These women entrepreneurs did it, so can you!
It can be very tempting to launch a business based solely on what we perceive is in demand or popular. But authenticity is key when launching a new brand. It’s important to meet our audience where they are, and connect with them in a relatable manner. Brands that are most successful are those that resonate with their audience. Just look at a brand that has grown a loyal following—Spanx.
“I’ve always had that gratitude that I had the opportunity to pursue my potential. So I think my story says that, when women are given the chance and the opportunity, that we can achieve a lot. We deliver. We can make the world a better place, one butt at a time.” — Sara Blakely, Spanx Founder
While selling fax machines door-to-door, Spanx founder Sarah Blakely wore pantyhose, which proved to be uncomfortable in the muggy Florida weather. She also disliked the appearance of the seamed hosier when wearing open-toed shoes. However, she did like how the control-top eliminated panty lines and made her body appear slimmer and smoother. Blakely created a prototype with a pair of her pantyhose that she cut off. They weren’t perfect, but they served as the foundation of what would become Spanx.
But Blakely doesn’t have a monopoly on great narratives. There are many more, from Sophia Amoruso (Nasty Gal, Girlboss) to Lisa Price (Carol’s Daughter). You too can create a compelling brand story around your business or product, and grow a loyal following of people who need and want what you are selling. Here are various industries and examples of how you can appeal to your audience with a compelling and authentic story:
Did you suffer from acne as a teen and had a traumatic high school experience because of it? Or, have you developed a new gadget to make your beauty routine easier? That was the case for Beautyblender founder Rea Ann Silva, a makeup artist who wanted a better way to blend makeup when working with her celebrity clients. She would cut triangular pieces of sponge into round shapes to apply makeup for a flawless finish, because there wasn’t a portable tool on the market that worked to her satisfaction. From there, Beautyblender was born. Her bright pink, egg-shaped sponge has forever changed how we apply our makeup.
Are you a life coach, digital marketer or brand consultant? Building a story around your success and failures could be what resonates with your audience. Arizona-based entrepreneurs Robin Bramman of Brandtini and Jenny Poon of Co+ Hoots, joined forces to found Startup Kite to help emerging entrepreneurs launch their businesses. There message centers around what they have learned while building their businesses, and how others can avoid those pitfalls. They assist entrepreneurs in starting their businesses, from building a website to incorporating.
They say food is the way to a man’s heart. But let’s be honest, we all enjoy a good feast—whether we are vegan, carnivorous or organic eaters. Great food will definitely capture an audience, and if there is an amazing message attached to it, even better! A great testimonial to this is Carla Hall. When she competed on Bravo’s Top Chef, the Nashville native recalled recipes from her grandmother’s kitchen. Her nostalgic reminiscence about the soul food her grandmother cooked, made her stand out among the other competing chefs, along with her delicious dishes, of course. Hall went on to co-star on ABC’s The Chew and has released a book called Carla Hall’s Soul Food: Everyday and Celebration.
Is fashion your forte, and do you have a concept for a competitive clothing brand? That was Alex Waldman and Polina Veksler of Universal Standard. These two friends—one on the curvier side and the other more slender—were frustrated that they were unable to shop at the same stores and get stylish looks. They joined forces to launch a line of clothing that was not only universally appealing, but fit a range of sizes from 00-40. They even have kits, stylishly curated head-to-toe looks that you can buy already coordinated.
You have a great idea for a hot new website with a well-defined niche, but do you have an authentic story that resonates with your target audience? Journalist Katie Hintz-Zambrano, who previously served as an editor for Refinery29, co-founded Mother Mag. She felt a void after having her first child and wanted to create a resource for the “modern mother.” The online magazine celebrates mothers and shares stories on parenting from a mother’s perspective. Hintz-Zambrano also launched two event-based brands for entrepreneur moms—MOTHER Market and In Good Company.
The tech industry is booming, and you may have just found an app that solves an everyday issue. Kathryn Finney, a Yale graduate and founder of The Budget Fashionista website, launched an incubator for women of color called Digitalundivided. As an African-American woman entrepreneur, she experienced first hand the bias for women of color who were business owners. After she sold her popular website, she conducted and compiled extensive research into an in-depth report called ProjectDiane, which explored the state of Black and Latina women entrepreneurs.