I’ve been listening to “How I built this” that gives insights, anecdotes and founder stories. Everyone knows the Uber, Airbnb and Toms but although they’re definitely aspirational, it just hits closer to home when I hear a woman talk about building out her passion and grinding her way thru success.
So this week I present to you: 3 female founders who hustled their way to becoming business bosses and sources to draw energy and inspiration from.
I let you in my not-so-big-secret secret that I love to make lists and ratings. So let me just do that right now: share a list of ladies I enjoyed listening to and rate them in an entirely subjective Simona manner.
3. Holly Thaggard – Supergoop!
Holly Thaggard founderof Supergoop! sunscreen. I love underdogs and Holly is the perfect example:
- She didn’t go to business school
- She played the harp and was a musician
- She aspired to be a teacher, but she was denied a permanent position
Thaggard started her own sunscreen brand after learning that one of her close friends suffered from skin cancer – and that it is so easy to catch. She realized that all the kids playing outside never put on sunscreen and set off on a mission to introduce kid-friendly sunscreen at schools. Fast forward to today Thaggard has a $40 million dollar business providing protection to kids and adults against UVA (present in all seasons, even if you don’t “see” the sun and the rays that can cause skin cancer and skin ageing) and UVB (the rays that “burn”).
#2 Sara Blakely – Spanx
Sara Blakely founderof Spanx underwear, kind of the white grandmother of Kim K’s SKIMS.. Blakely
- Wanted to be a lawyer but didn’t pass her exams
- The went not to work at Disneyland, got tired of that and then
- Proceeded to sell fax machines
Was inspired to produce her own shapewear while selling fax machines (she had to look the part, but it was uncomfy AH), contacted a dozen suppliers who all rejected her and then had óne supplier who gave in and supported her pity party. Sara stalked buyers and got her product into Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman, performed some more stalking there (would put her product near the cashier register without the dpt store’s knowledge/approval), stalked customers (she’d be her own sales rep in those department stores), stalked Oprah too and tadaaaaa: has built a brand worth of $1 billion today.
The perfect example of how our stalking behaviour can be put to useful practise (don’t start on me with how you’re not a stalker, everyone’s a stalker, Karen)
#1 Payal Kadakia – Classpass
Payal. I thought that her story hit a bit closer to home: she lives in lists and spreadsheets as well(✅). That already gave her bonus points. What else? Kid of immigrant Indian parents who worked their ass*s off (✅)to put their children in the best school (❌I think my parents were already happy they could find a school and articulate they had a kiddo that wanted to attend). She lived her double/immigrant life): going to school and partaking in western activities (✅singing Hankie Pankie Shanghai for my birthday) but also developing her passion for South Asian dance (❌was sent to Chinese school, all I developed was a passion for cutting class and eating McDonald’s). Proceeded to study at MIT,#1 university in the world (❌alright you lost me there), started a dance club among the future global visionaries there (❌I performed as Mel B at my primary school yearly dance performance..?), worked at Bain, top 3 consulting firms worldwide (❌I opted for an e-commerce startup where I’d voluntary donate my hard-earned money back into the company’s accounts buying up their apparel and footwear, with discount though… with discount) and Warner Music (✅Music or Swoosh, both big companies I’ll take it) whilst starting her dance group there too (❌this is the point where I realize that this entire story might not hit home that closely). She decided to start her own company, which she had to pivot 5 times in order to get what is today called Classpass.
Did I mention she set goals in spreadsheets? (✅) and loves sport (✅)?
Boss level: 9/10 Not a real underdog, just really hard work. I love it. And I love spreadsheets. And I love workouts. And I love immigrant stories.
How she built Classpass / She beaut too / Her 3.8m viewed wedding dance