Yes, you really can go your own way – no matter what your age and level of experience. Over the next couple of weeks we’re featuring young female entrepreneurs who’ve either escaped the corporate world, never stepped foot in the corporate world, or are simply doing something on the side of their corporate life.
We ask them everything from what unique traits they think make an entrepreneur, to the turning points that led them to pursue their own business, and the advice they have for other women looking to do their own thing.
Today we hear from an entrepreneurial team, 25-year-old Haylee Collins and 23-year-old Ashleigh Grogan, who have together established Vagabond Media, publishing a crowd-funded new magazine for young women. The magazine, Young Vagabond, offers an alternative take on fashion, sex, beauty, relationships and inspiring readers to celebrate the achievements of women across all fields.
What unique traits do you have that have aided your success as an entrepreneur, or that you expect to aid your success?
Haylee: A fierce passion for women’s equality and empowerment drives me to develop YV at every opportunity. Every piece of content in Young Vagabond is selected to send a message to readers – whether it’s to encourage them to consider a career in science, or the non-profit sector, or to make more sustainable decisions when shopping for clothes – there is an ethos of helping people, particularly of helping women, that pervades the magazine. The other key ingredient has been a business partner that balances my own strengths and weaknesses. It means that I get to focus on what I am good at and what I enjoy (most of the time), which ultimately benefits the business and helps keep me motivated.
Ashleigh: Without my passion I would not have the drive to make Young Vagabond a success in positively influencing the young women of Australia. I strongly believe the way the media represents women has detrimental and long term effects on their decision making. From a young age they are taught that their physical beauty is their worth and this often overshadows their ability to realise their potential and champion their achievements. My positive and constructive attitude has ensured Young Vagabond is a publication that does not highlight topics without a positive purpose allowing readers to finish the magazine with constructive thought and appreciation for themselves. Balancing passion with reality is also important to see that we stay on track in our ethos but do not alienate ourselves by slamming our competitors, thus allowing us to effectively grow our business in the Australian market.
How do you retain your energy and keep enthusiastic about your work day to day?
Haylee: Again, having a business partner – someone to bounce ideas off – plays a big role in this. I’m a huge ideas person, a dreamer, but I no longer have an excuse to just sit there dreaming my day away. Not wanting to let another person down is a huge motivator. I also rely on my continuing outrage over the inequalities faced by women in all parts of the world, and the only real way to use anger like that is to create something positive with it. One day I might burn out, but not before Young Vagabond makes some kind of difference to the way things are currently.
Ashleigh: Receiving feedback and seeing the influence YV is having on readers is my biggest motivator and – very embarrassingly – I have short video diaries. I record a few minutes here and there when times are absolutely ridiculous from the 4am late nights to the euphoric moments after an unimaginable opportunity has arisen. When I feel like it’s all becoming too much or I’m banging my head against a wall I watch one to remember those moments and remind myself another one will be coming up soon. Also, as Haylee mentioned, sharing ideas is a big driver. Discussing our future aspirations and setting goals together allows us to see things in the bigger picture and develop our ideas much further than if we were doing this alone.
What was the turning point or defining moment that inspired you to branch out with your own business?
Timing was a big contributor in our decision to launch YV. The online feminist community is growing all the time and there is increasing dialogue around issues that weren’t previously discussed publically. It was a case of now or never really. Either we were going to take the opportunity to create a new, positive, feminist-minded publication for young people, or someone was going to beat us to the punch. The overwhelmingly positive responses we have received regularly since launching confirm what we had suspected, that a publication like YV is sorely needed.
What key personality traits and skills do you believe are required for young women keen on developing their own business idea, or pursuing a career as an entrepreneur?
Haylee: Finding that one idea that you are truly passionate about is integral. I don’t think I would be anywhere near as motivated in developing YV if I was doing it for money or personal recognition. Passion will drive you in your darkest moments. A willingness to take criticism gracefully is also required, something that I have had to work on as I’ve come across those with more knowledge than me. And striking a balance between modesty and arrogance…modesty for the times you are on top or given praise and arrogance for the times you need to fight to make yourself heard or respected.
Ashleigh: Be passionate and confident in your idea and don’t follow someone else’s path to success. If we didn’t decide we were going to launch Young Vagabond our own way we would not have raised $18,000 to launch the first edition with no proof we could, or receive the opportunity to distribute over 16,000 copies of that first edition nation-wide. It is important to absorb as much advice as you can, but be selective when deciding what advice you apply to your business or idea.
And what advice would you have for encouraging such women to stick with the plan?
Haylee: Within reason, share your ideas. Get others on board. Put your name and your face to what you are doing. The more people who know “the plan” the more people there are to hold you accountable if you lose your nerve.
Ashleigh: Meet as many new people as you can to grow your network. Whether or not meeting someone will have a direct impact on your business is not the most important element. Putting yourself out there and talking to others about not only about your idea but their experience has the possibility to present you with knowledge or opportunity to grow as an individual and as a business owner.