Happy International Women’s Day! Today (and everyday!), Green Story is proud to celebrate our strong, hardworking, resilient female entrepreneurs that have been trailblazers in the sustainable fashion space. We’re grateful to have played a role in their journeys to inspiring consumers globally to make greener choices.
Today, women stand stronger than ever before in terms of launching and leading businesses. According to a 2016/17 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor report, there are 111 million women worldwide owning their own businesses. It is estimated that women are 5% more likely to start an innovative business venture than men and currently, the United States is the global leader in most favorable conditions for female entrepreneurs to flourish (GEM Report, 2017). In the US alone, women-led businesses employ 9 billion people and generate more than $1.7 trillion in revenue. So incredible!
While there is lots to celebrate, there is still more work to be work to be done. Men are more likely to have access to funding sources than women, making it less likely for female entrepreneurs to receive funding altogether. This makes it difficult to hire employees, find an office space, and cultivate a company culture. Female entrepreneurs are also less likely to have support networks to fall back on for advice and connections.
Luckily, we have been able to sit down with some of our female entrepreneurs and ask them for advice that they would give to their fellow women in business:
Focus on your product. It’s really easy to get carried away with an idea or business and not spend time focusing on nailing the actual product itself. How is your product different? How is your brand different? Has your product been designed with integrity, made to last? At the end of the day, all the best marketing in the world can’t save a brand that doesn’t have a good product. So I would suggest really spending time researching, designing and perfecting your product.
Write your story. Customers love a good story; it’s what makes them feel connected to a brand or a message. Spend time crafting an authentic story; what inspired the brand, where does your inspiration come from, how are you different, what impact do you hope to have? Create a story that people can relate to and they will champion your brand for you.
Remember your values. These will be different for every brand and individual, but I think it’s important to know what you do and don’t stand for, and to hold fast to this. Whether that’s environmental or ethical values, the way you communicate with your audience, the way you design; authenticity and consistency always shines through and creates a strong community.
Trust yourself. Don’t let the small things to get you because starting a new brand in the fashion industry is not easy at all.
Learn something new. The more you can do by yourself, the more you can save for other things. As a small business owner I had to learn how to use my camera to create high-quality content, to use Photoshop to touch up images, learn everything about bookkeeping, learn how to file my quarterly taxes, research the best available fabrics, trims, supplies to remain sustainable and the list goes on.
Network! Every connection you make in this industry will help you and you never know when you could use some extra help as well!
Find your purpose. For me, my sweet spot has been for my purpose and what I’m doing for work to be intricately connected. And I love being able to rest in the fact that I’m doing something that’s helping environmentally.
Build a community. We’re not looking to just build up factories and factories of employees, we’re looking to co-create with them about what they want to do. Our model is to always ask is this fair and equitable? Everyone involved has to feel like there’s dignity in these relationships.
Educate your customers. To be able to have Green Story come in and do the analysis is for us a great confidence building because the numbers don’t lie. By following the numbers, we can set milestones for ourselves and have information to compare ourselves to. We can actually see our progress and impact. And we can share the information with our customers, so it’s not just us sharing the warm fuzzy feeling in our souls but real, verified numbers. Ultimately, I think we’re showing our customers how to shop differently and what to look for.