Inspirational Stories

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For this blog interview, I got to interview one of my very best friends who’s been a constant source of inspiration and support to me. We  met back in 2011 and immediately we knew we just had to be friends. More importantly, we knew that we just had to make a positive impact on the world together, and so I am also blessed to call her my business partner. Mmabatho Mokiti is an impact entrepreneur specifically focused in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM field). Thanks B, for sharing your story……

EOB: Please can you share with our readers a little bit of your personal background and  story. Where did you come from and what inspired you to be the person you are today?MM: My grandparents have had a huge influence on the person I am today. I was born in Diepkloof, Soweto (South Africa) and spent the first 9 years living with my grandparents. I lost my father when I was 5, so my grandfather was my first father figure and is the main reason I am an entrepreneur today, he was my first business mentor; even thought I didn’t know what that was at that time. He made me believe that it was possible and he never let me forget how smart I was and that it was something to be celebrated.

My grandfather was the only one of his siblings who moved from rural Mpumalanga and made a decision to educate all 8 of his children, which ensured that their children would then also get educated. My grandmother on the other hand did not get a chance to go to school and yet placed great importance and value on education. My grandparents have been a true testament to what education can do for a family and the life long wealth it creates. My mom is also a great inspiration in my life, she too did not get to finish high school, but she made sure that we went to the best schools and I’ll always be grateful to her for that. Growing up my mom never let me forget how great I can be and that anything that I put my mind to in life I could achieve, all my mom’s ever wanted for myself and my big brother was to get an education, be independent and live out our dreams. 

EOB: How and when did you discover your purpose?

MM: That was really God just leading me in the right direction. When I was 18 I got a part time job whilst at university as a Mathematics tutor at a tutoring company and I just fell in love with teaching. I loved interacting with teenagers and seeing their reactions after they started doing well and how they gained confidence. I knew right then and there that I wanted to give the gift of education to someone.  I started looking into ways in which I could live out my purpose as a teacher, whilst still getting into business. Finding your purpose is truly God given because once it reveals itself to you, God will do all in His power to reveal some snippets to you, until one day you look back and think, that was God revealing my purpose to me. I firmly believe that my purpose was revealed to me way earlier then I can remember , but I just didn’t know it until I started tutoring, as a child I was always the teacher teaching my cousins when we played school, I remember even helping my little cousins out with their homework when we were younger. 

EOB: What is your purpose and key passions in life?

MM: I’m a teacher to the core of my being, I love education and empowering others through education. I will grab onto any opportunity to teach someone and leave them feeling like a better version of themselves. 

EOB: How does one start embracing a life that is more intentional and driven from the inside out?

MM: I only started living an intentional life in my late twenties. When I was 26 I went through a life changing breakup and this forced me to take a step back at my life and re-evaluate everything; from the friends I had, to my career, my goals, the kind of relationships I wanted to engage in,  the space I wanted to create and the places I wanted to go to. I would say before one can start embracing a life that is more intentional they firstly need to come to terms with the fact that things are going to change in their lives and they are going to loose some people who don’t believe in this “new person”, but it will all be for a good reason.  Living an intentional life also means that you have to fall in love with your life, loving yourself is very important, fall in love with yourself, every bit of your life and the bits that you don’t love is an indication of what you need to change. Be aware of the people you let into your life, the energy they bring in cause when you love yourself, you don’t allow anyone to mess with your energy and space.

EOB: What past experiences and people have helped shape who you are today?

MM: As mentioned above my break up in my twenties was the wake up call I needed to start living my life wholeheartedly for myself and with no regards to others opinions. My friends and the people I’ve let into my life have also played a big role, I intentionally allow people in my life who share similar values to me and are invested in their personal growth, as much as I am invested in mine. It’s through my friends that a lot of my growing has happened and they have allowed me and sometimes pushed me to dig deep into the person I really am. I’ve had the wonderful opportunity of seeing two life coaches in my life and they have helped to face my deepest and darkest side in order to become  a better person.

EOB: What are your top three habits that contribute to your success?

MM: Prayer, tithing and always believing and knowing that I deserve the best because I’m the best. 

EOB: Have you ever felt down and out in life and how did you get back up and get your inspiration and motivation back?

MM: Yes, of course. At the very beginning of my business career there was a point where I was making no money at all and it’s times like that that I kept my eye on my vision and why I wanted to go into business in the first place. I’ve always been a great believer in writing out my goals and putting them up, so every time I was down and out, I would look at my goals on my wall and it would be a great reminder that my current situation was only temporary and that greater things awaited me. My favourite Bible scripture that has also gotten me through some tough times. Matthew 19:26; “With God all things are possible”. This always reassures me that God did not create me to fail, but to be great and extraordinary in His own way. Now I know and understand that every hurdle I go through is a lesson that life and the universe is trying to teach me, so I need to just pause and ask myself “what is this suppose to teach me?'

EOB: Please can you recommend three books or podcast episodes that was a gamechanger for you?

  1. Return to Love - Marianne Williamson
  2. Purpose Driven Life - Rick Warren
  3. A New Earth - Eckart Tolle
  4. All the podcast where Oprah is in conversation with Iyanla Vanzant

EOB: If you could describe yourself in one word, what would that be?

MM: God-driven 

EOB: What’s your one piece of wisdom that you would like to share with the world?

MM: Never dim your light for anyone, God did not create us to be mediocre  or ordinary, He created us to be extraordinary, unique and shine brighter each day like a flame that never goes out, but only gets brighter. My second favourite verse Matthew 5:15-16 says; “Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they put it on top of a lamp stand and it shines on all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before people, so they can see the good things you do and praise your Father who is in heaven”.  I once heard a saying that has stuck with me for many years, it said; “ A candle doesn’t loose it’s shine by lighting another candle”, which in essence is as we shine, let us help others shine and help them to find their purpose and live a purpose driven life. 

~ Ezlyn Olivia Barends ~

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LeAnne Dlamini is a singer, speaker, entrepreneur AND influencer all whilst being a wife and mother of two BEAUTIFUL daughters. I've had the pleasure of working and collaborating with LeAnne and have been drawn to her driven, humble heart and so I've been compelled to tap more into her journey and life experiences that shaped her to becoming the powerful role model that she is today. Thank you LeAnne.
 
EOB: Please share a little bit of your personal background and story. Where did you come from and what inspired you to be the person you are today?
LD: I was born and raised in Eldorado Park, Johannesburg where I spent the earlier part of my childhood until my parents moved us to Randburg shortly after I started high school. I've always been a very creative person and studied music at The National School Of The Arts before I started doing music professionally as a backing vocalist.
 
My parents raised my brother and I in a very loving, hardworking home where God was our foundation and I know that that's what influenced my faith. My dad was an entrepreneur who ran his own office furniture removals and installation company and I think seeing him is what inspired me to become an entrepreneur too. Both my parents were very instrumental in the development of LeAnne.
 
EOB: How and when did you discover your purpose?
LD: I think I've been really blessed. I knew very early on in my childhood that I was given a gift to sing so I did that since I was a child, but my love and heart for women and children led me to my passion project which I now fully see as my purpose, End Girl Hate (EGH). EGH was born almost 4 years ago.
 
EOB: What is your purpose and key passions in life?
LD: My purpose is to use the platform which I've been given through music and social media to inspire and empower women and girls. What started on social media simply grew into a movement where I host events, masterclasses and talks that help women grow and network. EGH has evolved into a movement that really pushes self development and empowerment. My passion is to unite women and see them grow. Seeing a woman live the life she was meant to live inspires and drives me.
 
EOB: How does one start embracing a life that is more intentional and driven from the inside out?
LD: It all starts in the mind. Firstly you need to want to change and mentally shift your thinking to being intentional. Knowing what you want is very instrumental. The day I decided how I wanted to live my life and outlined the things I wanted to do, I actively started working towards it. Knowing my purpose is what drives me.
 
EOB: What past experiences and people have helped shape who you are today?
LD: My parents have been very instrumental in shaping who LeAnne is. My mom from a strength and spiritual side and my dad from a business side. Watching them daily molded me. My husband has also been very instrumental in shaping the woman I am today. His work ethic is insane. The hardest working man I know for sure and living with someone like that, has definitely influenced my life, but I think more than that, just the way he believes in me, blows me away. Often more than I believe in myself. My daughters have also definitely influenced my life. They've made me a more patient and tolerable woman and my drive to be successful definitely comes from my daughters. I want them to look at me one day and say, " If mommy can do it, I can do it! "
EOB: What are your top three habits that contribute to your success?
LD:
- Resilience
- Fearlessness
- Drive
 
These 3 habits get me through everyday. There are days when I just feel like giving up, but these 3 things have helped me push on.
 
EOB: Have you ever felt down and out in life and how did you get back up and get your inspiration and motivation back?
LD: Absolutely! And it happens more often than people think. I think the game changer for me was understanding that my purpose was bigger than me, I was no longer just living for myself. There are hundreds and now thousands of women who look to me and EGH for inspiration and knowing that I could make a difference in just 1 girl or 1 woman's life is what's helped me to keep going. Life for me is about serving others.
 
EOB: Please can you recommend three books or podcast episodes that were gamechangers for you?
LD:
Soar by TD Jakes
Becoming by Michelle Obama
Everyday A Friday by Joel Osteen
 
EOB: If you could describe yourself in one word, what would that be?
LD: Brave. And Blessed :)
Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that I'd be living this life , running a movement so amazing, but because I was brave enough to step out of my comfort zone and be obedient to the voice of God I'm now able to do what I do.
 
EOB: What’s your one piece of wisdom that you would like to share with the world?
LD: If you can't figure out your purpose, figure out your passion.
For your passion will lead you right to your purpose.
 
~ By Ezlyn Olivia Barends ~
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I recently had the honour of tapping into my very good friend and business partner's head, heart and mind as she shared her journey to living a purpose-filled life. Marise Mackay is a Group Product Manager at L'Oreal Paris South Africa as well as a fellow founding director of the DreamGirls Academy AND certified yoga teacher :). Marise is pure Peace, Love & Fire. Here's what she had to share;
 
EOB: Please can you share with our readers a little bit of your personal background and story. Where did you come from and what inspired you to be the person you are today?
MM: Born into a rather large and close-knit family as the youngest of 7, I grew up in the predominantly Coloured community of Eldorado Park, south of Johannesburg. I attended ‘Our Lady of Mercy’ Primary School, also known as Mayfair Convent, followed by 5 years of schooling in the north of Johannesburg where I attended Parktown High School for Girls’. When my dad passed away in my final year of high school, my mum and I agreed that I should take a gap year to work abroad after Matric, granted financial constraints of studying further. After spending 2 years in the United States in the state of New Jersey as an au pair, I returned to South Africa to pursue my tertiary education. I attended the AAA School of Advertising, with much thanks to bursary funding, and after graduating cum laude, I took on the role of Junior Strategic Planner at a global advertising agency, Publicis. Inspired by a desire to build “love” brands with purpose and support women in their journey toward self-love, I entered the Beauty Industry as a “pepiniere” for leading global beauty brand, L’Oreal. Prior to my current role as Marketing Manager on L’Oreal Paris, I worked on various brands and categories across the L’Oreal organisation in South Africa.
 
 
EOB: How and when did you discover your purpose?
MM: It was through my exposure to two completely different worlds; that being the township community of Eldorado Park, and its contrast to the northern suburbs of Parktown, that the seeds of purpose began to bud. As soon as I returned back from the United States, I became involved in youth leadership in Eldorado Park. Often challenged by insults as having a “silver-spoon upbringing”, my desire to expose teenage girls from my community to life beyond the township was far greater than the challenges that came with it. I was conflicted by the number of girls who felt trapped by their circumstances, and even more so, by the number of girls settling for mediocrity from disillusionment, fear and insecurity. During my time at Publicis, I met a free-spirited, polished and ambitious Ezlyn Barends who came to know about my involvement in youth leadership and my desire to bring about change in the lives of girls from my community. When Ezlyn invited me to start DreamGirls Academy with herself and other like-minded women, almost 8 years ago, I initially saw it as an opportunity to “pay it forward”. It has since become my second home; the greatest synchronicity to my purpose.
 
 
EOB: What is your purpose and key passions in life?
MM: First and foremost, I believe that my purpose is to be a source of love and motivation in every area of my life; as a yoga teacher who holds space for others to feel safe in their practice; as a colleague; a manager; as a sister; a friend; a lover…as a mentor; whatever hat I’m wearing. I believe that love is the driving force behind purpose. Until you believe you’re capable of achieving greatness and being a light for others; which for many is unfathomable, your purpose will remain out of reach. This belief stems from a confidence rooted in self-love and self-awareness. It’s this love that fuels my need to make others aware of their authentic power to thrive, not merely survive. Not enough people believe in their own power. It is my purpose to leave people better than I found them, and aware of their contribution to the world. The Nigerian proverb, “One cannot sit down alone to plan for prosperity”, feeds in me a sense of commitment to support others in pursuit of their dreams. Whether their dream is to be promoted within the context of L’Oreal; to get an A+ for Mathematics; to master a pose in yoga; or to embark on a journey of Entrepreneurship.
 
EOB: How does one start embracing a life that is more intentional and driven from the inside out?
MM: I think it starts with having a vision. Many people don’t believe in the power of vision; but I think vision coupled with character is a recipe for success. It’s often vision that forces our character to catch up with our heart’s desire. Once the vision has been identified, the answer lies mostly in self-mastery. There’s power in your daily routine.
Intentionality can be further supported by someone with a vested interest in your success, who holds you accountable to your aspirations. More often than not, this person is a mentor.
And finally, I believe that intentionality becomes a default setting when you’ve identified your purpose, your reason for being. Synchronicity will find you when you’re living out your purpose; and you will find it. You will know what it feels like. You can’t be intentional when you don’t have a vision…a place you’re trying to get to.
 
EOB: What past experiences and people have helped shape who you are today?
MM: Becoming acquainted with the experience of making mistakes and failing has been my personal source of resilience, grace and gratitude. It’s really what feeds my humility and reminds me to show up in excellence and love. Women in the workplace who I have previously been led by from a place of fear, not only revealed the type of manager that I absolutely did not want to be, but also, strangely enough, shone a light on qualities that I was oblivious to as my strengths, and in turn that was viewed as a threat. I am a rare case I believe, of someone so supported by the most incredible network of people who have, and continue to see greatness in me beyond my own imagination. Synchronicity to my purpose is reinforced through my every encounter.
I come from a family that keeps me grounded; a family of workers, visionaries and self-starters. This type of exposure alone keeps me out of trouble and committed to my life’s purpose. When my dad was boarded from work after his first stroke, I remember him making our lunches every morning and preparing dinner every night while my mom worked as a designer and dressmaker. It was sitting crossed-legged on my mum’s industrial sewing machine watching her work through the night on a wedding dress or a banquet dress that I was first exposed to discipline and passion.
I’ve always been exposed to informal mentoring; but it was my first structured form of mentorship that introduced commitment, intentionality and accountability into my vision for success. My mentor Lillian and the inspiring women who serve alongside me as Founding Directors of DreamGirls Academy are the warrior women I believe who have an unspoken commitment to see me live out my purpose. It really is what I describe as an unapologetically fierce sisterhood.
 
EOB: What are your top three habits that contribute to your success?
MM: Waking up at 5am; sometimes 4:30am.
Prayer and silent meditation.
A disciplined yoga practice.
 
EOB: Have you ever felt down and out in life and how did you get back up and get your inspiration and motivation back?
MM: Absolutely! Generally if I feel I’m slipping into a slump, it’s because I haven’t remained committed to the habits mentioned above. The last time that I was however faced with a real overwhelming case of ‘down-and-out’, I met with a life coach who I continue to see on a regular basis, or as the need arises when I encounter major milestones along my journey, professionally or personally.
 
EOB: Please can you recommend three books or podcast episodes that were gamechanges for you?
MM: It’s very difficult to mention just 3;
 
Books:
· Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott
· The Leader Who Had No Title by Robin Sharma
· The Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes
· The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle
 
Podcasts:
· The GaryVee Audio Experience: “Put In The WORK!” and “The Human Pursuit of Happiness”
· Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations: “A New Earth”
 
EOB: If you could describe yourself in one word, what would that be?
MM: Layered
 
EOB: What’s your one piece of wisdom that you would like to share with the world?
MM: Know Thyself. Self- mastery is only possible with self-awareness. By having a clear understanding of yourself (and this is a lifelong journey in itself), your purpose becomes more apparent. The things that move you makes more sense; how you respond to life makes more sense; how you plan and show up makes more sense; your worth makes more sense.
 
~ By Ezlyn Olivia Barends ~
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Inline with my mission of inspiring and coaching more people to live purposeful and prosperous lives, I’m going to be sharing the stories and insights of some of the most intentional & driven people I know. Chane Fortuin is a digital marketing expert, success coach and fellow boss babe. Here’s her story:

EOB: Please, can you share with our readers a little bit of your personal background and story? Where did you come from and what inspired you to be the person you are today?

CF: I was born in Beaufort West, in the Western Cape, South Africa. My parents are divorced and I grew up in a single parent household living with my mother. I moved to Cape Town at 11 years old and completed my schooling there. With my grades, I got a partially paid scholarship to go to UCT to pursue my first degree where I graduated with a Merit in a triple major BA degree. During that year I also worked 3 part-time jobs as I was a hard worker and believed in making my own money. I also helped out around the house with food and groceries. Upon graduating, however, my mom could not afford to pay the rest of my fees so I didn't get to graduate with my classmates. We then moved to Pretoria, where I studied Honours in Journalism. During that year, I embarked on Miss South Africa (2012) where I made it to the semi-finals and was eliminated at top 16.

After graduating, I got a job at a digital agency as a social media manager- worked there for a few months then realised that I'm not suited for a 9-5 job and would rather take the skills and apply it to my own business. I then got involved in a network marketing company - and within 4 years I was a 6 figure earner. I now do marketing & sales for a wellness-based company on my own time. I do content strategy & branding on social media in my spare time. I MC/speak at events both locally & internationally helping others get success in different businesses.

I am so grateful for all the wonderful mentors in my life and career. My passion is now pouring back into others and helping them grow. Due to my humble beginnings, it’s only fair for me to inspire others with my story so that they are too encouraged to reach beyond their circumstances.

EOB: How and when did you discover your purpose?

CF: At the age of 23 when I embarked on my business journey. I realised we make a life by what we get but we make a living by what we give. It was then that I realised that in order for me to add value to others I need to work on myself and my own ambitions, to show others what is possible.

EOB: What is your purpose and key passions in life? 

CF: I am ambitious and I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment, but my number one passion & purpose is coaching/mentoring/helping others to think BIG & achieve BIG.

EOB: How does one start embracing a life that is more intentional and driven from the inside out?

CF: I believe you have to have a WHY. Without a reason of why you want to achieve what you do, you will not get up to work on your dream/vision every day.

EOB: What past experiences and people have helped shape who you are today?

CF: The environment I grew up in fuelled me. There were some tough times financially & emotionally. I saw my mother being strong & independent and not relying on a man to look after her. I then instilled that same independence on myself. I also learned when I was old enough to understand the law of influence and the law of attraction - that I can surround myself with people that have what I want- and if I learn from them I am sure to change my circumstances. I then surrounded myself with mentors & coaches; the thinking that outthought me and did/said/thought the way they did and I got the success & lifestyle that they have.

EOB: What are your top three habits that contribute to your success?

CF: Reading books, self-reflection & listening to successful people (this also includes NOT listening to the ones that don’t have the success I want).

EOB: Have you ever felt down and out in life and how did you get back up and get your inspiration and motivation back?

CF: Yes, so many times. The journey of being an entrepreneur is a lonely and hard one. We fail many times but its how one views failure that determines how you get back on track. I remind myself that I do not have to be too hard on myself, that tomorrow is another day to try again, I also pray and Thank God for the blessings I do have- gratitude is key.

EOB: Please can you recommend three books or podcast episodes that were gamechangers for you?

CF: Think & Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill , The Richest Man in Babylon- George Clason , Rich Dad, Poor Dad – Robert Kiyosaki

EOB: If you could describe yourself in one word, what would that be?

CF: Blessed

EOB: What’s your one piece of wisdom that you would like to share with the world?

CF: The two most important lessons I learned: You can become anyone or anything you want to be. Life is all about choices. And secondly, you have to consciously surround yourself with the people & influence you aspire to be like. If someone plants even a little bit of negativity, lack of growth or doubt on your life, you have to stay away from them.

~ By Ezlyn Olivia Barends ~

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Joan has been in the jewellery industry from a young age when she started working for her families jewellery company ‘ACG jewelries’, the company which her mother grew from the ground up.
 
At only 23 years of age, Joan now runs her own successful jewellery company ‘JG jewelries’ and is one of the youngest awardees of ‘Philippine’s Faces of Success’. It was Joan’s love for jewellery and most importantly having her mother as her mentor, which helped her build her own business, ''my mother guides me on the paths I take. I always follow the advice that my mum constantly gives me because she has been there and she has gone through a lot just to be at this point ’'.To learn more about this powerhouse mother and daughter duo, please read our full interview with Joan Guito below.
 
ABOUT ACG JEWELRIES
 

Can you tell us a little about the company and your mum’s journey starting and running the company?

 My mother started this business with a capital of only 8,000 PESOS.
 
Her love for jewellery started at a young age, and at that time, jewellery was not as expensive as it is now. While starting the company my mother went through a lot and faced a lot of ups and downs, but unlike many other jewellers at that time who quit, my mum never for a second thought of giving up because in this industry it is always the “survival of the fittest”. Being headstrong, resilient and streetwise is a must in this business.
 

We love the fact that the company is family owned and operated, what do you like most about working with your family?

Working with family is very challenging; it is not as easy as people think it would be. You really have to set boundaries between being a family member and a professional. You still have to work on time; I even do business transactions during my rest days and can’t even request for vacation leave. HAHA (just kidding).
 

What things about the company is your family most proud of?

Our family can assure that quality and “honesty” has always been a policy of ours. The trust that our clients have towards us is our pride.

 
 ABOUT JOAN
 
Can you please tell us a little about yourself, what motivates you, and what your ultimate goal is?
 
I am 23 years old and one of the youngest awardees of ‘Philippine’s Faces of Success’. Aside from being a businesswoman, I also do modelling.
I grew up in the jewellery industry, and I have always been exposed to business. Even when I was younger, I would help my mother process transactions and remember telling myself that ''I am going to be just like her someday''.
Being a jeweller has always been a dream of mine, and now that I am fueling my calling by opening my own jewellery business, being the most reliable is what motivates me on a daily basis.
 
My ultimate goal is to encourage youth and enlighten them about investing in gold. I want the younger generation to understand that gold is not just an “accessory” but also an investment, it’s a form of safe money which could also be used as emergency money, and it is something you can pass on generation to generation.
 

What would you say was the most valuable thing your mum has taught you, with regards to business?

My sibling and I didn’t grow up with a spoon fed/spoiled kind-of-childhood. We grew up with tough love; we grew up with the kind of mentality that if we wanted something we had to work hard for it, we had to earn it and it’s amazing how I applied it to my life now.
Because my parents moulded me into the strong person that I am today, I don’t mind working hard for what I want, and no matter what life throws at me, I can handle it, as my focus is on reaching my goals. I am resilient!
 

What do you wish to see in the next 10 years for women in the business world?

I can’t wait to see more successful, innovative, empowered business women!
 
Do you have a favourite quote which motivates you that you would like to share?
 
My favourite quote is “Fall 7 times, stand up 8”.
 
ABOUT JG JEWELRIES
 

Tell us a little about your company, including your mission and vision for it?

JG Jewelries is a jewellery line that I started last year, aside from my own physical store, I also help other people by letting them resell my items. I have a lot of sales agents, and it serves as an extra income for them as well. I love helping people out, which includes sharing my strategies for selling jewellery.
 
My company’s mission is to give people high-quality jewellery at a very reasonable price.
 

What would you say was your unique selling point?

We are true to the price and the quality of our products; we have a huge variety of jewellery depending on your budget. Name it, we have it, but if we don’t, we will customise it.
 
JOAN’S ENTREPRENEUR JOURNEY
 

What inspired you to start your own company?

Aside from my mum being a huge inspiration, I always use to wonder what it’s like to be a lady boss and could never see myself being anything else, so I pursued my dream and became one!
 

After deciding to start your company, what were the first steps that you took to kick things off?

The first steps I did to kick things off was removing my fear of failing at the things I planned on pursuing, of course, negative thoughts and self-doubt would always be there, but I needed to be in line with positivity in order to attract success. I needed to be my own backup to strengthen my decisions even more because business is gambling, there is no assurance whether you’ll win or lose, it’s either you win big or lose big. I always keep in mind that living in my comfort zone will never lift me up somewhere better; that’s why I always choose to outgrow my fears and failures.
 

One thing we like to reinforce here at Women Boss Society is that failure should not be feared and that it is part of the journey to success. Saying that, was there any memorable struggles which you faced while starting your company? If so, how did you overcome them?

There were a few struggles that I faced during the time I started my company. As I am one of the youngest jewellers and my competitors are pioneers and seniors in the industry, who have an established name and a reliable image in the market I had thoughts that people would assume that I know nothing or don’t have much knowledge about what I was selling and because of that I thought it would be difficult for me to establish my own image as a jeweller.
 
Although I had these fears, I put them aside and used that doubt to challenge myself to study jewellery and the jewellery industry even more, so when I spoke, I would only state facts. I also used that fear to practice the way I approached people and learn how to build solid connections in the market. I used all my energy to work hard and establish my name as a jeweller.
 
Now I even share my knowledge to millennials about jewellery. I encourage them to invest in gold instead of buying unnecessary things that may not have any value later on and help them buy their first gold.
I can proudly say that I have positively contributed a little too some people’s lives, and it’s amazing to see that the number of millennials buying and investing in gold is increasing.
 

Is there anything that you would do differently if you were starting up a company again? If so, what would that be?

There’s nothing I would do differently, so far.
 

You have been lucky enough to have your mother as a mentor, how important would you say it is for an entrepreneur to have a mentor while starting out?

I’m beyond lucky to have my mother as my own mentor; she guides me on the paths I take. I always follow the advice that my mum constantly gives me because she’s been there and she has gone through a lot just to be at this point. My mum has always taught me to stay grounded. I cannot thank her and my father enough for the guidance they constantly give me and for always building me up to be stronger and wiser.
 

What advice would you give an entrepreneur who was just starting out?

Study your market and work hard because success won’t come overnight. Be a student of life; you always have to be open to learning new things and learning from people. Always be headstrong and streetwise. Reward yourself. Pray.
 
Read more…

We spoke with Rachelle Henham, founder and CEO of 'West Coast Rewards' New Zealand.

One of our favorite quotes at 'Women Boss Society' is ''fall down seven times and get up 8 '' as we really believe in pushing forward no matter how hard times get, because when you do, you eventually WIN! Rachelle's story, proves that! Rachelle went  from being a solo mum to three boys who was struggling, had a failed business, depression and went bankrupt to a successful business owner.

Find our full interview with Rachelle below and see that your current situation is not your final destination.

ABOUT WEST COAST REWARDS

  • Tell us a little about your company, including your mission and vision for it? 

We help businesses attract customers and build loyalty with an adaptable marketing system. Using the West Coast Rewards platform, we promote our members and encourage people to support them. Locals can buy a Reward Card that gets them great deals all around the Coast. Our aim is to offer businesses an easy way to get found and use combined advertising opportunities and social media promotion to reach customers. West Coast Rewards is dedicated to providing members an engaged audience of people who love to buy local, we do this by creating a community which provides value and facilitates collaboration and growth. 

  • What things about your company are you most proud of? 

 The one thing that gets me every time is that West Coast Rewards makes people feel good. Our clients feel good because the system is adaptable, easy to use and gives them exposure to new customers and Reward Card holders feel good when they use their card and get rewards for supporting local business. I'm also proud of how West Coast Rewards is customer focused, it offers business owners an affordable marketing option and we're always adding to our services to provide them even more value. 

  • We love the fact that you promote local companies in the West Coast and encourage buying locally. Can you tell us a little about the benefits that companies get when joining up with you? 

Thank you! At this time especially it is my goal to let people know how important it is to buy local when they can. Some benefits our members notice are that they get new customers, they make money from selling Reward Cards and can use the card to make more sales, their customers are buying from them with the intention of using the card, they enjoy taking part in the combined advertising features, being able to add the card to their own promotions and overall, it's a great way to reward their loyal customers. As with anything, you get out what you put in - members who have the most success talk to their customers about West Coast Rewards, use the Reward Card in their own deals, promote their rewards and use our logo in print advertising.

  • If a company was looking to join up with you, what would be the best way for them to do so? 

They can go to the website, click the 'Sign Up' button and fill in the form. We will get the listing completed and approved then send out a Welcome pack with everything to get started. There is information online for anyone wanting to know more about us. www.westcoastrewards.co.nz

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ABOUT RACHELLE

  • Can you please tell us a little about yourself, what motivates you and what your ultimate goal is? 

I'm a Coast girl who grew up in Karamea and Westport. I've worked in retail since I was 13 years old and my family has been in business here for 25 years. I am passionate about local business and I love helping people but my main motivation is my family - everything I do is for them. My ultimate goal is to be able to support my family financially, give back to the community and in the future, take on staff to provide jobs for other local families.

  • What do you wish to see in the next 10 years for women in the business world?  

From my experience, women work extremely hard and to a high level often while managing many other important roles their lives. It would be great to see more women following their dreams and growing successful businesses with the support from their families, if that is what they choose to do. And it goes without saying really how the gender pay gap in business and sports is not ideal. It would be good to see this resolved as a persons' worth should be determined by their skills, value and output.

  • Do you have a favorite quote which motivates you that you would like to share? 

"If you can dream it, you can do it." is a little something I learned from Walt Disney and I reflect on this often. But something I have carried with me since I was a young girl is, "If you don't ask, you don't get." This makes absolute sense and I use this saying to build me up whenever I put myself out there and I'm afraid of the answer. It's so true that life is far too short to live knowing you could be doing something you love but you didn't have the courage to ask.

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RACHELLE'S ENTREPRENEUR JOURNEY

  • How did you come up with the idea for your company? Was it one of those light bulb moments? 

About seven years ago I was a solo mum to three boys who was struggling, had a failed business, depression and went bankrupt... That's when I truly discovered what I didn't want in life. After moving back home I really felt the sense of community here... through everything, whether good or bad. While working at my mum's shop I came up with the West Coast Rewards concept, I was driven to help engage & excite local customers and had a vision of uniting local businesses while matching them to their ideal client. For anyone who hasn't been here, the West Coast is huge and there are amazing businesses popping up everywhere in the most unexpected places. An ah-ha moment for me was while I was running our shop's Facebook page - everyone is out there, feeling the same, doing their own thing... How cool would it be to bring local businesses together so they had a strong promotional platform and the opportunity for more people to easily find them?

  • After coming up with the idea, what were the first steps that you took to kick things off?  

The first thing I did was Google: How do I write a business plan? I had no idea but I knew I had to start somewhere. With an outline done I started running ideas by my mum (who is actually my ideal client). This whole time, she he has been able to give me feedback, advice and ideas from a West Coast business owner's point of view and I am so thankful for that. Then I started talking to other key business people & members of the public and I got more positive feedback. At all times I have been adapting and changing the concept to suit the ideal outcome and the people here. Discussing the idea with Development West Coast was my next stop, they have also been very supportive and helped me get West Coast Rewards off the ground in 2015. 

  • One thing we like to reinforce here at Women Boss Society is that failure should not be feared and that it is part of the journey to success. Saying that, was there any memorable struggles which you faced while starting your company? If so, how did you overcome them?  

Yes, many! I was really putting myself "out there" so that scared me to start with, I already had a failed business so I felt I had added pressure to make this one work and when came up with the concept for my business I was a solo mum, working part time with hardly any spare time available (there were lots of late nights and early mornings!). But, I could see how West Coast Rewards could change things for so many people and I was determined to make the sacrifices needed to make it a success. I didn't want to go and work for someone else when I had the chance build something that would give me all the freedom I wanted at a later time. It was too important to just hide away and do nothing and once I started seeing how well West Coast Rewards actually works it really gave me the drive to push forward.

  • Is there anything that you would do differently if you were stating up a company again? If so what would that be? 

In an ideal world I would have had the support I absolutely needed right from the start as I have found it difficult to get advice to accurately and correctly present my business to the public. I would have also liked to have a team supporting me as it can be a lonely journey at times but I am currently working on this. A concrete marketing strategy earlier on would have been handy as with West Coast Rewards being quite a new concept it has taken a long time to build a rapport and get the results business owners want to see before they take part but it seems that with persistence we are getting there. 

  • Do you believe there is enough support in New Zealand for women starting a company in terms of mentoring programs, incubators/accelerators, start up funding etc? 

I had assistance from a couple of agencies and that has been invaluable. We do have a few options here on the Coast with Co. Starters and other programmes to help provide support and they are usually full which shows how many people are looking into starting their own business. I also received some start up funding & mentoring years ago when I lived in Nelson, I think things like this are very important to increase people's chance of success. I can't say how things are nationwide but I would hope there would be support available in every town.

  • Did you reach out for support from any kind of organisation, if so can you please list the organisation/s and how it/they helped your company?  

I reached out to Development West Coast and they provided me with practical advice & support and a micro-loan for setting up my first website. 

  • What advice would you give an entrepreneur who was just starting out? 

For longevity, build something from the heart. My best advice for anyone with a business concept - Create a solution to a problem, do in depth study into the field you're interested in to see what's working and what's not, brainstorm ideas, get lots of feedback, work out the financials making sure everything is viable and don't be afraid to make changes and adapt things to suit your customer's needs better along the way. 

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Meet Maggie Gray, Founder of ‘RAWE living’ and Co-founder of ‘Auckland Food Truck Collective’.

With ‘RAWE Living’ Maggie is helping New Zealanders adopt a healthy and conscious lifestyle.

Additionally, with ‘Auckland Food Truck Collective’ Maggie and her business partner Tim are changing the street food event scene in Auckland, with their amazing range of street food events which appeal to a wide range of food lovers.

To learn more about both companies and Maggie’s entrepreneur journey, read our interview with Maggie below.

ABOUT RAWE LIVING 

· Can you tell us a little about ‘RAWE Living’, including the mission and vision for it? 

I became a mother in 2015 and since then my perspective of food completely changed. I wouldn’t class myself as paleo, vegetarian or vegan, I simply became more conscious of how I fuel my body. This, in turn, helped me adapt to my new lifestyle of never knowing what the day or night will bring with two bubbas! 

With this new lifestyle, I found the easiest and quickest way to consume my greens and 5 a day was in a smoothie. I purchased a Nutri Ninja blender and it changed our lives forever! I just couldn’t believe how easy it was to throw together amazing nutritious foods and be left with a delicious and healthy drink. 

Soon after, I developed the concept of a mobile smoothie truck, with the aim/mission of attending parks and events serving wholesome & delicious drinks, as there was nothing quite like it at the time in Auckland. I attended some incredible events and had so much fun.

A lot has changed since I began RAWE (for the good); more people, I feel, are adopting a healthy and conscious lifestyle including adding smoothies to their daily routine. My vision was to promote healthy living with smoothies and how easy it was – I felt I achieved that but it was a lot harder to start a business than I anticipated. Long days, not always profitable, cheaper competitors and weather was a huge factor! 

Work life balance with raising children too was tricker than I thought, but what I am most proud of is actually believing in myself and doing it. You never know unless you try! 

The food truck industry has evolved so much in the last three years with so many hardworking and talented people getting involved. It’s a diverse group of people from all over the world who have come together and created a great community. This is ultimately what led to the idea of co-founding the Auckland Food Truck Collective – this is where my passion now lies.

ABOUT AUCKLAND FOOD TRUCK COLLECTIVE 

· Can you tell us a little about ‘Auckland Food Truck Collective’, including who the other co-founders of the company are?

The Auckland Food Truck Collective was established in early 2018 - however, the concept of it goes back a few years prior. There is a great group of entrepreneurs in Auckland all following their dream of starting their own food business and we have brought them together. We support, share ideas/experiences and encourage each other during the highs & lows of running a Food Truck. 

My friend Tim, who also runs Double Dutch Fries, asked me to help him organise a night market which would run throughout Winter (Winter is especially tough for Food Trucks due to the lack of events and colder weather). We hired a venue in Kingsland in September 2016, organised half a dozen vendors to attend and went live on Facebook. It had a fantastic response and we were blown away with the crowd that turned up that night (queuing around the block to get in). We knew then we were on to something. Great street food and live music (supplied by my husband, Lee Gray) is a recipe for success. 

Since then it has evolved into running a series of regular street food events all over the city; Urban Street Fest, Te Atatu Night Markets, Truck Stop, Vegan Food Festival, Street Kai on Takutai and upcoming Fried Chicken Festival – our biggest event to date. 

We have also just launched our own Food Truck Finder App, which enables foodies to track and follow their favourite food truck or find their closest street food fix. 

We are really excited about the future of The Auckland Food Truck Collective and the fantastic people we will meet along the way.

ABOUT MAGGIE 

· Can you please tell us a little about yourself, what motivates you and what your ultimate goal is?

My husband and I arrived in New Zealand close to 8 years ago after I finished my Business degree in the UK. New Zealand is definitely the land of opportunity and I thrive on the possibilities available here. The lifestyle too for my children, Charlie 3 and Alba 7 months, is fantastic and we are definitely here to stay. 

I always dreamed of starting my own business and naturally my motivation to work hard is my family. I also love bringing people together, creating memories and seeing small businesses thrive. All in all, I just like making people happy! Sometimes I may be too ambitious for my own good, although I don’t look at that as a negative at all. I just need to learn what I am capable of at the time and not try to overload myself too much (easier said than done!).

  • What do you wish to see in the next 10 years, for women in the business world?

In the next 10 years, I would love to see more equality in the workplace and I believe it is going in the right direction. Social media has definitely helped the awareness of it in almost all industries, however, I am also a traditionalist to a certain extent. I just believe everyone, regardless of sex, age or beliefs should be treated with respect. We are all human. 

  • Do you have a favourite quote which motivates you that you would like to share?

A quote which I like to abide by, ‘Live the life you Love’. You only have one life so make the most of it. Do your best, be the best version of yourself – can’t really do much more than that.

MAGGIE’S ENTREPRENEUR JOURNEY - RAWE LIVING

  • How did you come up with the idea for your company? Was it one of those light bulb moments?

My lightbulb moment was when I least expected it – out running and saw Mr Whippy in my local park. I thought to myself, I can do that, but better (and healthier)!

  • After coming up with the idea, what were the first steps that you took to kick things off?

Trying to persuade my husband to support me – didn’t take much convincing thankfully! I did my homework and researched what I thought would be the costs of starting a business. In retrospect, I should have really doubled that budget – as things always cost more and take longer to implement.

  • One thing we like to reinforce here at Women Boss Society is that failure should not be feared and that it is part of the journey to success. Saying that, was there any memorable struggles which you faced while starting your company? If so, how did you overcome them?

I couldn’t agree more. And I believe failure should not be seen as a negative. Lessons you learn, people you meet and experiences of both triumphs and failures shape the person you are. Most of my struggles revolved around finances and just trying to keep afloat, especially in the first year, was pretty tough. That coupled with the fact that anything that can go wrong with a food truck, will go wrong. And usually at the worst possible time too. It was hard to swallow my pride, but I had to ask for help (financially). By doing so, I was able to clear my debts and eventually repay my investors. Thankfully now I can look back at the journey and learn from the mistakes I made (and try to avoid doing so again!). 

  • Is there anything that you would do differently if you were stating up a company again? If so what would that be?

I don’t think I would change anything, I was lucky that RAWE was successful in most aspects, for example, I paid off my loans and benefited by having some fantastic experiences and met friends I wouldn’t have met. However, as I mentioned before, it wasn’t an income that we could have relied on. Starting a business is a high risk, you need to be the right type of person and have the funds to support yourself for at least the first year or two until you see a return. 

  • Do you believe there is enough support in New Zealand for women starting a company in terms of mentoring programs, incubators/accelerators, start-up funding etc.?

I haven’t been too familiar with women-specific mentoring programs etc. however, recently stumbled across a Women’s networking group specifically for the Events Industry in Auckland, which I am very excited to be a part of. The organisers host monthly meetings and it’s a great opportunity for like-minded women to meet and network (Women in Events).

· What advice would you give an entrepreneur who was just starting out?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Believe in yourself, and if you think you can do it – just do it! You might just surprise yourself : )

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Outsourcing Angel

Outsourcing Angel - The name says it all, a company which creates job opportunities with great working conditions in the Philippines and helps small to medium-sized companies scale faster and more profitably with a virtual team. Additionally, they reinvest part of their profits to help people in need as they focus on social impact, helping make this world a better place!

The amazing woman behind this great company is Linh Podetti. Linh started her first company at 25 and has been an entrepreneur ever since. Learn more about Linh's story, business and her advice to entrepreneurs below.

 ABOUT OUTSOURCING ANGEL

  • Can you tell us a little about your company, including your mission and vision for it? 

Outsourcing Angel is an offshore recruitment company, helping small to medium-sized companies scale faster and more profitably with a virtual team. We help companies hire reliable and long term Virtual Assistants to work part time or full time in areas such as marketing, admin, support and tech. Companies who have local staff come to us because they want to free their local team from doing the lower value and repetitive tasks to focus on higher value tasks such as strategy, business development, sales and management. Having virtual assistants from the Philippines means lower salary cost, faster scalability, higher production output and increase in profit for the organisation.

Our vision is to create ripples of social change in developing countries like the Philippines.

One of the biggest ways do this is by creating job opportunities with great working conditions that don’t need to separate individuals from their families. Family is universally valued, and it is no different in poorer countries. Working with us provides that rare opportunity to work from home, relieving them of the strain of having to travel hours daily through poor infrastructure or even moving away from home. This simple happiness we can provide for them and their families is irreplaceable.

We also emphasise empowerment. Our team doesn’t just have the skills to produce the best results for clients; they have the heart and the opportunity to pay it forward to their communities. Our wonderful team has a strong sense of social responsibility and commitment to their community, and so we also work with local organisations to not only donate food and supplies to impoverished communities but also pass on our skills and provide more people with these opportunities for better lives.

  • We love the fact that your business gives back by reinvesting your profits to provide food and supplies to people of need. Can you tell us a little more about that?

In working with amazing staff, often from less developed countries, we have been fortunate enough to tap into a way of helping our Virtual Assistants help their own communities grow. Supporting the growth in these developing countries is more than just providing better pay. By empowering individuals who possess both skill and talent, we set the gears in motion for them to change lives; their own, their families, and those in their community.

We also strongly focus on Giving because we strive to leave a positive footprint behind.

We believe that by sharing and giving, we are able to provide help and hope to those who need it the most. We give back to our communities, and also to our clients and Virtual Assistants because we value their continued support that makes this all possible.

Outsourcing Angel collaborates with the Virlanie Foundation and SOS Children’s Village to provide internships and workshops to underprivileged youth. We conduct regular workshops to provide interested youths with skills that they need for a possible future career. These workshops include training in Art and Design, Writing and Communication, as well as Social Media and Standard Marketing. 

Since 2013, Outsourcing Angel has been focussing on helping rural communities in the Philippines to improve their living conditions through various livelihood projects.

We have partnered with Tribu Ni Bro (TNB) in the Philippines, a group operated by volunteers who use Outsourcing Angel’s donations to directly help those in need. Learn more about TNB here.

Our projects with Tribu Ni Bro (TNB) allow us to help 250 children and their families living in rural communities every month. By providing them with food, basic necessities and resources, which will help improve their quality of life.

  • What things about your company are you most proud of?

I am proud of our team. We are not just work colleagues; we are friends. You can view our recent company trip here to understand the culture we have built.

I’m also proud that I’ve built a company that focuses on social impact, helping to make this world a better place.

  • If someone was looking to become a Virtual Assistant for your company, what would you recommend they do?

To join our company as a VA, they can check out our Careers Page and apply there. They can follow us on our social media channels to stay up to date with new job openings and company updates.

ABOUT LINH

  • Can you please tell us a little about yourself, what motivates you, and what your ultimate goal is?

I was born in Vietnam and came to Australia in 1992, at the age of 9. I came from a very strict family and was faced with a lot of family drama growing up. I became a single mum at age 20 and had to learn how to juggle being a young mother, finishing off university, and balancing part-time work to raise my kid.

I always knew I wanted to start my own business, and having a child young gave me more motivation to start as I felt that I needed to freedom to be able to be there for my child when I need to. I ventured into my first business at the age of 25, and have been working from home ever since. Creating a home based career for myself has allowed me to be at my best both at home and at work. I’m happy because of my balanced lifestyle.

It is my ultimate goal to help mothers around the world to have this kind of lifestyle that I have. To be able to work from home while taking care of their family.

  • As you are also a mother, how do you balance work and being a mum? and what advice would give other working mums?

I think it is easier for me to balance work with being a mum because I have a home based business. I’m able to take my kids to school and pick them up. I can be there for them when they are sick or take them to extra curricular activities. If you are a working mum who wants a balanced life, you need to find a career that will allow you the flexibility. I have local staff who work for me fulltime. However, I provide them with flexibility in terms of working from home every day and they can adjust their work schedule to suit their life. As long as they are working their 8 hours and providing the expected output, then I don’t care where they work and when they work. If you can’t find employment that will allow that, then try becoming a freelancer, consultant, or start your own business.

To better manage your time, you should pre-plan your life. We have 168 hours a week, and if working takes up 40 hours and sleeping takes up 56 hours, we still have 123 hours left a week to do what we love. That means, planning out how many hours you will allocate to health, family, self-care, learning, etc. Decide what your ideal week and day looks like. Eliminate distractions, stay committed to your plans, so that you can maximise your time. I schedule the plans into my calendar because unless you schedule it in, you won't do it. Sometimes we have the best intention and tell ourselves we will exercise this week, but without scheduling it what time, what day, which location, you won't end up doing it. So my advice is to schedule everything in your calendar.

  • What do you wish to see in the next 10 years for women in the business world?

In the next 10 years, I want to see the majority of women working from home. Working from home becomes a norm. I wish to see more women starting their own business and making a social impact. Women will use their kindness and love in leadership positions to make this world a better place.

  • Do you have a favourite quote which motivates you that you would like to share?

''How you do one thing is how you do everything''.

 

LINH'S ENTREPRENEUR JOURNEY 

  • How did you come up with the idea for your company? Was it one of those light bulb moments?

I was running a digital marketing agency at the time where I had a virtual team of web developers, social media marketers from overseas. I would project manage for the client and work with the virtual staff. I thought of an idea to start a recruitment agency which helps businesses hire their own virtual staff to work directly with them instead of going through my digital agency.

  • After coming up with the idea, what were the first steps that you took to kick things off?

The idea came in 2012; however, because I was still busy with my digital agency, the business didn’t take off. Although I had a website, I didn’t do much marketing for it. It was in 2015 when I wanted to focus on this business again; I found a business partner to work with me on this Outsourcing Angel business idea. His strength was in lead generation, and I was good at the production side. We worked together and relaunched a new brand, new website, network with other business owners, did Facebook ads and Google ads and made it successful together.

  • One thing we like to reinforce here at Women Boss Society is that failure should not be feared and that it is part of the journey to success. Saying that, was there any memorable struggles which you faced while starting your company? If so, how did you overcome them?

My first business was a nail polish e-commerce business. It was a failure because I had no passion for the product, I didn’t know what I was doing and wasted a lot of money on buying products and marketing. I sold it for $5000 before starting my next business - a digital agency. 

My digital agency was very challenging and I wanted to give up many times because I thought that if I went back to a job, I would get paid more than what I was earning. However, I didn’t want to get back to square one again and told myself that I can always find a job when I need it, so I stuck with my business. Every time I felt like giving up; I would talk myself out of it.

My fear of going back to a corporate job was scary enough to keep me going on my entrepreneurial journey. My desire for success is also strong enough to push me through.

I treat problems or challenges as opportunities now. I embrace it because it is through the difficulties that we learn and become a better person.

  •  Is there anything that you would do differently if you were starting up a company again? If so, what would that be?

If I was starting a company again, I would make sure to define my target market and stick to serving them than worrying about expanding my service to suit everybody. It is better to focus on a niche market and serving them well.

  • Do you believe there is enough support in Australia for women starting a company in terms of mentoring programs, incubators/accelerators, start-up funding, etc.? 

Yes, I think there are so many places we can get help from. We live in a very lucky country. Back when I first started my business, there wasn't many programs and support groups; nowadays, there are lots of options.

  • Did you reach out for support from any kind of organisation? If so can you please list the organisation/s and how it/they helped your company?

I created my own group back in the days called Business Startup Zero Capital group. We met fortnightly to learn from each other and learn from experts. I have done programs such as The Entourage,  Kerwin Rae, Tony Robbins, BusinessNet, Evan Carmichael

I’m currently in Lewis Howes Inner circle program and Jay Shetty’s genius program. Joining these programs help me learn new business strategies, connect with like-minded people.

  • What advice would you give an entrepreneur who was starting out?

I wish I paid for a mentor earlier on — a lot of my learnings where trial and error. If I could turn back time, I would rather pay for someone who’s already successful in the area that I want, and learn from them.

If you’re starting out, learn to accept failure. Failure is part of your success journey. Don’t get discouraged when it happens. Success as an entrepreneur or anybody in life really comes down to mindset. Work on your mindset first.

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Mother of two, works part time and runs two small businesses. Who said women can't do it all? 

Mel Buddhdev, founder of www.holidayswap.co.nz  talks to us about her companies, her entrepreneur story and what she hopes to see for women in the business world in the near future.


ABOUT HOLIDAY SWAP

  • Tell us a little about your company, including your mission and vision for it? 

Holiday Swap brings together like minded people to swap their home or holiday house and enjoy free holiday accommodation. It's a great way to get out and see more of NZ/the world without it costing a fortune. We have over 600 properties on the site (most are in NZ) with new properties being added all the time.

  • What things about your company are you most proud of?

Being able to identify a problem in the holiday market and solve it with a simple idea that our members are loving. There are now numerous sites to help you find holiday accommodation (bookabach, Airbnb, etc) but they all push the cost of a local holiday into the hundreds of dollars per night. Holiday Swap takes that pain out of the holiday for its members. 

  • If someone wanted to list their house on your platform, how would they go about doing this? 

They simply click on "Sign up" and complete the online form & add their property. A few good photos are required too. It costs only $49.95 NZD for 1 year's membership & you can swap as many times as you want in that year. We actively help members to find a swap if they need it. If however you still don't get a swap in your first year we will refund your membership fee. 

ABOUT MEL

  • Can you please tell us a little about yourself, what motivates you and what your ultimate goal is?

I am married with 2 sons aged 14 and 12. I work part time in a local school and run 2 small businesses; Holiday Swap and Big Bed Bumper (offering a simple solution to stop children from falling out of bed). I love to read, eating out, pilates, and of course exploring New Zealand thanks to Holiday Swap! Both my businesses have a human touch and I’m thrilled every time Holiday Swap members or Big Bed Bumper customers take time to give me positive feedback (a happy holiday or an undisturbed sleep). It motivates me to keep growing the businesses.

  • What do you wish to see in the next 10 years for women in the business world? 

One thing that will never change is women taking breaks from their careers to have children. Some are happy to jump straight back in where they left off but others, like me, will be looking for something different or something more flexible. The words ‘start up’ conjure images of young men in their 20s working 20 hours a day and living off fast food which I think puts off a lot of women especially those with young children. There are a lot of good tools and avenues out there to help women take their ideas and make them realities but I don’t think they are as accessible or visible as they should be, nor are they tailored to the 1st time female entrepreneur mum. I’d like to see a network of women led small businesses to make themselves available to provide ‘where do I start’ guidance free and without obligation. We shouldn’t have to wait 10 years for this. I hope within 5 years ago, any woman with an idea knows exactly where to go to get empowering advice to progress her idea and we stop all these great ideas getting stuck in coffee groups. 

  • Do you have a favorite quote which motivates you that you would like to share?

Never give up on something that you can't go one day without thinking about -Winston Churchill.

MEL'S ENTREPRENEUR JOURNEY

  • How did you come up with the idea for your company? 

I have a holiday home in Northland which I love but I wanted somewhere different for some relatives visiting from the UK. The cost to hire a holiday house was ridiculous and wondered if other holiday home owners felt the same as me. When I realized I wasn’t alone, the idea of opening up our homes to each other was obvious.

  • After deciding to start your company, what were the first steps that you took to kick things off?

Fully experiencing your own product is vital. We swapped our holiday home with a contact in Waiheke Island. During that weekend, we diligently captured everything small detail of the experience (good and bad) which shaped the Holiday Swap proposition. First impressions are so important so we then took time to come up with the right name, logo, and elevator pitch. From there we created a landing page with the help of a web designer, and invited visitors to register their interest. We had over 200 people sign up within the days. This gave us the confidence to invest in building the site and making Holiday Swap a reality. 

  • One thing we like to reinforce here at Women Boss Society is that failure should not be feared and that it is part of the journey to success. Saying that, was there any memorable struggles which you faced while starting your company? If so, how did you overcome them? 

Yes! Mainly technical ones as the website was built from scratch and was custom built in quite a few parts. This meant that when we hit technical snags, we were reliant on our 1 developer who was the only one who understood all the code. As a non technical founder it’s a tough call how much to invest in technical development as costs can start to spiral very quickly. Failure could have happened on many occasions as a simple function of how much money we had invested in the technical build. 

  • Is there anything that you would do differently if you were stating up a company again? If so what would that be? 

A technical co-founder may have helped to smooth some of the bumps.

  • Do you believe there is enough support in New Zealand for women starting a company in terms of mentoring programs, incubators/accelerators, start up funding etc? 

It exists but it’s not as accessible or visible as it should be, nor is it tailored to the 1st time female entrepreneur mum.

  • Did you reach out for support from any kind of organisation? If so can you please list the organisation/s and how it/they helped your company?

No. Looking around I found 2 themes neither of which helped me with what I really needed; 1) Help to get you funding – I only needed a small amount of investment to get a website built and I already had that, and 2) Help to incubate ideas that had the potential to become multinational giants – Holiday Swap has plenty of growth potential but it’s not in that league. 

  • What advice would you give an entrepreneur who was just starting out? 

Don’t be shy about sharing your idea with friends and family. Be open to criticism and open to change your original idea. Do your numbers and don’t invest what you’re not prepared to lose. Think creatively to quickly and cheaply test your market. From there, invest in the core features first and get customers using them. From there let your customers guide you. The first 2–3 years are usually the most difficult ones. Be patient and don’t lose hope.

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Unique Brigadeiros, a place where desserts and art meet, resulting in the most breathtaking, beautifully crafted desserts.

Below is an interview we took with the amazingly talented Founder of Unique Brigadeiros, Larissa Ferreira

ABOUT UNIQUE BRIGADEIROS

  • Tell us a little about your company, including where it is located and your mission and vision for it?

Unique Brigadeiros is a company specilised in sweet treats, located in Campinas (Brazil). We make brownies, cheesecakes and of course, brigadeiros – a delicious Brazilian treat.

Unique Brigadeiros was created on February 2018 by me and my husband. Our mission is to offer our clients “something sweet for every occasion”, custom made and handmade with the best ingredients.

Our vision is more than just making great desserts. We aim to become a reference in dessert business, by creating a special relationship with our customers, suppliers and local partners.

  • What things about your company are you most proud of?

I’m really proud of all different flavors we were able to create for such a traditional sweet.

  • All your desserts not only look delicious but are also beautifully crafted. Can you tell us a little about your creativity process?

Our creativity process begins with the ingredients. Before including any dessert on our menu, we test it so many times until we achieve the flavor we desire. After that, we take some time and effort to create a beautiful presentation. Once flavors and presentation are all set, we come up with a matching package to the occasion.

ABOUT LARISSA 

  • Can you please tell us a little about yourself, what motivates you and what your ultimate goal is?

I am a 29 year old woman who has just started pursuing her dream. Growing up I was never interested in baking and cooking. But as time went by I began to bake something here, prepare something there and then realised that I loved mixing ingredients and finding out new flavors and textures.

What motivates me are my customer’s feedbacks. They always contact me saying how much they loved our product and that it is amazing!

My ultimate goal is to one day not only make the desserts, but also open an Institute to teach others.

  • What do you wish to see in the next 10 years for women in the business world?

I wish women were more encouraged to pursue their dream, by their family, friends, schools and society in general. Maybe if women were as encouraged as men are, there would me more women in the business world today.

  • Do you have a favorite quote which motivates you that you would like to share?

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them” - Walt Disney

 LARISSA'S ENTREPRENEUR JOURNEY

  • How and when did you come up with the idea for your company?

My friends and family started asking me to prepare desserts for their parties and events. The guests loved my products and began to contact me for their parties. That’s when I saw a opportunity to start my own business.

  • After deciding to start your company, what were the first steps that you took to kick things off?

My first step was to come up with a menu. I tested a lot of recipes and decided which ones I was going to sell. Then, I created a Facebook and Instagram account for my company and started studying about Marketing, Social Medias and photography. Then customers started contacting me and hiring me to make desserts for their events.

  • One thing we like to reinforce here at WomenBossSociety is that failure should not be feared and that it is part of the journey to success. Saying that, was there any memorable struggles which you faced while starting your company? If so, how did you overcome them?

I still struggle sometimes with failure, although we know it is essential to the learning process. The most difficult struggle I faced at the beginning was self-doubt. What helped me overcome that, was a good supporting system (my husband, family and friends) and living one day at a time. I’ve learned that being able to deal with self-doubt is an important trait for an entrepreneur.

  • Is there anything that you would do differently if you were stating up a company again? If so what would that be?

I would have started it earlier. It took me 3 years to finally have the courage to start my own business. I thought that I had to have everything ready to start: the perfect menu, a spacious kitchen fully equipped with top of the line appliances, etc. I was afraid of taking chances, making mistakes and failing. All those feelings were keeping me from starting my business, but it was only when I realised that things weren’t going to be perfect, I decided to start my company.

  • Do you believe there is enough support in Brazil for women starting a company in terms of mentoring programs, incubators/accelerators, start up funding etc? 

I believe Brazil has good programs for entrepreneurs in general, but not specific for women in business.

  • Did you reach out for support from any kind of organisation? If so can you please list the organisation/s and how it/they helped your company?

Yes, I’ve reached out to SEBRAE (Serviço Brasileiro de Apoio às Micro e Pequenas Empresas), Brazilian Support Service to Micro and Small Companies (free translation). They offer many classes, workshops, lectures and other tools for starting companies.

  • What advice would you give an entrepreneur who was just starting out?

Just go ahead and start. Start with whatever tools and skills you have right now. You will grow so much in the process (personally and professionally) and you will only improve as time goes by.

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We interviewed Kat Joanidou, an Artistic director, Dancer and Choreographer, whose art and passion for what she does has taken her to some of the most amazing places in the world. We hope our interview with her inspires you to fight for your passion, she definitely inspired us!
 
  • How long have you been a dancer/choreographer for?

I have been dancing since I was four years old, and I haven't stopped since.
My choreographing career started when I was twenty two years old.

  • What type of dancing do you do, and what is your preferred type of dance?

I started with Classical ballet, this is where I learned all my basics from. I have also trained in Contemporary, Jazz, Commercial, Lyrical, Hip Hop, etc. My favourite style is lyrical as it is very emotional and it allows me to express my deepest feelings. I also love combining dance styles and creating my own unique identity style.

  • Can you please tell us a little more about yourself, what motivates you and what your ultimate goal is?

I am a very expressive, giving and loving person. My biggest pleasure is seeing the fire come out of someone who I mentor and I love seeing the progress of my students and my team, it gives me life!

I challenge myself constantly and allow myself to discover every possibility out there for me, as I love to grow, learn and to experience new things. 

What motivates me is the possibility of achieving something I wasn't expecting to. This fire inside me needs to stay alive and experience new, magical ways of seeing life. 

Mt ultimate goal is to be remembered as someone who managed to make a difference, changed the mentality of closed minded people and taught people new ways of seeing things. Also would love to be a star in a dance movie.

  • What country are you currently located in and what countries have you performed in?

I am currently travelling a lot, so I am technically not based anywhere at the moment, although my job as an Artistic director is based in Marrakech, in a beautiful venue called 'Lotus'.

I have performed in various amazing places around the world, including New York, Los Angeles, London, the Netherlands, Florence, Greece and in Cyprus, where I am originally from.

  • One thing we like to reinforce here at Women Boss Society is that failure should not be feared and that it is part of the journey to success. Saying that, has there been any memorable struggles which you have faced as a dancer/choreographer? If so, how did you overcome them?

Constantly risking everything and travelling to the unknown is a very scary move. Having to find your first job as a foreigner in every single country is extremely stressful as you don't know how things will turn out. What was harder though was fitting into a group of people as the 'stranger, the newbie, the foreigner'. Some people would make fun of your accent, or you for not being able to understand their language, which was definitely a minus in the process of wanting to create good connections.

The most memorable struggles I faced as a dancer were mainly financial issues when I was starting out, as it is extremely hard for someone to keep travelling without having any back up support.

Despite all that, I would never let anything or anyone stop me from reaching my goals. My love and passion for what I was doing was stronger than any difficultly that I faced. I loved the challenge. I managed to learn the ways of each country and tried to convince the people that I looked up to that I am someone they have a reason to work with.

  • Do you or did you ever have a mentor? If so did having a mentor, help you in your journey of pursuing a career in the dance industry?

I have actually never had a mentor. I wish I had. What I did have though were some very good and strict instructors, who taught me a lot about discipline, hard work and determination. My actual mentor was my inner fire, which drove me to some magical places.

  • What is your most proudest moment? 

My most proud moment was when I was asked to teach at the University which I had studied at. It was an emotional moment, as at the time I was studying, I had some people doubting me. They doubted the fact that I was good enough for the path I was choosing. Therefore being asked to teach at the same University was extremely satisfying, and I can say I was very proud of myself.

  • What are you overall thoughts on the dance/performing arts industry?

The dance/arts industry is a very adventurous industry. There are lots of pros and cons, lots of moments where you will be doubted, you will struggle, you will be rejected. There will be moments where you will feel devastated but when you make it, it  is the most rewarding feeling in the world. 

When you are able to say IT WAS WORTH ALL THE PAIN, I MADE IT and you are able to be where you were fighting to be, there is nothing more beautiful than that feeling. Artists work because they are passionate. They risk so much, just to express through their art. So that outcome is extremely beautiful.

  • What do you wish to see in the next 10 years for women in the dance/performing arts industry?

I want to see women being free, fixing each other's crown and supporting/ uplifting each other. 

I also want to see women have no boundaries, being able to do whatever the **** they want and be genuinely happy!

  • What advice would you give another dancer trying to make it in the industry?

My advice would be... NEVER GIVE UP. When you fall, stand back up. Don't let anyone's opinion stop you. Train with the best, learn from the best, work your ass off, never stop growing, know your worth and be trustworthy. 

  • Do you have a favorite quote which motivates you that you would like to share?

I started writing my own quotes, and I call them 'KatQuotes'. I would like to share one of mine...  ''You will only be the best if you work harder than anyone else, if you don't complain, but you see difficulties as challenges and if you make the ones that are better than you your teachers''.

 

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We spoke with Meghan Clem, CEO of 'Become Intertwined', who with her business partner was able to build a successful business during the height of the recession in 2009.  

Not only did Meghan and her business partner create a successful company but a company which has scaled out into two separate companies 'Intertwined Events', a wedding/special event planning company and 'Become Intertwined' a social media agency.   

ABOUT BECOME INTERTWINED 

  • Can you tell us a little about your company, including your mission and vision for it?

Become Intertwined is a dynamic Social Media agency focused on our clients’ community growth and online engagement. We utilize our unique backgrounds to create engaging social campaigns for a multitude of brands across a wide array of industries. We blend the best of trends, tech, and lifestyle with real-time business expertise. We are all about results and are firm believers that you need to keep the “Social” in social media! 

  • What things about your company are you most proud of?

I am proud that my business partner, Katie, and I have built a company from the ground up. I am proud that we have successfully serviced our clients for more than 10 years with integrity and authenticity. I am proud that we have cultivated a team of incredible, brilliant, dedicated and kick ass women who truly love what they do and believe that we all rise together! And I am proud that in our “spare time” we founded a non-profit, RAD Camp, to give back to our community! RAD Camp is the largest overnight camp for people with special needs in SoCal!

  • What would you say is your unique selling point?

We take the time to not just learn about our clients, but become them! We treat their brand, their products and services and most importantly their customers as our own! We offer category exclusivity to our client so they know they are getting the very best of our ideas, strategies and effort. We help unify, simplify and amplify our clients social media marketing and message. Our philosophy is built on keeping the social in social media. We believe in genuine connections, authentic conversations and building real relationships that garner life-long customers and brand ambassadors! 

ABOUT MEGHAN

  • Can you please tell us a little about yourself, what motivates you and what your ultimate goal is?

There are so many things that motivate me. I love, love a good challenge. If someone says it can’t be done, I am out to prove them wrong! I am driven by passion and purpose! I love being in service to others and helping them get to where they want to go… whether that is a friend, colleague, client, employee or one of our amazing RAD campers! Also, I am not afraid to say, I love to make money! I think more women need to be ok with saying this! Money is freedom. Money allows me to take care of my family, donate to causes I believe in, and yes, take that amazing vacation or enjoy a delicious meal. Its ok to work hard and be compensated for it! 

A few other fun facts about me. I love all sports. especially college football. I am obsessed with 90’s hip hop music, I am a blessed mom to two 4-year-old boys (yes twins!), and one 10 month old baby girl and I am almost always wearing a pair of hoops! ☺ 

  • What do you wish to see in the next 10 years for women in the business world?

Ultimately, I wish that we do not have to keep having conversations around gender. That it no longer is relevant if someone is male or female but if they are truly the most qualified for the position and that our worth (and the worth of each and every individual regardless of gender, race, religion, etc) is truly calculated on merit and merit alone! 

  • Do you have a favorite quote which motivates you that you would like to share?

I have a tattoo on my foot that says ‘Sempre Recordare’ it’s a reminder to Always Remember where you came from, where you are, and where you want to go! 

MEGHAN'S ENTREPRENEUR JOURNEY 

  • How did you come up with the idea for your company? 

My business partner and I started  the company with the goal of “intertwining” social media and events. We are all about creating memorable experiences, whether that is a gorgeous event or a really fun social media campaign, we want people to connect with our clients and brands. Thus, Intertwined was born. We now have 'Intertwined Events', our wedding and special event planning company and 'Become Intertwined', our social media agency. Our absolute favorite moments are  when we have the opportunity to create online campaigns for our clients that drive to an offline event (and vice versa when the event leads to online engagement!) 

  • After deciding to start your company, what were the first steps that you took to kick things off?

Branding was one of the very first things we did. We got clear on our logo, fonts, tag line, mission statement and made sure everything we did was cohesive (website, business cards, social media, proposals). We knew the details mattered (especially in our line of our work) and while our branding has been updated and evolved as we have, being able to clearly and visually tell our story has always served us well! We also emailed and called and tweeted at everyone we had ever met to let them know what we were doing!! 

  • One thing we like to reinforce here at Women Boss Society is that failure should not be feared and that it is part of the journey to success. Saying that, was there any memorable struggles which you faced while starting your company? If so, how did you overcome them?

Oh you mean like starting a company in 2009 – at the height of the recession! Haha! It ended up being a blessing for us as we could only go up from there. So many other businesses couldn’t scale down and went under. We could pretty much take anything that came our way and just kept building and building. We doubled our profits year over year for the first 4 years of the business! (Don’t ask me what the first year’s profit was though… haha!) You have to be willing to start somewhere… there will never be the perfect time or the perfect set of circumstances. You just have to get going! 

  • Is there anything that you would do differently if you were stating up a company again? If so what would that be?

Hire before I actually needed to. Investing in the right people and setting yourself up to scale is the best thing you can do! As they say, if you build it, they will come. We have also learned the hard way to hire the person first and hire for the position second. I can’t teach fundamentals of hard work, dedication, integrity and drive. So although the person may lack specific industry knowledge or skills, those can be taught and acquired. We now hire the person that we know is going to be a fit for our team, our culture and our beliefs before we hire the person that just has a great resume. 

  • Do you believe there is enough support in the US for women starting a company in terms of mentoring programs, incubators/accelerators, start up funding etc? 

I think there are a lot of amazing organizations and programs that are working towards this effort, but I don’t think there can ever be enough. Women clearly don’t have enough seats at the table. We are underrepresented in the board rooms and C-Suites. We are just starting to support girls who are focused on STEM careers! We don’t make as much, often, we don’t ask to make as much, and we don’t invest and make our money work harder for us like our male counterparts do and it is harder for females to get funding. So, while we have come a long way, we have a long way to go! 

  • Did you reach out for support from any kind of organisation/s? If so can you please list the organisation/s and how it/they helped your company?

We didn’t really reach out to any organizations or groups. Although now, I love a good mastermind group or any time major bosses get together! I love being the least experienced in the room and soaking in everything I can! But, what we did do was reach out to individuals we really respected who were successful at what they were doing… be it an awesome CEO, or an incredible artist honing their craft. We asked every question we could about what worked for them, how they got started, what they did that was a “game-changer” for them. And now, we return the kindness and time. I will take a coffee or a quick FaceTime chat with others who are working on honing their craft or launching their business. If I can help, I am there! 

  • What advice would you give an entrepreneur who was just starting out? 

Hustle, Grind, Work harder than you have ever worked before. No one will hand you anything and no one owes you anything. And just keep showing up and saying yes! Yes you can do that, yes, you will meet with that person, yes you will take that smaller gig because it could lead to a big one, or your next referral! Just keep saying YES! 

 

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