Interviewed by: Rachel Cargle (firstname.lastname@example.org)
After school She’Neil started her career with IBM as a User Experience Design Consultant. As a user experience design consultant she works on a multi-person team to design luxury brand’s eCommerce desktop and mobile sites. Although She’Neil has a heavy technology background her true passion lies in the creative world. Originally, she believed New York was the perfect place for her to focus on building a strong career in business and making the right connections to follow the popular route of working two years corporate, going to business school, then climbing the company ladder of promotions. Little did she know this city would only become a daily dose of inspiration for the true creative she is. She’Neil enjoys taking an idea or concept and curating an experience to tell it's story through user experience design, photography, visual design, content production, and events. Most recently she launched her beauty brand, BASE BUTTER, a product that was accidentally discovered in her kitchen. BASE BUTTER became her creative outlet outside her 9-5 and has built a brand that is catching attention quickly.
Although this is She’Neil’s first major venture, she has always been entrepreneurial in her endeavors and encourages other young women and girls to be entrepreneurial in their passions. She sees the power of it, especially in women and that is why she has founded a nonprofit with her two best friends, Her Success, Inc. Her Success, Inc. focuses on expanding the limits of extraordinary young women and cultivating them to be uncomfortable with average.
How did your past experiences (school, work, childhood, family etc.) help you get to where you are today?
Growing up I have been heavily influenced by entrepreneurial women such as my mother, older sister, and aunts. This influence really gave me the confidence to take on leadership roles in school, organizations, and within my career. It has also allowed me to gravitate towards like minded women who I consider my close friends. Even though we have different passions, skills, and interests we all share this entrepreneurial spirit that drives each other everyday day to be uncomfortable with average. The support and drive from the women around me is the main driving force to my success. All that I have achieved thus far I did not obtain alone. These women are my mentors, cheerleaders, and role models. They push me to my full potential and I am always learning from them which keeps me and my business competitive in the market place.
What are some ways of motivating yourself in times of doubt? Do you ever feel like giving up? Why do you keep going?
In this day and age with social media it is hard not to compare yourself and have times of self doubt. It is a daily challenge, but it only continues to make me stronger mentality. I never want to reflect on my life and have feelings of regret because I held back due to fear or I let someone else write my story. I have to always remember that I am the only “me” and no one can do it like “me”. When I truly started being and believing in myself that is when I noticed true success and happiness in my life. I start each day with this quote, “The best way to predict the future is by creating it.”
What piece of business building advice has really stuck with you over the years of running your company?
This journey has taught me the importance of adaptability and utilizing the resources given to you. In the beginning of starting my business I stalled a lot because I never felt like we were ready. I wanted everything to be perfect! Soon I realized a whole year had passed and much had not gotten done. In college I took an entrepreneurship course where we analyzed case studies on all different types of entrepreneurs and I remember what made the successful ones successful. They didn’t wait for something to be “perfect” or handed to them. They had the ability to always adapt and knew how utilize the resources around them. If they didn’t have a resource they found a way to create it. Soon I changed my mindset and accomplished more in one month than I did in my first year. I took the risk to just put my idea out there and be open to evolving with my brand. Running a business is like life, continuously learning and growing.
Why do you think now is the time to be a female entrepreneur? Do you believe that times are changing for the better? Is it harder being a female entrepreneur or do you think it doesn’t really matter?
I have always been entrepreneurial in my endeavors and encourage other young women and girls to be entrepreneurial in their passions. There's power in it, and that is why I co-founded a non-profit with an entrepreneurial aspect. It is important for more women to become entrepreneurs because we need to continue to build a community of veterans and rookies to mentor, teach, and empower each other. Women equality is not a fight we can fight alone. I think society, traditional social standards, and statistics make it hard for women to believe they can become entrepreneurs, but it is simply a mindset. It takes one friend, role model, or community to make a young girl or women believe. Once she believes the world is her’s.
Did you look for funding in the past?
Yes, I did. In the beginning I looked for funding from small business grants that had requirements for women, minorities, or both!
The competition was low, I was really able to communicate my story, and I was not taking on debt early. Now that we have been in business for sometime I am working with a financial advisor to work with larger investors.
Why do you think that female owned businesses are a VERY small percentage (that has not been growing) of businesses that get funded by venture capital? What can we do to change that?
There is not a strong community of rookies and veterans to educate and empower their fellow female entrepreneurs about gaining funding from venture capitalist. I think there's also this fear of sitting in a room full of people who do not look like you or can not relate to you. We need to get more females on the other side of the table. Women need to be the decisions makers also!