On the heels of Black History Month and strutting into Women’s History Month, we honor those who came before us, and those who carved out a path for each of us to do and become who and what we are today. If, as entrepreneurs, we acknowledge the stories from our collective history to contemplate and celebrate the past, we are offered a tremendous opportunity to encounter inspiration and thwart the pangs of discouragement that may creep upon us on any given day.
Our lives are comprised of stories; stories we tell ourselves, stories we are told by others about ourselves and stories we create of our own accord. Reviewing the history from the “story weavers” allows us to glimpse the stitch they created which helped shape our present opportunities through their entrepreneurial experience.
You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all of the world’s problems at once but don’t ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own.
On International Women’s Day, we remember, acknowledge and celebrate just a few of the women in history who lit the torch and allowed hope to take on a life of its own:
- Biddy Mason (1818-1891) after winning her freedom in a California court, she made a fortune in real estate. Ms. Mason worked as a midwife and nurse in Los Angeles and subsequently was able to save enough money to buy land just outside of town, becoming the first Black woman in Los Angeles to own property.
- Sofia Vergara, Cofounder of LatinWE, a talent management and new media company that earned an estimated $27 million in 2018.
- Bertha Knox Gilkey (1949-2014) helped organize tenants of a deteriorating public housing complex in St. Louis, obtaining over $30 million in federal funds to help with new constructions and renovations in the St. Louis area.
- Weili Dai, Cofounder Marvell Technologies, is the only woman co-founder of an American semiconductor company. The Chinese-born, U.S.-educated “geek” cofounded Marvell Technology Group in 1995.
- Yang Lan, Cofounder Sun Media, is one of the most powerful women in Chinese media — and often called China’s Oprah. Lan cofounded Sun Media and this multiplatform empire spans TV, newspapers and magazines and the Web.
- Madame C.J. Walker (1867-1919) was the first Black woman millionaire, and an inventor; famous for her hair care products and best known for inventing the pressing comb. One of her story weaves: “Don’t sit down and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them.”
- Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Founder of Biocon, India’s first biotech entrepreneur founded Biocon in 1978 when she was 25 by partnering with an Irish firm to make industrial enzymes.
People who end up as “first” don’t actually set out to be first. They set out to do something they love.
As entrepreneurs, we are the first, the trailblazers, and the story weavers of our present time. Our businesses are as unique as we are and are interwoven with our stories. With being the first, it is important to become good at story weaving, the colorful bits of information we use and allow to be embedded into our fascia. Interlocking the weaves of the stories we tell ourselves creates something solid and defined that exemplifies our integrity and portrays the fabric of our being. Whether you are an inventor, organizer, small business owner, or pursuing some other unchartered territory, weaving your story strengthens your resolve and emboldens you to carry forward towards your goals.
Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations.
The women of our collective past and present have always held great vision and great dedication to their endeavors. Story weaving was and remains an essential part of what made them who they were and continues to influence us today. Weaving empowering stories for ourselves in the present can help us on our journey to where we want to go. As women entrepreneurs, it is vital we challenge ourselves to continue to speak stories that affirm and stimulate the infinite possibilities for success and financial well-being in our lives and to honor the women who came before us, who persevered and who weaved stories of hope and triumph.
Contributing Author Kellie O Davis
Kellie O. Davis has over 25 years experience in the entertainment and journalism
industries as a filmmaker, writer, producer, director, host, and salsa dancer. Her
more recent accomplishment was winning 1st Place in the Education Category at
W.A.V.E Awards for a segment she co-produced through KOCT Television
Station for CSUSM’s Environmental Leadership Academy. She also completed a
successful film festival run with the short film she co-produced, Between Shifts;
which won the 2017 Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema Best Ensemble
Short Film Award.