For the Season Finale, I went around the world and down into my memory to pick the highlights of this season. What I learnt, what I discovered, what I was impressed about. There is no bittersweet taste in getting to the end of a season. In fact, it is exciting to look back and remember all the amazing women that crossed my path. After the hard to forget year of 2020, my goal was to bring to light in 2021, the stories of what are now almost 2 years of this pandemic, but more importantly, how each of us is looking to lift ourselves up, look forward and face life stronger and together.
As for me, 2021 was a year of multiple wins and also some bumps on road for women around the world. What have I learnt in this journey?
Yael helped me open up the season by talking to us about the importance of letting go of control. It is hard to envisage life without control. Control of schedules, conversations, moments, words. In fact, Oliver Burkeman, author of Four Thousand Weeks argues that all that we fill our lives with is precisely because we fear death. In 2020, in one way or another, we learnt (mostly the hard way) that in fact, we have very little control. And, in 2021, we probably didn’t go with Yael’s suggestion of letting go (or Frozen‘s suggestion for that matter). We went with another slogan instead and sought to take back control. How did that work out for you?
I had been following Francesca for a while. In fact, we had been users of her amazing “Happy Self” gratitude journal for kids. Little Girl C has benefited greatly from it and even Baby S has his own. Given my great passion for the practice of gratitude, meeting Francesca for the podcast in early 2021, as I braced myself for what I hoped was the end of the pandemic, was just great. Francesca started studying the science of happiness the more she heard about people, especially children being depressed. And if you are thinking this is just a pandemic fashion, let me stop you there. Francesca launched her business in 2018.
Amy was a perfect guest to follow my goal of women empowerment, as the platform she has created “Fem Foundry“, is dedicated precisely to this. Amy was a fighter of the pandemic. She launched a platform dedicated to all parts of being a woman, whatever that definition means to people. In fact, she Is focused on avoiding labels and reducing women to a single role. Amy thought she always had great resilience but she admitted that this brought her resilience to a whole other level. Amy found higher barriers, higher hurdles and more shut doors.
Catarina had been wanting to be an entrepreneur for a while, to have something hers, that she could look and feel and, ideally, that would be aligned with her passion for wellness. Funny enough, compared to other entrepreneurs I have met, the product came last. And it was as simple as Lupin Beans. Catarina. Pedro and Alice have really worked on bringing a new face to Lupin Beans through Tarwi. As they set up a business through the pandemic, I was curious to know how to launch a dream like this during a time like this! With a good knowledge of social media, they launched with the people. This proximity of brands and people brought about by lockdown was already known to me by prior episodes of the podcast. But the result here was extraordinary. They were stocked out whenever they were back in stock!
Jessica and I went to school together in the US. She is now on her second start-up past corporate life and we had a conversation about the journey. A hot topic is always about the move from corporate life into entrepreneurship. She reminds us that there is never a right time. After her first start-up came soul-searching and just then the pandemic hit. As she tried to keep herself mentally and physically fit, her company was born. And if you think she was just in ideation mode through the pandemic, not quite! In fact, I will never forget she actually had her first factory tour over facetime. There was no stopping her determination.
Kerstin decided to leave the corporate finance life to create her business. As Catarina, she had a few ideas but not THE idea. She ended up making juice. They tried flavours, put them in cafes and hung around to see what people thought. A bit of stalking arguably, however humble in approach. Step by step, they were ready to expand. And as the pandemic hit, the multi-channel approach protected them from the hit (or part of it) and their customer appeal led them to close an oversubscribed round of crowdfunding.
Jenna founded Berlin Clothing Swap out of her own need to get clothes in an affordable and sustainable way. As we moved to a more personal conversation, there were quite a few bits that stuck with me. As we debated life past pandemic. Jenna did reiterate how important it was to learn that it is OK to say no.
There will always be another party.
Khyati was yet another financier Fellow that left into the unknown and without a clear path ahead, For the podcast, we focused on her start-up number 2, as she realised her resume did not fit after leaving start-up number 1. It is no surprise she joined Applied, focused on removing bias from the recruitment process. The focus is on skills alone.
To this day Khyati has given me what I still think is one of my favourite quotes.
Joana Dias da Cunha
Joana runs the impact business Fair Bazaar, aligned with her mission to educate and inspire. Again, I found an amazing woman that decided not to stay still in the face of a problem. In her case, It was a movie that woke her up to the damage of fast fashion. Running the company has been a multi-stage adventure and one that is still very much moving. The pandemic forced store shutdowns, but also created the opportunity for her to grow her online business, launch Fair News and grow her education practice.
Malee is Africa’s First global Luxury fragrance and body care brand. Zeze describes herself as multi-hyphenated. To this podcast, I had not realized the presence of multiple hyphens in my life. But the way that Zeze described it was what grabbed my attention. In a time when I was truly thinking how I needed to drop hyphens, she called it limitless.
As I close. l think I want to stick to ZEZE’s advice to all Of us.
I am grateful for this journey and grateful for the women that made it what it became. For the ability to find growth, for the ability to lift themselves up, for their authenticity and willingness to share,
Produced by Alice Stansfield