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Article: Women's Power on International Women's Day

Frauenpower am Weltfrauentag

Women's Power on International Women's Day

Anna and Sopjie from Hejhej Mats

These are Anna and Sophie, the two founders of hejhej-mats. They have a Master's degree in Sustainability Management from Sweden and are both passionate about yoga.

Our vision is to reduce the amount of plastic waste on our planet and promote conscious consumption through our sustainable yoga equipment. We are passionate about raw materials that flow in endless cycles. Ultimately, we are motivated to make this planet a livable place for future generations. In 2018, our hejhej-mats were nominated for the Bundespreis ecodesign. In 2019, we founders received the "Entrepreneur of the month" award from the Swedish brand OATLY.

Unfortunately, we found out ourselves that women are significantly outnumbered in entrepreneurship. There are numerous difficulties and hurdles that men do not face.
Why are there so few women in entrepreneurship?
It is more likely that investors support people who are similar to them. This is, of course, a vicious circle, given that the investing world is also dominated by men. A Babson College study shows that less than 3% of venture capital-backed companies had a woman CEO. Only 6% of potential investors are women. In the EU, only 30% of entrepreneurs are women. Even the European Commission says: Female creativity and their entrepreneurial potential are an untapped source of economic growth and jobs which should be developed..
To all the women and girls out there, please be strong and go your own way so that together we can all show the world that women in entrepreneurship is a normal and great thing.

Petra Schöckeneder

Petra Schröckeneder founded 'BE [...] MY FRIEND' in Salzburg in 2015. Her mission to create high quality, purely plant-based skincare products that are both usable and combinable for different purposes. During the initial lockdown, she used her resources to create BE SAFE MY FRIEND, a reformulated, highly effective and natural disinfectant. It is antiviral, antibacterial and can be used not only on your hands but also on surfaces. Organic wheat alcohol is blended with vegetable glycerin and natural essential oils of lavender and lemon peel, along with natural moisturiser to not only disinfect but also nourish your skin.

What does femininity mean to you?

II learnt very early to perceive femininity in everyone. I only discovered my own femininity very late. When I had the courage to admit this, it gave me a lot of strength.
What does it mean to you to be a strong woman?
I don't see myself as a strong woman/human being all the time. I have a lot of weaknesses and also a lot of insecurity. But taking myself as I am right now and still working on myself makes me feel like I can achieve anything I want. And that is confirmed almost daily. A good friend of mine always tells me in difficult phases: "Honey, get up, straighten your crown and move on". And already with the first step, you gain strength again.

What is your purpose in life?

Do you have a vision in this world? I try to understand my surroundings and be grateful.I sometimes succeed better and sometimes worse. And every now and then everything makes perfect sense. I feel that the respect is getting bigger and bigger. That unlike in the past, the people I know care a lot about their environment, the planet and their personal development. In my perfect world, we would have already arrived. We would all appreciate each other, support each other and envy and hate would not play a role.


Tamara Mayne Brooklyn Candle Studio

Tamara Mayne, a fragrance obsessive and designer, founded Brooklyn Candle Studio in 2013. Tamara is a Virginia native who studied fine arts and business at the University of Virginia before moving to New York. Creatively unfulfilled after subsequent jobs in finance and technology, she enrolled at the Fashion Institute of Technology in 2009 to study graphic design. With nothing more than a kit from a local craft shop, she began making candles as gifts for friends and family in 2012 and soon dove deep into aromatherapy and candle making. Since then, her passion has been to create beautifully packaged natural candles at an affordable price.

What was the most challenging moment you experienced while setting up the business?


There were some challenging moments from the beginning (and even now!), but one of the most difficult aspects was just basically fulfilling orders without help. The sheer volume was overwhelming, and combined with commuting and working until sometimes 10pm (I was freelancing in advertising), it was exhausting to make and ship candles all night. But it was all worth it!

What's one of the most important achievements in your career so far that you're particularly proud of?

There are many, but my proudest moment was when I was finally able to offer largely subsidised health insurance to my employees


Who are other women entrepreneurs who inspire you?

I greatly admire women entrepreneurs like Elizabeth Suzann and Jesse Kamm who prioritise ethical practices and environmental awareness. I feel like a lot of women entrepreneurs out there neglect their employees and only focus on sales and profits as a measure of success.I think it's important to give back to those who help drive your business - with paid time off, higher pay, bonuses, maternity leave, health care and more. I truly believe that we women entrepreneurs can change the world by giving back to our employees, by providing them with a better quality of life.


Anju Rupal

Anju Rupal, daughter of Indian parents, grew up in England. Studied sociology and ethnology and founded Abhati Suisse in 2013. Her mission: to make the world a better place. "We are driven by the hope of a cleaner environment and making sure we give back to the planet and those who occupy it. Not only do we work sustainably and fairly, we also invest in those who work with us. We see our work as twofold: providing our customers with an exceptional range of products that are unparalleled in the quality of their formulations and their effectiveness. At the same time, we support our farmers, local communities and the environment through educational initiatives and reforestation projects. We work tirelessly to find solutions to minimise waste and use sustainable elements in our marketing. When you apply an Abhati product to your face, hair and body, you're helping to make the world a more beautiful place too."

How did you become a cosmetics entrepreneur?
That was a long way back to my roots. My parents emigrated from India to England before I was born. They wanted us four children to get a good education. I was preoccupied early on with the question of why women don't go to school in many countries, why so many of them are oppressed and exploited. I studied sociology and anthropology to understand this better, and worked in women's shelters in England to do something about it in a small way.

Later you ran the women's shelter in St. Gallen.
I met my husband and came to Switzerland because of him. Running the women's shelter was a stressful task for a young mother. I found it hard to bear being confronted with all these forms of domestic violence and also being attacked myself. At the same time, I discovered my entrepreneurial talent in this job. Year after year, it took a special effort and a lot of persuasion to secure the funding.

After that, you worked in a financial consultancy and then launched an online service that matched singles based on their body odours. It doesn't sound like you had a plan for your professional life?
I've tended to follow coincidences, and along the way I've learned a lot about what doesn't fulfil me or what I'm not good at. Financial advice wasn't my world, I lacked the higher purpose there. The matching tool based on a pheromone analysis interested me a lot, but the project failed because Facebook kept changing the algorithms and our app didn't adapt quickly enough. There were many more projects. After the birth of my first daughter, I opened a nursery, and later I launched the project with IT pioneers from the founding team of Xing, which has led to 25 million trees being planted in Asia, South America and Africa. But it wasn't until I launched my own cosmetics line, Abhati Suisse, that everything I had seen and learned took on meaning and direction.

What does that mean?
I remembered my first trip to India when I was 22: Although my roots are in India, I felt foreign, overwhelmed and often nauseated. The sanitary situation in the countryside was catastrophic, in many places there were no toilets. When my children were grown up, I wanted to use my freedom to do something about it. In 2014, I helped install toilets in some families. But I quickly realised that they were hardly used, some families stored food in them. That's when I realised: the most important thing is to invest in education. Or more concretely: It is important to send as many girls as possible to school. Only if we succeed in this, will rural families escape poverty. And this is possible thanks to cosmetic products? Exactly. It's no use complaining about the luxuries we can afford here while others have too little to live on. That's why I founded Abhati Suisse with the aim of combining beauty, business and philanthropy. People buy cosmetics anyway - I give customers the opportunity to support something worthwhile. My goal is to be able to send one million girls to school in India thanks to the proceeds from the cosmetics line. To date, 210,000 girls have been sent to school. I know the situation in India well and only work with state-recognised aid organisations there. So I can promise that every customer who buys one of my products sends a girl in India to school. That is much more satisfying and exciting than optimising my profits.


There are still many power women out there, we will continue to look out for them and always give them a place here to present their projects and products. Also to encourage others to turn their wishes and ideas into action.

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