Incredible Women

8 Incredible Founders On The Advice That Kick-Started Their Career

To mark International Women’s Day, and in celebration of Women’s History Month, PORTER asks a series of inspiring founders to share the words of wisdom that have stayed with them as they have built their brands and organizations

Ariela Safira

Ariela Safira, founder and CEO of mental-health organization Real

“‘An outsider to math is more likely to solve the hardest math proof than a well-trained mathematician.’ Keith Schwartz, a computer-science professor at Stanford, ingrained in me the notion that to solve the world’s hardest problems, we need ‘outsiders’ to take on those problems. People who haven’t been indoctrinated by a system but, instead, approach it with unbiased eyes, skepticism, and uniquely creative thinking.

“This way of thinking changed me – Keith instilled a belief in myself that created Real. It propelled me into solving healthcare’s biggest problems, not despite the fact that I’m an outsider, but because I am an outsider. I’m not constrained by the way the system looks today. As an outsider, I have the luxury of clearly seeing the gaps that exist, and asking the necessary questions to build a better, more inclusive system.”

Sophie Ashby, interior designer and founder of Studio Ashby

“‘Work on yourself, so you can be there for your team.’ The stress of running a business is not to be underestimated, and that can trickle down and affect your studio culture and team morale. I try and better myself through coaching, talking to my peers, seeking honest advice and self-reflection so that I can be the kind of leader I want to be.”

June Angelides MBE, investor, speaker and founder of Mums In Technology

“My mother is such an inspiring force. Growing up, I would watch with admiration how much love and sacrifice she put into building the family business that her father started. She always said, ‘Time waits for no one.’ That quote has stuck with me, as I think about how to spend my time and making every minute count.”

June Angelides MBE (on sofa, wearing denim jumpsuit) and Sophie Ashby
Carolina Bucci

Carolina Bucci, jewelry designer and brand founder

“The best advice I have ever received came from one of my tutors at the Fashion Institute of Technology. I was young and in New York and so busy with life and work, and nights and days were long and filled with everything. He noticed that I wasn’t happy with my design work and was in a creative rut, and he told me that I should allow myself to be bored. That I should try to be bored. Stop running around so much and just daydream. It was, and still is, something I remember every time I need to find inspiration. These days, there are meditation apps but, 20 years ago, in a new and busy city, this was the best advice I could ever have received.” Carolina Bucci

Brittney Escovedo

Brittney Escovedo, CEO and founder of experiential-event production company Beyond 8

“Two of the most important pieces of advice that have been shared with me are to network on my level (don’t get hung up on rubbing shoulders with the CEO if you’re an assistant – the reality is that an assistant or manager sitting next to you will be the CEO in your near future) and to cultivate genuine relationships with people. I spend time intentionally carving out time in my week to get to know people on a deeper level, sharing a meal together or jumping on a call to remain connected.

“When I get to know people in an authentic way, I create bonds that last a lifetime. My clients become friends, and my friends become clients. There is a mutual respect, trust and humanity that exists between people who know each other and care to see one another succeed.”

Kelly Wearstler, interior designer and brand founder

“One piece of advice that has stuck with me, and that I would share with any aspiring designer, is that every space has a unique and inspired story to tell. I use this as a starting point for all my projects. It has led me to explore new places, perspectives and design concepts that would have otherwise been unfamiliar to me. Following this piece of advice has been critical in allowing me to develop my own authentic voice. It has encouraged me to be curious and not afraid of taking risks, leading me to discover some of the most beautiful but unexpected pairings. I have particularly referenced this piece of advice while working on my hospitality projects – I truly wanted to embark on a spirited exploration of each building’s history, location, architecture and surrounding culture, to allow guests to share a hyper-localized flavor of the city.” Kelly Wearstler

Kelly Wearstler
Eva Malmström Shivdasani (wearing white) and Natsuko Shoji

Eva Malmström Shivdasani, creative director and co-founder of luxury travel resorts Soneva

“My parents always instilled in me to believe in myself and to never give up. This created my motto, which is, ‘If anyone else can do it, so can I – as long as I have the physical [and] mental capacity for it.’”

Natsuko Shoji, chef and founder of restaurant Été

“‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’ My mother told me these words to encourage me when I was younger, because home was not a stable, peaceful place for us. This experience has made me stronger and has given me the power to get over tough working conditions in my career.” Natsuko Shoji



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The people featured in this story are not associated with NET-A-PORTER and do not endorse it or the products shown