​Inspirational Women Entrepreneurs Share Their Secrets

Daniel Banas  |

Much has been written about the obsession with celebrity in our culture. Millions of people seem to be fascinated by the day-to-day lives of affluent, beautiful people who, increasingly, don’t really appear to have any talents or accomplishments to speak of aside from their own celebrity. However, those who are weary of the latest vapid reality TV stars can take heart in a more recent trend toward finding inspiration in business leaders and entrepreneurs - those who have followed their dreams, often against adversity, and have still persevered.

That optimistic point of view was at the heart of Tuesday evening’s event Secrets of Successful Women Entrepreneurs, presented by Stiletto Gal and Equities Women’s Council - a series designed to share inspirational stories of women who have worked their way from the bottom all the way to the top. The event, hosted by sales, marketing and event management expert Hillary Gadsby and Chief Luminaire and Principal Advisor at Luminaire Advisors Sonata Taman, featured Tina Aldatz and Margarita “Margie” Floris, co-founders of Savvy Travelers designer beauty wipes. Aldatz is also the founder of multi-million-dollar company Foot Petals, which Floris joined and helped to grow in 2001.

Many women (and a number of men as well) from various walks of life, backgrounds and professions were in attendance at Cross Campus Downtown, an impressive multi-purpose workspace in the heart of Los Angeles. The audience included web designers, bar and restaurant managers, authors, marketing and finance professionals and life coaches among many others, all looking for inspiration from women who had struggled and persevered.

Business Success as Familial Redemption

Tina Aldatz’s story is a remarkable one by any standard. The child of a Mexican father and Irish mother, Aldatz admitted she has always felt a bit like an outsider. Yet, that’s the least of the hurdles Aldatz has faced. Early on in the presentation, she admitted one of her deepest regrets - that she never pursued a formal education. Instead, Aldatz sought emancipation from her parents as a teenager, and never achieved a formal education past the 10th grade.

This reveal certainly came as a surprise to most of the audience, as to look over her accomplishments or listen to her speak, one would never expect that Aldatz had struggled against such adversity. Aldatz also offered a fascinating insight into what drives her, explaining that many of her relatives experienced serious legal problems - largely due to gang activity - and that one of her goals was “to bring nobility back to the Aldatz name.”

Many of the most illuminating moments of the presentation came from Aldatz explaining her mindset as a young woman looking to succeed despite having so much stacked against her. Early on, Gadsby asked Aldatz and Floris to offer their advice on how to handle a few common questions startup entrepreneurs face from potential investors, such as “What’s in it for them?” and “How will they get their money back?”

Aldatz responded by inviting the audience to imagine how she must have felt as a young woman with a 10th grade education looking for investors in her business...and having no idea how to begin designing a business plan. Aldatz amusingly illustrated her mindset at the time: “My plan was, ‘We’re going to make a super rad thing, we’re going to sell the sh-t out of it and make a whole bunch of f---in’ money,” Aldatz quipped.

Aldatz explained that to get past this mindset, she would focus on what she called The Three M’s:

  • Money - How much money do you need? When do you need it? When will I see the return on my investment?
  • Marketing - Who’s the target audience? How will we reach them? What will inspire them to action?
  • Management - Putting the right people in the right positions.

Balancing Motherhood with Business Leadership

(From left: Hillary Gadsby, Sonata Taman, Margarita Floris, Tina Aldatz)

Margarita Floris’ journey has perhaps been a bit less overtly dramatic than that of Aldatz, yet no less inspiring, as Floris balances her career with her all-important roles as a wife and mother. Floris said that, ultimately, she defines success as “leaving a legacy for my kids.” Floris wants her kids to one day look back and say “Wow, my mom was such a badass. She worked really hard her whole life to give us an opportunity.”

Floris expressed how difficult it can be to balance quality time with family alongside the responsibilities that come with business leadership, and surprised the audience by sharing that she makes time with her kids by serving them breakfast in bed each morning before they leave for school and she starts on her long workdays.

Some of the evening’s most useful insights came from the Q&A portion, in which audience members had the chance to ask their own questions. For instance, Anne Asiain, creator of Loot Trade brought up an issue that is increasingly pertinent to young entrepreneurs seeking funding: How do you build a strong business plan to investors when your business doesn’t produce a tangible product? “Say you want to launch a big website, what can you do to prove the feasibility of your idea?” Anne queried.

Floris responded by explaining that tech is very different from consumer goods. “You have a better chance of raising money with no profit or no business than if you do [show profit] today,” according to Floris. “It’s crazy, but that’s the way it is.” Floris explained that in tech today, a business plan “is about market studies, it’s about competition, it’s about your demographic, and how you prove it. If you’re going after Gen-Xers, what are they spending? If you’re going after Baby-boomers, this is what they’re spending, and this is what they’re interested in.”

Another entrepreneur in attendance, web designer and developer with Omuze Polina Tolkacheva, said that while she attends many conferences and events for work, this event held particular interest to her because of its focus on women in business. “As a female entrepreneur, I felt empowered by others sharing their journeys,” Tolkacheva said.

Femininity, Success, and the Importance of Mentors

The event also featured a presentation of products by MatchCo by their VP of Marketing Anita Jennison. Alongside a few other MatchCo representatives, Jennison offered guests the opportunity to try the company’s inventive makeup foundation that uses smartphone photos to design and match foundation to each person’s unique skin tone. The involvement of MatchCo and their warm and engaging reps was a reminder that women need not shy away from their femininity to be taken seriously and succeed in the business world.

In the end, though, there’s no question that the unfiltered insights of Aldatz and Floris were the event’s main attraction. Toward the end of the evening, Floris explained how these events can benefit entrepreneurs, as it’s important for women and men alike in business, “to get some mentorship any way they can. Networking is a really important aspect of doing business...especially in today’s competitive environment.”

Aldatz also addressed a comment from one audience member that repeatedly came up: That, despite the uphill climb Floris and Aldatz have faced throughout their careers, they somehow make it look easy. Aldatz was quick to suggest a possible reason why: “Prior to the event, we had two glasses of wine.”

For those interested in learning about Equities Women's Council contact Ashley Gibson at Ashley@Equities.Com

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of equities.com. Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions. To read our full disclosure, please go to: http://www.equities.com/disclaimer



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