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This International Women's Day, we spoke to Tina Plamadeala, an inspiring female entrepreneur to discuss her business, Innocent Vegan Store and the advice she has for other female entrepreneurs. She shared some great insights into the challenges and successes of being a female business owner, and it was truly inspiring to hear her story. We are so thankful for the opportunity to learn from her experiences and to celebrate the achievements of all female entrepreneurs this International Women's Day.

Tell us about yourself.

As a female entrepreneur, I wear multiple hats: I am the employability officer at ARU London, a freelancer in digital marketing, and the solopreneur behind Innocent Vegan Store. I have always been passionate about creating things and dreamed of running my own business from a young age. That dream became a reality while studying Business and Marketing at ARUL. I knew this was the perfect time to put my studies into practice and start my venture.

What inspired you to set up Innocent Vegan Store? 

Innocent Vegan Store was born out of my desire to empower women to express themselves through a range of products that not only make them unique but also have a positive impact on the environment. The idea behind the store was to create vegan lip balms that are unique to each woman's personality. These lip balms are not just products but a way for women to feel confident and embrace their natural beauty bringing to life their individuality. 

What challenges have you faced so far in building Innocent Vegan Store? 

 When building the Innocent Vegan Store, one of the biggest challenges I faced was entering a highly competitive industry market. With big beauty companies offering a wide range of makeup products at affordable prices, it can be difficult to compete as a small business.

In order to overcome this challenge, I have focused on differentiating Innocent Vegan Store by offering a unique range of vegan lip balms that cater to women's diverse personalities. Each of our products is carefully crafted and personalised, focusing on quality and ethical production.

How can ARU London students benefit from using Innocent Vegan Store? 

 ARU London students can benefit from using Innocent Vegan Store in several ways. Firstly, as a vegan brand, our products align with the values of many ARU London students who are conscious of their impact on the environment and ethical consumerism. Our lip balms are made from natural, vegan ingredients and are free from harmful chemicals and animal testing.

Secondly, our lip balm range is designed to celebrate women's individuality and empower them to express themselves. This can be particularly beneficial for ARU London students who are building their personal brand or seeking to make a statement through their appearance.

Through Innocent Vegan Store, I aim to inspire and empower students to embrace their creativity, entrepreneurial spirit, and commitment to ethical and sustainable business practices.

What advice would you give to students and/or other young women who are trying to become an entrepreneur or start their own businesses?

As an employability officer and entrepreneur, I am often asked for advice from students and young women aspiring to become entrepreneurs or start their own businesses. Here are some of the key pieces of advice I would offer:

  1. Believe in yourself: One of the most important things you can do when starting a business is to have confidence in yourself and your abilities. Believe you have what it takes to succeed, and don't let self-doubt hold you back.
  2. Do your research: Before launching a business, it's important to do your homework. Research the market, identify your target audience and understand the competition. This will help you to create a unique value proposition and position your business for success.
  3. Develop a clear plan: A well-defined business plan is essential for success. This should include your goals, strategies, tactics, and a budget and timeline for achieving your objectives.
  4. Be prepared to work hard: Entrepreneurship requires hard work, dedication, and persistence. Be prepared to put in long hours, make sacrifices, and overcome challenges along the way.
  5. Build a supportive network: Surround yourself with people who believe in you and your vision. This includes mentors, advisors, and supportive friends and family members who can offer guidance, encouragement, and feedback.
  6. Embrace failure: Failure is a natural part of the entrepreneurial journey. Rather than being discouraged by setbacks, view them as opportunities to learn and grow. Embrace a growth mindset and be willing to adapt and pivot when necessary.
  7. Stay true to your values: As an entrepreneur, staying true to your values and principles is essential. Build a business that aligns with your passions and beliefs, and prioritise ethical and sustainable business practices.

How can we encourage more women to pursue entrepreneurship within their careers? 

Encouraging more women to pursue entrepreneurship is important for several reasons. Women-led businesses can drive economic growth, create jobs, and promote innovation. However, significant barriers still prevent many women from pursuing entrepreneurship within their careers. Here are some ways we can encourage and support more women to become entrepreneurs:

  1. Provide mentorship and networking opportunities: Mentorship and networking can be invaluable resources for aspiring female entrepreneurs. Encouraging women to connect with successful female entrepreneurs, industry leaders, and other supportive individuals can provide them with the guidance, advice, and support they need to launch and grow their businesses.
  2. Provide education and training: Many women may need more skills and knowledge to start and run a successful business. Offering education and training programs covering business planning, marketing, and finance can equip women with the tools they need to succeed as entrepreneurs.
  3. Address unconscious bias:Unconscious bias can prevent women from being taken seriously as entrepreneurs and may limit their access to funding and other resources. Addressing and eliminating unconscious bias in the workplace and entrepreneurship can help level the playing field and ensure women have equal opportunities to succeed.

 What is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers?

To young women thinking about their careers, I want to convey the most important message to follow their passions and pursue their dreams with confidence and determination. Too often, young women face societal pressures and stereotypes that limit their choices and potential, leading them to choose careers that may not align with their true interests and aspirations.

It's important to recognise that your career is a significant part of your life, and it's essential that you choose a path that brings you fulfilment, satisfaction, and a sense of purpose. Don't let societal expectations or other people's opinions dictate your career choices; instead, focus on your passions and interests and seek opportunities that align with them.

Additionally, it's important to remember that career paths are not always linear, and it's okay to explore different options and make changes along the way. The most successful and fulfilled people are often those who are not afraid to take risks, try new things, and pivot when necessary.

Finally, don't be afraid to seek out help, support, and guidance along the way. Mentors, advisors, and other supportive individuals can provide valuable insights, advice, and networking opportunities to help you achieve your career goals.

Are there any female leaders you find inspirational? 

There are countless female leaders who inspire me with their intelligence, strength, resilience, and leadership abilities. Their accomplishments and contributions to society serve as a reminder of the immense impact that women can have when they are given equal opportunities and support.  

Among these trailblazers are Oprah Winfrey, whose media empire has empowered and enlightened millions of people around the world; Emily Weiss, whose innovative beauty brand Glossier has disrupted the industry and set a new standard for inclusivity and authenticity; Jessica Alba, who has leveraged her platform to promote sustainability and ethical consumerism through her company The Honest Company; and Sara Blakely, who founded Spanx and has since become a prominent advocate for women's entrepreneurship. 

However, the most influential female leader in my life is my sister. Her unwavering determination, resilience, and kindness have always been an inspiration to me. Despite facing numerous challenges and obstacles, she has remained committed to her goals and has never given up on herself or others. She has shown me that true leadership is not just about achieving success but also about lifting others and making a positive impact on the world.

 What is the best piece of advice you have been given?

The best advice I have been given is to dream, dare, and do! 

This simple yet profound message has the power to inspire and motivate people of all backgrounds and aspirations. As a female entrepreneur, I believe that this advice is particularly relevant and effective in achieving success.

Dreaming big is the first step towards achieving any goal. It allows us to tap into our creativity and imagination and to envision a future that is better than our present. By dreaming big, we set the bar high and challenge ourselves to reach beyond our perceived limitations.

However, dreaming alone is not enough. We must also dare to take risks and step outside of our comfort zones. This requires courage, resilience, and a willingness to fail. Taking calculated risks can lead to new opportunities and experiences and help us learn and grow as individuals and entrepreneurs.

Finally, taking action towards our dreams is the key to making them a reality. We must be proactive, persistent, and focused in pursuing our goals. Taking action is the only way to turn our dreams into tangible results.

Check out Innocent Vegan Store online and be sure to support a female business owner this International Women's Day! 

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