At IFundWomen, we know how important it is to see reflections of yourself that inspire you, make you feel proud, and make you feel included in a truly sincere way. 49% of women cite lack of access to coaches and mentors who have “been there, done that” as a major barrier to starting a business.
For Women’s History Month, the IFundWomen Team wanted to take a moment and reflect on women who inspire us, and who we believe will inspire you.
I started seeing them pop up on Instagram: PHENOMENAL WOMAN. PHENOMENALLY BLACK. PHENOMENALLY INDIGENOUS. It seemed like every celebrity from Serena Williams to Lizzo was rocking a “Phenomenal” sweatshirt. A couple of months later, I saw someone on the street wearing a “Catalyst for Change: Chisholm for President ‘72,” sweatshirt. Being a sucker for vintage democratic campaign merch, and forever in awe of Shirley Chisholm (the first Black woman elected to the U.S. Congress AND the first Black woman to seek the POTUS nomination), I knew I had to buy one. It was then that I fell down my first rabbit hole reading about Meena Harris and the empire she is building with the Phenomenal Woman Action Campaign.
Phenomenal is dedicated to “changing culture and norms around how we view women—especially Black women and women of color—who dare to be ambitious,” explained Harris in a recent Instagram post. I believe in the power of representation in all forms of expression—fashion, media—to shift norms and create a more equitable world. On top of Phenomonal’s merch line, Harris is the author of two children’s books which both center on empowering girls—because you can’t be what you can’t see!
“I’m a woman / Phenomenally. / Phenomenal woman, / That’s me.” — Maya Angelou (1978)
Learn more about Meena and her work.
I must admit - I’ve been silently following Nadya Okamoto on Instagram for years.
Her candor, tenacity, and creativity leap loudly off her page as soon as you hit “follow.” It’s hard to miss her unique blend of humor, optimism, and vulnerability. Her Instagram is covered with catchy TikTok videos and bright imagery boldly calling for visibility, honesty, attention, and action in a space that desperately needs product innovation: PERIODS. This is a category that’s often treated like a “niche” segment because the majority of the purchasing community are women – though women make up 50% of the world’s population.
Through her organization, PERIOD, and its sister company, August, Nadya Okamoto is “re-imagining and redefining the period experience to be powerful and dignified," with a community of members dedicated to ending period poverty and stigma, and engaging in conversations about how to properly use menstrual cups or what it's like to be a transgender man having a period, for example”, according to the website. Period poverty has extremely negative effects on women’s education, economic equality, and socio-political freedom around the world. To see Nadya tackling those issues through this lens is nothing short of extraordinary. Not to mention, she’s been doing all of this since the age of 16. PERIOD has now addressed over 1.5 million periods and registered over 800 campus chapters in all 50 states and 50 other countries.
Watching Nadya, I feel constantly inspired, heard, and seen. I can’t wait to be a fly on the wall for what she does next.
Learn more about Nadya.
Have you ever had an experience where you aren’t expecting much, but then...BAM...you are blown away by the impact it has on you?
Like a song with such powerful lyrics that you feel was written just for you. Or, a talk that is so eye-opening that you immediately start changing your actions. This is the feeling I got when I first heard the poet Arielle Estoria. She was on stage in front of hundreds of young women and she brought absolute TRUTH to the audience. Her words and the manner in which she spoke awakened me. At the time, Arielle was a recent college graduate who was so strong in herself, her body, and the words that she spoke.
It isn’t only her words that inspire me, but the way she carries herself. Arielle is also a body-positive model who continues to stand confidently in her skin. She embraces and accepts the body in which she has been given while encouraging other women to do the same. It is because of Arielle that I have been able to let go of the flawed beliefs that I grew up with and begin to embrace who I am. This is why I admire this woman.
Learn more about Arielle.
Ramya is the founder of Love Intuition, an app that “aims to change the norms around what love should look like”. After losing her aunt to intimate partner violence, Ramya decided to take action. Love Intuition is her powerful response, and I have been fortunate enough to watch Ramya’s entrepreneurial journey since the beginning.
I first heard of Ramya back in 2019, when we both were PINK GRL PWR project recipients. Then, as fate would have it, we were also both selected to be members of a Vital Voices Cohort. Eventually, Ramya kindly asked me to business coach her, and I supported her through the initial stages of creating Love Intuition. Today, she is a close friend of mine.
I am truly inspired by Ramya’s devotion to making a positive impact, as well as her kind-hearted, supportive energy. She makes everyone around her feel loved and seen, and I am grateful to write about her in honor of Women’s History Month.
Ramya is currently fundraising on IFundWomen. Learn more about her campaign.
Having support that uplifts and people that inspire you is essential to your growth as individuals and as business owners. 31% of women cite lack of access to a support system, community, and connections to help them level up as another huge barrier to launching a business. You never know, you may find the next woman that inspires you.
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