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International Women's Day 2022: Celebrating Female Founders

International Women's Day 2022: Celebrating Female Founders

By M Borriero

To honour International Women’s Day, we’ve rounded up some extraordinary woman-owned brands in the wellbeing and beauty industry. Discover more about these wonderful companies and their founders!

Anna Lahey, founder of Vida Glow 

Vida Glow Founder Anna Lehay

What does it mean to be a female entrepreneur?

It means unrelenting passion, perseverance and commitment. With my position as a female entrepreneur, I deeply feel that it’s my role to encourage and elevate women in the workforce. Today, we have endless opportunities and platforms to continue breaking bias in this space. To present new career pathways for women and to support the real demands of life as a woman.

Vida Glow is a 92% female-operated business, with women comprising the majority of our leadership team. I’m so proud of the culture we’ve created and am lucky to be surrounded daily by strong, intelligent women who never cease to inspire me.

What inspired you to start your business?

I discovered marine collagen while I was travelling overseas. I started with one serving a day and within weeks I saw transformative results in my skin, hair and nails. I spent months researching and educating myself on the science behind marine collagen – and the clinical evidence was there to substantiate the visible changes I experienced.

The idea of ingestible beauty was unheard of in Australia at the time. So, I saw the gap for ingestible formulations that not only addressed common beauty concerns but delivered real, science-backed results.

As a mother of three and business-owner, I know life is fast, busy and at times messy. Which is why I wanted to create products that support the dynamic lifestyles of women. Streamlining their days with efficacious products that positively impact beauty regimes and help them achieve tangible, long-term benefits.

Vida Glow is my passion, and to be able to empower women through innovative ingestible regimes is something I don’t take for granted.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced and how did you overcome it?

I embrace the challenges of owning an innovative, fast-growing brand. I encourage our team to treat each set-back as an opportunity to reset and revaluate – and come out stronger.

We say “don’t be afraid to be the first. Welcome the challenges.” One of the first obstacles we faced when we launched in 2014 was low consumer awareness of marine collagen – and ingestible beauty in general. We prioritised education and made a conscious effort to communicate the clinically proven benefits of marine collagen to our community. And with the support of our Skin Professional Panel of dermatologists, scientists and skin experts, we’ve given ingestible beauty a platform – and credibility – in the crowed beauty industry. It’s these challenges that have shaped us into the brand we are today.

Irena Eris, founder of Dr Irena Eris

Dr Irena Eris founder

What does it mean to be a female entrepreneur?

When I started my own business, managers were usually male, and management was often perceived as a masculine domain. Today, running one's own business is not exclusively a male story anymore. Women wish to be managers, earn more and be equal partners in negotiations. They often start their own businesses to achieve this objective. Their strengths include education, willingness to improve their qualifications, and character qualities. Today, a business can successfully grow only if it is powered with different values and diversified potential. Increasingly more women perform as managers on a par with men. Just think how many women run their own businesses and are really good at it. Everyone should get their opportunity, and careers should be gender-neutral. Everything should depend just on your will, determination and how you define your expectations from life. 

What inspired you to start your business?

My company was born of dreams and passion. I founded it with my husband in 1983. At the turn of 1970s and 80s, I was a young woman. Well educated, with a PhD degree. I was about to begin my professional career. Back then, working in the pharmaceutical R&D segment was not as rewarding as I expected. I started thinking about a change that would give me more freedom and independence. With my knowledge, I could easily think about the cosmetic industry. I was perfectly aware of what our skin needs, what processes occur in it, and what you can do to moisturise it and make it more flexible and fit. I wanted to create new formulas and manufacture creams. I studied pharmacy – it’s a great science. It is based on the knowledge of medical and chemical subjects, but also on botany, biology, pharmacology, anatomy, technology, etc.

As a young girl, I had very sensitive, allergic skin and acne vulgaris. It was an unpleasant experience that affected my confidence and self-esteem. I wanted my complexion to be perfect and so I was looking everywhere for a lifesaver. I visited beauticians and dermatologists, but I also looked for a solution myself – as my own pharmaceutical knowledge evolved. Already during my studies, I made creams for myself and my friends, and I prepared creams to relieve the effects of acne. I decided to start my own company, and since cosmetology was already my passion at that time, the choice was simple.

Being a business for women, by women. What does it mean to you?

I want to contribute to helping women feel confident and beautiful and pursue their life goals without complexes. Intuitively, from the very beginning, I wanted to take responsibility for every jar of my cream. I demonstrated this by signing them with my name. Dr Irena Eris is a brand created for women who are aware of their beauty, who value the highest quality and seek the most excellent, state-of-the-art solutions.

We continue our advanced scientific research and launch new cosmetics designed for women from across the world. Members of our research team are mostly women. Among our latest products, the new Institute Solutions Y-Lifting series turned out to be an enormous success. It is a new range of lifting cosmetics which aims to slim down the face profile and reduce double chin and neck wrinkles.

With age, due to the loss of collagen, the skin loses its firmness, density and elasticity – this process is intensified by hormonal changes, poor diet and environmental factors. The Y-lifting cosmetic range was inspired by procedures performed at Cosmetic Institutes, which are based on the synergy of three hi-tech technologies (radiofrequency, ultrasound and vacuum massage). We respond to the needs of women from around the globe. In addition to the UK, customers can find our cosmetics in over 50 countries – for example at exclusive European perfumeries in France, Germany, Denmark, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Croatia, the Middle East, North Africa or New Zealand. I believe that in all these places, we help women in achieving their life goals.

Fatma Shaheen, founder of Skin Design London

Fatma Shaheen founder of Skin Design London

What does it mean to be a female entrepreneur?

It feels good! It’s a dream come true. I hope I can ​​encourage​and motivate other women to build and lead in business. I hope I can help others and share my experiences to make it easier or to give comfort during their most challenging moments. 

What inspired you to start your business?

To create a business that meets the needs of women and men's skin. I have and continue to edit, interpret, and create a destination that looks after its client's skin, and well-being. I always wanted to create the best in skincare and treatments in a saturated, confusing market space. A business lead by the needs of my clients.

What advice would you give a young entrepreneur looking to break into the industry?

Don't give up!!!! It’s not easy but you have to be your number one supporter and believe in yourself. Work hard and keep moving forward. Challenges and obstacles are important as they will only make you and your business better. 

Lucy Goff, founder of LYMA Life

Lucy Goff LYMA life founder

What does it mean to be a female entrepreneur?

There are so many inspirational female entrepreneurs around today, and the number is growing all the time. Campaigns like International Women’s Day, which focus on female empowerment, have enabled women’s voices and needs to be heard. I consider myself very lucky to be living in a time and a place when my business dreams can be realised.

What inspired you to start your business?

I was inspired to start my business after becoming dangerously ill with septicaemia after the birth of my daughter. I had no real hope of recovery until a chance meeting with Dr Paul Clayton, the world’s leading pharmaconutritionist. He introduced me to ingredients that actually worked (unlike 90% of the rest of the supplement industry), and the difference was exceptional. Since then I have made it my mission to deliver science driven solutions to everyone. By engineering nature with ingredients and technology that actually works, we have been able to help thousands of customers to make their move.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace, and what do you think should be done to improve this?

The biggest issue for women is balance – balancing all the different aspects of their life with their passion and love for their work. Whether that’s menopause, parenthood, caring for relatives and friends or anything else, employers need to recognise that empathy and understanding to deliver workable solutions is what really enable women. 

Dr Anita Sturnham, founder of Decree

Dr Anita Sturnham founder of Decree

What does it mean to be a female entrepreneur?

Being a female entrepreneur has been a rollercoaster journey and a role that I fell into by accident but have never looked back. I am proud of my achievements and love the fact that I can follow my dreams and combine my medical career with my passion for developing skincare. I try not to sugar coat things when people ask me whether setting up and running your own business is the right thing to do. There are certainly highs, for example, when you launch a new product, win an award or see your work changing someone's skin health and confidence, to the lows which can, at times, be immeasurable. 

Being an entrepreneur means that you are under pressure 24/7. I can’t leave work and switch off. I recently became a mother and that has added another layer of complexity to my world. Many female entrepreneurs that I know, including myself, feel under pressure to be a ‘good mother’ as well as keeping on top of business responsibilities. Despite this, I do  see motherhood as a strength. As a CEO, I have become more focussed and time efficient since having a baby and it has given me a different perspective on life.

What inspired you to start your business?

When I meet other female entrepreneurs, I always find it interesting to hear about their journey to launching their own business. The common trend is that many women create a business when they can’t find a product or service to meet their own needs. In my case, I was working as an NHS doctor and also at a private Dermatology clinic and found that my NHS patients didn’t get the level of care that I wanted to deliver, due to restrictions in time and resources and my private patients were treated in an environment that was so focussed on making money and the clinical care aspect was often an afterthought.

I also found it frustrating that the specialisms of dermatology, nutrition and general medicine were so segregated and I wanted to be able to offer a service where I could combine everything together, so I launched my own clinic, Nuriss, in 2014, a centre that focuses on supporting your skin health from the outside in. We offer expertise in gut health, hormones, nutrition and skin health under one roof.

What advice can you offer women who are seeking to have their own business?

My advice to other women is to follow your heart and believe in yourself and your abilities. If you want to launch your own business, it can be helpful to work in a role first for another company that allows you to learn about the industry. Surround yourself by inspiring people and if you are starting out in a particular career, it can be great to have a mentor, to guide you and share their own journey with you. Treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself too, this is a rule that I have always followed.

Katherine Elyse Blake, founder of Beautifully Nourished

Katherine Elyse Blake Beautifully Nourished

What does it mean to be a female entrepreneur?

Being a female entrepreneur is something I feel incredibly proud of.  I think watching a female leader in feminine flow is one of the most magnificent things to witness.  

Here at Beautifully Nourished, we really celebrate feminine flow. This feminine flow (often known as yin energy) is not a gender, or gender specific.  It lives and lies in all of us.  It is the aspect of self often associated with being and receiving rather than effort and striving for validation outside of ourselves, holding space, letting things flow to us, creation, intuition, community, sensuality and nourishment.  

Being a female entrepreneur allows for me to cultivate and grow this celebration of the feminine way.

What inspired you to start your business? 

I had known that I was going to run my own company before I left secondary school.  Whilst I didn’t know exactly how this would look, I did know how much I loved both nutritional and biological sciences and I followed that path – The path of passion.

After completing my degree in Nutrition in 2012, I travelled to Kentucky, USA to work within one of the world’s first Nutrigenomic centers.  Here I studied just how powerful an effect nutrients can have on the human body, even down to cellular level, affecting the ways in which our genes express themselves. 

Nutrition and we know nourishment to come in many forms, from food to thoughts, emotions to relationships and the environment that surrounds us – can transform so much from how we think, feel, look and even act. I wanted to share this message with as many people as I could and the brainstorming and the targeted and functional formulations behind Beautifully Nourished began. 

What is the one accomplishment you are most proud of? 

This year, I am absolutely most proud to partner with Fine Luxury Living as we enter the UK, our home market. There is no better feeling than partnering with other female lead companies, with shared a shared vision: to encourage health and wellness from the inside out.

We have found our homes with the most wonderful retail partners - John Bell and Croydon and Selfridges London.  Through these partnerships we have been able to expand our reach and further endorse the healing modality of functional nutrition.

Our formulations will always be a source of pride - we love to make people feel good and create and develop nourishing products offering simple formulations for outstanding results. 

Offering a range of beautifully nourished vitamins alongside natural, organic skincare, Beautifully Nourished’s supplements and vitamins are designed to boost mental and physical wellbeing. 

With the ethos of simple beauty and effectively supporting from the inside out, Beautifully Nourished use pure, concentrated and powerful formulas to target deep within the cells for ultimate regeneration.  Beautifully Nourished's vitamins are precisely dosed for maximum results, to feed the mind, body and soul.

Happy International Women's Day
to all women out there!

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