Starting your own company from scratch is difficult, regardless of your gender, sex, race or age. Theoretically, gender shouldn't matter when it comes to fundraising and getting your company off the ground, but female entrepreneurs unfortunately do experience different challenges than their male counterparts. I've seen just how skewed the funding process can be against women first-hand in my experience as the founder and CEO of Beautiac, a subscription-based makeup brush company I started in 2018.
As soon as I had the idea for Beautiac, I was excited to hit the ground running. I wanted to create a makeup brush that would prevent breakouts; as the solution, I designed an interchangeable makeup brush system. Customers get new brush heads in the mail every month, pop off the old ones and send them back to us for recycling. This concept had never been done before; it was quite a hectic period while I designed and sourced everything from scratch. I knew I needed capital to turn this dream into a reality, so I started the fundraising process ASAP.
Luckily, I was familiar with fundraising. Before Beautiac, I was the founder and CEO of a candle and home décor wholesale company, where I raised over $2 million to expand brand partnerships and retail channels. When I exited that role to start Beautiac, I was excited to get back in the swing of investor meetings, but I also knew to expect some ups and downs. After all, female founders collectively received $10 billion less in funding than the company Juul alone received in 2018. That's right. Let's say it louder for the people in the back: a vape company accused of causing a teen smoking epidemic received $10 billion more in funding than the hundreds of female entrepreneurs combined.
Given that, along with the nature of my product, I knew that explaining the nuances of makeup brushes to rooms full of men wasn't going to be easy. However, I also had something else to worry about: a growing baby bump. Don't get me wrong—I was overjoyed when I found out I was pregnant with my son. Fundraising while pregnant however, opened up a whole new can of worms, and I had a lot of anxiety about it. As a woman in a man's world, I was used to the subtle digs and implied biases, but nothing could have prepared me for the blatant sexism to come.
While speaking with potential investors, I would constantly be asked whether my pregnancy would impact my vision and abilities as an entrepreneur or how I was going to manage both an infant and a startup. I've even sat across the table from a potential investor who said "We would be interested… but given the state your in, we're going to pass," while gesturing at my large belly. Every encounter like that left me incredulous, but nevertheless I persisted. The key is to find investors who not only believe in your brand and in you as a founder, but also in you as a person. Business partners who respect and celebrate every aspect of your life—not just your company—are the partners you want. Sometimes, that means walking away from a check. Turning down cash is hard, but you'll never regret standing up against biased behavior, and in my case, standing up for the desire to have a family and be an entrepreneur at the same time.
Admittedly, there were a few times when I got worried and asked myself, "Should I really be doing this? Are they right?" To doubt yourself is to be human, but don't let a little doubt deter you. Throughout my experience, I used my pregnancy to fuel my passion for Beautiac even more. It's hard to be in a position where you constantly feel the need to prove something, change peoples' minds and change the way something is thought about. It feels like a nearly impossible task and it's exhausting. Someone once said to me, "just show up every day, and every day thereafter, and every day after that." By showing up time and time again, you break down barriers and prove to people just how serious you really are. I subscribe to that method in my life with almost everything I throw myself into. I just keep showing up!
I took Beautiac from concept to consumer launch in just nine months, raising a $750,000 seed round along the way. Incredibly, it was the exact same time frame I was pregnant. In fact, I was in labor only two days after we began officially shipping Beautiac kits to our first customers! I was able to do this balancing act because I work with investors who understand the vision of Beautiac and support me as a founder, CEO and mother. And as Beautiac is fundraising again, I've become even more confident in my role as both a mom and an entrepreneur. There's no place for sexism or bias in my company. We celebrate all women, all people, and all stages of life, encouraging everyone to dream big and be at their best each day.
I'm looking forward to instilling those Beautiac values in my son as he comes of age and to everyone else the Beautiac brand touches. Because together, when united, we can be a powerful catalyst—making this world a more open-minded, caring and supportive place. A place where women are not just included but are actually thriving in their roles and sought after because of their amazing talent and skill sets, which are often developed by being moms with undeniable perseverance. A woman who is determined is a powerful force, one that is unstoppable.
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We are living in a time when women are rising to new heights which means they are regularly being confronted with the fear of being "too much". For women in business this is pervasive and costly.
A few ways women can be perceived as "too much" are:
Speaking up about their successes and achievements.
Sharing one too many photos of their cute kids.
Telling one too many people about that date night.
Looking a little too good in that swimsuit.
These can lead to being publicly attacked on social media or privately slandered which in turn leads to women dimming their light and walking on egg shells in hopes of avoiding conflict and judgement.
The minute a woman feels it's unsafe to shine she will begin to overthink, worry, and fear how she shows up in the world.
Forgetting to announce the book is done and the interview is live.
Choosing to focus on what's still on the to-do list rather than what's been checked off.
Many female entrepreneurs are subconsciously altering their behavior in an attempt to not attract too much attention to themselves, rather than focusing on allowing authenticity and magnetism to attract their ideal clients and community.
Women are afraid of being criticized, ostracized, and abandoned by other women for simply being who they are. This leads to quite the quantum when being who you are is simplest way to accelerate the growth of your business.
New research shows men are far more comfortable with self promotion than women are. Researchers found that men rate their own performance 33 percent higher than equally performing women. What we know is that self promotion pays off and this is where women are missing the boat.
The world needs more women to step into leadership roles and no longer be intimidated about creating six and seven figure careers.
Here are five ways to release the fear of being "too much":
1. Approve of yourself.
While it feels good to receive outside validation it will never be enough if you don't first appreciate yourself. The key to having a healthy support system is to make sure you are part of it. Being your biggest critic is what your mother's generation did. It's now time to be your biggest cheerleader. Becoming aware of self talk will reveal what belief is ready to be re-wired. Create a simply mantra that affirms how incredible capable you are.
2. Connect deeply to those you serve.
One powerful way to shift out of people pleasing behavior is to get clear on who actually matters to the wellbeing and success of your life and business. Leadership is not about being the most popular, instead it's a decision to be brave for those who can't be. Take a few minutes each day to visualize and meditate on those your business serves and supports. See your future clients moving toward you every time you choose to stand in your power and use your authentic voice.
3. Remember the legacy you wish to leave.
Having your life purpose and legacy in writing is one of the most transformational exercises you can do. Reading this often will keep you focused on what matters. Knowing what you wish to leave in the hearts of those you love most is incredibly grounding. You didn't come here to keep your mouth shut, dilute your truth, or dim your light-you came here to make a difference.
4. Forgive those who have been unsupportive in the past.
The past has a way of informing the future in a negative way when there is unresolved pain. Take a few minutes to get quiet and ask yourself who you have unforgiveness towards or maybe their name came to mind as you read this article. Listening to a forgiveness meditation or writing a letter to the person you are ready to forgive are both simple and effective ways to process and heal.
5. Be part a community of bright, successful women.
Meaningful relationships with others who have similar aspirations is what will keep you out of isolation and playing small. These connections can happen in a networking group, online community or a local Meetup. Thriving in every area of life is depend on you knowing where you belong and being celebrated there. Don't wait to be invited, go actively seek out people and places that support your dreams and desires.
6. Accept you can have it all.
Women have been fed a lie for generations that says, you can have love or money. Decide you can have it all and allow it to flow to you. You can have a successful career and an amazing mother. You can balance motherhood and loving marriage. Don't let anyone write the rules for you. This is the time to create the life you desire on your terms.
7. Celebrate everything!
The fastest way to leave the haters in the dust is to celebrate everything! At the end of each day lay in bed and recall the best moments. At the end of each week, publicly acknowledge and celebrate what's good in your life. Once a month, have a celebration dinner and share it with those who have helped you in the journey. If there's something good happening, talk about it with everyone who will listen!
May you be a woman who chooses to shine so that others may be reminded of all they can be and do.