We are the Change Makers: Women entrepreneurs who inspire us
April 2, 2021
TikTok For Business, Editorial Team
As part of Women's History Month, TikTok For Business hosted a TikTok LIVE roundtable featuring an all-star lineup of inspiring women from around the world who are making a difference. Made up of entrepreneurs, activists, artists and influencers, and moderated by Nadine Karp McHugh, President of SeeHer, the panel shared their inspiring stories and perspectives on what it means to be empowered and succeed. Read on for the highlights!
Marianna is a beauty influencer and co-founder of Summer Fridays, an award-winning clean skincare line that's available at over 1,000 stores globally. She also hosts a podcast where founders share their experiences of entrepreneurship -- because, as she says, "if you see other women who have these career opportunities, you know what's possible for yourself."
Her advice to would-be female entrepreneurs? Just take the plunge! "The biggest challenge to anything is really just starting; just taking that first step and moving past an idea or a dream. after that first actionable step, it's like a domino effect. And so I think if you have some sort of fear of starting a business or starting a platform, or whatever it might be, just take that first step to begin, because you never know what's going to happen."
Latoya knows what it means to forge your own path: she's an ex-veteran turned jeweller and sculptor who also loves to express herself through dancing, comedy skits, and all manner of creative content online. And rather than compartmentalize those parts of herself, she authentically shares all of them as part of her brand. On finding her own way, she reflected during the panel: "Instead of trying to get a seat at the table, I wanted to create my own table. And now everyone else wants to sit at my table." Who could blame them?
Having first found her happy place in making jewellery over 22 years ago, Latoya is now passionate about showing others that they too can turn their source of joy into a source of income. "I wanted to show other women," she explained, "especially other women that did not have a family business background, that you can do it. You can take what you love, you can take your therapy, and you can create the life that you've always dreamed of."
When it comes to turning passion into profession, Amirah Kassem is a pro. She started out making colorful, sprinkle-covered cakes for birthdays, and knew she was on to something good when people kept pulling their cameras out to capture her creations. "Something that I was creating out of pure joy became the core of my business without even trying," she told the panel. "That is the most organic way to do anything--to create something that's gonna make yourself happy and that you're excited about." In fact, Amirah's view of building a business from a hobby is that ultimately true passion can mitigate risk: "I think that it sort of goes for anything that you've created: the products that you're most excited about, and what you're authentically excited about, are the things that go well. To me, if you're really passionate, and you're really following what you love, it's not that big of a risk."
When she was just 21, Kim Roxie opened her own makeup shop--a place "where women could be celebrated." Through the experience she fell in love with making women feel good about themselves. "I have this quote," she explained, "that says 'beauty is revealed, not applied.' It's all about showing your true makeup: What are you really made of? That's what makes you beautiful."
Now a seasoned entrepreneur running her beauty brand, she's passionate about paving the way for others like her to succeed. She points out that Black women are severely underrepresented in VC funding received (Black women only received 0.0006% of the total US tech venture funding raised from 2009-2017, according to the Project Diane demographic study by Digital Undivided). For that reason, she feels it's necessary to sometimes "show the transparency of what it's really like" to start a business and raise capital - "So that women and girls can have a true example and a true benchmark."
A high school dropout who was labelled 'at-risk' by teachers, Kim decided to flip the narrative from 'at-risk' to 'risk-taker' and take risks in business--risks that ultimately paid off. She now proudly follows a "Three S" mantra: Take a Stand, Self-promote, and Surround yourself with other risk takers.
Founder of Rani & Co., a jewelry brand celebrating the power of women, Ramona agreed on the power of educating and paving the way for others. In 2017, finding herself unfulfilled in her full-time job, she invested her life savings into starting the brand. Feminism is at the core of the Rani & Co. brand, and is expressed in every facet of what they do: from jewelry designs, to charitable donations, to educating their audience through social media. Ramona enjoys hearing customers' stories about the power their jewelry pieces bring, instilling confidence for big interviews or major life events such as IVF treatment.
A strong believer in dismantling sexism, the one change Ramona would like to see in the world is more people raising their sons and daughters equally. "Sexism is something that's ingrained from a very young age," she explains--something that needs to be counteracted through the way children are treated, and behaviours are modelled to them, in those early years.
As a first-generation immigrant from Pakistan, Maliha used art as a way to cope with the homesickness and culture shock of being in a new country. She later began using her platform and her passion for writing to tell stories of women's empowerment. "Art was really a lifesaver for me," she explained. "And eventually, it became a tool for me to tell stories and connect with other people and tell their stories through my work."
When asked about the one change she would like to see in the world, Maliha felt most strongly about education as the single factor holding back equality. "I want to see more education for all girls. We have over 100 million girls out of school. If we were to educate children to a certain level for free, there would be more women in science, more women in business, more people in every field, and the world would be a better place." We couldn't agree more!
The panelists also shared their insights from being TikTok power users. Here are some of their top tips!
"When it comes to TikTok and creating content: post it! If it doesn't work, you can always delete it later, but you never know which one video could go viral and change your life. I posted one video that went viral last January, and it still gets views and likes today, over a year later. You never know, so just test and try things and see what sticks." -Marianna
"I realized that my content, when I'm not overthinking it, it's going to resonate with way more people. Once the thought comes to your mind, just start recording. And when it comes to mental health, you never know whose life you could save with that one post." -Latoya
"TikTok has been amazing for business. It's helped to generate sales, but also helped to generate relationships with my customers. When someone orders from me, they'll leave a note at checkout sometimes, and they'll say "please can you package my order on TikTok?" - you wouldn't get that on any other platform. So for me it's been great at creating a personal connection." -Ramona
"If you're on TikTok and you're a small business, show those behind the scenes journeys; show yourself packaging orders, show yourself having a stressful day -- it makes you resonate with people so much more, and makes them want to support you as a business and as a founder." -Marianna
"I love how lo-fi it is: you don't have to get ready, you don't have to do your makeup, it doesn't need to be filtered. It's almost like the more unfiltered, and the more real it is, the better it performs. On other platforms you have to really invest in your content and have videographers, photographers, and models; on TikTok, you don't, and I love that about the platform." -Marianna