Nicole Gibbons, founder and CEO of Clare Paint, got her eye for aesthetics from her mother, a designer. After college, she worked in the public relations department for Victoria's Secret, where she wrote about design every day. With her sights set on being her own boss, Gibbons turned a design side hustle into a direct-to-consumer paint company. Soon, it was time to quit her day job.
Like Gibbons, Ishveen Anand turned a lifelong passion into an entrepreneurial career. For Anand, it was sports, which she grew up playing and continued to pursue through college at Oxford University. After graduation, she became a sports agent, and eventually came to envision a better way to carry out athlete sponsorship deals. In 2014, Anand launched OpenSponsorship, which aims to make sponsorship options easier for athletes to navigate.
Both stories are inspiring examples of how a business can bloom from persistent enthusiasm. However, it takes more than an idea to turn your passion into real success.
For Gibbons, the biggest hurdle was learning about manufacturing. After all, there is, quite literally, a science to making paint. "Going into this, I knew a ton about design," Gibbons says in a new Inc. video. "I knew a ton about color. I knew how to build a brand. But I didn't know how to manufacture a product, particularly a chemical product that's regulated."
Anand had her own struggles. She knew her industry in and out, but the business side of things proved a bit tricky. Hiring, raising money, and building a website were all elements she needed to learn on the spot. Plus, professional athletics happens to be one of the most stereotypically male-dominated industries: "When I go into a room, I have to work 20 times harder for you to trust that I am an expert in this industry," she says.
On the flip side, the fact that Anand stands out as a British woman of color is something she views as an advantage. "People will often say to others, 'Hey, you should meet Ishveen, she's interesting,' but that's as far as it goes. Then everything else has to take over," Anand says. "Your disadvantages often mean that someone is ready to help you get in the room, but once you're in the room, it is much harder."
When offering advice to budding female founders, Gibbons urges them to pursue what you love, as she did. "If you are passionate about something and you want to build a business, so long as you have that passion and that fire, you can make it happen," she says. "And I think if you have that passion and you don't do it, you'll probably always regret it."
Of course, going for it doesn't mean you have do everything on your own. "Look for that support system early on and make sure that you've got really good people surrounding you," Gibbons says. "Build the best team that you possibly can, because no matter how big or how incredible your vision is, you can't do it alone."