Archive for women entrepreneurs – Page 2

Willow Tufano: Entrepreneurial Foresight

Willow Tufano is a fourteen year old girl living in Florida with her mother who works in real estate. When the recession hit a few years ago, Florida was hit very hard and houses that were initial being sold at $100,000 were now being sold for only $12,000. Because of the low price of homes, Willow got the idea to purchase a house of her own! She had saved up some money by clearing houses and selling the included possessions online. When her mother found out that she wanted to buy a house at 14, unlike most parents, she was in full support (also in support of the rest of the needed funds). Knowing that the housing market would pick up in the future, Willow and her mother rented out the purchased house and charged $700 a month. They have already earned back their initial investment on the house and have even made a profit. In the future, Willow plans to buy her mother out and own the house alone. When the housing market picks up in the future, Willow is likely to see an amazing increase in her already impressive amount of profits.

Alley Cat Designs

Jewelry for the Purrr-fect Touch

When Alyssa was a little girl, she always looked forward to the special times when her grandmother would visit, bringing with her a bag stuffed full of art and craft supplies. Alyssa was creative by nature, so it never mattered much to her what was in the bag – it was all about the joy and excitement of creating something new, something beautiful, something that hadn’t been there before.

It was during one of these afternoons with her Grandmother that Alyssa first discovered her love for jewelry making.  On that particular afternoon, the craft bag was full of beads, string and jewelry wire, and as the two sat making Christmas presents for her mother, a new passion was born.

From that day forward, Alyssa wanted to do more than just make beautiful new things. She wanted to make things that made other people feel beautiful. Alyssa had always found joy helping other people feel as beautiful as they always were in her eyes, and with her grandmother’s beads in her hands, she realized that she now had the tools to do just that: make things that could help women see just how beautiful they really were. And she was right – ever since clasping that first bracelet of plastic beads around her mother’s wrist, Alyssa has been designing the type of jewelry that makes the wearer feel beautiful and which reminds everyone that it is the bird that makes the feathers.

Today, Alyssa is fresh out of Cornell University with degrees in Business and Sociology and is working to launch her jewelry company, Ally Cat Designs . What began as the passion project of a little girl in love with all things beautiful has grown into a business which has inspired and empowered women all across the globe. Alyssa spends as much time traveling as she possibly can, drawing inspiration from women around the world. Along the way, she supports local artisans by collecting materials to incorporate into her jewelry, all of which is utterly unique and designed around the women who inspire her.

Alyssa prides herself on not being limited to one style or aesthetic; instead, she has something for everyone: from classic to edgy, minimalistic to romantic, each piece is handmade and one-of-a-kind, made to reflect the individual beauty of every customer. Her designs also reflect her commitment to sustainability and accessibility. Fast fashion this is not! Each of her piece features timeless style and is made to last.  But rather than using rare metals which are expensive and easily broken, Alyssa carefully selects materials which are more widely available and which stand the test of time. Great thought is put into each and every element of the design process so that each piece tells a story.

Alyssa likes to keep things personal; for her, it’s all about relationships. She is dedicated to her clients and designs with them in mind. Her favorite method of sales is house shows: by bringing clients together in an intimate environment, she gets to meet and be inspired by the women she serves. She mingles among her clients, getting to know them and helping them find that perfect piece. And if you come back to a second show, she is likely to pull you aside to show you something special she designed with you especially in mind!

As her business has grown, she has also adapted her model to meet the needs of a wider audience and has launched a website to make her work more widely available. But even with her expanding platform, Alyssa has sacrificed neither style nor substance. She still makes each piece by hand and each is one of a kind!

Down the road, Alyssa hopes to use her business as a platform from which to support other artists and to promote ethically sourced fashion. She is also passionate about social and economic development in impoverished nations. Having traveled extensively in both South Asia and Africa, Alyssa is committed to building supportive relationships with artists across the globe and using her work to empower and give back to women both at home and abroad.

It has been my great privilege to watch my dear friend Alyssa build and expand her business over the years, and I am so excited to share her story with you. Her’s is truly a project driven by a selfless passion to serve the women of the world, and the more her business grows, the more lives she touches. She doesn’t create jewelry for women to hide their insecurities behind; instead, she creates pieces that tell a story and celebrate the unique beauty of every woman.

Penny for Your Thoughts? Fighting Trafficking One Cent at a Time.

One penny may not buy a whole lot, but for Kendall Altmyer it is the key to a successful business.

After working with human trafficking survivors for three months in Greece, Kendall Altmyer knew she wanted to join the global fight against human trafficking. “I didn’t think I could make a dent in a worldwide injustice,” she confessed, “but doing nothing was not an option.” Using the resources and knowledge she had available to her, Altmyer created The Penny Story.

The Penny Story is an e-commerce store that sells small goods made from pennies. Some of her products include bracelets, key rings, and a “welcome box” with a variety of Penny goods. Each penny has the word “worthy” stamped into it, making a bold statement: it is not our material wealth that defines us, but our mere being, because we are children of God. This truth applies to those who are trapped in human trafficking, even though the world may tell them otherwise.

I admire Altmyer’s honesty. The quote above was found directly on her website, letting all viewers know that she doesn’t have everything figured out. This reality applies to all of us; as much as we’d like to learn everything there is about starting a business or making a difference, we simply can’t. But that didn’t stop Altmyer. She is now selling thousands of penny bracelets, and funding one of our country’s leading anti-human trafficking organizations, A21.

How did she manage this? By doing something. Altmyer explains that change begins by realizing you don’t have to be significant to make a significant change. This makes me wonder: if everyone had this mindset, how much more would we create? How much more would we be willing to put ourselves out there and strive to make a difference, even though we don’t have all the answers? I think the effect could be tremendous.

The product itself is beautifully simple, and The Penny Story’s website reflects that.  Altmyer offers only a few products, each one simple. The result of this is that customers don’t get caught up in the variety of stuff sold. Rather, they can see a clear mission through a few appropriate items.

I always appreciate seeing an individual who takes what he or she is passionate about and mixes it with innovation to create something new and effective. Altmyer has done this with The Penny Story, and she has created an outstanding example for young entrepreneurs who know they want to make a difference but aren’t sure where to start. Don’t be afraid to make a move – it’s common cents!

Nannies by Noa

Noa Mintz like so many others grew up with a nanny. Her parents would hire nannies to watch her and her siblings but they all simply seemed uninterested in the children that they were being paid good money to care for. Realizing this and eager to have a better nanny, she took matters into her own hands. Her parents let her select the next babysitter and soon she began helping friends and family select their caregivers.  She saw a demand for a New York nanny agency that would provide caregivers that were carefully selected and represented the personality vibe that families deserve. At age 15, three years after the founding of her business “Nannies by Noa,” she had over 75 employees on her staff.

Noa found a niche in the market that was very personal to her. She learned how to design a website, purchase insurance, preform background checks and meet demands of hundreds of parents. After rapidly rising demand she found herself extremely busy and with high school approaching, she hired a manager to oversee day to day operations. In three years time she was able to create a well known caregiving company in New York that now generates her a salary of over $300,000 a year with the 15% initial matched caregiver salaries.

It is incredible that a 12 year old girl could create such a successful multimillion dollar business by acting on her idea. So often are children told that they cant do something real and then this discourages them from taking initiative to innovate our society.

 

 

Jessica Lee, Young Entrepreneur of Cerise Tea

Not only is Cerise Tea an amazing non-profit, fashion organization launched by a young entrepreneur, the name is fantastic as well. You may be wondering what even is “cerise.” Cerise is French for “cherry.” Now go back and take a look at the first picture on top of this post. And keep reading it (aloud) until you get it.

Jessica Lee, the founder of Cerise Tea, has many notable achievements as a current college student. Launching the company in 2014 as a high schooler, she has seen immense growth and excitement surrounding her start-up, non-profit organization. Cerise Tea sells clothes online geared towards teenage girls, which then donates its profits to the American Cancer Society. Realizing her love of fashion and her desire to give to those in need, Lee combined her two loves to be the driving passions behind a flourishing business. Cerise Tea’s mission to help others; the simple but trendy clothes; and the cheap prices amassed together were ultimately the factors in the success of the business.

https://www.instagram.com/ceriseteaclothing

While not much is known about Jessica Lee, her online resume lists that she attended high school from the years 2013-2017, and she first enrolled in college in 2017. Her resume doesn’t say it explicitly, but readers can inference that Lee is merely a college freshman.

 

college freshman who owns a company…which has raised over $450K in sales.

Lee is truly an inspiring figure who not only developed a business derived from her passions, but also continuously works hard to learn more and more. She is presently studying business economics, and though her company keeps her busy, she has also been an intern, an ambassador/leader for various organizations, and created and pitched to Venture Capitalists at UPenn.

Sources:

https://jessicacarrielee.carbonmade.com/about

https://www.instagram.com/ceriseteaclothing/?hl=en

https://www.instagram.com/ceriseteaclothing

https://www.instagram.com/ceriseteaclothing

The Rent the Runway Revolution: How Two Women Changed the Fashion Industry for Good

In 2009, two young women attending Harvard Business School met for their weekly coffee and business brainstorming session. Jennifer Hyman and Jennifer Fleiss both knew they wanted to start a business together, but for many months they brainstormed ideas which never seemed to stick. However, on this particular afternoon, Jennifer Hyman mentioned to Fleiss that her sister would be attending a wedding next weekend, but had nothing to wear. She voiced the frustration shared by women across America, that it is difficult to justify spending hundreds of dollars on a dress you only wear a few times. As she said this, she came up with a business idea which would solve this problem and revolutionize the market of high end women’s fashion.

Jenny Fleiss (left) and Jennifer Hyman (right)

Hyman and Fleiss conceptualized a business model where they would partner with different well-known, high-end designers from around the world and rent these designer dresses out to women for a few days for a fraction of the cost of buying one of these dresses. These two young women started out by buying dresses in their own sizes and going around to different college campuses on the weekends of big events and putting up flyers and sending out emails announcing that the female students could rent these designer dresses for a reduced price and simply return them after the event. With each campus these two went to, their business model proved very popular, and with each event, they continued to refine and adjust their model until they landed on the current business model of Rent the Runway. Since 2009, Rent the Runway has grown from a few designer dresses advertised through flyers on college campuses into a $15 million corporation with an extremely user friendly app and a variety of supplementary services.

One things which makes Hyman and Fleiss stand out as unique in the world of innovation and entrepreneurship is their approach to founding a startup. While many young entrepreneurs look for a problem in their field of study or expertise which they can construct a solution for, Hyman and Fleiss started with a problem they simply observed, despite their lack of knowledge in the fields of fashion or technology.  However, by recording customer reactions to their product and collecting customer testimonials, these young women were able to get the designers on board and soon had enough funding to hire people with expertise in analytics, technology, fashion, and customer relations in order to create the best business possible.

Even eight years removed from its founding, Rent the Runway is an incredible company to watch innovate and expand. Because of the founders’ passion for giving women the opportunity to have that “Cinderella experience” and look elegant, extravagant, confident or professional for an affordable price, the company continues to grow its inventory, expand it market, and offer additional services, such as makeup and jewelry tips depending on the dress or outfit you rent.

Hyman and Fleiss at the opening of their first store

Hyman and Fleiss have also sought to optimize the customer experience by offering free shipping and dry cleaning, along with spending a great deal of time and money on analytics. This has allowed them to find what colors and styles customers prefer, along with how long customers like rentals to last so that they can give the customer the best, most convenient experience possible. Rent the Runway is constantly offering new features, different dresses, and featuring a variety of both well-known and new designers, which keeps their business in a constant state of growth and expansion.

Hyman and Fleiss are truly inspiring to all young women looking to be entrepreneurs. They actively thought about problems, and rather than waiting for funds or investors to back their idea, they eagerly engaged their clientele, pivoted based on the feedback they received, and then sought out investors and designers with confidence in their product and the data and testimonies to back it up. These two women are constantly pursuing excellence, passionate about their product and their clients, and dedicated to inspiring future women entrepreneurs.

 

Bards Alley – Books, Wine, and Kindred Spirits

As a young girl, nothing inspired Jen Morrow more than the thought that her favorite book was still yet to be written. As an adult, she was frustrated in the lack of childlike wonder she experienced from those around her. And thus was her passion born: to create a space in her local community where kindred spirits could gather to be surrounded by books, wine, and people to share them with.

Bards Alley was the realization of this dream. It is one part bookstore, one part cafe, and all parts a community space for those who want share in the joy of reading. She keeps the shelves stocked with a limited selection of books: some classics, some new publications. The cafe serves coffee and food, and in the evening you can choose from a rotating selection of wine and craft beer to accompany locally made bread, cheese, soup, and charcuterie. The store has an open floor plan with book shelves around the edge and most of the middle of the room dedicated to “family style” dining tables and lounge areas – everything in the alley is designed to foster and host a community of people who love to read and share ideas.

In the North Virginia suburbs of Washington D.C., its easy to feel alone and disconnected: it is a transient area where people and families move away just as fast as they came. This makes it difficult to build the types of meaningful relationships which allow people to get to know other people, and through them get to know more about the world. Bards Alley has become a place to find the people who value fellowship and ideas and allow them to interact in a space that provides the inspiration needed to kick-start the types of meaningful conversations which blossom into friendships and a sense of community.

Kaylena Marie’s Bakery: A Vision of an Entrepreneur

Back at home in Orchard Park, a girl who graduated one year before me in high school opened up her own artisan bakery in town! Kaylena Marie Eisenhower is a twenty-year-old entrepreneur who started selling her baked goods online at a very young age. Throughout high school, Kaylena continued to cater and sell various baked goods, even if that meant waking up very early in the morning to send out shipments before school started at 7. After graduating high school, Kaylena spent 2 years studying Culinary Arts to further her education. During this last year, Kaylena transformed a small rental space into a gorgeous artisan cafe, where anyone can order pastries, sandwiches, coffee, and a whole lot more. The store spaced has been transformed into a beautiful, comfortable atmosphere. Before coming back to GCC, I stopped by the bakery for the first time. The bakery opened at 8am, and there was a line outside of her shop waiting for the freshly baked goods. With the help of her family and friends, Kaylena has offered Orchard Park a wonderful space for community, creativity, and bliss.

Actress Turned Entrepreneur

lauren-conrad-1Lauren Conrad is a well-known actress and reality-TV show star however most people do not know that she has become a successful young entrepreneur, owning two clothing lines as well as a book franchise and two websites. She used her fame and publicity to help launch her first clothing line and demonstrate that she wasn’t just the next star to create a business on a whim, instead she was committed and passionate about where she wanted her business to go. In 2007, she launched her first clothing line, The Lauren Conrad Collection. Although it ended up being a dismal failure, she learned and grew through her mistakes and launched a second, successful clothing line in 2009, LC by Lauren Conrad, in conjunction with the retailer Kohls. Since then, she has launched another clothing company, Paper Crown, written eight books, and started two websites.

lauren-conrad4

In 2013, Lauren and her friend Hannah Skvarla were inspired to start a non-profit named the Little Market. It is a company that empowers women artisans and provides a market for their products to be sold in order to provide for their families. Today, The Little Market partners with 26 artisans in 16 countries to carry their products and they hope to grow that number even more.

lauren-conrad-3

Lauren has found much success with her products and websites, however she is not stopping there. She said stated that she no interest in returning to television, instead she wants to continue on with her businesses and keep doing what she loves. Lauren Conrad is a millennial entrepreneur who gives a wonderful example of using fame and success to get where she wanted to be, entrepreneurial, and then taking her success from there and giving back to others with dreams just like hers.

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Her personal website: https://laurenconrad.com/

The Little Market website: https://www.thelittlemarket.com/

 

StyleSeat

Have you ever received a bad hair cut? Melody McCloskey has, and she turned this experience into a business. McCloskey in the founder and CEO of StyleSeat, which is an app that connects hair stylists and customers looking for a haircut.

McCloskey was tired of the hassle of booking hair appointments. She found it frustrating when she called a salon sometimes stylists wouldn’t answer the phone or when they did, you just received a random appointment with a random stylist that wasn’t even good at what she wanted to be done. McCloskey decided to fix this problem with her app. StyleSeat makes it easy to book hair appointments with specific stylists. You can search for stylists by where you are and even by what the stylist specializes in. This is such a wonderful tool not only for people in need of a haircut, also stylists. Stylists can promote themselves for what they are really good at and what they prefer to do.

Melody McCloskey really stood out to me because she experienced a problem and made it into a successful business idea. This is such a great entrepreneurial quality to have. I love how she tapped into an industry that pretty much everyone utilizes and made it better. The cosmetology industry is already a saturated industry, but McCloskey found a way to innovate and come up with something new.