Women in business have become a driving force that helps fuel our nation’s economy. According ta the American Express 2019 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, between 2014 and 2019, the number of women-owned businesses climbed 21% to a total of nearly 13 million (12,943,400). And although a new study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce reports that the pandemic has heavily impacted mare women-owned businesses in 2020 than male-owned businesses, the fact still remains that there are 114% mare women entrepreneurs today than there were 20 years ago.
It is very exciting ta see that the potential of women entrepreneurs that are spurring economic growth is well on its way.
Below we see what the numbers tell us about what women entrepreneurs are achieving.
- US women-owned businesses generate $1.8 trillion a year.
- 40% of US businesses are women-owned.
- Women started 1,821 net new businesses every day in 2019.
- 64% of new women-owned businesses were started by women of color.
- Latina women-owned businesses grew more than 87%.
- There are 114% more women entrepreneurs than there were 20 years ago.
In 2021 a new wave of women entrepreneurs and sidepreneurs (women starting part-time businesses) are leveling the playing field by creating more
THE BOLD MIRROR wants to recognize the growth and accomplishments of such female entrepreneurs and the vital role they play in our economy, while also calling on the public to support women and to #buywomenowned.
Join THE BOLD MIRROR for an exciting conversation with Heather Francois, the Founder of Les Madame Francois, a woman-owned skincare brand that focuses on effective products created with high quality ingredients at affordable prices.
Heather shares with us how she decided to go after her passion and became an entrepreneur.
Founder, Les Madame Francois
Heather Francois has a clear memory of when she was forced to make this very important decision in her life of becoming an entrepreneur.
When she decided to… as she puts it… “do her own thing”. She was very comfortable and happy working at a corporate job she really loved, but was growing sort of “over it”. When she found out she was going to be laid-off from her 9-to-5 job her Aha! moment was kind of forced on her.
As she started preparing herself to move into the next chapter of her life, she knew once she was laid-off it would be the perfect time for her to start what she had been thinking about for a few years, but was too afraid to move into. Then on March 2020, after being laid-off, that’s exactly what she set out to do. She decided to go after her dream.
How long did you ponder on the idea of starting your own business? Did you question yourself?
I definitely questioned myself on whether or not I should start. I had so many thoughts that were just overwhelming because there was so much that I didn’t know. I had so many fears because this was the biggest risk that I was taking to date.
How long did it take from when you made the decision to start your own business to when you launched and went live?
Once I had more time at home after being laid-off, I was able to gain a lot of clarity about what I really wanted to do. I made the decision to pursue Skincare the same month. I had already gathered so much information and had been in contact with different chemist and laboratories prior to me being laid-off, so at that point it was really a matter of finalizing the type of formulations I wanted to use and the type of products I wanted to offer. I moved on from there.
I started really taking the information that I gathered and moving the ball forward in March of 2020, and I launched my business officially on October 28, 2020.
What is the origin of your business name?
“I want my last name to leave a legacy for my sons and my family.”
How are you making a difference with Les Madame Francois and pushing the beauty industry forward?
How difficult has it been as a woman to start your own business?
Excluding your family, what gets you out of bed every morning? What drives you?
What do you think is the biggest challenge to achieve success in life?
“I genuinely believe in the products that I am creating and offering.”
Entrepreneurship is all about taking calculated risks – What’s the most pivotal risk you’ve taken, and how did it change your path?
What is a favorite quote you live by?
Going after what you want and deserve in life takes confidence and guts. Does confidence come naturally to you or did you have to learn it?
Confidence did originally come naturally to me. My parents and my family instilled a ton of confidence in me from a very early age by speaking into my life and telling me exactly who I was and what I was capable of.
As I grew older, from about 12 to 14, my self-confidence took a major blow because I didn’t physically develop the way my peers did and there was so much attention and focus on that during that time. I forgot myself and forgot who I was for just a little bit. By the time I was turning 15 I fully remembered who I was and gained my confidence back having the understanding that it didn’t stem from my physical appearance. My looks did not make me less or more of an amazing person. Once I remembered who I was, it was game over, so to speak. From that point my confidence hasn’t waned because it is rooted in knowing exactly who I am and being sure of myself.
“If you do not know and accept yourself genuinely, you will never be able to have confidence.”
What advice can you share with women on cultivating confidence and going after their dreams?
My advice to other women on cultivating confidence is always to simply remember who you are. ln order for you to remember who you are, you have to first know who you are ond fully accept who you ore. If you do not know ond accept yourself, genuinely, you will never be able to have confidence.
For those women who haven’t started a business (or are about to), what advice do you have?
It’s easy to celebrate the wins, but how do you handle failure or when something hasn’t worked out for you?
What’s the one productivity tip or work habit that truly changed your life?
What is the #1 inspiring, motivating, empowering book you always recommend and why?
If you could go back to the beginning of your career journey – With the knowledge you have now, what advice would you give yourself?
I’m not that far into my journey but if I could go back to the beginning with the knowledge that I have now, the one thing that I would tell myself is not to allow other people to make decisions about what I want to offer.
What I mean by that is, when dealing with different manufacturers or vendors I trusted their expertise and took their recommendations on certain things even when they were not exactly what I wanted. I trusted that they knew better because it was their field of expertise. I learned that I have to trust my gut and my ability to make decisions based on the passion that I have for my brand and my company because no one cares about my business like I do.
“I learned that I have to trust my gut … no one cares about my business like I do.”
FILL IN THE BLANKS:
- My perfect day begins with …
- To be successful, you need to be …
Tenacious, gritty, driven, and ready to receive success.
- If there were more hours in the day, I would …
Spend more time with my husband.
- Three qualities that got me to where I am today are …
Being excellent, integral, and sincere.
- The change I’d like to see in my industry is…
Honest representation that is not just a fad or a trend, but that is permanent.
- When I feel fear and doubt, l…
Cry, pray, and I talk to the people that I trust. Then I get over it and move forward.
- The best career advice I always give is…
A piece of advice that was given to me when I was about 23 or 24. My boss told me to always work a job like I had a little bit of money in my pocket. What she meant by that is to never let an employer or a company treat you poorly and overwork you or underpay you.