Just in case you didn't already know it, I'm just going to say it - female entrepreneurs, you are a force to be reckoned with. According to the State of Women-Owned Business Report (commissioned by American Express OPEN) in 2016, there were an estimated 11.3 million women-owned businesses in the United States.
These businesses employ almost 9 million people and generate over $1.6 trillion in revenue. Women-owned businesses have also increased 45 percent between 2007 and 2016, and there are no signs of this growth is slowing down.
The amazing women at the helm of these companies know that there are many pieces involved in building and growing a business. From starting with the product or service, to marketing it, to selling it, to everything in between. They are also keenly aware of the fact that they are the face of their company and personal branding is critical. Successful leaders understand that through networking, business promotion, social media and many other outward facing outlets, they can bring awareness to themselves and their businesses. One way women entrepreneurs can showcase their personal brand is to dress to their brand and personal style. Personal style is a culmination of one's interests, lifestyle, experiences and clothing preferences. What she wears is her social armor for the day - dressing to her unique style helps her tell her story and more about who she is, all without saying a word.
So, what does that mean for all you fabulous female entrepreneurs who want to develop a strong personal brand and style? My advice is to first understand your company's message. Next develop a personal brand that fits your company's message and finally determines your personal style (hint: it'll be in line with your company message and personal brand) and dresses to it.
Need some entrepreneur style motivation? Here are some Spring 2018 trends that can help women entrepreneurs express their personal style and be the best versions of themselves.
Worn as pieces of an outfit or head to toe- bright colors can bring any outfit to life.
1. Primary Colors
Worn as pieces of an outfit or head to toe- bright colors can bring any outfit to life. Dubbed the “new millennial pink" by fashionistas, Pantone's color of the year for 2018, Ultra Violet (#18-3838) brings purple tones to the forefront. Pantone's description of the color is, “A dramatically provocative and thoughtful purple shade, (it) communicates originality, ingenuity, and visionary thinking that points us toward the future."
The perfect shade for entrepreneurs. In addition to ultraviolet- yellow, red, green, orange and blue are big for spring as well. Looking to stand out at your next networking event? Pair an ultraviolet or yellow blazer with a grey pencil skirt and pumps for an eye-catching look.
2. Sparkle and Shine
No need to wait until the holidays to wear your sequin again because this shiny embellishment is carrying on right through spring. That also doesn't mean you need to wait for an event or evening affair to wear sequin, go right ahead and wear it during the daytime at work. Stylist tip: The key to daytime sequin dressing is to let the sequin item be the focal point of the outfit and not overwhelm it with too many accessories or other glittery items. For example, you can wear a sequin skirt with a lightweight blouse, pumps and little to no jewelry.
The key to daytime sequin dressing is to let the sequin item be the focal point of the outfit.
3. In the “Trenches"
One item that can instantly convert any outfit to a power outfit, and just happens to be a big trend for spring, is the trench coat. There are many versions of the trench coat for spring that can fit into any personal style. There's always the go-to classic trench, but if you want to switch up the trench wear it in an updated material like shiny vinyl, plastic or denim. Or move away from the classic silhouette to a sleeveless trench coat or an oversized coat. Any way you wear it, the trench coat will communicate your confidence and personal power.
4. Dark Denim
Paired with anything from hoodies to blazers, denim has become a staple piece for entrepreneurs. The great thing about dark denim is that it offers a comfortable yet polished look. Denim is perfect for the multi-tasking entrepreneur as it can take her from a day of meetings to working in the office to an evening of networking and then home to the family. A fun way of dressing denim this spring is denim on denim.
An easy #bosslady look is to wear dark denim jeans with a chambray top, a yellow or red belt for a pop of color and slingback pumps.
It's small enough to not get in the way, it has the ease of being hands-free and it can carry all the necessary items.
5. You say Belt Bag, I say Fanny Pack
Yes, ladies belt bags, AKA fanny packs, are a big trend for spring and they are here to stay. I know this is a controversial one so hear me out as to why I believe this is a great item for women entrepreneurs. First, we love pockets, right? They are a great place to store your phone, a lipstick, metro card, keys, etc. But unfortunately, dresses, blouses, and some pants don't always have pockets. So, in comes the belt pack to save the day. It's small enough to not get in the way, it has the ease of being hands-free and it can carry all the necessary items. If you're not into the traditional look of wearing the belt bag around your waist you could wear it like a cross body bag or even fling it over your shoulder.
6. Check Mate
A trend from fall that is still going strong is check prints. These prints can be anything from plaid to gingham to being mixed with other prints, like florals. The wonderful thing about this pattern is that you can dress it up or down. Pair a plaid dress with slingbacks for a dressed up look. Or go for a casual office look with a plaid blazer, jeans, and sneakers.
7. The Slingback
The slingback, once known as the 80's standard boring office shoe, is completely re-invented for 2018. Updates for 2018 are in the fun styling and colors. Whether your personal style is classic, modern or even trendy the slingback can easily be worn with your outfit of choice. From kitten heels to floral prints to pastel colors and even wearing them with socks, these shoes will allow any entrepreneur to let her style and personality come through.
8. Statement Earrings
When it comes to earrings this spring the motto is go big or go home. From tassels to hoops to full out bling these earrings can help you make a splashy entrance and get noticed quickly. And what entrepreneur doesn't want to get noticed?
Stylist tip- When attending networking events wear a bold accessory, like statement earrings, to get noticed quickly. That necklace or earrings or bag serves as a great conversation starter and it may be what you need to get the ball rolling on a possible joint venture.
There you have it, some spring trend suggestions that can help women entrepreneurs dress to their personal style, allowing them to showcase their strong personal brand.
In 2016, I finally found my voice. I always thought I had one, especially as a business owner and mother of two vocal toddlers, but I had been wrong.
For more than 30 years, I had been struggling with the fear of being my true self and speaking my truth. Then the repressed memories of my childhood sexual abuse unraveled before me while raising my 3-year-old daughter, and my life has not been the same since.
Believe it or not, I am happy about that.
The journey for a survivor like me to feel even slightly comfortable sharing these words, without fear of being shamed or looked down upon, is a long and often lonely one. For all of the people out there in the shadows who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse, I dedicate this to you. You might never come out to talk about it and that's okay, but I am going to do so here and I hope that in doing so, I will open people's eyes to the long-term effects of abuse. As a survivor who is now fully conscious of her abuse, I suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and, quite frankly, it may never go away.
It took me some time to accept that and I refuse to let it stop me from thriving in life; therefore, I strive to manage it (as do many others with PTSD) through various strategies I've learned and continue to learn through personal and group therapy. Over the years, various things have triggered my repressed memories and emotions of my abuse--from going to birthday parties and attending preschool tours to the Kavanaugh hearing and most recently, the"Leaving Neverland" documentary (I did not watch the latter, but read commentary about it).
These triggers often cause panic attacks. I was angry when I read Barbara Streisand's comments about the men who accused Michael Jackson of sexually abusing them, as detailed in the documentary. She was quoted as saying, "They both married and they both have children, so it didn't kill them." She later apologized for her comments. I was frustrated when one of the senators questioning Dr. Christine Blasey Ford (during the Kavanaugh hearing) responded snidely that Dr. Ford was still able to get her Ph.D. after her alleged assault--as if to imply she must be lying because she gained success in life.We survivors are screaming to the world, "You just don't get it!" So let me explain: It takes a great amount of resilience and fortitude to walk out into society every day knowing that at any moment an image, a sound, a color, a smell, or a child crying could ignite fear in us that brings us back to that moment of abuse, causing a chemical reaction that results in a panic attack.
So yes, despite enduring and repressing those awful moments in my early life during which I didn't understand what was happening to me or why, decades later I did get married; I did become a parent; I did start a business that I continue to run today; and I am still learning to navigate this "new normal." These milestones do not erase the trauma that I experienced. Society needs to open their eyes and realize that any triumph after something as ghastly as childhood abuse should be celebrated, not looked upon as evidence that perhaps the trauma "never happened" or "wasn't that bad. "When a survivor is speaking out about what happened to them, they are asking the world to join them on their journey to heal. We need love, we need to feel safe and we need society to learn the signs of abuse and how to prevent it so that we can protect the 1 out of 10 children who are being abused by the age of 18. When I state this statistic at events or in large groups, I often have at least one person come up to me after and confide that they too are a survivor and have kept it a secret. My vehicle for speaking out was through the novella The Survivors Club, which is the inspiration behind a TV pilot that my co-creator and I are pitching as a supernatural, mind-bending TV series. Acknowledging my abuse has empowered me to speak up on behalf of innocent children who do not have a voice and the adult survivors who are silent.
Remembering has helped me further understand my young adult challenges,past risky relationships, anger issues, buried fears, and my anxieties. I am determined to thrive and not hide behind these negative things as they have molded me into the strong person I am today.Here is my advice to those who wonder how to best support survivors of sexual abuse:Ask how we need support: Many survivors have a tough exterior, which means the people around them assume they never need help--we tend to be the caregivers for our friends and families. Learning to be vulnerable was new for me, so I realized I needed a check-off list of what loved ones should ask me afterI had a panic attack.
The list had questions like: "Do you need a hug," "How are you feeling," "Do you need time alone."Be patient with our PTSD". Family and close ones tend to ask when will the PTSD go away. It isn't a cold or a disease that requires a finite amount of drugs or treatment. There's no pill to make it miraculously disappear, but therapy helps manage it and some therapies have been known to help it go away. Mental Health America has a wealth of information on PTSD that can help you and survivors understand it better. Have compassion: When I was with friends at a preschool tour to learn more about its summer camp, I almost fainted because I couldn't stop worrying about my kids being around new teenagers and staff that might watch them go the bathroom or put on their bathing suit. After the tour, my friends said,"Nubia, you don't have to put your kids in this camp. They will be happy doing other things this summer."
In that moment, I realized how lucky I was to have friends who understood what I was going through and supported me. They showed me love and compassion, which made me feel safe and not judged.