Business 17 May 2018
Whether it started with Kris Jenner and her family of reality TV stars turned millionaires businesswomen, or whether it began with the cringey home workout VCRs of the 80s, the era of the celebrity turned entrepreneur started many moons ago, but has significantly evolved over the last few years.
With the advent of social media, more influencers, be it actors, models, reality TV stars, singers and so on, have side hustles. If their public profile is big enough and their social media thriving, you can guarantee an eagle-eyed business partner has approached them, or they themselves approached a venture, with their social profile as their big backing.
What has emerged from this trend is indeed an interesting cast of both entrepreneurs and activists who have decided to capitalise majorly on their public profile and put it to use, either monetarily or for social change. This month, The Wall Street Journal launched their first "Future of Everything Festival," and amongst a plethora of significant speaker themes was that of the uber-celebrity, utilizing their fame for things other than club entry and free merch.
Jessica Alba at The Future of Everything Festival. Photo: Zimbio
Amidst an impressive lineup of entrepreneurs, activists, celebrities and CEOs, the festival kicked off with a very provocative female lineup in the beauty and wellness category. Among those we heard from were Tata Harper, Natalie Mackey, Bobbi Brown and Jessica Alba.
It was Alba's talk that perhaps stuck out the most. Here she was, an incredibly beautiful mother of three, who has seen her fair share of Hollywood, and had garnered a name for herself, when she discovered that acting simply wasn't going to cut it, because of well, diapers.
“Outside press, people were just like what the heck? An actress creating something substantive? That was surprising,'' said the entrepreneur, who founded The Honest Company in 2011. She, like so many others, had discovered a problem, and decided to solve it, which resulted in the creation of her business, when she created a subscription service for diapers after her and husband Cash Warren ran out late one night.
Alba who on top of branching out of her acting career, has also begun championing women in the workplace. While relaying her investment story, she pointed out the irony of middle-aged men informing her about her targeted female demographic, and how she decided there was an actionable way to change such a conversation. Two years ago, she found herself as one of only three female executives at the company out of nine, and has since created a programme with her head of HR, called WELL, Women Excelling in Leadership and Living, which prioritizes women's mental health and home life, while aiding them to get to where they want in their careers. "The living part is something that I think is cool," said the founder. "You have to hang onto your wellness and your mental health. That matters, your home life matters. Being a whole person is the person that we want to come to work everyday."
Amber Tamblyn at The Future of Everything Festival. Photo: Zimbio
Tamblyn, a familiar face for all Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants lovers, is a vocal feminist and founding member of Time’s Up. Since her early days of acting, she has branched out into poetry and is preparing to release her first book, Any Man, which revolves around a female rapist, next month.
Tamblyn's chat focused predominantly on the need for discussion and debate on the current state of feminism and women's standing in this country. “It’s important that we maintain dialogues, and not monologues about the conversation,” said Tamblyn who was championing the need for both liberal and conservative feminism that is so often neglected when discussing the likes of #metoo and Time’s Up.
"Nothing is going to go back, we can only go forward. It doesn't mean that it's not going to be extremely difficult, but it does mean that it's on its way. The wheels are now in motion,"
-Amber Tamblyn"I think for instance when we look at the elephant in the room, which is [that] over 50 percent of white women voted for Donal Trump in this last election, [sic] how is that possible?" she asked. "How is it that there's such a state of [sic] Stockholm Syndrome that these women don't even understand that they're ultimately voting against their own self-interest?"
Sarah Jessica Alba at The Future of Everything Festival. Photo: Wall Street Journal
An animated Tamblyn continued to remonstrate about the ramifications of such an important appointment, and how, in order to avoid a repeat dismal chain of events the election set off, we need to start having difficulty conversations with these women who are Trump supporters now.
Funnelling this spent energy into her writing and books -one of which took nearly six years to write- her new novel spins the "typical" rhetoric and behavior of serial male rapists and focuses instead on a female rapist, which Tamblyn posits, will give us cause to talk about the ramifications of the flip side, something which recent series and characters have done a great job depicting, read; Villanelle in Killing Eve, or Aunt Lydia in The Handmaid's Tale.
Sarah Jessica Parker
Parker, who began her entrepreneurial journey with fragrance "Lovely" back in 2005, and more recently released a collection of shoes, is another active member of Time's Up and proponent of women working. On the subject of her (many) businesses, noted that she's exceedingly happy when she looks around and finds herself surrounded by women. While her partner in business may be a man, a large portion of her employees are women. "I was mentored by women, that I admired, who allowed me second and third careers outside of being an actor," she said, and is evidently using this mentorship mentality to pay the success forward.
The former Sex in the City star is no stranger to activism either. It was in March of this year that Parker and 15 of her Hollywood cohorts formed a female power group to approach Andrew Cuomo about women receiving sub-par wages in the service industry. In an effort to highlight the plight of female servers -who make up 70 percent of the sector- Parker has been and will continue to be very vocal in her quest to gain equal pay for these workers who are by and large underrepresented in media coverage and beyond. She's now working with ROC to shed more light on this matter. "It's my responsibility, and... it's a privilege. I think, because I was always surrounded by women that did that naturally as well," she noted.
"There's so much about being a low-wage worker in this country that's unacceptable, that keeps people marginalized,"
-Sarah Jessica Parker
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.