EILEEN FISHER + TakePart.Com Honor 30 Outstanding Women Entrepreneurs

EILEEN FISHER’s In Her Company campaign highlights issues facing female entrepreneurs and recognizes 30 businesses led by women entrepreneurs.

in-her-company

Modern minimalist design and socially-conscious company EILEEN FISHER, Inc. has teamed up with TakePart.com, Participant Media’s digital news and lifestyle magazine and social action platform for the conscious consumer, to launch the In Her Company campaign recognizing 30 up-and-coming businesses in the food, technology and fashion industries led by outstanding women entrepreneurs. The campaign aims to highlight issues facing female entrepreneurs while educating the public, and creating an open forum for discussion on the issue of women in business.

“I know how important it is to have someone believe in and validate your work, and my goal is to encourage women entrepreneurs, especially those who firmly believe that business can be used to create social change, even if the economic climate is uncertain,” says Eileen Fisher, founder and Chief Creative Officer of EILEEN FISHER, Inc.

A successful fashion business featured in “In Her Company is Melissa Joy Manning, an eponymous label based in Oakland, California. Known for her beautifully designed and impeccably crafted jewelry, a 2013 Eileen Fisher grant recipient and co-chair of the CFDA Sustainability Committee, Manning has attracted a loyal following not only for her bespoke designs but for her socially and environmentally-responsible ethos.

MELISSA JOY MANNING and AMBER VALLETTA Co-Host MJM NYC Store Opening

Melissa Joy Manning (CFDA image)

“One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced as a woman entrepreneur in the fashion industry is being taken seriously.  I can’t tell you how many times someone has asked what I do for a living and when I tell them that I am a jewelry designer they reply, ‘Oh, that’s so cute.’  It’s a conversation killer every time,” says Manning.

“I am ambitious and visionary, yet many of my male contemporaries see me as pushy and dreamy.  This is challenging on many levels- but mostly, I’m tired of waiting for them to realize I‘m not some ‘dumb girl’ playing in business but a highly organized woman who wants to be treated with the same respect as a man.  I’m ready to walk in a room and stop dumbing myself down.  And, I’m ready to be given the same access to funding so I can grow my business while simultaneously creating change in my community,” adds Manning.

The press release for In Her Company also reported that through editorial stories, video, and info-graphics as well as the opportunity to take action by pledging to support I Am That Girl, – a national organization dedicated to creating safe spaces for young girls to discuss difficult issues and foster creativity and confidence – the campaign also hopes to put a spotlight on the growth opportunities and challenges faced by women like Manning and others.

For instance, TakePart notes that there are approximately 9.1 million women-owned businesses in the U.S as of 2014, accounting for nearly 7.9 million workers or 6% of workforce, and it’s anticipated that women-owned businesses will create an additional 3.1 million more jobs by 2018.

Hickies

HICKIES patented elastic lacing system

“Despite this growth, funding for women-led startups lags with only 19% of startup or angel funding going to these businesses in 2013,” says TakePart.

Mariquel Waingarten of HICKIES , is a Brooklyn-based lifestyle brand co-founded by Waingarten that “prides itself on designing products that re-imagine the obvious,” like replacing traditional shoelaces with a patented elastic lacing system.

Waingarten says that as a woman entrepreneur, the biggest challenges for her as a woman AND as an entrepreneur is to always remind herself that she is in fact a woman and that the way she does business will and should always represent that.

“The world of business has been designed for men and one of my biggest challenges is to shape this space so that it adapts to the way women do business, not the other way around. The business environment is constantly challenging who you are, and I do not want to wake up one day to find out that the best qualities and attributes that characterize me as a woman have been jeopardized. The biggest challenge I face as an entrepreneur is to be able to have a balanced life. To be able to balance my passion for business with my passion for life,” says Waingarten who adds that what she thinks is the common thread between all the businesses that are part of In Her Company is that the stories and experiences shared by the entrepreneurs all show a strong impulse to problem solve as well as serve others.

Mariquel_Waingarten

Mariquel Waingarten, founder of HICKIES

“All the women chosen to be a part of In Her Company are not only successful strong minded and admirable women but they also care about more than just business,” says Waingarten. “And that is another women’s attribute I love to emphasize. Women’s capability to care is broader, is more human, we are more sensitive, it is in our DNA to sense what the other needs. And when care and passion are put together something spectacular is born.”

Check out this 2 minute launch video featuring a handful of the women business owners featured in In Her Company to get inspired.