In honour of Mindful May, this week we are focusing on manifesting our goals by putting them into action. In honour of this, we have reached out to some female pioneering spirits and asked them how they started their businesses from idea to fruition.
For Maria Kastani, fashion entrepreneur and founder of Kastani, Ericka Rodriguez, vegan lipstick founder and CEO of Axiology, and Eshita Kabra fashion entrepreneur and founder of By Rotation their businesses all started with the inspiring seed of an idea that with mindful determination grew into a flourishing business. We spoke with them to find out what their journey entailed, from the challenges to the successes of running one’s own business.
What inspired you to begin your business and what niche did you seek to fill?
Ericka Rodriguez of Axiology: I started Axiology after discovering that animal testing still exists. I’ve been an animal lover for as long as I can remember, and I truthfully thought animal testing was abolished decades ago. When I found out it wasn’t, I started searching for makeup that was vegan, natural, and cruelty-free. After lots of money down the drain, I realized there were no great products that fit into this category. So, I started learning how to make vegan lipstick in my kitchen.
Maria Kastani – founder of Kastani: I think I must have been born with an entrepreneurial mind as I have always wanted to have my own business. For Kastani, my third company, the idea was to incubate, help and support young talents find their fit and help them turn their ideas into a profitable business in a kinder and more sustainable way.
What were some of the first steps you took to put the plan of starting your own business into action?
Eshita Kabra, founder of By Rotation: I started testing the idea for By Rotation alongside my full-time job at a hedge fund with a beta platform. During this phase, we gained thousands of user signups accompanied by national press and rentals across the UK at virtually no marketing costs. After analysing this data to understand our proof of concept better, I decided to invest in our technology and build UK’s first and only fashion rental app.
What were some of the stumbling blocks you encountered, and how did you overcome them?
Ericka Rodriguez founder of Axiology: So many and they still happen! I think that’s one of the things with entrepreneurship that I didn’t realize- that there will constantly be blocks and you have to think creatively, pull your team together, and dive in. A big block that happened in the beginning was that we tried to switch out one of our natural preservatives for something stronger so that our lipsticks would have a longer shelf life. We had 10k boxes printed with the new preservative and when we announced it to our customers they were not having it! They were very upset so we immediately took out the preservative and had to white out that ingredient from the 10k boxes. I had a big white-out party and enticed all my friends with dinner. Lesson learned that our customers only want the most natural ingredients.
How has running your own business impacted other areas of your life?
Maria Kastani – founder of Kastani : When you have your own business you need to be focused, dedicated and work at your maximum to make it a success. You have to set an example to your employees and everyone involved. What I have learned from it is that you have a great responsibility towards yourself and others. With this in mind you strive to always find the right balance between personal and professional time. It’s not always easy. At the end of the day you need to set your priorities right. At this point in my life, my family comes first and my business second. That wouldn’t have been different 12 years ago.
Were there any surprises in your journey from dream to its realisation?
Ericka Rodriguez founder of Axiology: Before I started Axiology I thought that once a brand got into a store it meant they “made it”. Now I understand that that’s not the end goal at all. That’s just the beginning. I also learned how many people are willing to help you if you let them. I have talked with so many people- other business owners, mentors, retirees, who just want to help. I think that’s a beautiful thing.
What is your best advice for someone wanting to start their own business? Did you receive any great advice that you could share?
Eshita Kabra, founder of By Rotation: Don’t become an entrepreneur for the sake of the label, for example, “Entrepreneur/Founder/CEO” or some lifestyle you’ve seen on social media. It’s rarely that glamorous: you have to be prepared to do all the gritty work no one else wants to do for your business yourself. Having gone the other way by giving up that lifestyle, I feel content knowing I am running By Rotation for the right reasons – to change the world for the better.”
So this May, why not dust off that idea that has been percolating for years and put your mind towards finally making your dream a reality.