We interviewed RISE co-founders, Rochelle Graham, CEO of Alikay Naturals, and Angela Walker, Founder of The Natural Hair Nstitute, to ask about their experience in the beauty industry. They share their experiences and words of advice as trailblazing women in leadership roles.
Don't let your insecurities cause negative competitive behavior
Rochelle: Narrow down what is working for you and explore the resources that are available to you rather than compare what you don’t have to others is one way to overcome feelings of “not being good enough.” Honing in on using your positive attributes and the resources that you have access to will not only better benefit you on the rise, but serve as an inspiration to another woman.
Angela: Women have to realize that talking to other businesswomen in your industry can only help your business. Everyone’s battle is different, everyone’s insight is different, and we all have something to learn from one another. You should enter these relationships with an open mind and an open heart, not necessarily spilling out your trade secrets but think of it as talking to a colleague who you both share the same passion for something. How could you not have a great conversation talking to someone who shares one of your most pressing passions.
Ways that women can help each other
Rochelle: Support and honesty are instrumental in women helping each other. Don’t be afraid to reach out and warn someone headed in a negative direction. Wanting to extend a helping hand to other women is what inspired me to launch the Alikay Naturals Brand Ambassador program. After receiving inquiries from women looking for advice as they embarked on their own goals and dreams, I wanted to create a program that served as an influential force in facilitating the individuality that builds confidence while empowering other women.
Angela: It’s important to reach back and encourage other women to make steps towards their dreams. It is inspiring to hear a woman you admire and/or respect tell her story and realize she started out just like you.
Top challenges for female entrepreneurs
Rochelle: The most challenging part about being a female entrepreneur, especially being a young female entrepreneur, is getting over the hurdle of expectations set by others. Traditionally, women have been expected to play a certain role in business and female millennials are challenging those stereotypes. As a female CEO, I find myself constantly having to prove myself as the most powerful decision maker within the company. Whether it is pushing for my voice to be heard in a board room surrounded by men or walking into a room with my spouse and male colleagues shaking my husband’s hand first after assuming that he is the sole decision maker. As a mother of a 3 year old, I have to always be aware that my ability to balance my work with my home life could be under scrutiny when taking on new partners. I want to be judged based on the quality of my work and my business, not my responsibilities in my personal life.
Angela: The most challenging part of being a female entrepreneur for me is being taken seriously. To be taken serious you need to look the part and I’m still working on that. I grew up in a home where makeup was never worn and fancy clothes were not a priority. The focus was on books and sports. So to now be in a realm where brains matter, but looks are almost just as important I find myself often feeling like I need to work on that side a bit more.
Turning your passion for hair care into a career
Rochelle: Whether you are an entrepreneur or an intrapreneur, it is important to invest your time wisely in research, be passionate about your career and be willing to go the extra mile for your business. While funding is a resource often associated with entrepreneurship, industry knowledge and a vision are the main resources for both.
For entrepreneurs, having your own business is so different from working for someone else. There is no one to tell you when to start your day or end your day. You have to be self-disciplined, be able to set your own boundaries and have the ability to forecast what your business needs for growth. As an entrepreneur, loving what you do is an important part of the dedication to your business, because you are going to work harder, wear many hats, and be required to make sacrifices.
Angela: Volunteer your time into getting to know the industry. And by getting to know the industry I don’t mean watching YouTube for hours, though entertaining, that’s not an education on the industry. There are many roles that make up this amazing industry we all love and you need to educate yourself to find out which avenue you want your career to go.
The RISE Women Empowerment Tour's first stop is this Saturday, March 7th in Houston, TX. Join Michelle, NaturallyCurly.com Co-founder for her inspirational talk on female entrepreneurship. We hope to see you there!