Last week, the Michigan Women’s Foundation, joined by Shinola Detroit and Forbes, hosted Influence 2018, a networking event featuring a panel discussion about new media and fashion. The panelists for the event, which benefited the foundation’s mission to foster economic empowerment for Michigan women and girls, included Sophia Amoruso, founder of Girlboss Media; Rajni Jacques, fashion director at Teen Vogue; Jaclyn Johnson, founder and CEO of Create & Cultivate; and Katie Sturino, founder of the blog The 12ish Style and Megababe.
Throughout the panel, the women, who have each found success in their digital and entrepreneurial endeavors, touched on the lessons they’ve learned in their respective career paths. Whether you’re looking to up your social media game, master the side hustle, or follow your creative dreams, here’s the best insight they shared at Influence 2018 to help get you started.
1. Be Kind to Yourself
Aside from being the author of the book Girl Boss and running a media company with the same name, Amoruso is perhaps best known for being the founder of Nasty Gal, a retailer that found success in the mid-aughts and went bankrupt earlier this year. During the panel, Amoruso reflected on the company and how it’s failure taught her an important lesson. “When you’re in transition, that’s a really hard thing,” she said. “We’re all at different levels of transition all the time…so be kind to yourself.”
2. Be Genuine
Although Jacques’ fashion editor lifestyle can seem glamorous, she believes it’s important to not sugarcoat everything. Her advice for having strong relationships both in-person and online? Be genuine. “I do work in fashion, but fashion doesn’t consume me,” said Jacques, an avid activist who also enjoys sharing her love for painting and The Eagles with her 12,000 Instagram followers. “There has to be something genuine…for connection to be made and for the connection to stay.”
3. Make Mistakes
Prior to launching Create and Cultivate, an online platform and conference, Johnson had another company. While the original business didn’t last, she says she was lucky to make a lot of mistakes — for example, hiring too many junior employees and not enough senior leadership — and learn from them. “I was able to come into (my new business) with a fresh new mindset,” she said. “I feel like I’m able to tackle things in a whole different way with a whole new lens as a second-time CEO or founder.”
4. Turn Your Pain into Productivity
A year and a half ago, Sturino went through a divorce. She shared that despite how difficult this time in her life was, she was able to still be creative and productive, which helped her grow her fashion and media businesses. “The love will come back, the relationships will come back, you’ll find yourself again,” she said. “In the mean time, put your time in your business.”
5. Lean into What Makes You Different
Along with appearing on the panel, Sturino also sat down one-on-one with Hour Detroit to talk the importance of owning who you are. “I like to lean into what makes me different,” she said. “For so long on social media we’ve been trying to be just like everybody we see.” She said part of what has led to her success, and what she believes can help others, is embracing what makes you unique. “I was like ‘I’m never going to be skinny, and that’s okay.’ From there it just went.”
To learn more about The Michigan Women’s Foundation and their initiatives to achieve equality and empowerment for women and girls, visit miwf.org