Wise Words for Women With An Entrepreneurial Itch

Wise Words for Women 

with an Entrepreneurial Itch

An entrepreneur’s venture is only as good as their scalability, and in recent years, but a few conferences and events have been established to help founders grow their businesses. Of those few, FounderMade’s Consumer Discovery Show offers an opportunity for growing brands to both meet and collaborate with others in their field, as well as court various distributors.

As the fairy godmother of wellness, beauty, and food products, FounderMade brings together hundreds of investors, influencers, distributors, consumer brands, and retailers at their shows. Next Monday, June 11th, will surely prove to be another fruitful event. Held in the sleek Spring Studios of New York, Consumer Discovery Show East will feature some incredibly successful founders of today, including: the CEO and Founder of Beauty Evolution, Bobbi Brown; CEO of Barry’s Bootcamp, Joey Gonzalez; Founder and CEO of Huda Beauty, Huda Kattan; and Founder and CEO of Spindrift, Bill Creelman.

Below SWAAY got a taste of some of the female-founded talent that will be presenting at the show. If you’re in NYC, you won’t want to miss them.

Daina Trout, CEO + Co-Founder of Health-Ade Kombucha

Daina Trout, CEO + Co-Founder of Health-Ade Kombucha

1. Please share the most unique point of your business AKA what is the white space it fills in its particular industry?

My co-founders and I started Health-Ade in 2012 on a mission to make the best tasting and highest quality kombucha you can buy. Being the best is at the core of what we do every day, and it’s also what differentiates us. Our endless hustle is paying off, and we’re grateful to be the fastest growing kombucha, available nationwide. I’m most proud that we still make it the real, old-fashioned way, fermenting all in glass to avoid plastic/metal leaching, brewing in super small 2.5 gallon vessels, and flavoring only with the best ingredients we can find, like cold-pressed juice from fresh produce.

1. In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge female entrepreneurs of today face?

As a CEO with two co-founders (my husband, Justin Trout, and best friend, Vanessa Dew), I’ve been able to avoid many challenges that entrepreneurs face doing it solo. That said, it’s still a constant struggle to make ourselves relevant, female or not. Though the beverage and food industry is more male than female, it’s not a discriminatory place and I feel like everyone is taken seriously despite their gender. My experience has been that often the challenges for women in leadership—including many of mine—stem from a lack of confidence and certainly not a lack of skill. Who knows where and when this self-doubt all starts in a woman’s life, but I see it with my own eyes every single day in so many women. Supporting women as they lean into the leaders and entrepreneurs they want to be—even, were meant to be—is one of the best things we can do to fix this imbalance. Overcoming this challenge internally is more a mental game of unlocking yourself from cages, realizing you always had the key.

3. Can you share your thoughts on the evolving retail space? What kind of shopping experience are consumers craving?

Consumers are craving authenticity in a brand and realness in a product. They value themselves more than ever before, so whatever they buy, it’s got to make them feel good. This extends across all industries, but is especially true for food because people are more aware of their health now than ever before.

4. How do you navigate making a business mistake or having a bad day? Any personal mottos/life philosophies that you stick to?

I’m so happy you asked this question because having a bad day is a part of everyone’s story. Also, mistakes are a big (and important) part of the entrepreneur’s life. I often say that starting a business from scratch has been like a constant journey of detours. How I navigate around my roadblocks has been an evolution in itself—kind of like how you get better driving a car as you gain experience. I started all jerky and bumpy—often mad at myself for having not seen it coming or feeling stupid that it happened to me. It could take days to get over things, sometimes weeks. But then I realized this was all part of the game, and I stopped dwelling on it. The funny thing is, how you respond to shit is all in your head. The only difference between a person who moves on and a person who gets stuck, is that one person got back on the horse. That person is ahead of the other now. If you repeat that 100 times, you can start to see why some people make it up the ladder way faster than others.

After six years of falling off of the horse, the ride is smoother. Whenever I find myself there again, and the world feels like it’s going to fall and explode on my shoulders, I ask myself one very important question—no matter how bad things are, what is the next best thing to do? Somehow, when you boil it down to that question, and you focus on just the next thing (not the plural next things) you always know what to do. Oprah taught me that, which is why our tagline is “follow your gut!” You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just the next step.

5. Do you use influencers to promote your business? 

We’re fortunate to have many fans who love our kombucha and organically post photos and stories on Instagram and their personal blogs. Social media is a huge part of the landscape and is a powerful tool in building awareness, especially as the kombucha space continues to grow. Health-Ade does work with influencers who authentically love our product for this reason, but we’re careful to keep from losing sight of being ourselves. Regarding my opinion on Instagram’s evolution, I think it’s interesting to see how people are shifting more to stories. Perhaps this drive to capture and share the real-time moments is symptomatic of that growing desire for authenticity. My opinion is that this will continue to evolve, especially from an influencer stand point. I don’t know what will be next, but I think you won’t be able to stage it.

6. Who would you want to play you in a movie about your life and why?

I’ve always loved Reese Witherspoon. No matter the actor, I feel like their real personality is still at the base of every character they play. And Reese’s personality seems most similar to mine—enthusiastic, pushing things forward, fun, and hard working. I’m also personally a huge fan of her performances over all, and I’m impressed with Big Little Lies and what she’s achieved with the series.

7. What was the last show you binged on Netflix?

I generally love dramas, but life’s got enough of that, so lately I’ve wanted some good ol’ light comedic relief. I love The Goldbergs, Silicon Valley, and Younger.

8. What has been the hardest/best part of being a woman in your particular industry? What advice do you have for those women following in your footsteps?

Someone on Instagram recently said something along the lines of this: “the imbalance of women in the executive space may not be our fault, but it is our problem. We need to get this to 50/50.” I agree with this mostly, but I am fearful to apply an expectation that 50% of the leaders out there should be women. Isn’t it possible that less women (as a percentage) want to be executives? Though I don’t know if that’s true, I definitely don’t think we should be applying a number to equality. Instead, we should make sure that all women who want this, have every opportunity and the support system to go get it. And I do believe there’s room for improvement here for sure.

A word to any woman out there with an entrepreneurial itch—there is no one out there that is better than you at executing your dreams. Even the very top seasoned CEOs are just humans, and they make mistakes every day. There is nothing extra special about them that you can’t get. Actually, chances are you probably already have it all. Now—what is the next best thing to do?

Maria Hatzistefanis, Founder of Rodial

Maria Hatzistefanis, Founder of Rodial

1. Please share the most unique point of your business AKA what is the white space it fills in its particular industry?

Innovative skincare ingredients and effective formulas & professional makeup demystified for a sophisticated customer. Our Dragons Blood and Snake ranges are our best sellers.

2. In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge female entrepreneurs of today face?

I don’t feel female entrepreneurs face any different challenges than male ones, the challenges of starting and growing a business are universal.

3. Can you share your thoughts on the evolving retail space? What kind of shopping experience are consumers craving?

As much as consumers shop a lot online, we still see them returning to the stores for services and for that personal interaction. We often organize mini facials and makeover events that are always sold out.

4. How do you navigate making a business mistake or having a bad day? Any personal mottos/life philosophies that you stick to?

All will be okay at the end, if it’s not okay, it’s not the end. When I have a bad day I know that a really good day is just around the corner. It always works like that.

5. Do you use influencers to promote your business? 

We are exploring different options. As a brand we have historically worked with celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner, but we have also started exploring some new talent. We have a combined media strategy to reach out to different markets.

6. Who would you want to play you in a movie about your life and why?

Someone with a dry sense of humor like mine. You need a bit of lightness to survive running a business as I mention in my book, How to Be an Overnight Success.

7. What was the last show you binged on Netflix?

I love competition shows, I’ve been watching Shark Tank, Hell’s Kitchen, and Ru Paul’s Drag Race. I also just finished the Project Runway All-Stars where I was a guest mentor.

8. What has been the hardest/best part of being a woman in your particular industry? What advice do you have for those women following in your footsteps?

I would say be very close to your customers and get as much feedback as you can to adjust or improve your product. Competition is fierce and you need to be offering what your customer wants and not what you think she wants. I engage a lot with our customers through my @mrsrodial accounts and got a lot of new product ideas there!

Lindsey Andrews, Co-Founder of Minibar Delivery

Lindsey Andrews, Co-Founder of Minibar Delivery

1. Please share the most unique point of your business AKA what is the white space it fills in its particular industry?

We saw there was no go-to brand or online destination for fast and easy delivery of wine, spirits, and beer, so we were excited to bring a new category online. Minibar Delivery now provides fast and convenient delivery of alcohol in 40+ cities via our easy to use website and app .

2. In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge female entrepreneurs of today face?

I think the overall VC and founder community would benefit from more women in top positions at venture capital firms. This would hopefully lead to more funding for female-founded businesses and level the playing field a bit more.

3. Can you share your thoughts on the evolving retail space? What kind of shopping experience are consumers craving?

I think this varies by sector, but today’s consumers have so many choices that in order to stand out you need to be more than just a great product, you need to have a brand that resonates with your consumer, an easy to use shopping experience, and the human touch—a great customer service team so the consumer can rely on your company and brand in the case where something does go wrong. Amazon has made it so many consumers expect free delivery or shipping and we’ve tried to achieve this at Minibar Delivery, but we are always working to improve our experience and to improve the overall value proposition for our consumers.  

4. How do you navigate making a business mistake or having a bad day? Any personal mottos/life philosophies that you stick to?

Being an entrepreneur means making mistakes, constantly testing theories, and putting a product out there that isn’t perfect. If you waited for every aspect to be perfect, it would take you a very long time to launch and you might find what your idea of perfect is, is not the consumers’ idea of perfect. With that being said, we are definitely okay with testing and learning. I’m also very fortunate to have an amazing co-founder, so if I’m feeling off, I let her take the lead in meetings.

5. Do you use influencers to promote your business?

We have tested using influencers, but we have found that influencers are more effective for a product that you can see in a picture versus a service like Minibar Delivery.  

6. Who would you want to play you in a movie about your life and why?

Blake Lively because why not!

7. What was the last show you binged on Netflix?

The Crown was the most recent show I binged on Netflix. Additionally, the most recent shows that I’ve binged are Killed Eve on BBC and Being Serena on HBO.  

8. What has been the hardest/best part of being a woman in your particular industry? What advice do you have for those women following in your footsteps?  

The alcohol industry definitely skews more male, but that helps us stand out at conferences, industry events, and selling into liquor stores. And since we are two female co-founders, we stand out twice as much. It’s hard to say what challenges have been due to the fact we are women, we have always just tried to create a business we believe in and work with people we respect. That has been what has made the journey worthwhile.

Sarah Larson Levey, Co-Founder of Y7 Studio

1. Please share the most unique point of your business AKA what is the white space it fills in its particular industry?

Traditionally yoga has been given a reputation that it is exclusive to the super spiritual and flexible. With Y7, we’ve shown people that yoga is for everyone, no matter your experience level or knowledge of the practice. We are here to create a safe space to explore where you want to take your yoga journey.

2. In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge female entrepreneurs of today face?

My biggest challenge has been being able to create a balance between being a boss and a person. There have been several situations in which I have had to have difficult conversations with employees about job performance and needing to see improvement. The feedback from this is that I am “mean.” If I were a man, I doubt that would ever be brought into the narrative.

3. Can you share your thoughts on the evolving retail space? What kind of shopping experience are consumers craving?

I think consumers are craving a more custom experience. When they enter a space, whether it be online or in person, they want it to feel special.

4. How do you navigate making a business mistake or having a bad day? Any personal mottos/life philosophies that you stick to?

I am very familiar with this! I have made mistakes and will continue to do so—I am human! I try to approach every situation with a sense of empathy, but I also keep in mind that I can only control my reactions to situations and nothing else.

5. Do you use influencers to promote your business?

We do not. I really want to make sure that if someone—influencer or not—is talking about Y7 that it is coming from an authentic point of view. I think the space is ever evolving and that consumers are going to want a relationship with the brands they support more and more.

6. Who would you want to play you in a movie about your life and why?

I have honestly no idea.

7. What was the last show you binged on Netflix?

Wild Wild Country.

8. What has been the hardest/best part of being a woman in your particular industry? What advice do you have for those women following in your footsteps?

The fitness industry is a really competitive space. My advice to other women would be to stay strong and stand your ground.

Sarah Larson Levey, Co-Founder of Y7 Studio

Amanda Klane, Co-founder and CEO of Yasso

1. Please share the most unique point of your business, AKA what is the white space it fills in its particular industry?

Growing up with a dad who owned a food brokerage company, I was always fascinated by food brands and was lucky to see firsthand how the industry was evolving. Sports, fitness, and healthy eating always played an integral part in my life, and helped propel me to eventually play D1 college athletics and then start a company with my kindergarten bestfriend, Drew. Our passion for health and wellness, coupled with a love for ice cream, drove us to create Yasso, a product that was the best of both worlds. In a category that had predominantly been ruled by massive CPG companies offering either “diet” items or indulgent, high-calorie items, we decided to create products that bridged the gap between the two. With an immense amount of focus on taste, we also set out to create products with better ingredients and nutrition.

2. In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge female entrepreneurs of today face?

In my opinion, all entrepreneurs face challenges. It’s a competitive environment in the start-up space, with obstacles you must overcome to succeed. I think the biggest difference is simply the lower number of females in the food industry, although it seems to me that the number continues to increase, which is great to see. I have a male co-founder, who happens to be my best friend, and we have found a way to work together in a Co-CEO environment that has been extremely beneficial to both of us and our organization.

3. Can you share your thoughts on the evolving retail space? What kind of shopping experience are consumers craving?

The retail space has evolved dramatically over the last decade. In the past it was predominantly driven by large companies, but recently there has been an influx of new brands who are driving innovation and fulfilling consumer needs. Consumers have become more savvy and are paying closer attention to what they purchase and eat. In food, there has been an increased desire for cleaner ingredients and better nutritional profiles, while maintaining a great taste. Consumers, especially millennials, are searching for new brands, and are not seeking the brands their parents consumed. Yasso has been positioned to focus on delivering on these consumer needs and creating products and experiences that the consumer is looking for. But the space, and our category in particular, has become very crowded, so figuring out ways to communicate with the consumer, both  before purchase consideration and during shopping, while also gaining awareness is very challenging, especially in frozen dessert where space is limited to a few doors.

4. How do you navigate making a business mistake or having a bad day? Any personal mottos/life philosophies that you stick to?

Mistakes and bad days are inevitable. My main goal is to minimize them and live a lifestyle which allows me to quickly move on from them. At work, I surround myself with a team of smart, hard-working individuals, that way we can reduce mistakes, fix them quickly when they happen, and use them as learning experiences moving forward. I’ve found spending time doing the things you love in your personal life, which for me means staying active and spending as much time outdoors as I can, can help give you more clarity and improve decision-making.

CEO and Co-Founder of Yasso, Amanda Klane, with Co-Founder, Drew Harrington. who will speak on behalf of Yasso at the event

5. Do you use influencers to promote your business? 

We partner with influencers whose values align with ours, in terms of health and nutrition, and who, most importantly, genuinely like the product. We find that these partnerships are valuable because the influencers and their content engage with audiences in a way traditional advertising from a brand cannot.

Given the authentic relationships our partners have developed with their followers and fans, we don’t see the influencer space being devalued any time soon. These programs will continue to be effective so long as the partner and the brand are aligned in values. While some argue the prevalence of #ad and #sponsored is diluting content, we see the opposite. In fact, Yasso content with our partners often receives the highest engagement on their pages. I like to think that’s a result of our diligence in selecting who we work with and a tribute to our partners knowing what their audience is looking for.

6. Who would you want to play you in a movie about your life and why?

Jessica Biel. She seems like a very grounded, strong, smart, and health-focused woman. She is also involved in various social causes. All these things really resonate with me in my personal and business life. Also she has dark hair so that probably helps.

7. What was the last show you binged on Netflix?

Planet Earth.

8. What has been the hardest/best part of being a woman in your particular industry? What advice do you have for those women following in your footsteps?

I haven’t found being a woman has posed any challenges in my industry. If anything, being young has probably caused more hardships, as people didn’t always take us seriously when we were first starting out as two 23 year old kids. I have always kept my head down and focused on perfecting all aspects of myself and our business to ensure success.

The advice I have for women who are planning on starting a business is to do so with confidence and determination. Always remember to keep putting one foot in front of the other, no matter what happens. I’ve always been an extremely competitive person and I take that attitude with me to the workplace. I plan to deliver this general message of confidence to the young girls I work with through the Yasso Game On! Foundation, our new sports-focused nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring others to crush their goals, just like Drew and I did.

 

Register for the show today using the code SWAAY20 for a 20 percent discount.

Ashley Myers

SWAAY's Editorial Associate, Ashley, enjoys writing fantasy, spending time outside, and finding adventures in every corner of the world. This summer she is calling NYC her home.

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