8 Women Entrepreneurs Who Don’t Take No For An Answer

Women’s Entrepreneurship Day 2016


Nov. 19 2016, Published 2:27 p.m. ET

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Women entrepreneurs have higher hurdles to climb on their path to success and profitablity, so it’s critical that we support and celebrate them.

Despite not having equal access to funding, and resources, women entrepreneurs make $1.6 trillion in revenues and comprise of more than a third of businesses in this country according to data from the National Women’s Business Council.

Today is Women’s Entrepreneurship Day which celebrates women in business. Since it’s launch in 2014, it’s acknowledged every year on the 19th of November. According to the official website 144 nations overall recognized the first celebration.

So in honor of this day, we’re taking a moment to shine a light on women entrepreneurs who fight the good fight every day and make it happen by any means necessary.

Jessica O. Matthews, CEO Of Uncharted Play

Jessica O. Matthews, CEO Of Uncharted Play
Source: Image via: Uncharted Play

“When I was creating our first product, SOCCKET – the energy-harnessing soccer ball – many engineers told me that the SOCCKET would be impossible to create. I approached the idea without a formal engineering degree, which allowed me to question the way things were traditionally done. I owe my success to not knowing where the boundaries were and creating something new. The result of my perseverance is the SOCCKET, which eventually led to the beginning of what Uncharted Play is today.”

Cathy Hughes, Founder Of TV One & Radio One

“I don’t view things as lows and highs. Business has its ups and downs and everything in life is a cycle. Everyone’s life has ups and downs, so I don’t take it personally. As the Good Book says, “this too shall pass away” and I live by that adage that bad times will not only pass but so will good times.

I’ve had challenging times, but it’s kind of dangerous to say what was the lowest because you don’t know what the good Lord has in store for you in the future. It may be yet to come.”

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Oprah, TV Show Host, Actress And Producer

Photo Courtesy of Harpo Studios, Inc. / George Burns

Photo Courtesy of Harpo Studios, Inc. / George Burns

“At some point, you are bound to stumble. You will at some point fall, and when you do, I want you to remember this—There is no such thing as failure; failure is just life trying to move us in another direction. Here’s the key: Learn from every mistake, because every experience and encounter, particularly your mistakes, are there to teach you and force you into being more of who you are.”

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Tyra Banks, Model, Film and Television Producer

“I am very attracted to risk, so much that it makes my financial advisors around me very uncomfortable. Just yesterday I got an email like, ‘are you crazy!?’ — because Tyra beauty is self-funded and they’re just like, ‘you’re going to keep doing this? and keep putting money into this?? and I’m like well we’re winning we’re doing well and they’re like, well what about a rainy day?!” she said in an interview on failure. 

In an essay on Lean In she expands on lessons learned, “I’ve learned many valuable lessons on my journey that have carried me through the rough times but here is the most important: There will always be people who doubt you. Laser-focus your energy on the task at hand and do your research. No matter the field, you can always know more. Remember, your biggest competitive advantage is always preparation. I strongly believe in the intersection of hard work and opportunity; I’ve seen it happen in my own life time and again.

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Life is funny. You think you have one plan and something comes up that changes everything in an instant. But true passion never dies – if you have a passion for something don’t be afraid to pursue it. My journey has included a successful and long career as a supermodel, creating one of the longest running and most successful global reality television shows in history, and my most proud title: a CEO and a business woman in control, with a strong voice for women and beauty. I didn’t end up going the route I had intended, but I did wind up exactly where I wanted to be.”

Vera Wang, Fashion Designer

Vera famously orignally trained as an ice skater with hopes of going to the Olympics. She then went on to become a successful editor at Vogue but did not make it up the ranks to where she wanted to be. The lesson? Sometimes you have to say no to your past expectations.

“As hard as I tried and as hard as I worked, I never really achieved the level that I wished. It was a very hard realization that since I was in my late teens, I was never going to get better. I wasn’t going to make the Olympic team, and there were younger skaters coming up. So I quit,” Wang explains.

On leaving Vogue:

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“After 17 years at Vogue, I realized that what I was doing there was never going to change. My career wasn’t going to go any further there. I wasn’t in line to get the editor in chief job. And I was at a point where I felt there had to be more. So after investing yet another 15 years in a career that really meant something to me, I left.”

“Don’t be afraid of failing. I think not trying is worse than failing. Have the courage to try. Otherwise, what are we here for?”

Janice Howroyd, CEO Of Act 1 Talent And Technology

“Never compromise who you are personally to become who you wish to be professionally.

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“So often people will talk to me about being the first African American woman to own a billion dollar businss. While I accept that applause with all the gratitdue I can muster, the best thing I cold ever be apploauded for is simply being another woman buiding a great business. Being the first African American woman to achieve anything in 2016 is not an accomplishment it truly is a reason to look to how being the first is apart of our history. My dream for business is that gender has no place in the evaluation of here success has occured nor will race have a place in that measurement, rather that innovation, value, opportunities created, and lives well lived are what we measure when we measure success. Business is a numbers game. I think it’s about time we stop counting the first and start to count the many.”

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Reshma Saujani, CEO Girls Who Code

Reshma Saujani

“I put a limit on how long I get to grieve about something. You get a month to complain and drink a lot of margaritas, and then you move on. I don’t live in the past. I move on from that, but I take my time to grieve and feel sorry for myself first. I think that has helped me a lot in my life. I also talk about my failures and insecurities, and my worries that I won’t achieve what I’ve set out to achieve, and that it hurts my feelings if I’m taken apart in the comments section of a blog. All of that is painful and real, and I think being your authentic self is really important to being a good leader.”

Martha de la Torre, CEO Of ‘El Clasificado

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“My husband Joe started raising money. Someone gave us $40,000. We needed $600,000. So I sold my house and my car and moved in with my dad. We made a lot of sacrifices. Joe would work with me at night. We tried to sell the company but nobody wanted to buy it. This was during the 1990 recession.”

Who inspires you to push forward no matter what?

[Editor’s note: Nesha also contributed to this article.]

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