5 Inspiring Women Entrepreneurs Changing The Rules Of Business


Breaking in like thunder, women across the globe are sending out messages that can no longer be easily dismissed. Once again we are entering a period in time where certain values and norms are being questioned, and 2016 has seen more light than ever shed on the importance of gender equality in the workforce, in order to promote gender equality in all aspects of life.

Women across the world are changing the world that we are “given” for a world that we dream of. They are creating the opportunity for themselves, and for other women and girls, to break through preconceived notions of gender and walk hand in hand with men towards a more wholesome existence.

Given how difficult the road to establishing a career in a workforce dominated by men can be, these women are not only changing the rules of business and leadership, but they have become champions for gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Although these are certainly not the first, or last, to join a list of relentless, intelligent, tough, creative, world-changing humans, they are a good source of inspiration for both women and men who are facing a tough track towards achieving their dreams and making this planet a better and more inclusive place for all.

Vickie Saunders: SheEO Founder

Vickie Saunders has spent the last 25 years of her life working towards initiatives that will make this world a better place. Having co-founded and run 4 ventures in Europe, Toronto, and Silicon Valley, she was recently names one of the 100 most influential leaders of 2015 by EBW, which includes women like Melinda Gates and Michelle Obama.

In 2015, she launched the organization SheEO, when she began to recognize patterns in the significant underfunding of women entrepreneurs. To her, transforming the economic landscape is a way to simultaneously restructure the social landscape in which women live. What is most interesting and igniting about Saunders and the SheEO organization is her “women helping women” approach to funding.

SheEO is based on the idea that women can raise a billion dollars of capital by 2020 through individual women (or as SheEO calls them “activators”) committing $1,000. Eventually, when this platform is rolled out to other cities and to other countries, the amount of money that is available for loans to women entrepreneurs (with no interest) can increase significantly.

Their campaign in 2015, #radicalgenerosity, resulted in 500 women activators donating $1,000 each to generate a pool of $500,000 to be distributed to five different “SheEOs” without interest.

The ultimate goal for SheEO is to shed light on the economic potential we have and embolden women to pursue their business enterprises by making funding more accessible, while also creating a sense of community and support between women around the world.

Lynn Jurich: Sunrun Founder

By Anastasiia Sapon

It comes as no surprise that the consumption of energy and resources around the world is an issue that has garnered (and rightly so) attention in 2016. Though the impact on the environment is at the top of the list of reasons to change the way we consume, what many don’t understand is the long-term individual and collective economic benefits that switching to other means of power can have.

Lynn Jurich says switching to solar power is “really pretty simple,” especially with Sunrun, the solar power company she co-founded to provide home solar energy in a smart, simple, inexpensive, and low-risk way.

Her business model, “solar as a service,” is changing the way we think about and use electricity. Today, they have more than $3 billion in solar panels installed across 15 states, but what is more impressive is the comprehensive website they have built around their product. The accessible and informative platform silences any doubts you might have about the economic and social impact of consuming solar energy.

Jurich was named Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business in 2013 and Forbes’ Women to Watch in 2015.

Christine Hunsicker: Gwynnie Bee

By Buck Ennis

Recognizing there’s a need for change and doing something about it are two different things. It’s the women who are working on the here and now that are influencing how the world will look tomorrow.

One of these women is Christine Hunsicker. She began her career at a financial reporting company where she spent years gaining experience and then went on to work at another startup. She also attended industrial design school, and later worked at a media company.

Hunsicker saw an opportunity in a multi-million-dollar industry to empower women by helping them feel more comfortable and confident with their bodies. It comes as no surprise that the retail and fashion industry’s focus has been on a specific body type for a long time, making plus-sized women feel like they’ve been brushed aside.

She says that after plenty of research, it became apparent that “women who fit sizes 10-32 do not have access to the fashion they rightly deserve.” Gwynnie Bee, the online women’s clothing subscription service for women sizes 10-32, allows you to rent clothes and exchange them after you have worn them, or keep them if you love them.

“Great clothing without limitations” explains their website. The idea that stemmed from Hunsicker’s memory of her aunt making clothes for her every week that fit well, felt comfortable, and made her confident, later became a four-employee company in her apartment in New York, and it now employs 400 people. In the coming months, she will appear as an investor in Project Runway: Fashion Startup.

Kathryn Finney: Digitalundivided Founder

You think your schedule is inundated by to-do’s, projects, and work, until you read about Kathryn Finney and you wonder what kind of superpowers she might be hiding under her sleeve to be able to do everything she does.

In the past 10 years, Ms. Finney has become one of the most influential entrepreneurs, investors, social media advocates, and writers of our time. She was one of the first Black women to sell a tech company before venturing into the world of pioneering research.

For Finney, and the Digitalundivided team, it’s all about providing the “Real Unicorns of Tech” with the network, coaching, and funding to build, scale, and exit their high growth companies

So, who are these otherworldly creatures? It turns out, they’re not from another planet at all. Digitalundivided focuses on Black and Latina women entrepreneurs who are forming 80% of women businesses but only receive 2% of Venture Funding.

According to their website, since 2013, they have “impacted over 2,000 people and helped raise $15M in investments.”

A White House Champion of Change, she’s also listed in Marie Claire’s 10 Women to Watch in 2016, Entrepreneurs Magazine’s “Woman to Watch in 2016”, New York Business Journal’s Women of Influence Award, SXSW Black Innovator Award, The Grio 100, Ebony Power 100, and Black Enterprise “40 under 40” list.

Meika Hollender: Co-Founder of Sustain Natural

The millennipreneurs are here, and women are at the forefront. Meika Hollender, an NYU graduate and women’s health advocate, has always been interested in reproductive health. She is co-founder of Sustain Natural with her father. According to them, their goal is “to get people to think about sustainability, justice, and equity every time they open a condom, even though they’re understandably distracted.”

“We really wanted to start talking to women,” Meika says, which is what makes Sustain such a revolutionary idea. It’s taking a product that is typically marketed to men and making it a woman’s choice as well. This, she says, came from research that showed that 40% of women were the one’s buying condoms.

Ultimately, their goal is not only to create sustainable and healthy products that don’t have a negative effect on the body or the environment, but also to educate people on how the dots connect, and to empower women in terms of reproductive health care.

This article was originally posted on StartUp Mindset.

5 min read

3 Healthy Ways to Relieve Stress Each Evening (Instead of Reaching for Another Cocktail)

When we envision a person who is suffering from substance use disorder (SUD)—defined by having a history of past misuse, experiencing increasing mental health symptoms, or having a family history of addiction—we often picture someone waking up and instantly grabbing their first drink. However, in my experience working with those battling SUD for nearly a decade, I've learned that everyone's relationship with alcohol looks different and having a few too many drinks at night can be just as dangerous.

The time of day, amount, or type of alcohol one drinks doesn't define if they suffer from SUD or not—it's the compulsion to drink. By focusing on healthy stress relievers and implementing them into your daily routine, you aren't just avoiding another glass at night, you are curbing any inclination for SUD that you may have.

While you may feel the desire to reach for another drink after dinner and putting the kids to bed to relieve some of the stress you incurred that day, there are other things that you can do that are much more beneficial to your mental health and wellbeing.

Risks of Reaching for Another Drink

Reaching for another cocktail or glass of wine can feel like a great way to relieve the stress of the day at the time, but over time it can actually lead to the opposite. Excessive drinking is known to lead to increased anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders such as increased risk of family problems, altered judgment, and worsened sleep quality. These can all lead to increased stress and create a continuous cycle I have seen in many of my patients, which often prove difficult to break.

Increased alcohol consumption can directly impact an individual's mood and temperament, too. In my patients, I've seen a connection between increased alcohol consumption and irritability, fatigue, and loss of interest in activities that previously brought that person joy—activities that people should always put time into, especially right now during the pandemic.

While drinking in moderation doesn't have serious implications for some, others are already at increased risk for SUD. One drink per day is considered moderate for women, while eight drinks or more in a single week is categorized as heavy drinking. It's important to monitor your intake—whether you are at increased risk for SUD or not. It is all too easy for one glass to become another, and then another. And if you keep reaching for just one more drink, you can start to build a tolerance, as it requires more and more alcohol to achieve the desired effect. This can result in dangerous, addictive habits that will alter your life, and the lives of those who care for you.

Three Healthy Ways to Relieve Evening Stress

Stress relief from alcohol is short-lived, but choosing healthier, alternative stress relievers can provide long-lasting benefits for both your mental and physical wellbeing. At Wellbridge, our team not only focuses on treating addiction but also on teaching healthy habits to support ongoing sobriety. And many of these learnings can be implemented to avoid addiction by handling stress better as well!

Below are three healthy stress relief ideas you can implement into your routine:

  1. Mindfulness exercises can be a powerful and mentally stimulating stress reliever. Throughout our therapeutic program at Wellbridge, we provide different opportunities to cultivate mindfulness. For example, breathing exercises, such as box breathing or diaphragmatic breathing, mindful walking, and progressive muscle relaxation. If you're looking for entry, guided meditation, check out this YouTube channel where experts post mindfulness exercises each week.
  2. Human connection is invaluable. Whether it is your spouse, your children, a friend, or even a therapist, connecting with someone else can be a great way to relieve stress. The additional perspective that another person provides can also help us feel that the anxieties and stressors we are experiencing are more manageable. If you are feeling increased stress from loneliness or isolation, reach out and schedule a Zoom coffee hour with a friend, or call a loved one to check-in and chat.
  3. Physical activity is an excellent stress reliever as well, for so many reasons. Not only can it help us get our mind off of stress, it enables our bodies to release endorphins and provides long-lasting physical health benefits. Physical activity doesn't need to be a full-blown workout if you don't feel up to it, or simply don't have extended periods of time to dedicate to a longer exercise regimen. Even a short walk or some stretching can go a long way towards improving your mood. I enjoy following guided, online yoga practices for both mindfulness practice and physical activity.

Despite my years working in this space, I am no stranger to giving in to stress. However, I've learned that by allotting myself a little time each morning and evening for activities that set a positive tone in my life—like meditation, journaling, and exercise—I've been able to better manage my stress and feel more prepared for heightened periods of stress. Do I manage to set aside personal time every morning and evening? Definitely not—life happens! But by doing our best to take regular time out for ourselves, we're all certain to be in a better place emotionally and mentally.

Putting Your Mental Health & Wellbeing First

It's important to also recognize that it isn't just stress that causes us to reach for another drink at night. With the added pressures and responsibilities of women in today's world, having another glass of our favorite drink at the end of the day can often seem like a quicker and easier option than other healthier ways to relieve stress.

However, it's essential to put your mental health and wellbeing front and center in your priority list—something that many women struggle with. But just like the oxygen masks on an airplane, you can't take care of others if you don't take care of yourself first. By focusing on implementing small, healthy habits and making them a seamless part of your daily routine, you ensure that you can show up in all aspects of your life and for all the people in your life.

If you are struggling with increased stress, be specific and honest with your support system about your need to preserve your mental wellbeing. Prioritizing your needs will help you be there for other people you care about in your life.

I always refer back to a quote from a Dar Williams song—a song about therapy no less! "Oh, how I loved everybody else when I finally got to talk so much about myself." Talk about your needs with others and find time to develop healthy coping habits. And if you feel as though you've already created an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, discuss that relationship with a medical advisor to learn if advanced treatment is the right option for you.