19 Millennial Women On Becoming Entrepreneurs
Money is a feminist issue — and yet, women are still reluctant to talk about it. According to a recent Bustle survey of more than 1,000 Millennial women, more than 50 percent of people said they never discuss personal finances with friends, even though 28 percent reported feeling stressed out about money every single day. Bustle's Get Money series gets real about what Millennial women are doing with their money, and why — because managing your finances should feel empowering, not intimidating.
You may know and hear about more and more Millennial women who have become entrepreneurs. While some Millennials are all about the side hustle, some are about turning that side hustle into their full-time job — or starting a new company altogether. I spoke to 19 Millennial women who became entrepreneurs. Even if you don't think it seems possible, they're proof that it is.
"Success isn't an accident — you have to make it happen on purpose," Carrie Green, founder of the Female Entrepreneur Association and international bestselling author of She Means Business: Turn Your Ideas into Reality and Become a Wildly Successful Entrepreneur, tells Bustle. "Success is not reserved for a special few. Anyone can be successful in their life and business if they get really clear and intentional on what they want to achieve. If you have a dream to start your own business, get started and don't let anyone tell you that you can't make it. As long as you have clarity around your mission and you stay consistent with it, you will grow. You can't *not* grow. Keep moving forward."
Exactly, right?! Plus, many of the female entrepreneurs I talked to started their companies based on a side hustle. "Exploring passions is a benefit of a side job, like fulfilling a love of photography by shooting kids' parties on weekends," Beth Kobliner, author of the New York Times bestsellers Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance in Your Twenties and Thirties and Make Your Kid a Money Genius (Even If You’re Not), tells Bustle. "Who knows? A part-time or freelance gig could produce not just some extra cash, but a whole new chapter in your life."
Yep, you never know when you'll like your #SideHustle so much that it'll become your ~main hustle~. Or perhaps you'll start your own company based on what you'd been doing at your full-time job. Without further ado, here are 19 Millennial women who became entrepreneurs. While some made their side hustle their full time hustle, others became entrepreneurs in different ways.
1. Jess Ekstrom, 25, Headbands Of Hope
"I was inspired to start my company when I was in college after I interned at a wish-granting organization for kids with life-threatening illnesses. I saw that a lot of them loved to wear headbands after hair loss. Therefore, I founded Headbands of Hope. For every headband sold, one is given to a child with cancer. To date, we've donated over 100,000 headbands and reached every children's hospital in America and six countries. I went full-time after graduation with really little intention to be an entrepreneur, but to solve a problem. The best companies out there are created by a need and they inspire a solution. It's easier to work long, hard hours when you believe in what you're working towards. It's just about finding what's right for you."
2. Gina Hooks, 29, Salient Social
"Prior to starting Salient Social, I worked in the digital marketing departments of major corporations. I would say that digital and social media marketing is definitely my calling. I thoroughly enjoyed doing it at a corporate level — it never felt like work and still doesn't. One thing that would constantly nag my conscience, though, is the fact that I would devote so much time and energy into what was ultimately ~someone else's~ vision. Companies were paying me top dollar for my expertise, so I figured: 'Why not use my 'expertise' to start my own side-hustle?' And that's how Salient Social was born. It started off as a side hustle, but it's grown into its own entity — where individuals, entrepreneurs, and small business owners can purchase affordable social media marketing services each month or on an as-needed basis."
3. Maggie Germano, 29, Financial Coach For Women
"I started my business as a certified financial education instructor and financial coach for women for a few reasons. I was feeling unfulfilled in my day job, and was looking for work that I was really passionate about. At the same time, I was involved in several women's organizations in the D.C. area. An issue that I heard coming up from all types of women from all walks of life was financial insecurity. As a personal finance nerd myself, I started to offer my expertise and support to women I was meeting. After seeing the difference I was making in women's lives, I realized I'd found my passion, and decided to launch my business as a financial coach. One piece of advice I would give others is to keep at it. It can be scary to make a big transition or leap, but you should push through that fear. Make sure to also reach out to others for support. You don't have to go it alone!"
4. Morgan Canclini-Mitchell, 29, two|pr
"I started my publicity firm after working in the entertainment business for almost a decade. When I launched my company, two|pr, I had made enough contacts in the industry that I was fairly certain I could be successful on my own. When I'd worked at a large firm, the steady paycheck was nice, the benefits were OK, and my corner office was beautiful — but I ultimately realized that creating my own schedule (no more asking for vacation days), working with clients I believed in, and the flexible work environment were much more of what I desired. I'd rather be in a co-working space any day of the week now, and when I need a sick day or vacation — guess what? I take one! And I like being my own boss — it frees me from the fear of my financial security being on the line (when working for someone else), and to be able to really focus on giving my best to my clients."
5. Karina Ramos, 23, The Voyage Society
"I started The Voyage Society as a side hustle at the beginning. I dropped out of college twice and knew that my calling was to do more. Help more people. I began doing business consultations while still working my 9-5, and was lucky enough to start getting booked right away through a lot of word-of-mouth. It was hard balancing my full-time job with my side hustle for sure, but eventually my business got to the point where I couldn't do both — and I chose to build my own dream over someone else's."
6. Nicole Bandklayder, 32, The Cookie Cups
"I created a company called The Cookie Cups, a bakery that specializes in making cookies shaped like mini cupcakes in a variety of flavors. The idea started from a problem I had in my kitchen a few years ago when I was making chocolate chip cookies for a Father's Day family event. I didn't have the right pan, but did have a mini cupcake/muffin tin I had never used. The next thing you know, I was experimenting with flavors for a new spin on the classic 'cookies and milk' —and The Cookie Cups was born. If you are thinking of starting your own company, I would tell you to really think before you act. A business is something that can be great, but will also be a lot of work, and a lot of hours of your time. Are you willing to persevere when times get tough? Who are your competitors, and are you willing to compete with them? What makes your idea or concept unique? Can you trademark it? Can you patent it? Do your research and make sure you know what you are getting into so there are no surprises. It may not be black and white, but you'll answer your own questions well enough to ease your doubts — or at least give you a better focus for the adventure ahead!"
7. Kristin Berry, 29, Miss Design Berry
"I started Miss Design Berry when I first moved to NYC. Even though I had a great job, I still needed extra money to pay the bills and have money left over! Being a graphic designer, I opened up an Etsy shop in 2012 and started selling my services, like logo design, illustration, and some wedding items. I quickly realized that the wedding products were selling faster than any others, and my illustration style lent itself perfectly to the designs. Jump forward two years later and I ended up hiring my first part-time employee — and in July of 2015, I left my ad agency job to pursue Miss Design Berry full-time. I love it SO much. Although every day is a challenge and it's a lot more unpredictable, I can honestly say I have the absolute dream job. I now work at home and have over 20 women who work for me remotely — allowing them the possibility to earn an income while still being there for their families. We have become our own creative community, and support and encourage each other! My advice? Start now. Take any small steps you can! You don't have to wait for some grand moment like quitting your job or getting investment money to get something started. A business that gradually builds is actually an incredible blessing because it allows you to take everything step-by-step, not all at once."
8. Jessica Atkins, 31, Stylebook
"My business was a hobby that transformed into my full-time job. In 2009, after Apple opened the App Store to individual developers, my boyfriend Bill (now my husband) and I decided to create an app as a hobby. Stylebook was born out of a personal need I had to manage my own wardrobe. At the time, I worked at a magazine and really needed help getting the most out of the few clothes I had. Stylebook ate up all of our free time — after work and on weekends, we planned out features together and Bill wrote the code. I spent hours storyboarding the interface and testing the features Bill created, until it was ready for release. Even though, at the time, we never thought it would turn into a big business, it was just exciting that anyone with an iPhone could download it anytime. If you want to start your own technology business, you don’t have to take the traditional startup route. You don't have to be in San Francisco, you don't need millions of dollars — you just need an original idea that you can execute, and that other people are interested in."
9. Ivanna Diaz, 25, Avon
"I originally chose Avon as a side gig in college (when I was 18) because it was something I could do that was flexible around my school schedule. I was able to run my own business as I pleased, while still being focused on my studies — I used my earnings to pay for my books, parking permits, and extra cash for going out with friends. By the time I was 22 and graduated, I had a solid Avon customer base and built a team of representatives. I saw that it provided me with more opportunities and earnings than any other place could give me, so I continued to grow my business and share the opportunity with others; I worked my business part-time and made enough to pay my bills, travel expenses, and Disneyland passes. Now that I am getting married in less than a few months, I have transitioned my Avon business to full-time and have made enough to almost pay for my entire wedding! While looking to start a side gig or your own business, I recommend taking time to evaluate yourself and your goals before jumping in: Why are you starting? What are you looking to gain? What are your strongest skills and interests? Finding the perfect side gig may take time, but it's worth it — it may turn into your full-time business venture!"
10. Erika Wasser, 29, Glam&Go
"I started Glam&Go with just an idea, and a pain point — I'd consistently been choosing between my workout and my hair, and often my hair would win. I was an on-air digital host for SPACEStv and HGTV, as well as a stand-up comedian, so having great hair days and a fit physique was not an option, but an obligation. In backstage green rooms, I would show up with dry hair and was used to being made camera-ready in 15 minutes or less (the service that is now the Glam&Go Express Blowout). Knowing that beauty could be made more efficient without sacrificing quality, experience, or results, Glam&Go was born as 'every-woman's green room' — to make great hair days for busy women quick, easy, and often. Nearly three years later, we are about to open our tenth location, we've launched in Miami, and are soon to be in L.A. & The Hamptons. The biggest thing I've learned from Glam&Go is that we started with nothing — no funding, no experience, no MBA. Follow your gut, and don't be afraid to be wrong — our biggest lessons came from mistakes, and our toughest times have bred our most creative ideas. Don't lose sight of why you started on the days/weeks that get tough — it's about progress, not perfection. If, in the end, you try and your idea maybe isn't a business? So what? You lived, you learned, and you're better prepared for the next stroke of genius."
11. Tennile Cooper, 31, She Is Epic
"The day came when I got tired of saying I wanted to start a business. I made a decision to just do it instead of talking about it, so I wouldn't have regrets in my senior citizen years. The next thing I had to do was evaluate my existing skills and see if what I could do is a service people need — and then created She Is Epic, my copywriting business. Anyone starting out or wanting to leap, first take a self-assessment of your strengths and weaknesses. To make money in your business faster, know what you thrive at and outsource the rest."
12. Kelsey Cole, 28, Multivitamin Media
"I had an amazing career handling PR for a global cosmetics company and took on my first side hustle as a barter deal with a spiritual therapist I met in California. She traded me therapy sessions in exchange for branding and PR work with her daughter, Collete Davis. Collete was my first client, and is now a pro race car driver, #girlboss, and host of TLC's Girl Starter. She encouraged me to start a business, spent her last dollar flying me to California, and is actually the one who named my company, Multivitamin Media. I'll owe her forever — she created my side hustle. (She was 20.) After a nasty battle with depression and some reprioritization in life, I took the plunge and started my own digital media and PR agency with my boyfriend. Two years later, we have a growing team and a global client roster. The side hustle was hard, and long... but totally worth it."
13. Maleeka Hollaway, 27, The Official Maleeka Group (OMG)
"Going to college and wanting to do more than I was prepared for led me to an abusive marriage. The release of my story landed me in The Huffington Post, Essence.com, and more. And from my experience, my business, The Official Maleeka Group, OMG, was born. I now use my storytelling ability to help serve others, be it in business and lifestyle coaching, writing/editing, or public relations. And, of course, I've shared my story all over the United States and even in South Africa. I also just accepted an invite from the Forbes Coaches Council to be a member, which is an invite-only membership for influencers and leaders in the coaching industry. Most Millennials make mistakes that they can't bounce from. But in my mistake lied my destiny — my life is proof of this. Now, I am able to coach others in attracting success to their lives and businesses."
14. Kathrin Zenkina, 24, Manifestation Babe
"I started Manifestation Babe as a hub on Instagram last year to share some of my favorite inspirational quotes with anyone willing to follow. The account grew at such an insanely high speed that I knew I was onto something. It was a side hustle I started in February of 2016 that is now my full-time career making five-figure months. Since then, it's evolved into a personal development brand filled with online courses, 1:1 mindset coaching, and a thriving online community. I've always had a passion for teaching women how to manifest the lives of their wildest dreams. Being able to help women move past their limitations, unlock the path to their highest potential, and watching them transform before my eyes has definitely been the most rewarding part of creating the Manifestation Babe brand."
15. Onyekachi Amadi, 25, PlusLivin
"I started a company, PlusLivin, which is an online directory for businesses that cater to plus-sized individuals. I started the business because I saw that too many people (women especially) were being ignored in the fashion industry because they are a size 14 or larger. I realized that even the search for a plus-sized shopping experience was terrible. I created my business because I realized, at 25 and in this economy, that I had to forge my own path. Of course, I recommend that everyone starts their own business. It's definitely an uphill battle, but all the work you put in it is for yourself."
16. Jamie Rose Maniscalco, 26, Rose Relations LLC
"People immediately assume that I quit my job to become an entrepreneur because I didn't want to work 9-5, wake up early, or deal with my boss. While all of those things are perks of running your own show, the truth is, I really loved my job. The real reason I quit was because I kept seeing opportunity left and right and feeling that if I didn't leave to do my own thing, I would be giving up all of my ideas to someone else while still getting paid the same. I worked out an arrangement with my then-employer (which took a bit of convincing) to actually let me continue planning the event I had been working on at the time — as a subcontractor under Rose Relations LLC, which I created that night. This allowed me to transfer over my contacts, experience, and momentum to my own business without much interruption. The hardest part about being on your own is exactly that — you're on your own. It is incredibly difficult to work through your ideas without a team to bounce ideas off of, and without the resources of an IT person or a graphics person. You really have to be good at figuring out how to partner with others to get what you want — and an independent, Type A personality is almost a must. But I do not regret it for a single second."
17. Laura Nielsen, 28, Traveling Vineyard
"I live in North Liberty, Iowa, and I'm a Wine Guide with Traveling Vineyard and absolutely love it. I learn about wine and share that knowledge with my customers at in-home wine tastings, which includes illustrating the food pairings that will bring out the WOW factor in a wine. Before, I was working as a hospital social worker. I started looking at side jobs because of financial necessity — buying a house, having a car payment, and having student loans due in the same month is rough! It became much more than a money thing quickly after I attended my first Harvest, our yearly conference, fondly called 'Wine Camp' among us guides. I learned that this was not only a company that allowed me to make quick cash, but an opportunity to have fun, flexibility, and get rid of 'the boss.' I dove into my business and am now able to cover all of our bills with my Traveling Vineyard paychecks. I can't imagine a better 'side job' (turned full-time)! Plus, now I have the flexibility to follow more of my dreams (such as road-tripping the East Coast, happening this Fall!)."
18. Dawn Roberts, 28, Dawn Roberts Consulting
"I'm a business owner/entrepreneur of a consulting company, Dawn Roberts Consulting. My background is in engineering — I spent several years as a petroleum engineer in the oil industry, where I discovered my talent and passion for lean thinking. When I realized there was a market need for my talent and passion, as well as how much I could potentially enjoy running my own business, I jumped in! My niche is business and personal efficiency — specifically, process streamlining, complex problem solving, efficient mindset development, and value leakage/waste removal. I've saved well over $6 million in efficiency improvement projects I've worked on thus far. I've also developed a 4-week online class targeted at empowering individuals to be more productive and effective, delivering a higher volume of value-based activities. Owning my own business allows me independence to my schedule, opens immense levels of creativity, and enables me to really drive my career in ways that aren't possible working for a large oil company. I also get a lot of joy helping others succeed in their careers and businesses. Also, I reinvest any savings and proceeds directly back into my business to grow it."
19. Samantha Salmon, 30, Health Coach
"I started my health coaching business as a complement to my juice bar business I had for six years in Chicago. I experienced my grandma suffering on hospice care due to complications from diabetes, and my mission with my business is to help others not go through the pain I witnessed and experienced with my grandma's death. I’ve been certified by the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, and they have really given me not only the tools to grow my business into the dream business I want to manifest, but also an amazingly large and ever-growing support network. My advice to fellow entrepreneurs is to have a mission, and be ridiculously passionate about making a major difference in your community with that mission. That passion will pull you through the inevitable challenges."
Impressed? I know I am. "My advice for entrepreneurs, especially female entrepreneurs, is to take a critical look at cubicle life," Kari DePhillips, fellow Millennial and CEO of The Content Factory, a fully remote PR and content marketing firm, tells Bustle. "If you don't want that for yourself, why would you want that for your employees? It's easier than ever to ditch the office entirely, and there are a lot of benefits besides just the time advantage. You'll save a ton of overhead, which you can pass on to your clients to make yourself more competitive in the market."
OK, the above women definitely gave me #GirlBoss goals, and perhaps they'll do the same for you.
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