The White House Council on Women and Girls’ Women and Entrepreneurship Event

By: Dolores Rowen
Research Manager at the National Women’s Business Council

On Thursday, May 26th, over 150 people gathered at the White House South Court Auditorium for The White House Council on Women and Girls’ Women and Entrepreneurship Event. We often hear,

You can’t be what you can’t see,

and attendees of this event bore witness to inspirational narratives that re-ignited the audience to wholeheartedly pursue their goals. As one of the leading events for the United State of Women Summit, the Council was glad to share the importance of storytelling and to convene women business owners and entrepreneurs.

The program for this event included remarks by Jordan Brooks, Deputy Director of the White House Council on Women and Girls and Carla Harris, Chair of the National Women’s Business Council. They both reiterated that every woman and every business has a story – and there are lessons in those journeys for all to learn from. The program also included a screening of Dream, Girl – a documentary film that showcases inspiring stories of female entrepreneurs that started via Kickstarter campaign. Following the film screening was a moderated dialogue about what it means to be a boss, taking risks, and dreaming big.

Dream, Girl, directed by Erin Bagwell and produced by Komal Minhas, is a film that can resonate with women entrepreneurs all over the world. The film features women such as Annie Wang the Co-Founder and Co-President of Senvol, a company that specializes in the 3D printing industry. Annie’s story exposes the harsh reality of being a young woman in a male dominated industry where she must continuously prove herself in her field, and at times battle against harassment as a young woman.

Other individuals in the film have a long history of entrepreneurship, such as Clara Villarosa, the 83 year old Co-Founder of Villarosa Media, a publishing company focused on the publishing and promotion of literature about the African Diaspora. This dynamic woman is on her third business which she runs alongside her daughters Linda and Alicia. She has dedicated over 30 years of her life to supporting authors of color and has continued that mission to her new venture to fill in the gap where she publishes books by and about African Americans.

After the film screening, we were very excited to welcome the #StateOfWomenInBiz panel discussion which focused on the journey of entrepreneurship and empowering women to chase their dreams. This dynamic panel was moderated by Diana Doukas the Director of the White House Business Council and included these four panelists:

Erin Bagwell
, Director of Dream, Girl and Founder of Feminist Wednesday

Komal Minhas, Producer of Dream, Girl and Founder of Komedia, Inc

Frederique Irwin, Founder and CEO of HerCorner

Rahama Wright, Founder and CEO of Shae Yeleen Health and Beauty
The panel discussion spanned topics such the unique challenges of being an entrepreneur, mental health and self-care as it relates to business ownership, the significance of peer support systems, engaging men and minorities in the women entrepreneurial movement, and highlighting the successes of minority women-owned businesses.

The panel closed with the question

What is the best advice that you have been given and what advice would you give other women?

All of the panelists had thoughtful and inspiring responses that we just had to share:

Find comfort in the discomfort, and to surround yourself with incredible people… you are the average of the company you keep. The five people you spend the most time with, you are the average of that group, and I always want to be building the caliber and helping uplift those people.

– Komal

Don’t say no to yourself. It’s so easy to doubt yourself especially when you face constant rejection from others, but don’t be your own source of rejection. Don’t talk yourself out of even trying. The first step to achieving your goals is by first saying YES to yourself!

– Rahama

The best piece of advice I ever got was to change my major from International Business to Digital Media Arts. My mom supported me in following a career I was passionate about instead of taking the safe road, for which I will be forever grateful. I truly believe the universe conspires to help you achieve your dreams, and that I was put on this earth to produce this film. But we need to take the first step towards our goals and believe in those dreams.

– Erin

Rather than worrying about how you’re going to get from where you are today to what you’d like to build, spend more time defining the vision, what it looks like and what the big pieces of it are, and what it requires. Then work from there – backwards. It’s a more technical approach to saying that dreams drive tomorrow’s reality.

– Frederique

Everyone in the room left the event motivated to dream even bigger. For more information about Dream, Girl and to see the full list of Entrepreneurs and investors as well as the all women crew please go to http://dreamgirlfilm.com/ and for more information on the upcoming United State of Women Summit, check out http://www.theunitedstateofwomen.org/.