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From The Breaking Point: 4 Women Who Got Creative To Save Their Businesses

Business

The age-old saying, “if you've got the money, honey, then I've got the time," will forever hold a grain amount of truth. If you are able to put up the funds then pretty much everything is possible. Let's face it, money opens doors, and in many cases, business success can be behind that lock and key.


But acquiring money to launch the business of your dreams or take your business to the next level can often be tough. Sometimes, it's not even about the money, but about stepping outside of the box, getting creative and even bartering to get the tools you need. After all, your business becomes your baby and you will do anything to see it thrive.

Sometimes, you gotta work where you sleep.

“For the first year of nicepipes, I was working out of my apartment. Anyone who lives in New York or has ever seen NY apartments knows we are not quite blessed with space for extracurricular activities, let alone room for a small business with inventory. I had to get super creative so that I had room for a small desk space, storage, packing and shipping supplies, and more. This involved some major Marie Kondo-ing of my personal things as well as a very supportive and understanding husband. I don't think we saw tabletops for months!" revealed Lisa Binderow, founder of nicepipes.

Other times, you gotta move home.

“I moved home to live with my parents when I first decided I wanted to start Red Velvet NYC. At the time, I was working at Harry Winston, running Global Marketing Partnerships & Events. I knew I wanted to find a way to save money to invest in the company, so I moved home for a year and a half before deciding I had enough of a base to get started. I saved a ton of money in doing so, so it was definitely the right move for me. Additionally, years ago I started a side business where I would sell my friend's purses, scarves, clothing, or electronics. I still do this on the side today to help pay the rent, “ said Agathe Assouline-Lichten, founder of Red Velvet.

Put the glamour aside

“When we were finally able to focus on running our business full-time, we first worked out of our apartments as well as the Reebok Sports Club on the Upper West Side for a few weeks. Then, we called Courtney's family friend who owns a printing company in Midtown and convinced him to give us office space in exchange for us advising him on his social media strategy. After all, print companies needed to evolve with the times as well! We then moved into a tiny back corner of the printing company's office, and we were officially in business. It wasn't glamorous, and yes, we would often see mice run right around our feet, but we finally had an office space and a place to call home," said Stephanie Abrams Cartin and Courtney Spritzer of Socialfly.

And you must always, always put yourself out there.

“At first, I would just wear my pieces into my favorite stores and that's how they started getting picked up. I started really small with just a few stores and would make things to order for musicians I knew or liked. That got the word out and my business has steadily grown since then," explained Samantha Pleet, founder of Samantha Pleet.

Though the road to achieving your dreams can often be a rocky one, the look from atop makes it worth it. You will always look back and wonder how you managed to get through all the sacrifices. The answer lies in the stamina that sets you apart from the rest.

Career

Male Managers Afraid To Mentor Women In Wake Of #MeToo Movement

Women in the workplace have always experienced a certain degree of discrimination from male colleagues, and according to new studies, it appears that it is becoming even more difficult for women to get acclimated to modern day work environments, in wake of the #MeToo Movement.


In a recent study conducted by LeanIn.org, in partnership with SurveyMonkey, 60% of male managers confessed to feeling uncomfortable engaging in social situations with women in and outside of the workplace. This includes interactions such as mentorships, meetings, and basic work activities. This statistic comes as a shocking 32% rise from 2018.

What appears the be the crux of the matter is that men are afraid of being accused of sexual harassment. While it is impossible to discredit this fear as incidents of wrongful accusations have taken place, the extent to which it has burgeoned is unacceptable. The #MeToo movement was never a movement against men, but an empowering opportunity for women to speak up about their experiences as victims of sexual harassment. Not only were women supporting one another in sharing to the public that these incidents do occur, and are often swept under the rug, but offered men insight into behaviors and conversations that are typically deemed unwelcomed and unwarranted.

Restricting interaction with women in the workplace is not a solution, but a mere attempt at deflecting from the core issue. Resorting to isolation and exclusion relays the message that if men can't treat women how they want, then they rather not deal with them at all. Educating both men and women on what behaviors are unacceptable while also creating a work environment where men and women are held accountable for their actions would be the ideal scenario. However, the impact of denying women opportunities of mentorship and productive one-on-one meetings hinders growth within their careers and professional networks.

Women, particularly women of color, have always had far fewer opportunities for mentorship which makes it impossible to achieve growth within their careers without them. If women are given limited opportunities to network in and outside of a work environment, then men must limit those opportunities amongst each other, as well. At the most basic level, men should be approaching female colleagues as they would approach their male colleagues. Striving to achieve gender equality within the workplace is essential towards creating a safer environment.

While restricted communication and interaction may diminish the possibility of men being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment, it creates a hostile
environment that perpetuates women-shaming and victim-blaming. Creating distance between men and women only prompts women to believe that male colleagues who avoid them will look away from or entirely discredit sexual harassment they experience from other men in the workplace. This creates an unsafe working environment for both parties where the problem at hand is not solved, but overlooked.

According to LeanIn's study, only 85% of women said they feel safe on the job, a 5% drop from 2018. In the report, Jillesa Gebhardt wrote, "Media coverage that is intended to hold aggressors accountable also seems to create a sense of threat, and people don't seem to feel like aggressors are held accountable." Unfortunately, only 16% of workers believed that harassers holding high positions are held accountable for their actions which inevitably puts victims in difficult, and quite possibly dangerous, situations. 50% of workers also believe that there are more repercussions for the victims than harassers when speaking up.

In a research poll conducted by Edison Research in 2018, 30% of women agreed that their employers did not handle harassment situations properly while 53% percent of men agreed that they did. Often times, male harassers hold a significant amount of power within their careers that gives them a sense of security and freedom to go forward with sexual misconduct. This can be seen in cases such as that of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and R. Kelly. Men in power seemingly have little to no fear that they will face punishment for their actions.


Source-Alex Brandon, AP

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook executive and founder of LeanIn.org., believes that in order for there to be positive changes within work environments, more women should be in higher positions. In an interview with CNBC's Julia Boorstin, Sandberg stated, "you know where the least sexual harassment is? Organizations that have more women in senior leadership roles. And so, we need to mentor women, we need to sponsor women, we need to have one-on-one conversations with them that get them promoted." Fortunately, the number of women in leadership positions are slowly increasing which means the prospect of gender equality and safer work environments are looking up.

Despite these concerning statistics, Sandberg does not believe that movements such as the Times Up and Me Too movements, have been responsible for the hardship women have been experiencing in the workplace. "I don't believe they've had negative implications. I believe they're overwhelmingly positive. Because half of women have been sexually harassed. But the thing is it is not enough. It is really important not to harass anyone. But that's pretty basic. We also need to not be ignored," she stated. While men may be feeling uncomfortable, putting an unrealistic amount of distance between themselves and female coworkers is more harmful to all parties than it is beneficial. Men cannot avoid working with women and vice versa. Creating such a hostile environment is also detrimental to any business as productivity and communication will significantly decrease.

The fear or being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment is a legitimate fear that deserves recognition and understanding. However, restricting interactions with women in the workplace is not a sensible solution as it can have negatively impact a woman's career. Companies are in need of proper training and resources to help both men and women understand what is appropriate workplace behavior. Refraining from physical interactions, commenting on physical appearance, making lewd or sexist jokes and inquiring about personal information are also beneficial steps towards respecting your colleagues' personal space. There is still much work to be done in order to create safe work environments, but with more and more women speaking up and taking on higher positions, women can feel safer and hopefully have less contributions to make to the #MeToo movement.