To honor Women Entrepreneurship Week, the School of Business and Woodbury’s chapter of the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization, CEO, organized a panel dialogue on October 21. The panel consisted of four female entrepreneurs — also Woodbury students — who find themselves at different stages of their entrepreneurial journey.
Alexis Unger, a Fashion Marketing major who creates custom-illustrated footwear, is the founder of “Get Kicked”, and dreams of building her company into a larger brand. Melissa Toribio has dual professional interests: The Accounting student works in her field of study but also is a practicing photographer. Brittaney Bautista, also a Fashion Marketing major, has found her niche in brand activating, a process, whereby a brand is being introduced to a greater audience through the creation of an experience. Danielle Bowman, who graduated from the Animation department in the School of Media Culture and Design and is currently an MBA student , started her animation company, DaniMation Entertainment (formally Powerlight Studios), when she was just 14 years old. She is also a highly coveted speaker, educator and an autism advocate.
After an introduction from moderator Wendy Bendoni, the chair of the Marketing and Fashion Marketing programs as well as a successful entrepreneur in her own right, the panelists were invited to share their own experiences. There was a general consensus among the women that while there will always be challenges — from performing as a woman in a male-dominated industry, to not being taken seriously when it comes to engaging in real business negotiations, to deciding on a specific niche within your entrepreneurial venture, to accomplishing levels of growth in volatile markets — there were also rewards to share.
Alexis talked about the sense of gratification she gets from being rewarded for her creations. Melissa explained the sense of elation that she feels for doing what she loves and being able to make a living doing it. She shared that she has had no problem getting assignments, to the point that she now has to sort through the jobs and select what she is most passionate about, which will ultimately help her determine her area of focus. Brittaney talked about the great advantage of networking, which draws you out of your shell, and compels you to meet more people, leading to new opportunities, new clients, and new experiential journeys. Danielle related her notion of rewards to the fact that in the entertainment industry, many folks know each other, and opportunities therefore emerge where you least expected them. She shared her experience of working with people with autism — running training camps in Florida, California, and the UK. Danielle is particularly proud of the fact that she has developed a focus to help others with autism find jobs in their field of expertise.
A vivid dialogue from the discussion emerged on several topics: leadership, perseverance, how to be taken seriously, as well as gaining fulfillment through a rewarding professional experience. At the end of the panel dialogue, Dr. Joan Marques, dean of the School of Business, handed each panelist an award for being pioneers in this event, with the school plans to make an annual endeavor.