Defintion: “A person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk.”
We’ve quizzed two incredibly inspirational and entrepreneurial women to discover how they succeeded in the business world. Meredith O’Shaughnessy talks martinis and macarons, while restaurant owners Lucy Brown and Jenny Quintero take us into their restaurant for our feature video.
Meredith O'Shaughnessy founded OhLaLa, the first and only macaron and martini experience company in the UK. They provide amazing experiences from hen parties to luxury events for clients, including Lulu Guinness, and once featured on BBC1's The Apprentice. We chat to her about her amazing career path so far...
How would you describe a Modern Day Icon?
I think of a Modern Day Icon as someone who is fearless. They take chances and push the boundaries. In a world where lots of people talk about doing things, Modern Day Icons actually go out and do them; and they have integrity and humanity in their approach to what they do.
Who or what inspires you?
I’m inspired by people who take chances, Dame Zaha Hadid for instance, was groundbreaking in her field and said “As a woman, I'm expected to want everything to be nice and to be nice myself. A very English thing. I don't design nice buildings - I don't like them. I like architecture to have some raw, vital, earthy quality.”
When did you realise you wanted to set up a business?
If I’m honest I think I’m pretty unemployable - I have so many ideas all the time and I would find it hard to fit them into the structure of someone else’s company. I got “let go” from my last job which gave me the impetus to start up on my own business, and I’ve never looked back. It just shows amazing things can grow out of your darkest moments.
What's the hardest challenge you've had to overcome in your work so far?
Setting up a business is tough, I would never want to discourage anyone, but I also think that people should be honest about that fact. I never had any investment and certainly, in the early years, there were times when money was really tight. I’m very ambitious with the work I create, and it was often a challenge not having the resources to build the ideas in my head. Fortunately, we have been closing that gap as we grow, and I have learnt to take things one day at a time.
If you didn’t have your current career, what else would you see yourself doing?
I loved Egyptology as a child, so I’d probably be in the middle of a desert somewhere looking for Queen Nefertiti. I remain an adventurer at heart.
Do you think enough is being done to help female entrepreneurs?
In an age where there is growing talk of feminism and equality on the boards of the major companies worldwide, I feel like the moment for female entrepreneurs could well be now. There's an awareness of the true abilities of fabulous, strong, thoughtful, creative women and society as a whole seems much more welcoming to women than it has ever been. However, statistics show we still have a very long way to go with only 17% of business owners being women. I encourage women everywhere to empower themselves, trust their ideas and take the plunge to uncover their full potential.
What’s the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
'It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.' Antoine de Saint-Exupery. For me it’s the ultimate statement of believing in yourself and believing in what you can do to be bigger than you are now. I've always believed in the power of dreaming. And I always go with my gut.
Who or what are you most thankful to/for, for helping you get where you are today?
I couldn’t do all of this without my puppy Phoebe. She’s the one who is always there, often watching me work into the early hours. My friends and family have also been incredibly supportive and kindly let me use them as new macaron flavour guinea pigs (something they really don’t complain too heavily about).
Is there a particular motto you live life by?
‘Don’t be afraid to chase your dreams’ and ‘Don’t worry, everything‘s going to be amazing.’
What has been your favourite moment as an entrepreneur?
Winning awards is always nice. When we were awarded “Best Home Business 2014” by StartUps Awards it was a pretty special moment. But I also love sitting around with my team and brainstorming our next crazy idea.
What are your top tips for future businesswomen and entrepreneurs?
Just start. It’s going to be hard and there will be moments you will hate, but the good times more than make up for it. It’s better to have tried than to regret.
What is your favourite recipe/food?
Macarons of course! Especially lemon curd ones, which I sleep eat at midnight straight out of the fridge – shhhhh…don’t tell anyone!
Image credits: Meredith O’Shaughnessy Instagram