To honour International Women's Day we've talked to 5 amazing female founders, asking them to share answers to a few key questions. From the why did you start, to the best advice they’ve ever received.
Having started MG&Co. with no formal business training Matilda has found the generous advice from others invaluable in helping navigate through the myriad of problems that you are faced with in a start up. We wanted to shine a light on some of these women and hope that their comments might resonate and inspire others in their own ventures.
Founder & CEO
By Rotation | @byrotation | @areyoueshita
Why did you start your business? I founded By Rotation after witnessing first-hand textile waste on my honeymoon in my hometown in Rajasthan, India. It felt wrong that something so beautiful, joyful and fun has such a dark, dirty side to it. Instead of waiting for the fashion industry to change, I decided to create a sharing economy platform for consumers to take charge of their fashion habits themselves!
What have you learnt from the most? Rejection, mistakes and past failures have thought me the most valuable lessons. Call me a masochist, but I've truly found that what doesn't kill me has made me stronger! The most important trait in any great leader is tenacity after all.
What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received? Keep things as lean as possible by being self-sufficient and resourceful. Where you have skill gaps - hire the experts.
Why did you start Peanut? Peanut was born out of my personal experience with motherhood. When I had my first child, my friends weren't at the stage in their lives where they were having children yet, and even if some were, they lived far away. Even though I had lots of friends and was successful professionally, what I felt most prominently (which wasn't comfortable to admit!) was loneliness. The second issue was my frustration with the existing products on the market aimed at mothers. I didn’t recognise the tone of voice or the UX/UI that these products used. They felt outdated, old-fashioned, and in some cases, patronizing. I was a millennial woman and motherhood was just another chapter in my book — and yet, all of the products that were available to me didn’t address this. There was Uber for transport, Instagram for photos, but for motherhood there was… nothing. This was further compounded by the fact that I was working in an industry where it was my day-to-day role to create products that people could use to find connections, yet I couldn’t find a friend to meet for coffee. Taking everything I had learned from the dating world, I launched Peanut early 2017 to provide a solution for women looking to connect and find support.
Do you think you can achieve success without sacrifice? With Peanut I've worked harder than I've never had to before. There is a huge amount of sacrifice required. For our family and me, I believe it’s essential for my children to see that Mommy saw a problem and wanted to fix it, so she works hard every day to do so. With that said, it’s not necessarily the right decision for everyone, of course. How could I tell Fin and Nuala that they can do anything, be anyone, be the one to make change happen if they don't see me following that same advice and logic every day?
What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received? Always value your network.
Do you think you can achieve success without sacrifice? I think to be successful, you will live and breathe your business. You have to love what you do. I am so lucky to design shoes! It doesn’t feel like a sacrifice. I would say what you need more than a willingness to sacrifice is a willingness to be bored at times and stick with it. Never give up (even the times when you probably should)!
What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received? We have a guy who has been a mentor / business dad to us since the very beginning. His name is Rodney, he grew up in Zebulon, North Carolina, he’s in his late 80s and he has the best sayings. One is “lay in the weeds.” It means just sit tight, don’t react. I remind myself of that one a lot. He also says “anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” I love that one because it makes me realize that failure is a part of the process. It’s normal and natural for things to go wrong sometimes. And you put one foot in front of the other and just get through it.
What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received? The best business advice I have been given is to remain optimistic. Running your own business is fraught with challenges and can sometimes fill me with anxiety, but optimism is infectious especially if you are working in a close knit team. It's about persevering and dealing with the bumps with good grace. Another key for me is about building a good culture with good people - I often hire for emotional skills over technical skills - kindness, self awareness, integrity etc mean more to me than jazzy knife skills.
Why did you start your business? Whilst on mat leave I had a bit of a lightbulb moment when souring homeware and realised there was not one platform where you could buy everything all at once - like a farfetch for the home. So on a mission, I decided to build it! Not knowing how tough starting a business would be, I was driven by wanting to make waves in an industry that I think needs a shake up and to build a company with legacy and community at the heart of it.
What have you learnt the most? I have learnt so much, having not really done anything academic though my whole education, the last 2 years building this business have been like going back to school! There are so many intricacies to a business, and at the heart of that is building a happy team who love the business as much as you do. There are the big things – like fundraising and building tech, there are the endless legal, HR and banking forms and the not-so-big things that make up the everyday but are just as important. Thankfully my co-founder is my brother in law - so going through this together means we share our learnings and experiences together. I am at the very beginning of this journey but every day I am excited about what we are building and what’s to come.