My whole life I have looked up to women.
In my grade 8 yearbook, while everyone else listed aspirations of being an actress or athlete or singer, I shared that I wanted to be a ‘businesswoman’ (vague in my dreams, I know, but hey, the intention was there). In university, I chose my career path based entirely on wanting to be just like Cathie Black (the publisher of Hearst Magazines) and I’ve been fortunate to have incredible female mentors in every field I’ve been in.
And through years of interviewing women entrepreneurs for This Renegade Love, I’ve had the amazing opportunity to hear firsthand how they built their businesses and absorb some of the lessons they’ve learned along the way.
Keep reading for nine of the most important career lessons I’ve learned from women in biz since launching This Renegade Love.
Turn Your Failures Into Positives
“Failures and accidents come all the time – I’d say I spent half my twenties failing at everything. I mean, the blog itself started as a failure because I couldn’t get to where I wanted to be as an illustrator, so I launched a blog to share my sketches with someone – anyone! I was alone and lost and didn’t have money. The only thing is to recognize that when failures happen, it’s what you do with them that can turn your life around positively.”
–Garance Dore, OG style blogger, Atelier Dore
Learn From Those Who Came Before You
“Talk to as many people who will talk to you and soak in as much as you can. Ask questions – even if you feel stupid – and just admit when you don’t know something. When we started, we reached out to a handful of women who have their own boutiques in the city and they were happy to share their knowledge. People are much more inclined to help you than you would think, because they’ve been there themselves and know how difficult it can be on your own.”
-Ashley Holden + Amy Pearson, lingerie store owners, Stole My Heart
Get Outside of Your Head
“Make a lot of mistakes, and don’t beat yourself up about it. Don’t let the negative thoughts keep you down. Get outside of your head and look at the bigger picture. Be present, deal with what’s going on today. You’re doing this for a reason and you just need to be patient.”
-Stephanie Ibbitson, owner, Sonya Lee
Build a Strong Support System
“You need to know that it won’t be easy and the struggle will be very real, but you can’t get down on yourself. Build a support system whether it’s your family, friends or business partners. Surround yourself with positive people who you can lean on for support and who will give you honest feedback when you need it. And never be afraid to ask for help.”
–Hana James, co-founder, Greenhouse Juice
Just Get Started
“Just start! It’s such a simple mentality, but is so hard to do because we tend to get overwhelmed. Just start, in any capacity, and instead of attempting to scale the whole staircase, try taking the first step. If you have to write out your whole business plan, do it, but then break it down into little chunks so it’s more manageable. Any business that has succeeded has done so because someone wasn’t afraid to just start.”
–Alyssa Bertram, ethical subscription-box founder, easy period
Don’t Ignore Your Mental Health
“The process of reflection and writing things down in a journal is so important when it comes to focusing on the positives. It’s really important to take care of yourself and your mental health, because being your own boss can be draining. And you won’t work at your best if YOU’RE not at your best.”
–Rachel Kelly, co-working space founder, Make Lemonade
Authenticity Always Wins
“Be your own business. So often I stumble upon someone whose design is so similar to one of my portfolio designs. If you’re going to succeed, you need to stand out on your own. Be true to yourself and your own identity. Show the world who you are – people respond to truth and authenticity.”
“It’s really about staying persistent. We didn’t get into our first retail show. The first one we applied to they were just like, “No, sorry,” because we didn’t have good photos that showcased our jewelry well. So we actually went and knocked on their door and showed everything in person. And not only did they let us in the show, but they recommended us for a feature in the local paper to promote the show. We could’ve just put our heads down and run away, but we believed in our product, which is the most important thing. You and only you can shift your destiny.”
–Suzie Chemel + Jennifer Ger, jewelry brand founders, Foxy Originals
Listen to Your Head, But Follow Your Heart
“It sounds so cliché, but just follow your heart. It knows deep down what you truly want and it just sometimes takes a bit for your mind to catch up with it. And that’s what will drive that passion, that curiosity. It’s about being able to listen to that voice inside and not being afraid. Fear is such a small word and is so crippling, but you realize that there’s not that much at stake in the grand scheme of things. So what if you fall down? You’ll have people in your life to help pick you back up and you just move on.”
–Rachelle Saevil, owner, Saevil Row