In the movie The Devil Wears Prada the main character, Andy rolls her eyes and dismisses the importance of one of her tasks because she considers fashion beneath her. She’s a writer and in her mind she is slumming in her job at a top fashion magazine because, well, it’s fashion. She sees it as all trivial female drivel until her boss puts her in her place. Andy gets a lesson in the fashion business, the magnitude of the finances involved, the millions of jobs it creates worldwide and its place as a creative outlet in society.
That scene stayed with me because it illustrated the way that business sectors that are mainly for and about women are often seen as trivial or less important to the economy than more male-dominated businesses. Even more frustrating was the fact that Andy had bought into this misogynistic, and often wrong, idea.
You might have missed this story in the Daily Mail. It’s one I’m sure the NFL wasn’t dying to share on their social media. How New York Fashion Week generated more money for the city than last year’s Super Bowl. Surprised? I admit I was. Despite the fact that it’s fashion week and the Super Bowl is only one day. I, like Andy, completely underestimated the impact of the event because it is mainly a women’s event and thus not front page news. It was a lesson that reminded me that I am as susceptible as any to believing that media focus equals importance or worth.
Speaking of female focused businesses, let me introduce you to this young entrepreneur. Her name is Michelle Phan and although you may not have heard of her until now, you will soon see her name more and more. Glamor magazine called her the next Oprah. She is only 27 years old and has already built a business worth over 3 million dollars. How did she do it? She posted make up demos on YouTube. Then she released her own make up line, and a book, and a make up delivery service. Her next move is a network she is creating to host beauty, fashion and other lifestyle programming. She is sweet and charming and all about helping other women build their companies and brands. She is the future–smart women who understand the financial and networking power of other women. These are visionaries who see the limitless potential of the internet to go around the gatekeepers of the past. They don’t need anyone’s permission to build an empire beyond the narrow vision someone might have had for a cute girl and her make up.
Michelle and women like her embody the characteristics I am using for the main character of my next series. My working title is Fearless Flying with the series titled The Vivienne Series. I want to capture her moxy, her boundless enthusiasm and her confidence in herself as a woman. Vivienne will use the exact traits that are usually seen as a detriment in the boardroom: kindness, caring and creativity to build her own empire. And like Michelle those in charge won’t know what hit them until she has flown past them and they are left dazed in her wake.
So who are your entrepreneur heroines? Were you inspired when Martha Steward baked and hemmed her way to the top? Or Oprah made billions by selling understanding and joy? In the writing world Colleen Hoover is flying to the top on a combination of great stories and genuine kindness. Share stories like those in the comments and help me inspire other women who are just starting out, writing their first novel or selling their crafts and rewriting the business plan for success.