Female Founders: Daniella Green of Slaypedia+Transfer Green On The Five Things You Need To Thrive…

Female Founders: Daniella Green of Slaypedia+Transfer Green On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

Diversity and inclusion has to go past “just awareness and hashtags”. Organizations have to implement action. Begin to open the forum and communicate what’s required and what they are seeking to diversify leadership. Government grants need to target more startups and offer programs that help with the “launch phase”. Honestly as a society, I’d call to task platforms like Netflix with more entertainment that normalize women in leadership running their own companies like Scandal. As crazy as that sounds, so many women were inspired by that show and her ability to out maneuver the men she worked so closely with.

As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Daniella Green.

Daniella Green is the founder of a sustainability engineering firm where they engineer the “how to go green”, implement diversity & inclusion programs and dissect applicable changes to governance/regulatory laws to exploit the benefit to the corporate goals. She is strategist to leadership and has also work with individual clients (particularly women) who’ve outgrown their current role or have hit a glass ceiling, seeking to pivot into leadership opportunities.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

My background is engineering. From College I landed an interview with Shell Oil and was hired immediately! I thought this would be just like my internships. LOL. WRONG! While I appreciate the lessons and mentorship I gained there. I quickly realized I always the only woman and woman of color in so many settings as I worked my way up. Even when I left and went to another company I worked my from director to VP. That was ground breaking. As a woman of color, it wasn’t an easy path to executive leadership and then to branch off and start my own company, that overlaps tech, oil and gas, I was forced to find ways to thrive in a heavily white male industry. However, what made me realize I was strong enough to start my own firm. I started to realize my impact to the overall corporate portfolio. Then I thought why not do this on my own. I’m good enough and I’m for sure smart enough. That’s where my audacity begin.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

I thought that it would be hard to establish trust being young, a woman and of African descent. But what I realized is my ability to communicate how much I trust my talent. That created a boom and a sense of ease in business. I remember when I first started. I did a live session in a Facebook group with some guys from MIT and Oxford. I was for sure no one wanted to hear what I had to say. But after just doing this “talk”. People kept asking to book with me. Companies and individual professionals. I made $30K just off that one session consulting! Mind you this was during the pandemic! God has shown me overflow and favor when businesses were being wiped off the map. 2020 was my year of validation. Any doubts I had about my talent died that day!

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Yes, I would be afraid to discuss my prices when I first started out loosing clients. I met a young lady who I consulted on negotiations for her VP role at a major tech company in California. She called me and told me that her bonus was in the high $200K range because she followed everything I said! Hell, I impressed myself….LOL. The company now changed their offering to leaders because she used everything I taught her. She told me I had to stop charging Taco Bell prices for Filet Mignon. She paid me what my consulting rate should’ve been. I haven’t looked back since.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Yes, Wayne & Sakita. A while male executive and one of the top recruiters at the time, a black woman named Sakita. They both helped me realize what exactly I had to offer, how to communicate that and most important how to communicate the my expectations. Mentors are necessary because you avoid a lot of unnecessary failure.

Wayne was the most professional, effective and empowering leaders I’ve ever worked with. He never gossiped, never raised his voice, very in control of his emotions during the most stressful times and he communicated very clearly but trusted us to do our jobs.

Sakita really broke down “negotiations” for me. I needed that. She has also help me grow through some of the roughest moments of my life to ensure they didn’t interfere with my professional life.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience what is currently holding back women from founding companies?

Let’s back up ….Women are still fighting the pay gap. Statistically speaking women feel asking for more or negotiating indicates “rocking the boat”, being ungrateful or being greedy. For this very reason I coach women with such passion. They tend to get stuck or hit glass ceilings more than men. Not because they lack talent or ability, it’s a lack of self confidence, audacity and understanding “how and why they should negotiate”. Most organizations today that rank as “top” in their industry, have a heavily dominated male leadership board. So there’s no representation. You can’t expect women to be something they can’t see. So to leave a company to start your own is a bit drastic to most. Lastly, men don’t evaluate the same risk as women. They don’t battle with the same concerns as a woman starting a family (pregnancy) a being a mother, wife and caretaker for family.

Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government, to help overcome those obstacles?

Diversity and inclusion has to go past “just awareness and hashtags”. Organizations have to implement action. Begin to open the forum and communicate what’s required and what they are seeking to diversify leadership. Government grants need to target more startups and offer programs that help with the “launch phase”. Honestly as a society, I’d call to task platforms like Netflix with more entertainment that normalize women in leadership running their own companies like Scandal. As crazy as that sounds, so many women were inspired by that show and her ability to out maneuver the men she worked so closely with.

This might be intuitive to you as a woman founder but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?

It will reshape society, connect to audiences, and key stakeholders on a deeper level. I feel women offer a perspective that’s often overlooked and quite frankly it impacts profitability and the bottom line. It will also mean a shift in how women are viewed in the workplace and how they are respected by their peers

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder? Can you explain what you mean?

That you can’t have a life outside of this, that we’re lonely, don’t have family or no desire to. Female founders get a bad rep of being hard to deal with “divas”. I also think some women feel they are too old or may have to sell “sex appeal” or a commercial look to appeal to audiences

Is everyone cut out to be a founder? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder and what type of person should perhaps seek a “regular job” as an employee? Can you explain what you mean?

NO! In the words of Jay-z “Everybody’s bosses ’til it’s time to pay for the office”. I love that bar because social media glamorizes entrepreneurship as if its fun all the time, easy and a way to get rich quick. It also promotes materialism over purpose. My company is not only my passion apart of my purpose, I’m responsible for my team’s careers. I must constantly be open for correction and be dedicated past 5pm, through the weekend etc. You need to have durability. If you want to go clock out and be done when it comes to a business this isn’t for you. A regular job is fine some people find pleasure working with teams, having security, and knowing how much is going to be on their check and if like the feeling of clocking out and then going home, then working for a company would be best.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your opinion and experience, what are the “Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder?” (Please share a story or example for each.)

I’ve Submitted The Video of This:

  1. Boundaries With Clients
  2. Write Out The Vision & Mission Clearly
  3. Turn Over Tasks To Teams & Leave Them There
  4. Get Clarity On Price Points
  5. Know When To Unplug

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

My life’s passion is building up black professionals to thrive and connecting black businesses to Big Business. I esteem myself in the fact that every time I help someone in my community that I am not only making it harder to keep systemic racism in place but I am help that person of color to break generational poverty and begin building legacy. I am also working to close the pay gap between women and men. So to see my gift change the trajectory of an entire family for generations to come is truly something that I am extremely grateful for.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

Breaking the system in place that prevents and nearly blocks opportunities for people of color. Systemic racism, generational poverty and changing the narrative. I want to normalize wealth in my community.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

Robert F Smith. He’s a black billionaire from Texas. The level of work he has put into the community is truly what I aspire to be able to produce myself. I love seeing black and brown leaders in areas that we don’t typically see them in.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.


Female Founders: Daniella Green of Slaypedia+Transfer Green On The Five Things You Need To Thrive… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Female Founders: Chas Young On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

Where your attention goes, energy flows, and money grows. Have you ever noticed that when you say you’re tired, you feel even more tired, and so you go have a nap or watch some Netflix. Successful women founders control their thoughts by putting attention only towards that which brings energy and money. For example, instead of saying, “I don’t know why I don’t have any clients”, I can change my thoughts to “there is at least 1 person on the planet of 8 billion who is ready to pay me and change their life.” Keep your attention on the things that lead to your success, and not those that try to keep you from success.

As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Chas Young.

Chas is a business coach with over 20 years of business experience. She activates the power in women to create freedom and joy using business as a tool.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

I grew up where my dad’s side of the family were all entrepreneurs. My grandma and aunt owned the small town restaurant and gas station, and I spent most of my time there. I started working there when I was 12 and by 14, was doing the accounts payables and receivables. Entrepreneurship is in my blood. I knew as a child I was meant to lead.

I started my first business in 2002 with another lady. It was my first taste of all the things to do to legally start a business. I sold that to her 2 years later and moved to another city. This is when I had my babies and became a personal trainer, so I could work around my kids schedule. All the while, helping other people feel empowered with their bodies and self-confidence.

It was the spring of 2009 I posted on my Facebook that my body needed a break. I was tired from training and teaching many fitness classes each week. 3 days later, I broke my leg which resulted in sitting on my couch taking that break for a few months.

During this time, I kept thinking about what drove me crazy about working at the gym I was at. And it was people talking on their phones while “working out”. Is it really a workout when you put makeup on BEFORE the workout and can talk on the phone while on the treadmill? No. So I started writing the business plan for one of the first spin/hybrid studios in my city.

After 4 years, I burnt out with the gym. Even though I had 15 staff members, at no time did I ever “shut off” from the gym. I thought about it day and night. My family suffered, and I suffered. So I sold it.

From there I pursued a masters in International Development, because my passion has always been to help women create freedom and joy in their lives, no matter where they live, what circumstances they endure, and what their economic situation. Freedom and joy belong to everyone.

It was with this passion that I started working at a non-profit organization teaching low income women and new immigrants how to start a business, so they could create freedom and joy and independence in their lives. After being there for 3.5 years, I left to start my own business coaching others to start businesses.

And here I am.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

I started my business with the intention of owning my schedule, doing what I want, when I want.. However, quite quickly I fell into the trap of doing all the things to get clients. I found I was sacrificing myself to please my clients, to please my family, to please people on the internet I didn’t even know, with the hopes of getting that next client. I caught myself burning out again.

I took back what I could control, let go of that I couldn’t control, and simplified my business down to working 2–3 hours a day on the essentials it takes to grow a business.

This simplification of the business model allowed me both time and money freedom, resulting in me being soulfully joyful.

And my clients love this 3 Hour Workday formula, as well. It helps them work less, and have more time for themselves, who wouldn’t love that?

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When I first started my gym, I wanted to be the opposite of the big box gyms. I didn’t want clients to be obligated to sign 2 year contracts that were impossible to cancel. I wanted freedom for my members. So I offered annual memberships paid in advance. This was so great for cash flow in January, and so great for no cash flow in February.

I was crying to my husband about all my business problems, every night. And he was no help, since he’s not an entrepreneur. He is a great listener though.

That’s when I learned the power of coaching and always having a coach. I got my first coach in March of 2010, and have had one ever since. Someone to listen to me, guide me in business, and redirect me back to the essentials.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I am most thankful for my husband who is my greatest cheerleader. He’s the one who sees my potential before I do. He’s the one who reminds me of my powers and gifts. He supports me to rise to my greatness. Coaches come and go, but he’s my constant rock.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience what is currently holding back women from founding companies?

Our patriarchal society has been what has held more women back from founding companies. For centuries, masculine energy has dominated our world. Men have dominated business because of how business was created. And not all women are masculine dominant in their energies and have therefore not felt like they’ve fit into the traditional business mold. But the tides are changing. We are not women trying to make it in a man’s world anymore. Both men and women, masculine and feminine energies can co-exist in business. And this is why there’s been a huge increase in online business in the past couple of years, primarily women leading the path.

Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government, to help overcome those obstacles?

There’s a lot of things that can be done to dismantle the patriarchal society, and many of which are just naturally happening as we speak. To overcome these limitations the masculine world has put on women, women need to stand up, be confident, be courageous, be lights in the darkness, and take bold actions based on their intuition and heart.

This might be intuitive to you as a woman founder but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?

More women should start their own businesses because it’s what they feel is best for them. If you are led or inspired to start a business, a movement, a mission, then let nothing stop you. If you feel the desire, it’s given to you for a reason, and it is your responsibility to act on those desires.

  • Founding a business is a tool where the world can see your greatness. It’s an avenue to show your confidence, your gifts, your skills, your heart and soul and your power.
  • Founding a business gives you the money freedom to do as you wish. You don’t need to ask permission from your partner if you can buy that bag or take that trip. You do it.
  • Founding a business gives you time freedom so you have time to do what you want in all the aspects of your life. You are more than a business. You have other roles to play. But you are a physical being, a spiritual being, a relationship being, so much more that you can create space to grow in.
  • Founding a business gives you joy. Not just fleeting feelings of happiness. But deep rooted emotions of joy from the pride of what you’ve accomplished and the change you are creating in the world.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder? Can you explain what you mean?

3 myths about being a founder I’d like to dispel:

  1. You have to work all the time. It’s your business. It’s your choice how much you want to work. You didn’t leave your day job to create another job. Don’t fall into the temptation of working all the time. You’ll only burn out.
  2. More work = more money. This is the masculine energy toxic vibe that more work = more money. If that were true, all house cleaners would be billionaires, and they’re not. Focus on the essentials of building a business and let all the other drama fall aside.
  3. It’s hard work. I always like to ask, “what does hard work mean to you? What does “easy” mean?” For many, hard work means long hours, or a constant struggle. And easy means not doing any work, or some might equate it with being lazy. I believe businesses don’t need to struggle or require long hours. The hard work is the emotional ebbs and flows you go on as an entrepreneur. That’s the work. Implementing the strategies is the easy part. The mindset work is the hard part.

Is everyone cut out to be a founder? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder and what type of person should perhaps seek a “regular job” as an employee? Can you explain what you mean?

After teaching and coaching hundreds of women to start businesses, I don’t think everyone is cut out to be a founder. Some skills that are required to be a successful entrepreneur, one can’t teach. For example, you need to be a risk taker to be an entrepreneur. One can certainly grow in the ability to take risks, but some are just more risk tolerant than others. Ability to take financial risks is vital, and if one’s basic needs are not being met, it will be quite hard to be a founder, but not impossible. Those who make it possible are ones who are driven to succeed no matter what. If you are the type of person who is going to quit as soon as times get tough, it might be best to stay as an employee. If you are struggling to pay for your housing, food, and clothing, you should keep your regular job until your self-employment income replaces that day job income.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your opinion and experience, what are the “Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder?” (Please share a story or example for each.)

The following are 5 things you need to thrive and succeed as a woman founder:

  1. Where your attention goes, energy flows, and money grows. Have you ever noticed that when you say you’re tired, you feel even more tired, and so you go have a nap or watch some Netflix. Successful women founders control their thoughts by putting attention only towards that which brings energy and money. For example, instead of saying, “I don’t know why I don’t have any clients”, I can change my thoughts to “there is at least 1 person on the planet of 8 billion who is ready to pay me and change their life.” Keep your attention on the things that lead to your success, and not those that try to keep you from success.
  2. A support system. I learned very early on in business, that my husband is a great sounding board, but not a great business or marketing coach. To keep my marriage strong and grow my business, I needed a business coach to be there for me in ways my husband couldn’t. I needed a network of other successful women who showed me that it is possible to make a lot of money doing what I love.
  3. A clear vision of where you want to go. Visualize and feel into what it feels like to be at the top of the mountain. Every morning I spend time visualizing and meditating on what success looks like to me today, and then taking time to lean back and listen to my intuition for what the path is to get closer to the top of the mountain. The path may be a clear path today with no rocks or obstacles in the way, the next path might have some rocks you may have to maneuver through. Regardless of how bumpy the path is, you do whatever it takes to reach your mountain top, one step at a time.
  4. Successful women founders know what they can control and what they can’t, and release all they can not control. We put so much pressure on ourselves to reach this goal, make this amount of money by the 30th of the month, or do all the things by this time. And yet, we have no control over who is going to buy from us and when. We can only control when we put out our offers. We try to tell ourselves we are good at multitasking and like working under pressure. But I believe this pressure and time frames we put on ourselves, makes us miserable. 2020 was a year that triggered me to my core and I was having a lot of anxiety. I did a lot of meditations and inner work to identify what I could control and couldn’t. And in letting go of that which I can’t control, I have learned to manage anxiety and pressure and am soulfully joyful as a result.
  5. Emotional Intelligence. This is our ability to understand, use and manage emotions to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges, and defuse conflict. These are marks of the female leader, the woman founder. For example, when someone posts some harsh criticism online, the successful woman founder doesn’t react right aways with a comeback that might be hurtful, but takes a step back to evaluate the circumstance, the thoughts, and the emotion that’s being triggered, and then replies in a neutral state, or doesn’t respond at all. The emotionally intelligent success woman takes actions from her heart.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

My purpose in life is to make the world a better place by starting with empowering one woman at a time to create time and money freedom for themselves. I started with empowering myself. I have role modeled to my daughter the leadership and strength by being a female founder. I have worked with clients who have created businesses that raised them out of poverty. I have worked with international organizations and local non-profits designed to make the world a better place. Making the world a better place has been what’s made me successful.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

Let’s create a movement of women who are activated and inspired down to their core, that no matter what, they can create freedom, joy and wealth in their lives. Where we don’t let circumstances that surround us, limit us. We are activated. We are powerful. We move mountains.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

I would love to have a sit down with Robin Arzon, Peloton. She is a heart-led hustler, who moves mountains and inspires millions. She is a reminder to always wear your crown straight, and take your place on the throne.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.


Female Founders: Chas Young On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Female Founders: Louise Vongerichten Ulukaya of Mon Coeur On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and…

Female Founders: Louise Vongerichten Ulukaya of Mon Coeur On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

Be open minded yet set boundaries- as we started wholesale for the next collection, we got lots of opinions on looks, colors, patterns and more. I take feedback openly and embrace it because sometimes when you start a business there are so many areas to focus on that the feedback can give you more ideas. However, I learned to listen yet not apply all feedback, because at the end of the day everyone has an opinion!

As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Louise Vongerichten Ulukaya.

Louise Vongerichten Ulukaya is the founder of Mon Coeur, a children’s clothing revolution, weaved by making truly earth-friendly clothes now, for a future with a healthier, happier planet. Founded after Louise gave birth to her first child, Mon Coeur is a childrenswear brand designed to care for the environment, respects the people making it, and that looks and feels good while being accessible for all. Louise is also founder & president of the Food Dreams Foundation, a non profit organization dedicated to bridging the gap between underprivileged students and the working culinary community.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

After my son was born, I sought to create Mon Coeur as a way to connect families with high-quality items and impactful solutions for sustaining the health of our planet.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

Launching in the middle of the pandemic has been on its own the most interesting experience. Everyone I met along the way thought I was a little ‘out of my mind’ to do so, as no one had any idea about where this would lead but I was determined to launch Mon Coeur in January 2021 no matter what, and so we did! During this time, it was all about adjusting ourselves, being patient, but i also sensed a very strong feeling of solidarity and warmth, with the factory workers, the mill workers, in this period of uncertainty, which allowed for all of us to comfort each other and be more present and thankful to be able to talk to each other and work together each day.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I am from a hospitality background so the fashion industry is a new world for me and I have learned a lot since I decided to start a sustainable clothing brand, 3 years ago. At first I didn’t know the basics on how to manufacture clothing, so making them in a sustainable way during the pandemic was a big learning curve for me, but I really stand behind the motto “you can do anything you want, if you work hard”. One mistake I made when we first launched was arriving at our first photo shoot for our Spring/Summer 2021 campaign in the middle of the pandemic and having the surprise that most of our styles did not fit the kids models on set, as we never had a chance to fit the collection on any kids, because we were all quarantining at home. We then had to take time to make the photoshoot happen and rework it so the looks fit perfectly on the kids so we obviously made the sizing changes before we launched, but it was funny now looking back!

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My husband is a great source of inspiration and is an amazing entrepreneur and leader himself, and I enjoy having daily candid conversations with him and sharing thoughts and opinions about his company and my company. I get a lot of inspiration on how sustainability and ethical practices are established within his organization as well as building a culture that is positive and elevating for people, especially women.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience what is currently holding back women from founding companies?

I believe that one of the most challenging aspects as a female entrepreneur is balancing responsibilities, being a mother, a leader for my business and trying to run a home smoothly is a challenge that is a lot more visible and existing for women then it is for a men. As a mother of two young kids, I am always triggered by the guilt of working too much, of making sure I make the time for my kids, because ‘time flies’ and I also want to enjoy all the special times with them as they grow. It is not easy to balance everything, everyday. Another aspect is the fear of failure and fear of being ‘out there’ in a world which can be intimidating and somehow challenging depending on the industry.

Access to finance is another obstacle, as women tend to have less capital than men, or less access to capital than men as there are many myths and misconceptions about being a female founder, and men trust and prefer to partner with other men, for the most part.It has been culturally engraved for many many years and it is hard to undo cultural patterns, it takes time.

Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government, to help overcome those obstacles?

  • Provide better access to financing solutions — venture capital and angel investment are mostly male driven and the majority of investment is provided to male entrepreneurs. This needs to change and the government can incentivize banks to invest in women businesses.
  • Improve family and tax policies to help improve women entrepreneurship.
  • At the business level and also to change the perception of women being not as capable as men, equality in salary and access to financial resources should be made mandatory. There is absolutely no reason why in 2021 women should be paid less for the same competencies, and if not better competencies than men because we, as women, have to work harder to make our space and work legitimate and recognized.

This might be intuitive to you as a woman founder but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?

  • Women have a different and fresh approach to problem solving and the diversity and the blend of men and women is the perfect combination for success
  • Facing challenging situation, women are calmer and more resilient
  • We bring on a very beautiful culture made of diversity, exchange, and seamless communication

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder? Can you explain what you mean?

A big one is that women run less profitable businesses, which has been shown to be completely false and studies actually show that women run more profitable businesses than men do.

As a founder, about to give birth to my second child, I sometime receive the look like I will be out of business for many months, and will just be focusing on the kids- this is a myth, of course, as mothers we take care four kids, but we also have the abilities to multitask better, and juggle with multiple roles- so no, we don’t slow down after having kids.

Is everyone cut out to be a founder? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder and what type of person should perhaps seek a “regular job” as an employee? Can you explain what you mean?

In my opinion, founders should have passion, a clear vision and resilience to be successful. They must be genuinely invested in what they are creating and able to see where they want the company to be years down the line while being able to bounce back from obstacles since founding a company isn’t an easy road.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your opinion and experience, what are the “Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder?” (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Be driven and determined- I think for me the pandemic made things somehow more challenging, from the sourcing, sampling and actual production and everyone around was telling me not to launch now, but I was determined no matter what to make it happen and launched as planned and we did, no matter what!
  2. Work hard but say no sometimes ! I think it is important as a woman to work hard, if not harder to make space in any industry in general and to be ‘legitimate’, but it is also important to say no, pause, take a moment and breath and step back, which my children allow and force me to do.
  3. Be open minded yet set boundaries- as we started wholesale for the next collection, we got lots of opinions on looks, colors, patterns and more. I take feedback openly and embrace it because sometimes when you start a business there are so many areas to focus on that the feedback can give you more ideas. However, I learned to listen yet not apply all feedback, because at the end of the day everyone has an opinion.
  4. Follow your instinct — I am a strong believer that us women have very strong instincts, and in my experience whether it was to hire an executive or select a partner to work with, I always followed my instinct over following a resume.
  5. Support other women leaders and entrepreneurs — I think there should be no competition between us, women, as we are already such a limited number of entrepreneurs out there. We have to promote each other’s businesses, exchange experiences and cultivate this beautiful community.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

It was important to me to have a philanthropic impact through Mon Coeur as well as my personal foundation, Food Dreams Foundation which is a 501 c 3 (www.fooddreams.org)

In regards to Mon Coeur, I have partnered with 1% for the planet since the first day we launched, for every product sold, 1% is given to the restoration of the natural environment. I also partnered with 5Gyres to combat plastic pollution while organizing cleaning days movement on beaches, coasts..which also help build a very tight community as well as engage children to be as close to nature as possible. We also organize multiple a year community work, our next one being in December for Giving Tuesday, where with influencers and their family we will create a food bank.

We also just starting as of September 1st a new program called “New Again Program” that allows consumers to send us used babies/kids clothes in exchange of 40% in their next purchase as an incentive — the used clothes are then being upcycled or downcycled so we closing the loop and making sure we reduce waste and over usage of virgin fabrics.

I started the Food Dreams Foundations in 2016, with the aim to help underprivileged students access culinary school, by providing scholarships as well as mentorships programs along with my family — lucky enough to have both my father and brother successful chefs and restaurateurs which allowed us to help more than 80 students since we launched the non-profit organization.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

Sustainability is really at the core of my mission and focus and with Mon Coeur we are building a community of parents and children — educating them, through a community that we are investing lots of time and energy in. We create events such as beach clean ups, garden planting to really engage the kids and bring them close to nature, to help them understand the need to take care of mother nature and the role that we each have in keeping our planet safe. For parents, I’d inspire the movement to make the best decision for our planet when it comes to purchasing decisions, because this is what is going to dictate and shape the way businesses operate in the future.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

I would love to have breakfast with Stella McCartney to exchange about sustainability in fashion, as she has been such a pioneer in the sustainability movement in women’s wear especially. If I could pick two, I would love to meet with Allyson Felix, that amazing track and field sprinter and mother — I am a huge fan of the Olympics especially in that field and I admire her determination, and the fact that she is a mother and talks about it as a booster in her career shows is very inspiring.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.


Female Founders: Louise Vongerichten Ulukaya of Mon Coeur On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Female Founders: Jennifer Lee of Modern-Wealth On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as…

Female Founders: Jennifer Lee of Modern-Wealth On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

Your Big 5. 5 reliable people whom you can discuss stressors, business concepts, financial opportunities, tough emails to send to clients, marketing, and strategy. Those same people you likely have regular lunch, drinks, or Zooms to share and enhance ideas. Being an entrepreneur can be lonely. It is exceptionally helpful to have 5 trusted friends and colleagues with whom you can commiserate and celebrate your challenges and accomplishments.

As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jennifer Lee.

Jennifer Lee, AIF®, AWMA® is the founder of Modern-Wealth; a Sarasota-based financial firm with a focus on helping individuals experiencing transition.

Originally from Maryland, Jennifer brought her over 27 years (44 years if you count going into the office with her father as a child) of expertise in the financial services industry to Florida. Jennifer has found that a relationship with an advisor is most critical at the intersections in life where emotions collide with financial events. She enjoys facilitating her clients through challenges as they experience life’s upsets such as divorce, the loss of a spouse, or business to retirement transition. Whether you are experiencing divorce, a business client expanding or selling your operation, or a couple wanting to make sure they have provided for their family, Modern-Wealth may be a good fit. Jennifer provides a fresh perspective to the financial planning process by digging deep to understand what drives her clients. At Modern-Wealth, they build long-lasting relationships. As part of their process, they encourage clients to communicate their values to the most important people in their lives by writing a family love letter. This led her to write “Squeeze the Juice: Live With Purpose-Then Leave a Legacy.”

Jennifer R Lee, AWMA®, AIF®
Modern-Wealth, LLC
6710 Professional Parkway W
Suite 201B
Sarasota, FL 34240
O 941.251.0510 M 410.599.6885
Jennifer@Modern-Wealth.com
www.modern-wealth.com

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

Someone once said to me “oh, you grew up at the foot of the master.” As a young person that would most definitely have offended me. As a then 43-year-old, I thought it perceptive and telling. I did in fact grow up, like it or not, at the foot of the master. I learned my value system and work ethic from my father. While I did not always enjoy the lessons, they stuck. And I am a better person and a better advisor for those hard-to-swallow lessons.

I joined my father in his financial planning practice three years after college and I have never looked back. I knew only that my father was available in our lives, that he worked hard, loved his work, and his clients. I wanted that fulfillment for myself.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

In life and in business you have those moments that when reflected upon can change your perspective. Mine was what I refer to as the “lean back”.

This experience forced me to reconsider my approach and helped me narrow my business focus. Defining a niche is recommended, narrowing your focus is difficult to do. In my industry, I can help anyone in a large room. In a room of 100, there are only 3–4 in a room that will be receptive, have a current need, and fit the profile of a perfect client advisor match. I’m not for everyone and that’s ok.

I am 27 years now in this industry and in year 18, we moved from Maryland to Florida. In Maryland, I had a network of friends, family, clients, and acquaintances with whom I interacted, marketed, and networked. When we relocated to Florida, I knew very few people. I was forced to get out there and introduce myself. I had not done this in years.

Here I am in this group of professional women, and I’m asked by enthusiastic networkers, “What do you do for a living?” Smiling, I reply, “I’m a financial advisor.” If you’re an advisor, never, ever say this. You would have thought I had the plague. Woman after woman leaned away from me, physically pulling their bodies back. This was so strange. What in the world was happening? Consistently I was met with two replies: (1) My husband handles that. (2) I have one of you.

This “lean back and shut down” was a no-go for me. I went to contemplate what was happening. I evaluated my practice, sought to define the clients whom I loved working with, those who appreciated my counsel and who effortlessly referred their friends because they knew, liked, and trusted me. These were my people. We had meaningful conversations and an authentic relationship. We worked well together, and in fact it was enjoyable. These clients came to me with their most significant worries, and we worked through them together, sometimes adjusting the plan, other times adjusting their budgets. We discussed issues and I brought options until they made sense and were a fit.

I looked at my practice to see how people perceived their relationship with me. What sort of advice or needs were most prevalent? If I were going to start fresh with my messaging and really my brand, who do I want to attract? There are many questions to answer. Who am I trying to reach? Who do I want to work with? Who appreciates my communication style and perspective and is receptive to advice? Whose values are in alignment with mine? Who genuinely cares about their family and business? Who can I help the most and who needs me the most?

After much contemplation and review, the result — my new mantra:

Our firm focuses on the complex and sometimes urgent needs of people in financial transition. Our valued clients leverage us as a resource during these difficult and challenging times. If they are considering a move, divorce, job change, retirement, adding to their family, selling a business, are suffering the loss of a loved one, or are leaving a legacy, they call us.

Why?

Because reliable counsel is most needed at the intersection in life where finance and emotions converge — sometimes in crisis. It is in this collision zone whereas advisors we triage the situation and help set the course through the chaos. A good financial advisor can cut through the noise and create a resolution that everyone feels good about.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Oh my gosh. Starting a business or starting in sales was really no fun for me. I was educated as an accountant with a degree in business and economics. I had been working for 2 ½ years as an accountant when my father asked me to join his business. I had grown up with a father who always made things happen, was able to attend my school plays and games etc. He was around and yet he was always working too. I remember spending many Saturday mornings going to the office with my Dad so that he could “take care of a few things”. And I would attend appointments sometimes too. He looked like he was having fun, he loved what he did, and the harder he worked, the more successful he became. When he asked me to join him, I jumped at the chance. I gave my two weeks and off I went.

In all honesty, I hadn’t a clue what I had to do to become successful in the financial services field. I had not considered that I would need to promote myself and develop clients. My Dad’s idea for me was that I make cold calls to Chamber of Commerce members and educate them about why they needed to buy disability insurance. Here I am, a rookie adolescent, maybe 24 years old, calling small businesspeople about a product they know nothing about. It was no fun, and it was a real ego check given the rejection an inexperienced former accountant received.

This taught me that times had changed, cold calls were not the way to go. It taught me that maybe my skin was not so thick, but mostly it taught me that I was not a salesperson. At least not a good one. For me to be comfortable in my skin and my messaging, I needed to figure out how best to develop connections and I needed a network.

I have always been a relationship consultant. I’m not interested in being sold and I am certainly not interested in selling someone else. I ask questions, take in information, offer potential viable considerations, and the clients decide. This process while harder and longer, fits my value system, serves my clients, and generates referrals naturally. Today, I only do business by referral aka relationship marketing. I put myself out there, educate people about what I do, and they come when they are ready. People do business with me because they know like and trust me.

In relationship marketing, you can only reach as far as your arms or your network stretch. 27 years later, my arms are fully stretched. My network has a deep understanding of the role I can play in my clients lives. I love what I do, I love educating groups, and it’s sweet when I reach the right client.

During Covid, I finished writing a book, Squeeze the Juice: Live with Purpose, then Leave a Legacy. It is my hope that the book is a quick and meaningful read. I trust that everyone will get a nugget or two that they can apply to their life. I hope that the book will be passed along to those who need it.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Certainly, my father was likely the largest contributor to my success. He was a mentor, an assertive and demanding father, and he also happened to be in the industry that I joined. My work ethic, integrity, and desire to help people came from observing him.

My second manager after graduating college, was Annette Heimlich. She was tough and expected a lot. She pushed me to grow. Under her leadership she encouraged expansion. She sent me to a workshop on how to supervise employees. At that workshop, I bought a book on tape. I know, dating myself. And I think I spent $100 on this program. This program changed my perspective and contributed immensely to my life. It was called “Life by Design.” The basic concept was that you must consider your values in order of priority and then reflect on how you are currently living your life. If they’re not in alignment, then you need to change them because your goals will not move fluidly forward.

Shortly after I was promoted to supervisor, I remember her asking me if I could do her job. Was this a trick? My answer, “give me a month to absorb this job and yes, I would be up for it.” To this day, I love that she was not threatened by my reply. She was my most exceptional boss.

Truly there were many people who have contributed over time to my business success. It’s not fair to narrow it down to one. I’m a data gatherer. I like to test the waters and survey the landscape.

One of the most telling things that I do when attending an industry event, is to survey the room. I scan the room for the person or persons who are the most financially or notoriously successful. This is obvious by their demeanor, dress, and by the programs listing of their accolades. When in proximity, during a networking period with people who have seriously crushed it, I seize the opportunity.

People want to share their story. If you genuinely approach a person sharing that you’re impressed with their accomplishments, you’d like to be them when you grow up, you’re midway in your career, and you ask “what would they do if they were in your shoes today? What do they see as the biggest opportunities? How would they do things differently and avoid mishaps and pivot?”

Surprisingly, they will tell you. It will be newsworthy to your practice. Soak it up! Don’t placate them. They know they’re successful. Ask them for the advice they would tell themselves 15 years ago or how they would operate in their business differently if they started in the business in the current environment. You will be astounded.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience what is currently holding back women from founding companies?

I am very fortunate. I grew up as a first born with an Asian American father first generation, so I was taught that I could do anything. I was encouraged and pushed. In my life and professional experience, I cannot share specific discriminatory situations, although I am certain there were. In those instances, it must never have occurred to me that I was being discriminated because I was a woman.

It is remarkable what you can convey to children at a young age that impacts their character, demeanor, and in my case bossiness. Remember a baby, first born, encouraged to walk by grandparents, aunts, uncles, neighbors, parents. I had my own cheerleading squad. I say this about myself with love, ask anyone who knows me, and they will say I take control, lead, drive, and sometimes act like a boss. For some, that may feel off putting. For me, it is just who I am. I can’t really help it.

This is a little challenging for me to speak to my personal experience. I have many colleagues, friends, and clients who have shared their stories. From bank loan issues to job opportunities, to positions of influence. I think any discrimination for me may have come from my inability to present myself to the desired audience in a manner that they could receive me.

Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government, to help overcome those obstacles?

I would consider the most important education, shaping, and encouragement to come from the family unit and from people of influence in the lives of kids and young adults. I’m 51 now and I enjoy people. I like to figure out what makes them tick and who they are deep in their character if they will reveal it. I have found that asking about a person’s childhood and their relationships with caregivers, teachers, and family, will reveal the most foundational pieces of their character. Mentors and persons of influence have an intense impact on business, leadership, and society.

I think mentorship programs, especially for kids who do not have the luxury of good role models is critical. Children are innocent and are shaped by their environment. Groups like the Big Brothers, Big Sisters are crucial to creating a connection to what can be. How can we expect people to be their best selves when they don’t really know what that can look like?

This might be intuitive to you as a woman founder but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?

Why not? I will say that as a woman founder, I find myself looking for others to pull up. Educating, empowering, and lifting others not only builds their character, but it builds mine as well. And it feels amazing to see a young woman, a middle-aged woman, any woman empowered grow, and love themselves. I think women revel in that feeling when they see others connect with their work, contribution to society, their clients, and ultimately their family. I know I do.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder? Can you explain what you mean?

Perception vs reality. I think sometimes founders make it look like it happened over night, with ease. When it has been a lifetime of grit, sacrifice, work, and I mean work, education, and sucking it up that gets you to where you are today. Founders have stories and they’re not always the melted down version in the front of a menu or on their website. They are revealed in genuine conversations.

Is everyone cut out to be a founder? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder and what type of person should perhaps seek a “regular job” as an employee? Can you explain what you mean?

Not everyone is cutout to be a business owner, let alone a founder. Most people simply are not. In my practice when consulting a client or prospective client desiring to move from job to business owner, it often scares me for the prospective business owner. In fact, I often say that I already have the title for my next book, “So you think you want to start a business”. There are a multitude of potholes, land mines, and sink holes for that matter when starting a business. People frequently enter doe-eyed and enthusiastic. Of course, there’s an appeal. Independence, financial freedom, status, etc. New business owners desire the freedom and the perceived ease in life they attribute to being your own boss. I agree. At this point in my life, I would make a terrible employee. I know too much. I’ve struggled, pushed, and I’ve been on the side of self-employment for too long.

Prospective business owners often do not recognize what it takes to achieve the desired effects of owning a business. Or they may not be willing to do and be what it takes. You must have stamina, grit, slightly thick skin, and cash to get you and your family through to the other side. It was probably 5 years before I felt like I could really crush things in my business and 7 years before I could wake up January 1st and know that my mortgage would be paid.

Business owner or employee. Question is….do you prefer to rely on yourself or one someone else to pay you every other Friday? Do you desire unlimited income? Are you willing to do what it takes? Get up with the birds, work on weekends, do payroll into the night? Will you work 60 hours in your business and then another 10 on it? Do you live in today or plan for tomorrow?

Many people recognize that they are not in fact willing to do what it takes, and they lose seed money and deplete personal assets rather quickly. Owning a business and leading it is not for the weary.

Now let’s address the founder part. This leads me to reflect on leadership and creativity. A founder is not only an entrepreneur, but has gumption, grit, creativity, and a fiery bug inside. They must move an idea from nothing to something. Creating and successfully running a business is no easy task. And it takes self-awareness and resilience. Mistakes happen almost daily in business. It is the resilience and creativity that makes or breaks a business.

Over time through demonstration of product, process, work ethic, creativity, and character you are referred to as the founder. To me it seems disingenuous to start with founder. Have you earned the title, have you achieved your dream? Are you in fact successful? Maybe you started something. Big deal. Did you make something sustainable? Did it provide something of lasting value? Does it employee many people? Did it revolutionize society or an industry?

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your opinion and experience, what are the “Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder?” (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Self Motivation. It’s on the inside. It must be. Otherwise, you would not rise out of bed so easily. And it is also on the outside because you must have encouragement, stimulation of new thoughts, and ideas. I love Audible.com for just this reason. So many authors and access to business, motivation, and self-help books. Grow yourself! I have had an account for 7 or more years. As such, I have probably 100 books that I can and have listened to more than once. If I am feeling stuck, lacking focus, or mojo, I consider whether I need a break from the hustle and noise of my business. Perhaps an afternoon at the beach, a walk with my dog, or just a quiet car ride. Or do I need a pick me up, a refocus, some stretching of my mindset? Resources, like books on Audible, prove valuable to the entrepreneur.
  2. Chocolate and Coffee. Sometimes you just need coffee and chocolate to push through that last project, email, idea, or account. Well, at least I do. I love what I do for a living and I go hard every day. There are so many parts to running and owning a business and they all require your focus, time, and attention: the offering, the client, the team, the math (revenues in, expenses out).
  3. Brain Space. There are projects and pieces of the puzzle that require carved out time. Brain space as a friend recently shared. Some activities and projects require a clear desk and a clear mind. You must be open to the learning curve of the project in front of you. This article, for example, a client survey consideration and evaluation, a business plan revision. These things require brain space — all your focus and uninterrupted attention. It is impossible to do this kind of work while you’re in the hustle of your business operation. Time must be carved out. I color code my schedule to reflect: Client service, Working on the business, Networking/prospecting, Personal. At a glance, I can see what areas require attention.
  4. Your Big 5. 5 reliable people whom you can discuss stressors, business concepts, financial opportunities, tough emails to send to clients, marketing, and strategy. Those same people you likely have regular lunch, drinks, or Zooms to share and enhance ideas. Being an entrepreneur can be lonely. It is exceptionally helpful to have 5 trusted friends and colleagues with whom you can commiserate and celebrate your challenges and accomplishments.
  5. People who will stretch you. Organizations, connections, business partners that help you push the envelope of your own personal development and help you explore your business efficiency, creative ideas, and your processes.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

Being self-employed has provided me with immense flexibility in my life. It has created financial stability for my immediate family and allowed me to care for ailing family members. This has been a tremendous personal benefit.

There is much left to do and to give. I honestly have not found my best channel yet. It’s my desire to have significant and very personal impact on people. This requires a kind of intimacy over a world view.

I do my best to pay it forward wherever I can. I am especially focused on children. I like to make sure that they feel seen and heard. If even for a moment in one or two interactions. Whenever I can, I enjoy educating and empowering others. I almost can’t help myself. Don’t ask me unless you want to know.

I would love nothing more than to speak to groups of people to share basic financial concepts. Beyond debt, about accumulation, pulling yourself up, having your money work for you, creating opportunities to be your best self. No matter where you are in your journey, there are tweaks and improvements that can be made. It is enjoyable to meet with people and reflect what they are saying and help them consider slight adjustments that will align their values and their financial resources. This I think is my gift. I am actively working on connections to allow these ideas to permeate those desiring to grow.

I mentioned earlier that I wrote a book. It is my story. My book was written to provide an intimate connection with me as the author. It provides context for financial concepts and empowers people to get their ducks in a row. It is my belief that if there is at least one idea that you can implement, a book is a worthy read. My book’s aim and my hope is that financial intelligence will become more common place.

I believe that knowledge should be shared. Given the venue, I’ll happily talk about money and financial concepts to non-profits, teens, associations, employees, communities, fellowship groups. Anyone really who would like to know.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

The word empower comes screaming to the forefront. I know that it’s overused. What’s better than teaching and encouraging people to fish? There’s pride in doing things yourself. When you can take ownership of that accomplishment, it will grow, and I hope to feed into the teaching of others. We are a society that sometimes takes the short path and just does it for others. Why not educate, empower, and motivate them to do for themselves?

The movement I would be involved in would be financial education, level two. I believe there are programs to help with basic checking account balancing and debt. At the next level, people making money, living their lives, and not having any idea of how to save, manage their finances for today or for tomorrow. They know they should be doing things for their future, but they were never taught. I work with successful professionals daily who have not been educated about financial instruments. How would they? They’re entrenched in their profession and then in their families and community. It takes extra time or an insistent advisor to educate and get them on track.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

The ultimate financial success moves your focus from creation to distribution. You now spend your time evaluating and considering worthy causes. Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffet, they are masters of this shift from business owner to operator of Foundations. I intend to make this shift one day. I would love the opportunity to have a peek behind the curtain.

Personally, and spiritually speaking, I’d love to have a chat with Deepak Chopra about my favorite book, “The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success.”

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.


Female Founders: Jennifer Lee of Modern-Wealth On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Female Founders: Monal Patel & Pinki Gosal of Vasanti Cosmetics On The Five Things You Need To…

Female Founders: Monal Patel & Pinki Gosal of Vasanti Cosmetics On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

Risk Tolerance — in the beauty industry newness is essential. There is a lot of time and money that goes into creating a new product and success is not always guaranteed. We have had many products that have not gone according to plan but this has not stopped us from moving forward with many of our top sellers.

As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Monal Patel & Pinki Gosal.

Monal Patel, Founder & CEO at Vasanti Cosmetics.

Monal has a knack for numbers and the technical know how to successfully manage all retail operations and company finances. Her journey began at Ryerson University where she attained her Business Management Degree with a major in Accounting/Finance. She then found herself growing businesses from the ground up in hi-level management positions for over 10 years before dedicating herself full time at Vasanti Cosmetics in 2005.

When she doesn’t have her CEO hat on, you will find her on a nature hike, listening to a podcast or planning her next adventure. Her motto in life: “you get out of life, what you are willing to put into it”.

Pinki Gosal is the Founder & President at Vasanti Cosmetics. She is creative at heart and has travelled the world, from Italy to Korea to draw inspiration and knowledge of beauty from various cultures. She studied Psychology at York University in Toronto and was able to apply her understanding of people while thinking with an open mind to push boundaries of innovation.

Her journey into the world of cosmetics began in Chicago and landed in Toronto where she spent over 15 years at a leading cosmetics laboratory and manufacturer. She worked closely with chemists and engineers as the Director of Product Development where she used her hi-level expertise to develop innovative formulas, packaging and manufacturing techniques in curating new ideas and growth hacking.

When she doesn’t have her product development hat on you will find her enjoying a glass of wine on a patio taking in life, hiking into the wilderness or dancing up a storm with her huge family! Her motto in life is: “live for today, embrace change and everything will fall into place”

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

When we started in the late 90’s, we simply couldn’t find beauty products that worked on our skin tones. There was a lack of choice and makeup feeling too heavy. Our mission to give beauty a happier meaning began in 1998 and we have not looked back since.

After years of research, development and meticulous attention to detail, combined with the honest feedback you can only expect from your sisters, Vasanti (which means “of spring” in Sanskrit) was born.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

Picture This

You make a big move to Chicago and land your first job there at a high-end beauty studio, owned by an affluent ex-model. It’s your second day on the job and you’re stoked to meet the beloved owner of this company. Your ambitious self is getting ready to greet her, but then the unexpected happens — she arrives and without any hesitation she points at your face and blurts out “Who’s this?! Get some concealer on her!” and continues to walk away. In a panic, makeup artists hurry over to use the darkest shade of concealer on your dark under eyes.

After all their efforts, you’re standing there — shocked — with layers of white ashy concealer on your brown skin and no clue what just happened. This is the first time anyone has pointed out your dark circles, and now you can’t stop obsessing over them. You’re desperate for a solution, but every concealer you try just doesn’t work!

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Funny story, we are trying to stay ahead of trends but realized after a few bombed products that we were too small and didn’t have the marketing power we have today to launch trendy shades/product. For example, we launched a white liquid liner which was trendy in Korea and before K-beauty was a thing but didn’t quite catch on here.

The lesson was to try so you know for sure, fail fast, learn and move on.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

There are so many people who have helped us along the way, but the one person who we will forever be grateful to is Sabu of Studio Sabu Photography. He was part of our family back then and he was high end product photographer and did work for major magazines like Wedding Bells. He shot all of product shots for us for free for many years and never asked for anything in return — all he wanted was for us to be successful — this is in the late 90’s and early 2000’s before smartphones had good cameras. We remember people thinking that we were much bigger than we actually were because we had amazing product shots on our website and all of our printed materials as well.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience what is currently holding back women from founding companies?

We live in a gender biased society where women in general are expected to run the household, be caregivers and on top of that they do not have the luxury of time on their side. In anyone’s career there is an opportune time to start your own business. Typically, a woman (or man) straight out of school may not have the skillset, confidence or experience to start their own business. By the time a woman is ready to start her own business she will most likely face a fork in the road where she is going to have to decide between starting a family or starting a business. Commonly, we see that women will choose starting a family over the business.

We were able to overcome this as there were three of us and collectively, we had the skillset, experience and confidence necessary to get us going. We were lucky because there were three of us, we didn’t have the pressure of having to choose one over the other.

Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government, to help overcome those obstacles?

Creating communities and sisterhood where women (and men) are accepting of other women’s choices and not passing judgement on them. Women showing up for other women and supporting them.

The government can help through grants, funding, education, tax breaks for women entrepreneurs.

Introducing entrepreneurship early on in young person’s education so, show what can be possible.

This might be intuitive to you as a woman founder but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?

Women are inherently responsible and have the ability to manage it all. Managing relationships, managing households, managing lives, managing finances.

We remember the first banker that gave us a line of credit told us that he loves dealing with women business owners as he has never had a woman default on a loan.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder? Can you explain what you mean?

We have so many people who come to us and say, “oh you are so lucky you are your own boss or you get you make your own schedule”. What they don’t realize is that your shift never ends.

Is everyone cut out to be a founder? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder and what type of person should perhaps seek a “regular job” as an employee? Can you explain what you mean?

Someone with a high-risk tolerance and self-motivated is more likely to be a successful along with the ability to recover fast when you fail.

A regular job would be more suitable for someone who needs stability, structure and direction.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your opinion and experience, what are the “Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder?” (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Resilience — we have been in business for 23 years, the business has had its ups and downs
  2. Thick Skin — we have gotten a lot of unsolicited advice through out the years in the form of why haven’t you done this or tried that and many times it has not been constructive but we have been able to take whatever value we could find from it and not let it phase us.
  3. Resourceful — the world needed Hand Sanitizer and in a matter of 5 weeks we were able to certify and launch a superior formula. We also deployed our #WeSeeYou program within a matter of days — product donations to frontline workers.
  4. Inventive — most entrepreneurs start because they see a problem that needs to be solved. The seed for Vasanti was planted over 23 years ago when one of the founders, Pinki, had a “Devil Wears Prada” moment (see story on top 2nd question). Pinki became obsessed with her dark under eye circles and that lead her to create one of our top selling products Liquid VO2 (an orange concealer) almost 20 years ago, long before orange concealers became a thing.
  5. Risk Tolerance — in the beauty industry newness is essential. There is a lot of time and money that goes into creating a new product and success is not always guaranteed. We have had many products that have not gone according to plan but this has not stopped us from moving forward with many of our top sellers.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

We are using our success to support women and sending a message to women that even while being minority women you can really accomplish anything you are passionate about and that when women empower and support each other anything is possible.

We have also used our success to spread the message of inclusivity. Everyone matters and we have done this from the start of our business over 20 years ago.

We have also used our success:

  • By hiring females and supporting their continued learning.
  • Helping build a woman’s confidence at an early age so they are able to build and do anything they want.
  • Using our success to fund charities like Look Good Feel Better that supports women going through cancer and supporting countless number of everyday women that approach us to support their own charities. We are happy to support and help in any way we can.
  • After all our brand was created on the power of sisterhood and supporting one another.
  • You can trust each, you can work together, you can build each other up.
  • We believe in sisterhood and creating that culture of support to create a better place.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

Creating a space and environment of Unconditional Support. A safety net made by women for women. Support ideas, new thinking, approach, healthy practice, inner peace and help minimize insecurities and build confidence so women don’t get into bad situations or feel alone and not included.

We had this experience growing up with our community activities and a strong sense of community care within our 50 closest family friends. Girls of similar ages from other immigrant families our parents knew came together as our parents made sure we had activities and community events that made us feel belonging and ability to form relationships where we felt like we can always count on each other. This type of unconditional relationships formed at an early age helped build the confidence we needed to take the chance to start a business. 40 years later, we are still just as close-knit group of 16 plus girls that feel blessed to have one another.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

We would love to have a private lunch with Bobbi Brown. She has always been a true innovator in the beauty space. Her journey is so inspiring and have the utmost respect for her business savvy.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.


Female Founders: Monal Patel & Pinki Gosal of Vasanti Cosmetics On The Five Things You Need To… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Female Founders: Kim Hehir and Sue Delegan of Brutus Broth On The Five Things You Need To Thrive…

Female Founders: Kim Hehir and Sue Delegan of Brutus Broth On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

People Buy Stories — That rings true with consumers, buyers, and investors. Nowadays people seek out brands and products that have some deeper backstory than just being thought up in a boardroom. Defining how you want to position your brand and developing your story will help in the long run.

As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kim Hehir and Sue Delegan of Brutus Broth.

Sue Delegan serves as Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Brutus Broth, Inc. A graduate of St. Lawrence University, Sue has over 20 years of impressive business and marketing experience launching innovative national brands and raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for a number of non-profit organizations.

Kim Hehir serves as the Co-Founder and President of Brutus Broth, Inc. A graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration, Kim has decades of success helping both big businesses and small non-profits with strategy, marketing, finance and more.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

Our story began on Thanksgiving Day 2016 when a family member asked to what we attribute Brutus’ longevity. The answer: “Love and Grandma’s Bone Broth.” As a pup that led a very active life, he had a number of health issues most senior dogs face.

We found that adding Bone Broth to his diet not only provided him with a tastier meal but gave him added nutritional benefits. Not only that, he loved the taste and adding the broth to his dry food made it more easily digestible. The challenge was finding a way to share these benefits with other dogs.

Kim and Sue spent thousands of hours researching the pet market, speaking to experts in the industry, testing and tweaking recipes, designing packaging prototypes, working with ingredient suppliers and manufacturers, amongst other things, to assemble the best possible team to help bring Brutus’ Bone Broth to the market.​​​

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

We’ve had so many crazy things happen to us in the three years we’ve been in business. Some were really serious — like dual double mastectomies in the first year of business alone. Some were less dire like packaging snafus. For example, the first run of our packaging was printed wrong. We did not have the time or money to reprint our packaging because Wegmans was waiting for our first order. We decided we could print labels to cover the mistake. The labels arrived at our warehouse and were affixed to the packages and sent on to Wegmans in record time. Meanwhile, we were in the hospital so could not make a trip to the warehouse to check the labels but trusted they were done correctly. You can imagine how annoyed and frustrated we were when we got a call from Wegmans letting us know the labels were transparent!

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

In the beginning we were so inexperienced when it came to the whole manufacturing process that we did things that others thought were funny that we were oblivious to. For example, we visited our co-packer for the first time wearing stilettos and jewelry and had to check everything at the reception desk. We also are always on a tight budget as a start-up. Our first trip to Minneapolis to meet with Target ended up being a crazy adventure that included a missing rental car and a haunted, mold infested AirBNB that we unintentionally traded for a hotel that ended up being a heroin den. We epitomize the saying “ignorance is bliss” and in so many cases that approach has worked out for us — like when we once asked a buyer when we will be put on the shelf, as opposed to the standard protocol of asking when we will hear back from them.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

We will always say that our dad is not only our advisor, but also our biggest cheerleader. He was an entrepreneur and inspired us to follow in his footsteps and never give up. He currently serves as our Chairman.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience what is currently holding back women from founding companies?

Struggling with work / life balance. Aside from just giving birth to our children, including Kim’s eldest, who was born while on a work trip, organizing each kid’s activities and managing the overall household responsibilities often falls on the mom. We think that the worry about struggling to do it all often deters and/or prevents a lot of women from taking the plunge of entrepreneurship because of the time and focus it takes.

Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government, to help overcome those obstacles?

We think that things are going in the right direction and shedding a light on equity, diversity and inclusion. There are more discussions today than in the past around equal pay and equal opportunities so we are heading in the right direction.

This might be intuitive to you as a woman founder but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?

Women are expert multi-taskers and we have high emotional quotients, which comes in handy when creating a brand and managing teams. We also have much higher thresholds for pain. The start-up world is not always fun!

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder? Can you explain what you mean?

That every company founder is a millionaire.

Is everyone cut out to be a founder? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder and what type of person should perhaps seek a “regular job” as an employee? Can you explain what you mean?

Not everyone is cut out to be a founder. Founders are usually people who are willing to take risks, albeit calculated ones. Founders have to be flexible, persistent, multi-taskers and problem solvers. People who don’t like to venture out of their comfort-zone and need routines to thrive should probably not be in an entrepreneurial role.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your opinion and experience, what are the “Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder?” (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Time Management/Multi-Tasking — It’s not easy to balance work, family, friends, kids, managing a household, and all the other million things we all do. Our cars double as mobile offices to help us get things done on the go.
  2. Persistence/Problem Solving — We never take NO as an answer. We like to think of it as a NOT YET. When we first approached Target, they gave us a “no.” Instead of just moving on, we stayed persistent and tried other avenues to get their attention. Within six months of the first ”no” we launched with them nationally. We always say that, “if the front door slams in your face, go to the back door. If it’s locked, find a window!”
  3. Do your Homework & Follow up — Knowing your audience, their hot buttons and decision drivers is so important. So many people walk into sales meetings and just “do their pitch.” We take time to learn about the retailers we are pitching and the buyers themselves. Are the retailers family-owned? Is sustainability a big deal to them? What are they doing within their communities? What other products do they carry in their set and how are they different and how are we better? What is the buyer’s background and his, hers or their interests? The most important (and often overlooked) part of the sales process is the basic follow up. It’s amazing how many people just don’t follow up in this world!
  4. Networking / Relationship Building — Relationships are really important to us. We spend most of our days working. So, aside from having a “No Jerk” policy, we know how important it is to cultivate relationships with the people we spend so much time with. That makes networking a really important part of our business. We always try to find some common connection to the people we are trying to sell to and always stay in constant contact within our network to uncover random opportunities. We were able to get a meeting with one East Coast retailer because the son of a family member that owned a grocery chain was in a fantasy football league with one of Kim’s college friend’s husband!
  5. People Buy Stories — That rings true with consumers, buyers, and investors. Nowadays people seek out brands and products that have some deeper backstory than just being thought up in a boardroom. Defining how you want to position your brand and developing your story will help in the long run.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

We give back to animal shelters and pet related organizations throughout the country. This year alone we’ve donated somewhere close to 1,500 servings of Brutus Bone Broth and over 600 bags of Brutus Bone Broth biscuits.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

We started our Kids Committee because we strongly believe in the need for mentoring future generations. We were just announced as Tory Burch Foundation Fellows and would love to bring that same energy and type of forum to produce opportunities for inspiring entrepreneurs of all ages, like Tory has for so many women founders. There are so many people that have great ideas, but don’t get that extra push or support that helps bring them to life. We’d love to be able to mentor entrepreneurs and offer guidance (and someday seed money) to help.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

Sara Blakely — the founder of Spanx.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.


Female Founders: Kim Hehir and Sue Delegan of Brutus Broth On The Five Things You Need To Thrive… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Female Founders: Mitali Saxena of Fashom On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a…

Female Founders: Mitali Saxena of Fashom On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

A strong support system both at home and in the office— Without a strong support system around you, you will never be able to achieve something that can change the world. You have to give your all when it comes to your dream but you need another set of hands to sometimes to help lift you up when times are harder or just to rest on your shoulder so you know you’re not alone in this all — that other people not just believe in your dream too, but strive to help you achieve it.

As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mitali Saxena.

Mitali Saxena is the Founder and CEO of Fashom. She holds a B.S. degree in Computer Engineering and an M.S. degree in Electrical Engineering Fed up with the disparity between fashion industry beauty standards and the needs of real women, she left her engineering career to found Fashom, a style-centered online community. Within a year, Fashom expanded into the body-positive focused personal styling service. Core to Fashom’s mission is offering vegan fashion shipped in recyclable packaging. In line with Fashom’s ethos, one dollar from every Fashom box goes directly to rescue stray animals in NYC. Growing a data-driven team, Mitali has created a shopping experience that allows the members of the Fashom community to feel good inside and out. In her previous role as North American sales manager for a telecom software company, Mitali led both large general and special project-focused teams on a regular basis. It is from this experience that she has grown into the leader that she is today as the CEO of Fashom where she has helmed a smaller but hyper-driven team to the success the company has achieved in such a short period of time.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

I was working with the telecommunications company I had been since completing my Master’s degree and at that point was very much rooted within a corporate structure but after a little while of this routine, I started to find myself looking at bigger picture issues my day-to-day in corporate life didn’t usually allow me to focus on. One that had spoken to me for quite a while was that of the way people have been depicted commercially in the fashion industry versus how they were in actuality, especially when one of my close friends admitted to me that this was an issue that had affected her deeply since she was a young girl. This seriously impacted me, so I started to do some of my own research on the subject to see how I could possibly help because I knew she couldn’t have been the only one who felt this way. This sparked an idea in my mind to try to create a platform that helps people like my friend and so many others out there who felt like they weren’t good enough for so long simply because they didn’t look the same way as magazines said they should.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

There are so many incredible and interesting things that have happened to me since I founded Fashom, which makes it hard to choose just one. That being said though, one of the most interesting I’d have to say could possibly be the time our marketing coordinator and I flew to Nashville for our first big on-the-road trips as a company. We basically landed in the morning , had 30 minutes to grab food and coffee, and then the chaos of the next 10 hours ensued from there. The 24 hours prior to that had been crazy when we were shipping all of the props and clothes up to the hotel but once we arrived, everything grew even crazier when we brought all of the influencers to our suite to discuss the itinerary for the event. Clothes were flying, our marketing coordinator played everything from makeup artist to seamstress to photographer to set-director to lighting guru, seven people were crammed into a space made for maybe two, and then after a few hours of filming all the highlights and extras, we finally made it over to the event space. However, almost nothing was set up like we had originally thought so, in full hair and makeup, we all started basically rebuilding the event space (most of us in 3 inch + heels) to what we preferred until literally minutes before the guests began to arrive. It was madness but also equal parts amazingness because it showed me just how much both my team members and our own influencers believed in the purpose behind the event and our message itself. It was a crazy moment but one I am really, really proud of.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

The amount of hilarious mistakes I made when I first started could easily fill a small novel but if I had to choose one of my ‘finest’ moments from those, it would have to be the time our first big order load came in after one of our very first big YouTube influencers. It was just as we were finishing the last box that we noticed something strange protruding from the top — it was one of my headbands. So we opened this last box to find my own things in there! What that specific incident taught me though was that having a solid team, whether that just be you and one other person or you and a few hundred people, is absolutely a rarity and something that needs to be deeply appreciated when found because, without have that second pair of supportive hands, I would have never got everything out on time.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

There are so, so many people who have helped me achieve success along the way that I will never be able to thank enough. However, there is one individual that I believe has helped not just my drive to keep pushing but to create a critical layer of Fashom’s DNA…and his name is Chewy Saxena. Chewy is my 6 year-old cockapoo who I rescued when I was still living in New York. Since he came into my life, my already deep passion for helping animals grew to an extent I didn’t know I had within me. From staying steadfast as a cruelty-free and vegan company that wants to help the deep ethical issue of animal-product use in the fashion industry to securing our long-term partnership with the incredible Second Chance Rescue in NYC, the constant inspiration I’ve felt along every step of the way comes from my amazing furry companion.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience what is currently holding back women from founding companies?

I personally believe, based on my own opinion and experience, what could be currently holding back women from founding more companies is the combination of outdated gender roles/notions that are still projected onto women in the business (that are not mirrored on men within this same field) and the lack of representation of women within this space. Sure, there are a few of us out here which is far better than could be said of the general founder slate a decade ago but it’s still incredibly intimidating to enter a field where there are so many people that are the opposite of you. The lack of representation in of itself can be scary to work through not just upon entry, but even as you grow and see competitors try to use that difference as a disadvantage. It is the one, two punch of being told that ‘because you’re a woman, you therefore have to still keep thinking about a familial balance and kids and white-picket fences’, then it being followed up with ‘now that you’re through the doorway, you have to work three times harder to get the same level of recognition because there’s only two other people like you doing this.’ that really pushes someone either closer to the edge or over it.

Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government, to help overcome those obstacles?

Funding, initiatives, and representation. These all sound somewhat simple, I know, but these are also simply the facts. Funding is a massive issue, especially when investors with those more ‘old school’ sensibilities come into play because, in truth, people with that viewpoint have a harder time trusting and believing in women founders. It comes down to the notion that women are less reliable than men because they are more emotional and perceived as unstable to a degree, which makes them less appealing for investors who like to see a ‘rock solid candidate’ — i.e. someone who more so represents themselves. Initiatives in both schools and communities is another important factor because this is where women can see their potential encouraged and fostered earlier on in life, which gives them more tools and time to grow into their metaphorical shoes as future founders. Last, but not at all least, is easily more representation because the easiest way to believe in something is by seeing it. If you are a young woman with the hopes of one day founding your own company, then you want to see the success of other women doing that too, which makes that dream all the more palpable to you,

This might be intuitive to you as a woman founder but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?

Women are born multi-taskers. In my opinion a woman can handle a multitude of tasks in different areas of the company in full capacity. As a woman in the male dominated tech industry where you have to be able to handle multiple tasks at one time, I feel we need to empower more women to join the field both through school programs (ranging anywhere from primary to university level) and programs created for those who enter at entry level positions within tech fields or even larger conglomerates with decent size tech departments .

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder? Can you explain what you mean?

There are so many answers to this question but some of the biggest ones I’d say are that we, as founders, make massive paychecks immediately, have the easiest and most relaxed schedules (networking, golfing, etc), get to have these lavish offices and bonuses, and fly private every other day. It’s a massive misconception that, just because you run a company, doesn’t mean you’re suddenly a billionaire overnight a week after launching. In fact, as the founder and CEO, you’re often working harder than so many people expect because you’re not just responsible for your job, you’re responsible for everyone else’s jobs, their pay, their welfare, their representation of the company, your representation of the company, and a few million other things all at once. I could easily work from 6am to 2am the next morning sometimes because there are days when you just have an overload because everyone else on your team does too. This is where having such a strong foundation of a supportive team comes into play though, otherwise you would never have a moment to even breathe

Is everyone cut out to be a founder? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder and what type of person should perhaps seek a “regular job” as an employee? Can you explain what you mean?

Not everyone is meant to be a founder. That isn’t to say some people cannot be turned into founders via experiences or work towards becoming a founder on their own but it is a challenging road that not everyone has the attributes to make it through. The traits and amount needed of each that it takes to become a founder is a rare concoction because you simply have it or you don’t, in this case. There are absolutely instances in which this concoction can be brought out in someone but that doesn’t mean that everyone has this inside them to even bring out. The specific traits I feel one needs to be a founder are someone who:

  • Has a strong sense of determination to work through whatever is necessary to achieve a goal.
  • Can multitask consistently.
  • Is an absolute self-starter.
  • Either has or can build a steely support system both at home (whether this be your whole family or just your fur baby) and at the office since you’ll be living in each equally.

The above attributes are critical for increasing the chances of following the founder direction because they are all indicative of someone with both the gumption and go-getter sensibility to lead, which are essential for a founder to have. However, again, these are not qualities that every single person possesses, and that’s absolutely okay. It just means that those people are not quite the best fit for the founder path and better for more of a “regular job” instead As for someone who should perhaps seek a “regular job”, I would say the traits that one might need to possess are:

  • Being good at going with the flow of things.
  • Needing that extra push sometimes to get started on something.
  • The ability to work well with others and/or on teams or groups.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your opinion and experience, what are the “Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder?” (Please share a story or example for each.)

To not just succeed but thrive as a woman founder, the five key things you have to have based on my personal experience are:

  1. A sense of mission/purpose— Possessing a sense of mission or purpose is absolutely critical because you have to have that special something that grounds you and gives you that extra internal fire power to keep you striving towards a greater level.
  2. Determination — You simply won’t get anywhere if you keep taking ‘no’ for an answer.
  3. Passion— You need this to fuel your drive but it also has to come from a pure, purposeful place or your vision simply won’t come together as a whole.
  4. A thick skin— This is a necessity if you are a woman in any male-dominated field. There are less of you and more of them, and, sadly, that is something some people use as a tool of mockery or belittling. So many things might be said about you but once you remember you are just as strong and capable as anyone else in the room, nothing can hurt you.
  5. A strong support system both at home and in the office— Without a strong support system around you, you will never be able to achieve something that can change the world. You have to give your all when it comes to your dream but you need another set of hands to sometimes to help lift you up when times are harder or just to rest on your shoulder so you know you’re not alone in this all — that other people not just believe in your dream too, but strive to help you achieve it.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

I used my individual success in my previous career path to start Fashom with the goal of trying to make the world a better, more inclusive place. After being into the incredible venture that is Fashom, we’re working every single day to create a stronger sense of body positivity for both the everyday person and within the fashion industry itself. An example of this I’m really proud of is one of our latest campaigns, our #BetterAsIAm Campaign that was in partnership with a beautiful new charity that was founded by one of our teammates’ family after the very sad passing of their sister. We created a campaign, and, really, a sense of anti-perfection, that spoke to how our ‘imperfections’ make us all better exactly as we are because, without them, we wouldn’t be the amazing individuals we all are today.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

The body positivity movement has been around for a few years quite strongly now, and Fashom was created to help support and further that movement with every ounce of passion we have as a company. My biggest hope here is to continue pushing for that to continue until every area of the fashion industry truly reflects the ‘realness’ of the world in a positive, genuine way. Regardless of how much you weigh, your skin tone, your preferred pronouns, your height, etc., everyone deserves to feel represented in the world.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

Mindy Kaling! She is such an incredible, smart, talented individual who represents both a woman and a woman of color taking on such a male-dominated field with equal parts creative determination and gusto.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.


Female Founders: Mitali Saxena of Fashom On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Allison Moss of Type:A Brands Five Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Startup

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

Manage cash like a hawk. Make a weekly 13-week cash forecast your north star. This allows us to revisit decisions weekly to invest or cut spend across every aspect of the business, to shift with the ups and downs of early-stage growth and forces you to have a sense of cash running low, so you can anticipate and act.

Startups have such a glamorous reputation. Companies like Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Uber, and Airbnb once started as scrappy startups with huge dreams and huge obstacles.

Yet we of course know that most startups don’t end up as success stories. What does a founder or a founding team need to know to create a highly successful startup?

In this series, called “Five Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Startup” we are talking to experienced and successful founders and business leaders who can share stories from their experience about what it takes to create a highly successful startup.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Allison Moss.

Allison Moss has 22 years of prior marketing and management experience working with some of the biggest beauty companies in the business. But her passion for wanting to bring cleaner, safer beauty & personal care products to market brought her to where she is today, Founder & CEO of Type:A Brands.

Since launching Type:A Brands three years ago, Allison has created award-winning, non-toxic, high-performance body care items. Allison has led the company to develop an impactful foundation and immense growth. This includes the hero product, a game-changing aluminum-free deodorant, being awarded a patent for it’s exclusive sweat-activated technology that delivers best-in-class odor and wetness protection. Type:A Brands is a certified B Corporation, carbon neutral, cruelty free, woman-owned and all products are made in the USA.The brand’s commitment to making a difference through the business has recently garnered actress, activist and clean beauty enthusiast Sophia Bush as an investor.

Type:A Brands has gained a well-respected reputation in the industry winning multiple beauty awards from top publications such as Health, SELF and Women’s Health and has developed incredible retailer reach, with Type:A products being sold at CredoBeauty, Whole Foods (California), HEB, Bed Bath & Beyond, Thrive Market, Target.com and many more.

With all this, Allison has stayed true to her word and mission and continues to strive to be better, do better and offer others better in the beauty industry.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

I grew up outside of Los Angeles, and moved to New York City after college (Boston University, go Terriers!) to start a career in Marketing. I was working briefly at a marketing communications agency, which was not my passion but a good foot in the door (so to speak) when friend let me know about an entry-level Marketing role with Kate Spade fragrances, owned by the Estee Lauder Companies. I didn’t get that role, but they had another opening in Marketing at Estee Lauder and that was the start of my career in Marketing and in Beauty.

I’ve spent 20 years in the beauty industry, working with mainstream brands like Estee Lauder, MAC Cosmetics, Lancôme and L’Oreal Paris, and more recently, clean or natural brands like Jurlique and Beautycounter.

What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?

Like so many others, I first considered switching to an aluminum-free deodorant was when I was pregnant with my first child. I had already switched to a clean skincare routine, so the logical next step was deodorant. But each and every one I tried was a disappointment.

Then after a few years of trying to find ‘the one’, I had one of those ah-ha moments you so often read about. I started to see patterns in the way natural deodorants were formulated and what might be holding them back in terms of performance.

With my professional background, I had a vision for what could be a game-changing safe, clean deodorant. So I took a leap of faith, and dedicated myself exclusively to the product concept that has become Type:A deodorant. My hope and our company’s mission is to offer a safe personal care products that work without any tradeoffs, so more people can make the switch to a clean products and (happily) stick with it.

Was there somebody in your life who inspired or helped you to start your journey with your business? Can you share a story with us?

When I was in business school, a friend approached me to help her write a business plan for a new business she was trying to get off the ground. I was young with (relatively) tons of free time and dove into the project with her. As it turned out, she ended up setting the business plan aside for good reasons. But the experience gave me the first taste of what it might be like to build a business and brand from the ground up. It was a full 10 years later before I had the right idea and professional experience that gave me the confidence to take action and start a business of my own with Type:A Brands.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Our company stands out for aiming for the highest standards and doing that authentically — we’re overachievers and it’s in the name Type:A. Through transparent actions, like putting every fragrance ingredient on the package and explaining every ingredient’s purpose on the web site, we want to show that we’re really working hard to do right by our customers. And third party certifications like EWG and being a B Corporation, help us show that we deliver on our brand integrity promise.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

From the very beginning, I was inspired by having a product that worked differently from what was on the market, and better for people who tried it. I was motivated that this could help more people make the switch they wanted to make and stick with it. The idea of helping people make this healthier choice in their lives is a huge part of why I left my corporate career to take on starting a business. And it’s been the best decision!

We could use this business as a force for good, and we try to do that and are always looking to improve. I wanted to get our B Corporation certification as early as we could for just this reason, to help us do a better job of making a positive impact for all stakeholders.

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

  • Vision — My career in bringing new beauty concepts to the market has naturally trained me to do a lot of mental tinkering. I’ve learned to take nothing at face value, that there’s always room for improvement. I created Type:A deodorant after trying dozens of other products on the market — none worked very well, and all had tradeoffs in the user experience. I kept turning over the various competitive products in my mind and thinking about what approach, what new formula technology, what ingredient combination could work better for me, and hopefully for the majority of people that tried it. I easily throw out conventional thinking and look to bring ideas together that had not been done before.
  • Resilience — Leading a company requires having a strategy and vision for where to take the business, and also the flexibility to change that approach, sometimes at the drop of a hat, if needed. The recent pandemic is a perfect example. The world turned upside down overnight and many companies, including ours, were at a bigger disadvantage not having what established brands or large corporations might have — large cash reserves or huge repeat customer bases. We were just too new in the market. But we had something the larger businesses didn’t have, the ability to act lightning fast and make quick changes to the sales strategy and marketing plans. We did this more than once in 2020 as the landscape around us changed.
  • Mindfulness — Taking feedback is mission critical. In founding a brand, solicited and unsolicited feedback floods in from everywhere. Allowing yourself to hear it all, and take what is valuable, let go of what is not valuable, is key. Remember that it is not personal (if it the comment feels hyper-personal, then it’s off-base and ignore it). There have been many times where someone shares a point of view that would require us to change plans — push back a product launch, reconsider a marketing program. And they made good points, that when I took it back to the team and researched further, I followed and were to our benefit.

Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. Can you share a story about advice you’ve received that you now wish you never followed?

At one brand I worked with, I had a gut feeling about a particular partner we were about to sign a contract with. So I did some digging and asking around. Several of my go-to trusted friends around us said ignore that, on paper things look perfect, and the contract in place has enough

Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?

Just before launch, we found out that one of our key competitors was purchased by a large CPG. Suddnely this brand would be everywhere with deep pockets to outspend us in marketing.

Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard? What strategies or techniques did you use to help overcome those challenges?

I’ve had my moments where I feel overwhelmed, as anyone would. I run a growing, early-stage business and am a mom of two. For the business, there’s a never-ending amount of work and always more that we can be doing! My biggest challenge is not get bogged down by what we haven’t tackled (yet!) and stay focused on moving forward, motivate my team and continue to make progress.

The journey of an entrepreneur is never easy, and is filled with challenges, failures, setbacks, as well as joys, thrills and celebrations. Can you share a few ideas or stories from your experience about how to successfully ride the emotional highs & lows of being a founder”?

There are certainly the highest of highs and lowest of lows in this journey. Riding those waves is a constant challenge. I have an escape I’ve come to rely on more and more as we grow — reading. I have always loved reading, fiction and non-fiction, and getting absorbed in a storyline and characters from another world, miles away from my own reality. It has proven to be a great way to destress and find mental balance. Also it’s fun! Only downside is losing precious sleeping hours, I read late at night before bed (the only time I have).

Let’s imagine that a young founder comes to you and asks for your advice about whether venture capital or bootstrapping is best for them? What would you advise them? Can you kindly share a few things a founder should look at to determine if fundraising or bootstrapping is the right choice?

My advice would be exactly what will raising capital get you that you can’t build on your own. For a consumer product-based business, I would encourage them to consider getting double the time in market under their belt than they think they need. Learning more up front will lead to more efficient use of capital and better chance of overdelivering on expectations. For example, beyond product market fit, they want to assess the costs of doing business over time — does seasonality play a role, does the cost of CAC or media fluctuate (randomly or by some pattern), what do repeat/loyalty look like, are there customers, channels or lines of business that can be counted on for baseline cash flow.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Many startups are not successful, and some are very successful. From your experience or perspective, what are the main factors that distinguish successful startups from unsuccessful ones? What are your “Five Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Startup”? If you can, please share a story or an example for each.

  1. Is your brand or product differentiated, relevant and is this uniqueness ownable? Thank you @Professor Scott Galloway — this stuck with me from my Brand Strategy course at NYU Stern, and I think it should be every new brand’s north star before launching.
  2. Run the numbers before you launch, and stay uber-close to them after. Build out a detailed P&L with all relevant KPIs laddering up to total sales, and track actualized progress against budget to see where you need to adjust, and what costs are coming into play that you are missing (there are always some!)
  3. Manage cash like a hawk. Make a weekly 13-week cash forecast your north star. This allows us to revisit decisions weekly to invest or cut spend across every aspect of the business, to shift with the ups and downs of early-stage growth and forces you to have a sense of cash running low, so you can anticipate and act.
  4. People are your most valuable resources — be selective in hiring contract, part or full time employees. And as hard as it is, if someone is not a fit make the call quickly. It’s best for everyone and critical when teams are so lean and every decision can have outsized consequences, to make quick decisions if changes need to be made.
  5. Say No as often as possible. It’s hard to say no, and honing that skill is important. When you’re young and new, everything seems worth trying. The discipline to stay focused will stretch your resources farther. Iterate as you go, don’t test all at once.

What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?

Know your numbers, track your unit economics and P&L closely, and pay attention to the data. What’s working, what’s not, and make quick decisions to pivot where you need. If this isn’t your strength, search for the consultant who can support this. It will build in the rigor to mind the numbers up front and that will go a long way over time.

Startup founders often work extremely long hours and it’s easy to burn the candle at both ends. What would you recommend to founders about how to best take care of their physical and mental wellness when starting a company?

So true! Carving out that impossible time to get active — for me that’s yoga 1x a week and tennis 1x a week — and reading books before bed are my go-tos. I wish I could do more, but that’s enough and I’m accepting of it (for now).

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Community-led carbon sequestration!!! One of the only proven ways to actively impact the climate change crisis is to sequester more carbon into the ground, a process that occurs naturally but as humans over centuries we’ve stripped away the Earth’s ability to do this via commercial farming and deforestation. It would be amazing if as a community we could band together and find a way to use power in numbers and regenerate ground cove to help the soil trap carbon from the atmosphere, and reduce the impact of climate change.

We are blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

Oprah and Megan Markle

How can our readers further follow your work online?

@typeadeodorant on IG and FB

@allisonrmoss

https://www.linkedin.com/company/type-a-brands/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/allison-moss-23b9002/

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!


Allison Moss of Type:A Brands Five Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Startup was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Female Founders: Alexa Carlin of Women Empower X On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed…

Female Founders: Alexa Carlin of Women Empower X On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

Adaptability — you must be able to adapt to the things you cannot control in order to continue pursuing your purpose. (the reason I wrote Adaptable, it’s imperative to success!)

As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Alexa Carlin.

Alexa Carlin is an in-demand public speaker, author of Adaptable, TV personality, and founder & CEO of Women Empower X (WEX), the premier community for women entrepreneurs. Alexa uses her infectious energy and courageous spirit to empower women to turn their obstacles into opportunities and pursue their dreams.

Genuine by nature, caring at heart, and always inspirational, Alexa’s vulnerability allows her to authentically connect with diverse women around the world, helping them understand the true potential they hold. Her company, Women Empower X, helps women entrepreneurs grow their businesses and brands through WEX’s cutting edge courses, events, and publishing division, WEX Press.

Alexa Carlin has worked with Fortune Global 500 brands to create captivating and relatable content and has been featured on the Oprah Winfrey Network, Cheddar TV, FOX, ABC, CBS, TEDx and in Entrepreneur, Glamour Magazine, and Forbes among others. From a one percent chance to live, to now on a mission to make a difference in one person’s life a day, Alexa is creating ripple effects of change for women everywhere. Alexa resides in Raleigh, NC.

For more information on Alexa Carlin, click here.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

Since I can remember it has been my mission to make a difference in at least one person’s life a day. I started my first business when I was just 17 years old, designing jewelry under my own label for an L.A. based fashion company backed by Jennifer Anniston and Courtney Cox. I worked with them to use fashion as a way to raise money to build schools in Africa, using education as a vehicle to make villages self-sustainable. From there, I started a blog in college called Hello Perfect focused on instilling confidence in girls and young women. Through this blog I started to learn more about social media and really using your authentic voice to grow your brand. I was able to get a number of successful celebrities to join in on our movement to instill confidence such as Mark Cuban, Shaq, Rebecca Minkoff, Steve Madden, and Marc Jacobs among others. I was growing this blog in college and excited to continue expanding after I graduated, yet a few months before college graduation, I contracted a deadly bacteria that got into my bloodstream and sent my body into septic shock. At 21 years old I was induced into a medical coma given a 1% chance to live. This changed my life forever as shortly after I survived sepsis, I was diagnosed with a debilitating autoimmune disease. It has been through these struggles that I found the opportunity through the obstacle to share my story as a public speaker, author and founded my current venture, Women Empower X. These experiences also led me to a publishing deal to share the hard lessons learned in my new book, Adaptable.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

It’s always been my dream to be a published author. Since I was 10 years old I’ve been writing in my journals about my experiences so after my near-death experience, I thought this would be the thing that led me to landing a publishing deal. I wrote 30,000 words in a google doc and it’s never been read by anyone. I pitched countless agents and publishers and no one gave me the time of day. I was spreading myself too thin between my different goals and ventures so I gave up on the book and shifted my focus solely to Women Empower X. I still had the belief that I would one day be an author, but I decided to stop putting so much pressure on the book and myself and trust the journey. February 29, 2020, we hosted our first conference in Los Angeles attracting 2,500+ women. This was also our last conference since the pandemic. Crazy enough, a publisher attended that event, saw me speak and witnessed the community I had built and a few months later while in quarantine during the pandemic, I got signed for an incredible publishing deal with them to write my book, Adaptable! It’s interesting how timely it was as I now had the time, due to COVID and not hosting events or traveling for speaking, to actually write my book and the stories are so needed right now with the challenges everyone is experiencing, learning to adapt to this new world. Definitely goes to show you to always believe in yourself but at some point, you have to stop resisting what is, and let what’s meant to flow in! Trust the journey, it always leads you to where you are meant to be.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When I was just starting Women Empower X, I got invited to attend industry events where they’d fly me out to a beautiful hotel or resort and I’d meet with 30–50 suppliers in the hospitality industry in order to lock in my next event destination, venue, and vendors. I’ll never forget my first event in Arizona where I didn’t know anything about the event industry or really what I was doing. I had just hosted our first conference in South Florida which attracted 1,500+ women but I was still so new and learning as I went. When I sat down to meet with each supplier, they all asked me for my RFP (request for proposal). I had no clue what an RFP stood for! It’s now funny looking back on this story and where I started, but it was definitely embarrassing at the moment. The lesson I learned from this… do more research! While you won’t know everything until you take action and learn through that action, it is important to understand the ins and outs of your industry or the people you are working to do business with. Due to the fact I didn’t have an RFP as I didn’t even know what it was, suppliers didn’t take me as seriously and I left that event without any deals made. I for sure learned from there and since then, you bet suppliers take me seriously now!

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My mom and dad. Hands down my biggest supporters, cheerleaders, and mentors. My mom was the one who saved my life when my body was going into septic shock. She happened to be visiting me in college that weekend and I can honestly say, if it wasn’t for her I would not be here today. She taught me to believe in myself and always instilled confidence in me saying, if she can give me anything it would be the gift of confidence. She knew early on that was imperative to my success. And my dad, he’s the entrepreneur of the family and taught me about perseverance and optimism. Early on in my entrepreneurial journey he took me on a business trip to China for me to see the behind the scenes of what he does in his sporting goods business. It was eye-opening to see all the work that goes into producing products and running his business. It really inspired me to dream big, know there’s so many opportunities out there, and work hard to make it happen!

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience what is currently holding back women from founding companies?

There’s so many factors that go into why this statistic is still so low, but I think it’s two different problems we are looking at. The statistics on funded companies by women founders being so low comes from the big issue we are still seeing where the majority of venture capital funds are going to men. There’s a number of reasons for this but in my opinion I believe the two biggest factors are unconscious bias and the confidence gap. I believe confidence is one of the biggest factors to success and I see lack of confidence stop women from pursuing a business and limit the amount of money asked for in a venture capital meeting. Men are notorious for asking for more money than women because they believe they only need to check off 60% of the requirements versus women feeling they need to check off 100% in order to be deemed worthy.

Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government, to help overcome those obstacles?

Unconscious bias is tricky, because people don’t realize they are necessarily favoring someone else over another person due to past preconceived notions. But I do think what can help this, as well as help raise the statistics of the number of female-founded companies, is elevating more women’s voices. That’s what we are working to change at Women Empower X, elevating successful women’s stories and voices so other women (and men) can see what’s possible for them as well. As a society, we also need to work on instilling confidence in young girls and women. We need to teach women how to effectively communicate their needs and see their full value.

One other point I want to mention that I believe can be done to help lower this statistic, is ensuring the same questions are asked to both men and women when they are pitching their company for funding. A study was done by the Harvard Business Review that shows how men are asked about the potential for gains and women are asked about the potential for losses. This bias questioning can have substantial funding consequences for startups.

https://hbr.org/2017/06/male-and-female-entrepreneurs-get-asked-different-questions-by-vcs-and-it-affects-how-much-funding-they-get

This might be intuitive to you as a woman founder but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?

If you have a dream to start a business, that dream is there for a reason. And I believe you should not ignore it. The main reason I think women should become founders, if they feel called to it, is the freedom and ownership it provides you. Being able to own your potential for wealth creation and own your time, being able to do what you want, with who you want, wherever you want, is an incredible and empowering thing. It gives you the confidence to be yourself in front of others and inspire other women and young girls to chase after their dreams.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder? Can you explain what you mean?

You have to start young to be a successful founder is the biggest lie ever told. I’ve seen it firsthand, how age does not have to be a factor when it comes to entrepreneurship. Inside our WEX Nation Membership we have members who are in their upper 60’s and 70’s who have reinvented themselves and started their business way later in life. We also have members who are in their early twenties. This myth of age correlated to success is only a real thing if the individual makes it so.

Is everyone cut out to be a founder? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder and what type of person should perhaps seek a “regular job” as an employee? Can you explain what you mean?

I don’t think everyone is cut out to be a founder and if you asked me that a few years ago my answer probably would be different. The reason I’ve changed my thoughts on this is from learning a different perspective from my fiance. He has a great corporate job at a tech company and an MBA. Anytime early on in our relationship where I mentioned him starting his own thing in the tech world, he’d share why he isn’t cut out for it. It’s not that he can’t do it, but some people have a different personality. For example, he has to know when his next paycheck is coming and likes to have everything planned out. When you’re starting a company you may go months even years not knowing when you can pay yourself. You also need to be able to make quick decisions and be confident in them even when you haven’t had too much time to research every aspect around that decision. Some personalities aren’t made out to do this and need to research everything before moving forward on something but in the startup world, you have to be able to pivot, adapt and make decisions quickly in order to stay ahead. That’s not a bad thing though because founders need people that can be more analytical and slower, that’s why it’s so important as a founder to find people who are strong in areas you aren’t. So whether you are cut out to be a ‘founder’ or not, the title is less important than your ability to be part of a startup team to help it scale and grow.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your opinion and experience, what are the “Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder?” (Please share a story or example for each.)

1. Confidence — this is a skill I had to learn in order to get to where I am today.

2. Decisiveness — you must be able to make a decision and be confident in that decision in order to achieve anything as a founder.

3. Empathy — I believe it is the empathetic leaders who will be the ones who change the world.

4. Belief — No matter how many people tell you no or that it won’t work, you must have unwavering belief in yourself and your ideas.

5. Adaptability — you must be able to adapt to the things you cannot control in order to continue pursuing your purpose. (the reason I wrote Adaptable, it’s imperative to success!)

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

We connect diverse women from all walks of life, different ages, backgrounds and industries, to empower them to connect and collaborate. This alone has helped thousands of women find the confidence in themselves to pursue their dreams, register their business, start their podcast, etc. Through empowering one woman at a time, we have created a ripple effect of change because when you see one woman finding success pursuing their dreams, they inspire another woman to do the same. The success stories we continue to hear and the transformation our members have from being part of WEX is the reason I continue doing this work.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I’d start a movement called “It Only Takes One”. That’s been my motto for years because I believe that you are just one step, one person, one decision away from changing your entire life for the better. This movement would instill insatiable curiosity in individuals around the world through storytelling sharing how when they were just about to give up, they were curious to try one more thing, and that one thing led them to achieving something far greater than they could ever imagine, I was on the brink of giving up while struggling with my autoimmune disease but it was curiosity that led me to keep waking up day after day, keep showing up on social media, and continue on for one more day because I was curious to what may happen if I just try one more time. That helped me not give up on myself nor my dreams and still today this “it only takes one” movement has changed my life.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

Oprah Winfrey so I can share my book Adaptable with her as I truly believe it is one she would find of value and it would be amazing to hear her thoughts and wisdom on the topics shared within the book.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.


Female Founders: Alexa Carlin of Women Empower X On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Female Founders: Noella Callejo of MOEĀ On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a…

Female Founders: Noella Callejo of MOEĀ On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

Stay teachable. Invest in mentorship and learning. — One of the best decisions I made was to invest in mentorship and one-on-one consultation from those with industry experience. You can learn from trial and error or you can pay for the wisdom from those who have already navigated the same challenges. Always stay open to learning and if youʻre able to find mentors in your specific industry, really consider making that investment. I paid from my personal checking account for a mentorship course with an expert in wholesale strategies, it was worth every penny.

As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Noella Callejo.

Noella Callejo co-founded beauty brand, MOEĀ, modern botanical skincare inspired by authentic Hawaii living. She combined years of experience in the healthcare sales industry and love of natural beauty products with her best friend’s work as a master hula teacher and Hawaiian cultural practitioner. Since launching sales of MOEĀ in July 2020, the brand has been tapped by Target to be featured at all Hawaii regional stores and also launched international distribution in Japan.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

I paid for most of my college degree through pageants since I was a teen. At 16, I won the national title as Miss American Teen while representing my home state of Hawaii. It was then I discovered this passion for telling the story of where I’m from on a broader platform and recognized the unique allure of Hawaii for people around the world. My professional background has been in public relations and healthcare sales. In 2019, I decided to channel my passions and creative energies into a Hawaii inspired beauty brand, MOEĀ, with my best friend.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

I entered a local business plan competition that included an 8-minute pitch to panelists, I never even made it to the top 5 finalists but I was really grateful for the experience. A couple weeks later I sent out the exact same business plan and brand deck to a Target accelerator program. I didn’t get in the program, but a senior executive from Target reached out and said they were particularly struck by the story and intention of our brand to share culture. They asked if I’d be interested in sharing my brand info with their regional buyers. That was the start of getting our products onto Target shelves.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When our facial mist finished products arrived, product spilled everywhere during shipping. We also didn’t feel like it was spraying as a mist, the sprayers were spitting out product. I had a massive falling out with my business partner as we had a very emotional reaction to our losses and different ideas on how to remedy the situation. I ended up using money I saved for my wedding to correct the issues and deliver on my vision. I learned to give myself the permission to fail up from an experience and that being a founder of a small business is like having another mouth to feed at times, with unexpected expenses at every turn.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I have so many people I have to be grateful for, but I’m grateful for my kids. My second son is 12 years old and was helping me pack boxes last holiday season. He was a bit upset that he saw me working many late nights on a business plan and still didn’t win the competition I entered. He got real quiet while packing packing orders with me, stopped and said, “Mom, are you sad you didn’t win?” I knew immediately it was a teaching moment, looked him in the eye and said “No, I’m not upset because every experience in life — winning or losing — is important in preparing us for the next great thing.” Not long after that Target reached out. I’m grateful to be a woman founder that hasn’t had to choose between career and family because my children are learning from my example about work ethic and entrepreneur mindset as they work in the trenches with me.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience what is currently holding back women from founding companies?

I’m sure that’s a multi-faceted answer, but I just brought up my children. This makes me think that a lot of women could have family obligations that traditionally they feel more tethered to — whether that’s children or aging parents. Women may have a harder time giving themselves the permission to work on the “big pie in the sky” vision they’ve been daydreaming about for a while if it conflicts with time, energy or resources that could be dedicated to loved ones. It’s also apparent that most venture capital funding still goes to brands founded by men so that’s discouraging when you think about the resources that are available to launch.

Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government, to help overcome those obstacles?

I’m beginning to see recognition of the fact that we as a society need to allocate the space to support women owned, women founded companies. One of the largest beauty retailers in the USA realized that most beauty brands are still mainly founded by males and are now making more resources, mentorships, and retail shelf space available specifically for women-owned companies. Imagine if every industry did that!

This might be intuitive to you as a woman founder but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?

The world is hungry to see more women following their passions, even if it involves serious stakes and challenging the norms. If 83% of consumption and spending in the U.S. is driven by women, there’s an increased need for more companies to think like a woman and show product innovation led by women. The next generation also needs to see more women in leadership, period.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder? Can you explain what you mean?

You don’t have to be a full-time founder from day one when you start your company. I didn’t just wake up one morning with money that magically fell from the sky to launch a business full-time. I am building a brand in the same way that I’d be pursuing a part-time MBA, juggling my full-time job and family life and just making it happen. Instead of paying money for tuition on business in theory, I invested in my own vision for a business and see everything as the cost of tuition to learn valuable lessons. Will it take more time? A hundred percent, yes.

Is everyone cut out to be a founder? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder and what type of person should perhaps seek a “regular job” as an employee? Can you explain what you mean?

No, definitely not. Some people like the routine and predictability of knowing you can count on a paycheck and can punch out at 5:00 pm. I haven’t drawn a dime from brand sales of MOEA and don’t plan to anytime soon. Everyone else comes before me in getting compensated for their efforts — formulists, production staff, graphic artists, social media specialists, etc. If you are in a position where your needs and interests have to come before everyone else, I don’t think entrepreneurship is your bag. Just my opinion!

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your opinion and experience, what are the “Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder?” (Please share a story or example for each.)

1. Embrace the Noʻs

My work in the healthcare sales industry has taught me to accept rejection as part of the process in building a business. If I attached my self-esteem and the value of my brand to every “no,” my partner and I would have completely missed the distribution opportunities we currently have. People are keen to ask how we got on the regional stores of Target, but no one ever asks about the 45–50 other retailers I pitched in a pandemic and got “no” from. Michael Jordan said he missed more than 9,000 shots in his career. He said “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” I started out the brand committing to be unafraid of playing small and taking rejection gracefully for five years before quitting. So far a year after launching sales, we’re in Target and sold internationally. We’re grateful where things are right now.

2. Just start. Itʻs never the right time.

We planned to launch in April of 2020 at a festival that is the equivalent of the Olympics for hula competitions. The entire state of Hawaii shutdown to travelers right before we launched and has the longest ongoing travel restrictions in the country. Spas were down and small business retail was struggling to stay open, not taking on new brands and new inventory. 2020 was the worst time to launch anything. But even in the midst of that we managed to get noticed by a major retailer and the Japan government approved our products and ingredients for distribution. Things may not have moved as quickly as we liked, but I’m glad MOEĀ launched when it did.

3. Stay teachable. Invest in mentorship and learning.

One of the best decisions I made was to invest in mentorship and one-on-one consultation from those with industry experience. You can learn from trial and error or you can pay for the wisdom from those who have already navigated the same challenges. Always stay open to learning and if youʻre able to find mentors in your specific industry, really consider making that investment. I paid from my personal checking account for a mentorship course with an expert in wholesale strategies, it was worth every penny.

4. Giving invites abundance

Founders will feel a greater sense of purpose in their success if giving back is embedded into the culture of their companies. We also see a consumer trend to support businesses that demonstrate a social consciousness. A percentage of all MOEĀ online sales are donated to non-profits supporting perpetuation of the Native Hawaiian tradition of hula.

5. Get clear on a personal definition of “thriving”

If you want to avoid burnout and actually enjoy the success you already have (no matter how small or big those wins may be), actively engage in the process of defining with crystal clear clarity what success means to you personally. One of the best books I bought was The Desire Map by Danielle Laporte. I also enjoyed The Parable of the Mexican Fisherman and the Bankers from The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss. In ramping up production for the opportunities weʻve had this year, I made a really hard decision to pause direct-to-consumer sales temporarily. The increased demands that come with great opportunities were leading me into overwhelm and I found myself needing to be more fully present in other areas of my life. I had to consider what the point is in being a founder of any company if you’re not able to address when success is counterproductive for your health. We’ve had customers messaging us and we direct them to our retail partners, obviously thereʻs the cost of lost opportunities and we are turning away revenue. Thriving isn’t a dollar amount and if you don’t take the time to get clear on what it means to you, you may never truly enjoy success.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

Before I even started the beauty brand MOEĀ, I was on the board of directors for a non-profit awarding scholarships to women returning to higher education as non-traditional students. It’s called The Rise Project which stands for Resilience in Self-development and Education (theriseprojecthawaii.com). The organization also hosts free women’s workshops that promote personal development and thriving. I see purpose in my personal success and have built that into the fabric of the company I co-founded.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

There is a huge disparity between the number of beauty brands in national distribution using the words “Hawaiian” or “Hawaii” in marketing and the number of brands actually led by Pacific Islanders. Hawaii has the highest “diversity index” and yet there’s a glaring lack of founders of color and lack of representation for the traditions of its indigenous people in global beauty.

The world has not even scratched the surface in exploring Hawaii’s elements and traditions as keys to vitality and beauty. I would love if Sephora or Ulta hosted a global beauty brunch and invited me to sit with founders from different cultures around the world, sharing their insights and take on trends to direct the next wave of beauty. That would be next level amazing.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.


Female Founders: Noella Callejo of MOEĀ On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.