On March 8, 2018, Los Angeles leaders convened for an inspiring event in recognition of International Women’s Day. The robust panel discussion and Founders event was presented by Dermalogica FITE (Financial Independence Through Entrepreneurship) and held in partnership with UCLA’s Anderson School of Management at the Price Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation. FITE is Dermalogica’s social impact initiative that creates pathways to entrepreneurship by providing access to small loans, business resources, education, and leadership opportunities.
Sonya Kay Blake, from the Los Angeles Mayor’s office of Economic Development, opened the event speaking about the city’s commitment to women-owned businesses. Then, Moderator, Colleen McKeegan, Senior Features Editor at Marie Claire, led the Founders panel, which featured speakers Jane Wurwand (co-founder and Chief Visionary of Dermalogica), Kate Somerville (Founder of Kate Somerville), Carisa Janes (Founder and CEO of Hourglass), Carly de Castro (Founder of Pressed Juicery), and Iris Alonzo (Founder of EVERYBODY.WORLD). During the panel, the experts discussed their growth process and how they’re now encouraging women to find their passion. They explained how they started their companies, spoke to the mistakes they’ve made along the way, and discussed who they’ve looked up to as mentors.
Following the panel, Tracy Gray and Jane Wurwand discussed the importance of investing in women entrepreneurs. Gray is Founder and Managing Partner of The 22 Fund, a social impact, growth venture capital and advisory firm with a job creation mission to support women- and minority-owned businesses and grow their export capacity. Gray shared some startling statistics: Businesses with a woman at the helm performed 63% better than those with all-male founders; yet, women-led companies receive less than 3% of venture dollars, women of color even less. This is often because there are so few women VCs; investors firms tend to avoid risk, and so invest in familiar-seeming opportunities, which often mean funding people who look like themselves. Yet, it’s been shown that when women earn money, they typically invest 80% of it back into their families and their community while men only invest 30%. Gray and Wurwand agreed that investing in women is an economic imperative, and issued a call to action to invest in women entrepreneurs and shop at women-owned businesses.
Started at the United Nations, each year International Women’s Day events are held worldwide with global gatherings, events, performances and exhibitions, predominately in New York and DC. Now more than ever, there’s a strong call to action in Los Angeles, as the event comes on the heels of Mayor Garcetti’s recent proclamation of Women’s Entrepreneurship Day in Los Angeles.
“I believe we should all do our part to give other women the opportunity and skills needed to be self-sufficient and successful,” shared Jane Wurwand. “Our FITE initiative does just that – providing women access to education, vocational training, small business loans and leadership skills. International Women’s Day is the perfect opportunity to gather other successful female entrepreneurs to share some of our insight with women who are looking for inspiration and advice.”
Los Angeles is one of the top innovation centers of the world, attracting people from around the globe to come pursue their dreams. Dermalogica founder Jane Wurwand was one of those passionate entrepreneurs, emigrating to Los Angeles in 1983 to start what has since become a global skincare business that has trained more than 100,000 skin therapists across the world. After three decades of work in an industry whose vast majority of ownership and workforce is female, Jane established FITE in 2011 to help support women entrepreneurs everywhere.
To-date, FITE has provided scholarships to girls in 15 countries and funded over 91,000 business loans for women in 68 countries. The just-announced Entrepreneurship Accelerator is a new model of online, purpose-driven education that fills critical business skill gaps to help small business grow to scale.