Walk A Mile in Their Shoes: Marta Ferro & Ann Lawrence

Hi StilettoGals!

As you know, StilettoGals are all about giving back, these two amazing ladies have reinvented the word with Pink51.

Marta Ferro, Co-Founder & CEO, Pink51 

StilettoGal:   Please tell us about yourself and how you started your business?
Marta Ferro:  I am a social entrepreneur, philanthropist, mom, wife, sister and daughter, and a soccer player.  I love building teams and businesses, and feel passionate about equality issues including gender equality.  When Ann Lawrence came to me with the idea for Pink51, I immediately knew it was something I needed to explore further with her.  We started the business by building and empowering a core, senior team of experts in marketing, finance, technology, strategy, and sales and launched the beta version of the Pink51.com site in summer 2014. We are about to launch an updated version this Spring.  Pink51 is creating a community of like-minded partners and businesses who care strongly about our mission to support and promote women’s leadership in business.  Pink51 is also a platform to reinforce that the most successful businesses are diverse and it is best for all of us to have greater gender parity in business leadership.  This community is driving the pink movement together.

SG:   Who inspires you and why?

MF:  A lot of people inspire me who are well known and friends but it starts with my two aunts, Rose and Angie Ferro, who were young adults during the great depression and built successful entrepreneurial careers and philanthropic legacies coming from a lower class, male dominated world.  On top of that, Angie was a trailblazing Lesbian around sexual orientation equality issues as well.  They inspire me because against many odds, they were successful as business leaders, investors, and social champions.  And they stayed true to their passions in both business and life, and built teams and a family of friends around them who were there throughout their 90+ years of life.  I have Rose’s “Miss Ferro” desk plaque on my desk and it makes me smile and motivated every day.

SG:   What has been your proudest moment?

 MF:  My proudest moment was giving birth to my son.  Being a mother has added richness in life, and a profound love, that I didn’t know existed nor could have described until he came into the world.

SG:   What has been your biggest challenge in business and how did you overcome it?

MF:  Having enough time to accomplish everything I want to achieve is my biggest ongoing challenge. I have overcome this reality (of course not 100%) by building incredible teams in every business and initiative I am involved with.  I couldn’t do my work (or family life—shout out to my husband!) without a team, and feel grateful everyday for numerous people in my life who are working together to drive our common goals forward.

SG:  How do you define success?

MF:  Success is finding true purpose in life, sharing yourself and your good fortune with others, and feeling authentic in your own shoes.

SG:  Can you give 3 tips to aspiring entrepreneurs?

MF:

1.  Find the right partners, team members and/or mentors.  Working as a team is usually more dynamic, achieves better, more thoughtful results, and provides a sounding board and more people to get the work done.

2. Maintain existing and build new relationships with purpose.  Rely on these people as you are growing your business, need referrals, require talent, want to bring on partners, build a team, etc.

3.  Be analytical and test your business idea/model robustly.  Just because something is a hobby or passion, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is a good business opportunity.  Think about the opportunity cost before committing.

SG:  What kind of shoe are you and why?

MF:  Right now I am definitely a stiletto ankle boot!  I like making a strong statement with my shoes (and other accessories) and feeling inspired through how I dress.  The combination of the boot and high heel are me—practical, elegant, sporty, confident, and fun.

 

Ann Lawrence, Co-Founder & Chief Visionary Officer, Pink51 

 

SG:   Please tell us about yourself and how you started your business?

AL:  I am a partner at DLA Piper and work with small and large companies in a variety of industries. As a consumer, I was frustrated by the lack of transparency among brands and how difficult it was to find products that supported women in business.

 

SG:  Who inspires you and why?

AL:  I am inspired by women who make it happen and people who know they can be game-changers. The Pink51 team came together because we were all passionate optimists that know we can change the world and make an impact. When you put passionate people in the room, you can move mountains.

SG:  What has been your proudest moment?

AL:  My proudest moment was the first time our entire Pink51 team came together before our launch. We saw a problem, we had an idea for a solution and now it is a reality. To see so many women come together as a virtual team based on nothing but passion, is an amazing thing.

SG:   What has been your biggest challenge in business and how did you overcome it?

 

ML:  I think our biggest challenge has been the cynicism around the women's movement. There is a lot of negativity around women in business and how to solve the "problem" that women aren't succeeding in business at the same rate as people had hoped. Looking back 20 years, there hasn't been much progress and people have a lot of negative thoughts on why and how to solve the problem. We believe that transparency and positive action can and will change the economy. If women want to see more women succeeding in business, that will happen when they support those businesses by purchasing their products. We have overcome it by staying true to our mission and proving that women in business can work together and create better returns for companies that work with Pink51.

SG:  How do you define success?

AL:  Success for Pink51 is about creating an economy where women in business can succeed. We want to build the largest network of women in business and with more than 7 million women-owned businesses alone, we know we are an economic force if we come together and support each other.

 

SG:  Can you give 3 tips to aspiring entrepreneurs?

AL:

1. Be nimble but resilient. A lot of people will question your mission, and you have to walk the fine line of staying true to your mission while being able to hear and react to constructive criticism. Many entrepreneurs get caught on one side or the other and it can stunt your growth and success.

 

2. Work with people you love and respect. Building the right team is critical and you need to find people that have passion and expertise. The early days of any startup are stressful and you need to be able to have a lot of open dialogue and communication if you want to succeed. If the team doesn't have trust, you won't get very far.

 

3. Culture is not a buzzword, it is who you are. If you don't have a voice you don't have a company. A lot of people build companies designed to "target" an audience based on a report or study. Those people believe that if you throw marketing dollars at the idea then it becomes a brand. I think consumers are changing and demanding that a brand be more than marketing spend and I think you need to have a passionate core team that is your consumer in order to be authentic. If you aren't living and breathing your brand, then today's consumer will know it.

 

SG:  What kind of shoe are you and why?
AL:  DRESR's new wing shoe. Because it is new and different, looks great but is totally functional. The unique design is subtle, but makes all the difference in giving you comfort while still rocking a 4 inch heel. (Necessary when you are barely 5'3" and stand next to Marta and Diana).