Women’s Business Pioneer Valerie Freeman Sells Imprimis Group to Company VP

Legendary Dallas business leader Valerie Freeman has sold her 40-year-old staffing/recruiting company Imprimis Group to Julie Stephens, who's served as the firm's leader and VP for the last six years.

But Freeman isn't resting on her laurels. She's staying in the game as CEO of BravoTECH and marketing/creative talent group FreemanLeonard. Here's a look at her long list of accomplishments—and her advice for women entrepreneurs.

Valerie Freeman—a Dallas women’s business pioneer and the CEO of BravoTECH and the marketing/creative talent group FreemanLeonard—has sold her 40-year-old staffing and recruiting company, Imprimis.

Imprimis Group’s new owner, Julie Stephens, has served the company as leader and VP for the past six years. Her two decades of experience in the staffing industry have included several leadership posts, including running operations in Texas and New Mexico. Imprimis says Stephens was also the on-site staffing performance partnership manager “who successfully ran a $25 million national account within the banking/mortgage industry.”

As the new owner of Imprimis, Stephens aims to continue efforts to grow the company, including the implementation of “new digital technology and processes” that have already increased efficiency, the company said. She will continue her involvement in the community through memberships in DallasHR, the APA, and local chambers.

“I am thrilled to turn my first baby over to a new generation with new ideas and a passion for achieving greater and greater success,” Freeman said in a statement. 

Freeman will continue her roles as CEO of BravoTECH and FreemanLeonard.

Starting out “seriously bootstrapped”

Freeman founded Imprimis in 1982, at a time when women entrepreneurs faced obstacles that would shock many today. “I just ignored the naysayers when I started my first business,” Freeman has said.

In 2013, Freeman told D CEO she launched Imprimis after years spent teaching at El Centro College in downtown Dallas. 

“The business was seriously bootstrapped,” she told D CEO. “I took my retirement money from El Centro, rented an office in an executive center, and hired one employee. I didn’t want to have to go back to the college and beg to get my job back; that was my motivation to succeed.”

She added that her management style “ranges from democratic—I want our staff to be engaged in decision making, solving their own problems and setting their own goals—to autocratic, when business is down and when it comes to spending money.” And one of the best pieces of advice she’d ever gotten: “If you don’t know it can’t be done, you can usually do it.”

Freeman’s long list of accolades and accomplishments

Her perseverance and success led to a career that has lifted and inspired other businesswomen for decades. Listing her accolades is like cracking open a Russian novel. OK, here goes:

Last year, Freeman was inducted into the JA Dallas Business Hall of Fame. In 2020, she was honored with the Orbie Leadership Award and inducted into the Tech Titans Hall of Fame. D CEO put her on its list of Dallas 500 Most Powerful Business Leaders, and she was named as one of the Power 50 women in Dallas by the Texas Diversity Council. She’s won the WBE of the Year Award from the Women’s Business Council of the Southwest, the Athena Award from the Dallas Regional Chamber, and numerous other awards. 

Oh, and Freeman received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Alliance of Technology and Women. She was inducted into the Women’s Business Enterprise Hall of Fame, and in 2019, she received the first-ever Women in Technology Lifetime Achievement Award from the Dallas Business Journal.

Meanwhile, her companies have been named to the Inc. 500/5000, the Dallas 100, WPO Fast 50, and the University of Houston’s Cougar 100.

Freeman is also a founder of the Texas Women Ventures family of funds—an independent, private equity firm that provides growth capital to women-owned and led businesses—and serves on its investment committee. And she’s vice-chair of the board of Prime Women Media, which publishes primewomen.com, an online publication for professional women over 50. 

Imprimis Group helps both business and job seekers

The company that Freeman has sold to Stephens is a professional services firm that provides staffing, recruiting, payrolling services, human resources, and outsourcing services nationwide. For companies, its services include permanent and flexible staffing solutions. For job seekers, it offers career management and placement assistance. Its main recruiting focuses are on professional, finance/accounting, clerical/administrative, customer service/call center, healthcare, and legal positions. Imprimis has been named one of the 50 fastest-growing woman-owned firms by the Women President’s Organization, and has won many awards for community service.

Freeman’s advice for entrepreneurs

Over the decades, Freeman has shared a lot of advice with other women entrepreneurs.

In February, she was highlighted in a focus on female entrepreneurs at Galleria Dallas. The installation event, Climb with Courage, was presented in partnership with the Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas. Other female entrepreneurs highlighted included Hattie Hill, Nina Vaca, Jin-Ya Huang, and more.

Here’s some advice Freeman shared at the event:

Her three P’s: “The first one is passion. You have to have passion, you have to love what you’re doing. The second one is perseverance. You’ve got to persevere through all sorts of challenges and obstacles because they will hit you for sure. And the third one is persistence. You have to persist in your business every single day to make it happen.”

• “Keep doing research about the idea. Ask the people closest to you what they think, but rely on your own intuition and go for it.”

• “You just can’t get discouraged. You have to keep at it. You have to keep going and you can’t give up.”

• “If you want to be an entrepreneur, just go for it. There are a lot of resources out there now to help entrepreneurs and a lot of people willing to help, so take advantage of those resources.”

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