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Inspiring “Girl Founder” stories from the Academy for Enterprising Girls

If you haven’t heard, COSBOA is the head contractor for The Academy for Enterprising Girls, a free digital platform and series of workshops designed to teach girls aged 11 -18 entrepreneurial skills and design thinking.

Though many of the in-person workshops were cancelled due to COVID-19, the Academy’s online platform has still been thriving this year. Recently they also held some virtual school holiday workshops which were very popular.

Another thing the Academy has been doing this year is sharing inspiring stories of female business owners (or “girl founders”) in a series of written interviews. These build on the 10-part “Girl Founders: My Story” video series.

Below is a small taste of the interviews on the Academy’s site. These are some awesome role models!

One story is Linda Woodhead of Mocha Publishing.

Having worked in publishing in the UK where she got some mentoring from a great boss, Linda Woodhead moved to Brisbane in 1986 and started her first business, RAVE publishing, which she proudly says was “instrumental in the launch and support of many Brisbane bands.” Eventually she started a new business:

“A friend wanted to launch a trade hair magazine and had experience in the hair industry but none in publishing, so by license we published for her. It was my introduction to ‘hair’! After selling RAVE followed by a few more magazines, business, spiritual, consumer etc., I found myself launching Mocha Publishing and HAIRBIZ – a business to business trade magazine sent to all hair salons in Australia, dealing with the business side of the industry, which had not been done before. Shortly after came Beauty Biz Magazine and then Barbershop Magazine. Once settled and known we then embraced the creative side of the industry as well. Over the past 14 years we have also complimented this with our awards divisions hosting and facilitating the Australian Hair Industry Awards, Australian Beauty Industry Awards and Australian Modern Barber Awards.”

When asked what gave her the confidence to get started or the resilience to continue, she said:

“I think I always had a yearn to learn but results certainly helped me along the way. If you succeed at something and you have the character to want more, you will continue to set higher goals. I had been lucky enough to have a good education and while I can’t say I was academically top of the class; I have always had good common sense and believe there is always more than 1 way to do something.”

The Girl Founders were all asked what gave them the confidence to get started and the resilience to keep going. Brodie Lee Tsiknaris, who bought her hair salon - Rokstar Salon - when she was just 18, says:

“I was lucky to have very supportive parents. My Dad always told me you can have anything you want in life if you work hard for enough for it. He and my mum were incredible role models for me and they taught me so much… Resilience is something that I believe takes a lot of practice. I grew up as a dancer and went down the road of professional ballet before having to make a choice between hairdressing and a ballet company. I truly believe my resilience came from ballet, the discipline, the structure the determination and ability to keep pushing - even when it is painful. Get back up and go again.”

The interviewees also share the skills they have learned as female CEOs.

Tamara Reid of Beaute Industrie talks about professional values and networking:

Along the way of business ownership, I’ve learnt the skill and importance of knowing your personal and professional values - things that help guide the decisions you make. In the beginning, I heard so many people telling me to ‘find my values’ however I didn’t really understand what this meant entirely. One day I sat down and asked myself ‘what are my values, and what are the business values?’ and I wrote them all down on a piece of butchers paper until I became clear on them. Nowadays, with every single person, brand or partnership that approaches myself or Beaute Industrie, I go through those values and I make sure they align. If the values don’t align, then the partnership or decision is most likely a no, whereas if the values align, I sleep on it and say yes in the morning.

A further skill I've learnt is the power of networking. Say hello to everyone and make them feel like they’re the most important person in the room when you’re in conversation with them. People won't remember what you do, but they will remember how you made them feel and, you may just end up working with them later down the line, so that ability to network and have good people surrounding you is absolutely priceless.”

Rebecca Young of Capital Chemist Chisholm (which won the Pharmacy Guild’s Pharmacy of the Year 2020) shares that her first mentor was their group accountant:

I wanted to do the bookkeeping for the business and asked for her help. 11 years later, I still call her and seek assistance. She has an incredible work ethic but always balances this with time away with family and friends which I think is very important as you need to be able to switch off from the business at times. She also taught me how to understand what the numbers mean and cash flow which I believe is critical for success.

When asked why women make great business owners, Sarah Hazel, owner of Flannery’s pharmacy, says:

“Women are fantastic at multitasking, a skill crucial for any business owner. Women also have fantastic emotional intelligence and are generally great communicators.

I’d also like to emphasise that it is possible to combine business ownership and motherhood. It’s challenging at times, but so are many jobs. If you are passionate about what you do and you love your job, you can achieve anything!”

The Girl Founders end their interviews with advice they have for young women. Elise Wheadon of says “The sky is the limit to the possibilities and potential you possess and is only restricted by your dedication and your imagination. It won’t happen overnight but patience and perseverance go a very long way.”

Read the interviews here:



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