If any of these women have anything to do about it, 2017 in Atlanta is shaping up to be a great year for women. Here's how nine women are trailblazing across Atlanta in multiple industries - from startups to Fortune 500 companies - and what you can learn from them.
Named one of Forbes' 30 under 30 in retail and economics, Kelechi's story starts with a quest. Being an African American woman of Nigerian heritage, she looked for modern, trendy and affordable African inspired fashion items, but couldn't find any. So, she decided to build a community of creators, sellers and artists, all selling cool, modern African inspired fashion, from all over the world.
Kelechi teaches us that if you can feel a gap in the market, it's highly likely that others can feel it too, so filling it can be a smart strategy.
Lynn Lilly's most defining moment came when she lost her marketing job. Not one to give up, Lynn decided to channel her creativity into a business that not only markets products, but helps people be more creative themselves. She founded Craft Box Girls - a site dedicated to her crafty DIY ideas, recipes, design and anything else that her creative brain can come up with. Since 2014, Craft Box Girls has become an empire and Lynn has become a modern day Martha Stewart, publishing books, selling craft kits and having a regular segment on NBC Atlanta.
Lynn teaches us to pursue what you love and that our hobbies might just be our most strategic financial assets.
Tonya is not your run of the mill entrepreneur. A board certified electrician, she decided that the home improvement market was too male dominant and that it had to change. So, she founded Women Do Everything (WDE), a company dedicated to educating women about home improvement projects in anything from carpentry to wiring. But Tonya didn't stop there. If you really don't want to deal with your home improvement projects, WDE will send over a “Handy Wife” to your house. The Handy Wife will take care of all of your home improvement needs.
Tonya shows us social equality can also equal big bucks and reinforces the importance of not letting anything but your skills and passion define your profession.
Kathryn is no stranger to breaking barriers. Almost a decade ago she began her career as a social media pioneer and started one of the first lifestyle blogs ever: The Budget Fashionista. The blog was sold to a major media company, making Kathryn one of the first African American women to sell a digital media platform. Not one to rest on her laurels, Kathryn moved on to help others break those same barriers by founding digitalundivided, an accelerator dedicated to finding and helping diverse women-led startups. She's also a general partner at the Harriet Fund, a venture capital fund dedicated to investing in startups led by African American and Latina women.
Kathryn shows us that if you can do something really well, there can be a business opportunity not only in doing it, but in teaching and helping others do the same.
Elizabeth has a storied history of volunteering for the Peace Corps, and working with the United Nations to change and save the lives of children (and specifically girls) in developing countries all around the world. Today, outside of her work with the UN, she advocates for a different group altogether: entrepreneurs. As an Entrepreneur in Residence at Dell, she promotes products and causes that help small to medium size companies gain more traction, scale up, as well as consulting with big corporations understand how to work with them.
Elizabeth shows us that your ability to be successful can be found in your ability to draw from your strengths, even if from surprising and different experiences.
Being the first female Venture Capital founder in Georgia would likely be enough of an achievement for any woman, but not for Lisa. She ran one of the top 10 digital marketing agencies in the US, according to Hubspot; was responsible for over $1bn in liquidity events, and finally went on to found Valor VC. However, that wasn't enough for her and she went on to launch Startup Runway, an annual event that helps minority led startups get access to seed funding they wouldn't otherwise have access to.
Lisa teaches us that the most important challenge you face will be your constant ability to find and take on new challenges.
In 1997, Linda took the bold choice of taking Randstad US, then (and now) one of the leading staffing firms in the US, and expanding it to Canada. Over the next 10 years, she used her incredible business acumen to grow the company organically, making it one of the top staffing firms in the country. So it's no surprise that in 2012 she was named CEO of Randstad US, a company in charge of Randstad holding's entire US, Canada, and Mexico operations.
Linda teaches us that new markets, while scary, are a great way to expand the reach of your product and grow your business.
The self-proclaimed “world's tiniest flashmob”, Allie has an outlook on life that changes the way other people think of the world. She believes everyone has a superpower and that Atlanta specifically is chock full of them. She has many projects but one of her biggest was starting the Atlanta expansion of General Assembly, a career education platform that helps people take charge of their career. She is also active in the arts, various startups and cultural endeavours.
Allie teaches us none of us have to do just one thing to be successful. You can focus on many things, and find just as much success.
Kate is first and foremost an entrepreneur. Her focus? Creating change through action. Having founded Kate's Club, an organization that helps children deal with life after the death of a sibling or parent, she moved on to manage the Arby's fund, and changed the focus of the fund completely to provide more than $18 million in funding to childhood relief hunger efforts. Her latest project is ChooseATL, a community-driven organization dedicated to attracting talent, businesses and tourism to her hometown of Atlanta.
Kate teaches us not to be afraid to go with what you believe in. Some of the most successful organizations are founded by entrepreneurs that are passionate about a cause.
Across Atlanta, across ages, across company sizes and across races, these women are changing the world every morning, for the better. Here's to 2017 being the year of inspiring women, thanks to all of these amazing ladies.
The companies I mention or link to in this post are just examples that I thought you'd find useful - I don't endorse them or their services. I have no affiliation with them and make no representation about their services.