Aurora James. Photo Courtesy of Into The Gloss
Business 19 July 2017
More and more women have taken a risk in order to make their mark in the world and in turn, female entrepreneurs continue to dominate the fashion, tech, and beauty industries. Hundreds of stories are shared each day talking about failed business attempts, perseverance, breakthroughs, stubbornness and (of course) success, but what publications don't tell us is that 80 percent of what's written is carefully crafted to relay only what we want to hear – or rather what they think we want to hear.
For those who don't have first hand experience running their own business, the word “entrepreneur" is romanticized and promises long lunches, client meetings at five star restaurants and the freedom to make whatever schedule you want. But, as most of us know, entrepreneurship is no easy path. It's more or less like jumping off a cliff with no parachute, hitting every rock on the way down and somehow coming out alive at the bottom with only a few scratches and bruises. So, what happened to being candid and telling the whole and honest truth about running a business? Social media- that's what.
It's been said it takes 10 seconds to form a first impression but now with social media, it only takes 5 minutes to figure out someone's entire life history. You can see where they're from, what their style is, who they're friends with and what they've done over the past week, month or year. Though having this insight may make us feel like we know each person intimately, it's always a constant struggle trying to distinguish what content is honest and authentic and what pieces distort reality.
Whitney Wolfe Herd. Photo Courtesy of Racked
Most of us scroll through so many social media posts a day, that we become numb to the bullshit content that some people are posting -we accept it as the norm and continue on. When following an entrepreneur, we watch closely for wise words, tricks of the trade and to (hopefully) see the inner workings of the business, and though that's often times what we get, we're often sheltered from the harsh reality.
The moments of doubt, sleepless nights, home office nightmares and work/life balance lies all seem to be swept under the rug. But, through all background noise, there are a few incredible trailblazers that aren't afraid to stand out from the crowd and give an honest opinion every now and then.
These five female entrepreneurs are kicking ass, taking names and keeping it real on social media.
1. Whitney Wolfe Herd (@whitwolfeherd)
Founder of Bumble
Starting one of the most successful dating apps that put women in power of their left and right swipes is an amazing feat, but what's even more refreshing is the app's Founder, Whitney Wolfe on social media. She gives her followers an inside look at her life and whether it's a selfie with her friends, a picture of her dog or a funny text her mom sent we see it all – unfiltered. It will be imperative to follow along with this queen bee, especially now as she expands the Bumble empire out to business networking as well.
Linda Rodin. Photo Courtesy of Grey Magazine
2. Linda Rodin (@lindaandwinks)
Founder of RODIN olio lusso
Linda Rodin is known for breaking boundaries in the fashion and beauty industries and now she's breaking the internet. At a glance, her Instagram account looks like something straight out of Vogue. Her vibrant wardrobe, eclectic home décor, and her gorgeous poodle (yes, we're all suckers for any furry friends ) could all easily be in the next Anna Wintour-approved spread, but the powerhouse entrepreneur still manages to keep it real. She's never been one to hide her true self and it's helped her come out on top, not only in her career but in the digital world as well.
3. Christina Karin (@christinakarin)
Designer & Creative Director of Christina Karin
Life of a Fashion Designer may seem glamorous and most of what we see on social media validates that notion, but what we don't see is everything that happens behind the scenes. Thanks to Chicago based Designer and Creative Director, Christina Karin, that's about to change. As her self-named ready-to-wear label continues to grow and become more successful, she's not afraid to give a little insight on what it's like to run a business and a household. She often posts pictures of her clothing (naturally) but scattered throughout her feed you'll find any family vacations, truth bombs about mother-hood and downright honest captions about life.
Christina Karin. Photo Courtesy of Fashionista Chicago
4. Aurora James (@aurorajames)
Founder & Creative Director of Brother Vellies
Known for her cool-girl style, cultural influence and incredible accessory label, Brother Vellies, Aurora James is a true inspiration. Her first collection, launched in 2014, was created entirely by artisans in South Africa. Now expanded out to Kenya and Morocco, she has been able to provide multitudes of jobs for locals in what seemed to have been a dying art. Aside from her incredible company story, she's also honest about what running a business looks like and some of the challenges that come along with that (even if it can seem like she lives a charmed life). Inspirational captions, makeup-free selfies and peeks into her personal life at home are pretty common for this boss babe not to mention she takes airport style to a whole new level by making the most of her travel and those awful security buckets.
Moj Mahadra. Photo Courtesy of Smallz & Raskind/Getty Images
5. Moj Mahadra (@mojism)
CEO of Beauty Con
Running the entertainment strategy for Airstream at 25 was just the beginning for Moj Mahadra. With a Ted Talk, multiple articles out about influencer-driven engagement and being named CEO of Beautycon all under her belt, she's paving a path for all women in the digital media industry. This entrepreneur isn't afraid to share her personal feelings with the world either. Through her feeds she posts about politics, feminist movements, and behind-the-scenes footage of shoot days. She's unapologetically herself in every way - showing other women that they don't have to fit into society's standards of what a female entrepreneur should be.
3 Min Read
"How did you ever get into a business like that?" people ask me. They're confounded to hear that my product is industrial baler wire—a very unfeminine pursuit, especially in 1975 when I founded my company in the midst of a machismo man's world. It's a long story, but I'll try to shorten it.
I'd never been interested to enter the "man's" world of business, but when I discovered a lucrative opportunity to become my own boss, I couldn't pass it up—even if it involved a non-glamorous product. I'd been fired from my previous job working to become a ladies' clothing buyer and was told at my dismissal, "You just aren't management or corporate material." My primary goal then was to find a career in which nobody had the power to fire me and that provided a comfortable living for my two little girls and myself.
Over the years, I've learned quite a few tough lessons about how to successfully run a business. Below are five essential elements to keep in mind, as well as my story on how I learned them.
Find A Need And Fill It
I gradually became successful at selling various products, which unfortunately weren't profitable enough to get me off the ground, so I asked people what they needed that they couldn't seem to get. One man said, "Honey, I need baler wire. Even the farmers can't get it." I saw happy dollar signs as he talked on and dedicated myself to figuring out the baler wire industry.
I'd never been interested to enter the "man's" world of business, but when I discovered a lucrative opportunity to become my own boss, I couldn't pass it up.
Now forty-five years later, I'm proud to be the founder of Vulcan Wire, Inc., an industrial baler wire company with $10 million of annual sales.
Have Working Capital And Credit
There were many pitfalls along the way to my eventual success. My daughters and I were subsisting from my unemployment checks, erratic alimony and child-support payments, and food stamps. I had no money stashed up to start up a business.
I paid for the first wire with a check for which I had no funds, an illegal act, but I thought it wouldn't matter as long as I made a deposit to cover the deficit before the bank received the check. My expectation was that I'd receive payment immediately upon delivery, for which I used a rented truck.
Little did I know that this Fortune 500 company's modus operandi was to pay all bills thirty or more days after receipts. My customer initially refused to pay on the spot. I told him I would consequently have to return the wire, so he reluctantly decided to call corporate headquarters for this unusual request.
My stomach was in knots the whole time he was gone, because he said it was iffy that corporate would come through. Fifty minutes later, however, he emerged with a check in hand, resentful of the time away from his busy schedule. Stressed, he told me to never again expect another C.O.D. and that any future sale must be on credit. Luckily, I made it to the bank with a few minutes to spare.
Know Your Product Thoroughly
I received a disheartening phone call shortly thereafter: my wire was breaking. This horrible news fueled the fire of my fears. Would I have to reimburse my customer? Would my vendor refuse to reimburse me?
My customer told me to come over and take samples of his good wire to see if I might duplicate it. I did that and educated myself on the necessary qualities.
My primary goal then was to find a career in which nobody had the power to fire me and that provided a comfortable living for my two little girls and myself.
Voila! I found another wire supplier that had the right specifications. By then, I was savvy enough to act as though they would naturally give me thirty-day terms. They did!
More good news: My customer merely threw away all the bad wire I'd sold him, and the new wire worked perfectly; he then gave me leads and a good endorsement. I rapidly gained more wire customers.
Anticipate The Dangers Of Exponential Growth
I had made a depressing discovery. My working capital was inadequate. After I purchased the wire, I had to wait ten to thirty days for a fabricator to get it reconfigured, which became a looming problem. It meant that to maintain a good credit standing, I had to pay for the wire ten to thirty days before my customers paid me.
I was successful on paper but was incredibly cash deprived. In other words, my exponentially growing business was about to implode due to too many sales. Eventually, my increasing sales grew at a slower rate, solving my cash flow problem.
Delegate From The Bottom Up
I learned how to delegate and eventually delegated myself out of the top jobs of CEO, President, CFO, and Vice President of Finance. Now, at seventy-eight years old, I've sold all but a third of Vulcan's stock and am semi-retired with my only job currently serving as Vice President of Stock and Consultant.
In the interim, I survived many obstacles and learned many other lessons, but hopefully these five will get you started and help prevent some of you from having the same struggles that I did. And in the end, I figured it all out, just like you will.