‘The Best Advice My Mother Gave Me,’ From 10 Top Female Entrepreneurs
By MeiMei Fox
“The most important thing parents can do is to believe in their child,” says Margot Machol Bisnow, author of Raising an Entrepreneur: 99 Stories from Families Who Did. “Parents tell me that of course they believe in their child. But actually, they don’t. They love them, they want them to be happy and successful, but they don’t actually believe in them. Trust your child to make good decisions, and let them know you’ll support them through inevitable setbacks. Tell them that failure is how they will learn and grow on their road to success. Be proud of them as they dream big dreams.”
Today is Mother’s Day, and in honor of this special occasion, here is the best business-related advice that 10 top female entrepreneurs have received from their own mothers. All of their mothers believed in them and supported their journeys to founding and running their own companies.
1. Michelle Mokone, Cofounder of Mo’s Crib
Mo’s Crib specializes in handmade, sustainable, and ethical homewares. The company is funded and run by African women, with community-based operations in Pretoria.
“The best advice I got from my mom is, You can conquer all,” says Michelle Mokone, the cofounder of Mo’s crib. “My mother had different ways of saying it, but she intentionally affirmed us kids daily. She told us that we are bold, we can make it, we have the ability to succeed in anything we dream of, we are competent enough. These words resurface on days when I feel low in the challenges I face as an entrepreneur. They resurface in my own journey as I transition into motherhood, and also at times where life is hard. Her voice reminds me that I can conquer all.”
2. Katina Mountanos, Founder & CEO of Kosterina
Kosterina is a wellness brand centered around high-antioxidant superfoods and the Mediterranean lifestyle. Founder and olive oil sommelier Katina Mountanos traces her interest in founding the company to her southern Greek roots.
“I owe the genesis of Kosterina to my mom’s career,” Mountanos says. “My mom worked for an airline company, so growing up we were able to travel for free. This allowed us to spend summers on our family’s olive farms in southern Greece. There, I was introduced to extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) pressed from my family’s trees, which we nicknamed liquid gold. I could never find a proper substitute here in the U.S., so I became a certified olive oil sommelier and set out to develop a premium, delicious Greek EVOO for the American market.”
3. Margaret Wishingrad, Cofounder & CEO of Three Wishes
Three Wishes is a healthy cereal that also tastes delicious. After welcoming her first son to the world, cofounder and CEO Margaret Wishingrad realized an opportunity for a nutritional cereal that appealed to kids. Now a national brand, Three Wishes is carried at Whole Foods, Sprouts, Erewhon, and many more stores.
“Tending to your own garden will let it grow was the best advice my mom ever gave me,” says Wishingrad. “My mom taught me to put care into what I care about. This is how I’ve seen Three Wishes, a brand born from passion and years of care, flourish.”
4. Cristina Ros Blankfein, Cofounder & Co-CEO of Swoon
Swoon is a zero-sugar beverage brand recreating classic drinks like lemonade and iced teas. Cristina Ros Blankfein cofounded Swoon with her friend Jennifer Ross after realizing that Ross, a Type-1 diabetic, could not enjoy sugary mojitos at a dinner party. Now, Swoon’s sales goals have them on track to take 1 billion grams of sugar out of the supply chain.
“My mom taught me by example that one can never be above doing anything,” says Blankfein. “As a founder, we have awesome opportunities to meet with role models, dream partners, and so on, but we’re also ultimately responsible for everyone and everything. This means packing up last minute shipments, dropping off cases to an event, hand selling door-to-door, and cleaning up at trade shows. My partner Jen and I have a very supportive partner relationship and collaborative team because we consistently walk in our team members’ shoes by participating in every task.”
5. Ariel Kaye, Founder of Parachute
Parachute is a modern lifestyle brand committed to making you feel at home. Their products are designed in Los Angeles and responsibly manufactured by craftspeople around the globe.
“The best advice I’ve received from my mom that has benefited me as both a founder and a parent is to trust your instincts,” says Ariel Kaye, the founder of Parachute. “My intuition most often leads me in the right direction. When I don’t trust my gut, it backfires. It’s important to tune out the noise and focus on what is right for you, your business and your family.”
6. Alex Taylor, Cofounder & Co-CEO of Perelel
Perelel is the first and only OB/GYN-founded vitamin brand offering nutrition for each distinct stage of a woman’s hormonal life cycle. It was created by Alex Taylor and Victoria Thain Gioia.
“My mother taught me that life isn’t about material things or job titles, but rather the relationships we have and the experiences we gather,” says Taylor, co-CEO of Perelel. “She also taught me to always do the next right thing.”
7. Victoria Thain Gioia, Cofounder & Co-CEO of Perelel
“My mom told me at some point you have to let go of trying to have everything be perfect,” says Victoria Thain Gioia, cofounder and co-CEO of Perelel. “Kids, life, and now start-ups are all messy! So, you need to let some things go and just move on to the next.”
8. Danielle Weisberg, Cofounder & Co-CEO of theSkimm
TheSkimm is a digital media company dedicated to succinctly giving women the information they need to make confident decisions. Their goal is “to make it easier to live smarter.”
“One of the things my mom always told me was to be financially independent,” says theSkimm cofounder and co-CEO Danielle Weisberg. “It doesn’t matter how well your partner is doing, you always need to make and control your own money. Having financial knowledge is how I was able to transition into becoming an entrepreneur and something really important theSkimm continues to share with our audience.”
9. Nicole Wegman, Founder and CEO of Ring Concierge
Ring Concierge is a bridal and fine jewelry brand beloved by celebs including Jessica Alba, Romee Strijd, Shay Mitchell and JoJo Fletcher.
“Pre-baby there was no line between when I was working and wasn’t. I was always on,” says Nicole Wegman, founder and CEO of Ring Concierge. “My mother taught me that now that I’m a mother, when I’m with my daughter, I ought to give her my full attention. When I’m at work, I should give it my full attention. So, I try not to be guilty about missing one when focusing on the other.”
10. Sara Schiller, Cofounder of Sloomoo
Sloomoo Institute is an experiential destination that taps into the joy of multi-sensory play through handcrafted, artisanal slime. Sloomoo Institutes are currently open in NYC, Chicago, and Atlanta, with more to come.
“My mother’s advice was to surround myself with great people,” says Sara Schiller, the cofounder of Sloomoo. “They support you when you need help and fill in areas where you are not strong.”