Thinking about starting your own business? Ready to burst through the proverbial glass ceiling? Looking for a community of successful women leaders to learn from? Get inspired by these kick-ass female entrepreneurs who have overcome adversity and launched their own successful businesses, while learning a ton along the way. These women come from vastly different backgrounds and work across a variety of industries but their messages to budding entrepreneurs like yourself are universal. Here’s some advice from 5 successful female entrepreneurs on building and running your own business. Show some support for this inspiring community of women and check out their wisdom below!

Eileen Fisher

Community for women

“If I write it down, I can see through the mess and gain clarity in what I need to do and the next steps.”

Eileen Fisher is an Irvington-based fashion designer and entrepreneur, and founder of women’s apparel company, Eileen Fisher. When Fisher started her namesake company in 1984, she had $350 in the bank and a basic idea: that women wanted chic, simple clothes that made getting dressed easy. The modular line is now available in department stores and 52 Eileen Fisher stores. In 2005, Fisher sold the company to her employees. She currently serves as the Chief Creative Officer and is a strong believer in building a community for women.

What was the best piece of business advice you were given when you were starting out?

“Grow organically. Don’t get ahead of yourself. If you create a product that people truly enjoy and benefit from, profitability will always follow.”

What is your no-fail go-to when you need inspiration or to get out of a creative rut?

“I have a purpose chair that I like to spend time in. I also like to write. For me, taking time to just ramble-write in my journal for pages at a time energizes me. If I write it down, I can see through the mess and gain clarity in what I need to do and the next steps.”

Knowing what you know now, what would you have done differently when you were first starting out?

“I would have been less driven — I would have tried to be calmer and take it a little slower; tried to make more conscious decisions. I would have liked to have put myself at the center earlier and kept my own life as more of a priority.”

Carla Hall

Community for women

“The idea of focusing my attention on one thing and doing it well appealed to me.”

Born in Nashville, Carla Hall grew up surrounded by soul food. When the time came for her to select her career path, she first opted for a business route – she worked as an accountant for two years – before deciding to switch gears to work as a runway model. It was during that time, as she traveled her way through Europe for a few years, that she truly realized her deep-rooted passion for food could be her career path. Today, she is a trained chef who has worked in several professional restaurant kitchens in and around the Washington, D.C. area and is an accomplished television personality and author. Her latest cookbook, Carla Hall’s Soul Food: Everyday and Celebration, was published in 2018.

Where were you when you came up with the idea for your business or discovered what you wanted to do?

“The decision to change my catering company to a cookie company (now cookes and deserts) was the result of deciding to do Top Chef All-Stars. I was burned out on catering, and it was suggested that I use the show as part of my business plan. I wasn’t sure what that next step was, so in the heat of the moment, I chose petite cookies, which were already a small part of the catering business. The idea of focusing my attention on one thing and doing it well appealed to me.”

What’s the hardest thing about being your own boss that isn’t obvious?

“The lack of an employee annual review. There are times when I would welcome a report card from a third party.”

What would you tell yourself ten to twenty years ago that you wish you knew then?

“Being patient, without judgement, makes you a good employer and employee.”

Dana Tanamachi

Community for women

Styles change, tastes change, and people change — especially you!”

Dana Tanamachi is a New York City-based lettering artist and designer who enjoys living a quiet life and working with her hands. In 2009, an impromptu chalk installation for a Brooklyn housewarming party landed Tanamachi her first commission for Google and set the popular chalk-lettering trend – and her career – In motion. After working under design icon Louis Fili, she opened Tanamachi Studio, a boutique design studio specializing in custom typography and illustration for editorial, lifestyle, food, and fashion brands. She has been commissioned globally by clients such as Target, Nike, USPS, Penguin Books, Ralph Lauren, Instagram, and West Elm.

What is the biggest sacrifice you’ve made in starting or running your business?

“When business began picking up extremely fast, I admit that I left a few friends hanging. I definitely made sure to apologize profusely, beg for forgiveness, and realign my values in order to make them a priority. Without healthy relationships, we can become work-obsessed zombies!”

What does the world need more of? Less of?

“The world needs more inspired, original work. It probably needs fewer Pinterest boards full of other people’s work.”

What is an important lesson you’ve learned from running your own business?

“The biggest lesson I’ve learned is to not invest yourself so heavily in one thing, one trend, or one medium. When I  began creating typographic chalk murals in 2009, I never saw chalk as the  pinnacle of my career, or the specialty niche I’d always be in. It was a means to an end. And when I felt that season needed to be put to rest, it wasn’t devastating at all. It was simply time to walk away. Closing that door opened so many new ones, and I can’t imagine where I’d be if I was still clinging on to the thing that had provided so much attention and opportunity. It would only be out of fear. Styles change, tastes change, and people change — especially you!”

Miko Branch

Advice from 5 Female Entrepreneurs

“Sometimes no is a positive thing, and sometimes it’s okay to say no.”

Miko Branch is the Co-Founder and CEO of Miss Jessie’s Products. Branch was influenced by her African-American father and Japanese mother, and decided to combine her passion for beauty and entrepreneurial spirit by founding Miss Jessie’s. Branch founded the company with her late sister, Titi Branch, back in 1997. Miss Jessie’s has since revolutionized the hair care industry and has also become a supportive community for women of color.

What was the best piece of business advice you were given when you were starting out?

“The best business advice I ever got was from my grandmother, Miss Jessie. She would tell my sister and me to “always use common sense.”

In moments of self-doubt or adversity, how do you build yourself back up?

“I do a self-checklist, asking myself a few key questions: Have I been fair? Have I been kind? Did I put in the work? If the answers to those questions is yes, then that gives me the confidence to stay the course with whatever I was doing, and to keep moving forward, confident in the decisions I have made.”

What’s the biggest overall lesson you’ve learned in running a business?

“I’ve learned that the word “no” has many meanings and is not necessarily a negative thing. Sometimes no is a positive thing, and sometimes it’s okay to say no.”

Christy Turlington Burns

Advice from 5 Female Entrepreneurs

“Success to me is when I am feeling purposeful, authentic, and of service to others.”

Christy Turlington Burns is an Salvadoran-American model, filmmaker, and founder of Every Mother Counts, a community for women. Shortly after giving birth to her daughter, Turlington Burns began to experience postpartum complications. Turlington Burns remembered how those first moments bonding with her daughter were cut short because of growing concern that she had not yet gone into the fourth stage of labor as expected. Since her scare, Turlington Burns has dedicated her days to changing that outcome one mother at a time. In 2010, she released the documentary ‘No Woman No Cry’ to bring awareness to issues surrounding maternal health around the world. Two years later, she established Every Mother Counts, a community for women and mothers, to make pregnancy and childbirth safer for mothers across the globe.

What was the best piece of business advice you were given when you were starting out?

“Some great advice I received early on was to take extra time for myself to travel when in another country or city for work, and to always seek out friends of friends or family when abroad to get a better perspective on a place and then continue to nurture those relationships.”

What’s your greatest success in your business experiences?

“I’m proud that this life-changing experience has brought me closer to so many girls and women, and that our mission is inspiring others to work together to impact the lives of people they don’t already know.”

What does success mean to you?

“Success to me is when I am feeling purposeful, authentic, and of service to others.”