Lessons And Inspiration: 8 Female Entrepreneurs Rocking Markets
Despite decades of feminist activism and hard work by women across countless industries, breaking into the business world as a woman is still an uphill battle. That’s why we all need role models to prove that what we dream is possible.
One of the things that’s really changed about women in business, recently, in stark contrast to past generations, is that those at the top of the heap are more diverse, showing just how many ways women are breaking the mold. So look to the women who have come before you – from old school leaders like Oprah Winfrey who have been on the scene for decades to new startup developers like Hayley Barna of Birchbox – women are proving our status as professional powerhouses.
One of the most evident lessons from the most recent generation of women startup founders is that intellectual women rule the day. For example, Jenny Griffiths, the CEO of Snap Tech, came up with the original idea for her business while studying computer science at the University of Bristol, while Saasha Celestial-One pursued an MBA at Stanford before launching Olio, a food sharing startup.
You can certainly turn to a less traditional knowledge base for your startup inspiration; as a woman, you need to be the smartest, most determined person in the room all the time or no one will listen. Men will talk over you and funders will reject you, but smart women bounce back because, as Barna observes, even if you fail you’ll learn a lot. Continuing to learn is absolutely vital to success, even if that success is a long way down the road.
Look To Your Roots
Some of the best business ideas stem from personal experiences that are then transformed into brands because this inextricably links a company to its founder. That’s exactly what Lisa Storie, founder of Ikaria Resort Wear did when she took her lifelong obsession with the Pacific Ocean and turned it into a lifestyle brand and aesthetic foundation.
Ikaria is a brand meant for island hoppers and yacht owners, people who are part of or aspire to join the jet set. Storie herself stakes a claim to trans-Pacific roots, making her home in Santa Monica and tracing her maternal ancestry to Japan. The company blossomed forth from there.
Discrimination is a persistent problem for women determined to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. In fact, it’s so pervasive that Penelope Gazin and Kate Dwyer, founders of Witschy, created a fake male co-founder to help them sidestep investor bias. This was after repeat attempts to develop the business with no male names attached – during which time they were harassed and demeaned.
Gazin and Dwyer’s story is a familiar one, especially to women in tech who report high rates of sexual harassment as minorities within their industry. It’s only as women have begun networking amongst ourselves and sharing our stories that we realized just how common these problems are – that we aren’t alone.
Rest And Reflect
Standing in the minority as a female startup founder is hard, which makes it important to take time away to rest, recharge, and reflect on your work. When Net-A-Porter founder Natalie Massanet found herself on the verge of her 50th birthday, she went on vacation and spent some time deciding what her next steps were. Realizing she was at a turning point in her career, she opted to take 18 months away from new ventures, ultimately joining the fashion e-commerce firm and former competitor Farfetch.
Whether you’re at the top of your game or struggling to make it, media groundbreaker and billionaire Oprah Winfrey leaves us with the most important wisdom – to be thankful for everything you have. If all you can think about is what’s next, what more you could do or get, you’ll always feel like you’re behind. But when you’re thankful for every step along this road, for the simple chance to try your hand at the crazy world of entrepreneurship, you’ll be more joyful in your work.