicable)? Primarily sold at, and also held in stores around the world in South Africa, Canada, Brazil, and the United Kingdom. Online retailers such as, eBags, and WalMart also stock and sell Abingdon Watches.

What advice do you have for a woman who is considering starting a business? Jump in! You will succeed at some things and you will fail at some things – but don’t worry about figuring out everything on the first try. The more you do anything, the better it will get and the easier it will become.

What are the biggest hurdles you’ve faced in starting or growing your business? How did you overcome these?My biggest hurdles was – and still is – delegation. When you start a business, you run everything. As the business grows, you begin to delegate tasks to those that are better suited to accomplishing them like bookkeeping to an accountant or shipping to a fulfillment house, etc. But as the CEO, you have to take off your “I-Do-Everything” Hat and put on your “I-Monitor-Everything” Hat. It is still something I struggle with, but as I do it more, it gets easier and the business is more successful.

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