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


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.


A Modern Day Witch Hunt: How Caster Semenya's Gender Became A Hot Topic In The Media

Gender divisions in sports have primarily served to keep women out of what has always been believed to be a male domain. The idea of women participating alongside men has been regarded with contempt under the belief that women were made physically inferior.

Within their own division, women have reached new heights, received accolades for outstanding physical performance and endurance, and have proven themselves to be as capable of athletic excellence as men. In spite of women's collective fight to be recognized as equals to their male counterparts, female athletes must now prove their womanhood in order to compete alongside their own gender.

That has been the reality for Caster Semenya, a South African Olympic champion, who has been at the center of the latest gender discrimination debate across the world. After crushing her competition in the women's 800-meter dash in 2016, Semenya was subjected to scrutiny from her peers based upon her physical appearance, calling her gender into question. Despite setting a new national record for South Africa and attaining the title of fifth fastest woman in Olympic history, Semenya's success was quickly brushed aside as she became a spectacle for all the wrong reasons.

Semenya's gender became a hot topic among reporters as the Olympic champion was subjected to sex testing by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). According to Ruth Padawer from the New York Times, Semenya was forced to undergo relentless examination by gender experts to determine whether or not she was woman enough to compete as one. While the IAAF has never released the results of their testing, that did not stop the media from making irreverent speculations about the athlete's gender.

Moments after winning the Berlin World Athletics Championship in 2009, Semenya was faced with immediate backlash from fellow runners. Elisa Cusma who suffered a whopping defeat after finishing in sixth place, felt as though Semenya was too masculine to compete in a women's race. Cusma stated, "These kind of people should not run with us. For me, she is not a woman. She's a man." While her statement proved insensitive enough, her perspective was acknowledged and appeared to be a mutually belief among the other white female competitors.

Fast forward to 2018, the IAAF issued new Eligibility Regulations for Female Classification (Athlete with Differences of Sexual Development) that apply to events from 400m to the mile, including 400m hurdles races, 800m, and 1500m. The regulations created by the IAAF state that an athlete must be recognized at law as either female or intersex, she must reduce her testosterone level to below 5 nmol/L continuously for the duration of six months, and she must maintain her testosterone levels to remain below 5 nmol/L during and after competing so long as she wishes to be eligible to compete in any future events. It is believed that these new rules have been put into effect to specifically target Semenya given her history of being the most recent athlete to face this sort of discrimination.

With these regulations put into effect, in combination with the lack of information about whether or not Semenya is biologically a female of male, society has seemed to come to the conclusion that Semenya is intersex, meaning she was born with any variation of characteristics, chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals. After her initial testing, there had been alleged leaks to media outlets such as Australia's Daily Telegraph newspaper which stated that Semenya's results proved that her testosterone levels were too high. This information, while not credible, has been widely accepted as fact. Whether or not Semenya is intersex, society appears to be missing the point that no one is entitled to this information. Running off their newfound acceptance that the Olympic champion is intersex, it calls into question whether her elevated levels of testosterone makes her a man.

The IAAF published a study concluding that higher levels of testosterone do, in fact, contribute to the level of performance in track and field. However, higher testosterone levels have never been the sole determining factor for sex or gender. There are conditions that affect women, such as PCOS, in which the ovaries produce extra amounts of testosterone. However, those women never have their womanhood called into question, nor should they—and neither should Semenya.

Every aspect of the issue surrounding Semenya's body has been deplorable, to say the least. However, there has not been enough recognition as to how invasive and degrading sex testing actually is. For any woman, at any age, to have her body forcibly examined and studied like a science project by "experts" is humiliating and unethical. Under no circumstances have Semenya's health or well-being been considered upon discovering that her body allegedly produces an excessive amount of testosterone. For the sake of an organization, for the comfort of white female athletes who felt as though Semenya's gender was an unfair advantage against them, Semenya and other women like her, must undergo hormone treatment to reduce their performance to that of which women are expected to perform at. Yet some women within the athletic community are unphased by this direct attempt to further prove women as inferior athletes.

As difficult as this global invasion of privacy has been for the athlete, the humiliation and sense of violation is felt by her people in South Africa. Writer and activist, Kari, reported that Semenya has had the country's undying support since her first global appearance in 2009. Even after the IAAF released their new regulations, South Africans have refuted their accusations. Kari stated, "The Minister of Sports and Recreation and the Africa National Congress, South Africa's ruling party labeled the decision as anti-sport, racist, and homophobic." It is no secret that the build and appearance of Black women have always been met with racist and sexist commentary. Because Black women have never managed to fit into the European standard of beauty catered to and in favor of white women, the accusations of Semenya appearing too masculine were unsurprising.

Despite the countless injustices Semenya has faced over the years, she remains as determined as ever to return to track and field and compete amongst women as the woman she is. Her fight against the IAAF's regulations continues as the Olympic champion has been receiving and outpour of support in wake of the Association's decision. Semenya is determined to run again, win again, and set new and inclusive standards for women's sports.