In support of Black Ambition, Pharrell Williams’ nonprofit initiative that works toward closing the wealth gap by supporting entrepreneurs of color, Chanel is presenting a conversation on Women Who Lead for the next generation of Black and Latinx entrepreneurs. The two-part program will focus on fostering emerging talent through mentorship, and for the first installment leaders like Tracee Ellis Ross, Natalie Massenet and Samira Nasr are leading the charge. The one-hour conversation airs today.
“Mentorship has played an incredibly crucial role throughout my life and career, which is why I place a huge emphasis on it at Good American for our staff and I personally mentor a number of people in my team,” said Emma Grede, chief executive officer and cofounder of Good American, one of the Women Who Lead panelists. “When I think of the mentors who have made the biggest impact in my career, they’re the ones who have really advocated for me by introducing me to investors or bankers that have literally changed the course of my business life. Not just at times where I need a quick reference, but really stepping up where it mattered the most. I believe mentorship and sponsorship go hand in hand and the best mentors are the ones that will truly go out of their way for you.”
Grede counts Massenet as someone who has taught her the most about leadership in her life.
“She is someone I’ve always admired and leads with her heart while never ever sacrificing her principles. She taught me the importance of meeting your customers’ needs, fostering a community, and she also taught me the importance of hiring really well. I always think to myself, what would Natalie do and I’m lucky because she just so happens to be one of my closest friends,” Grede said. “I love surrounding myself with fellow female leaders and she is always someone I turn to when I need guidance and support and she always picks up the phone, always!”
“As an entrepreneur myself, I was incredibly lucky to have investors and mentors who believed in me and my mission, and who gave me support and advice along my journey,” Massanet said in turn. “As an investor today, I feel fortunate that I have the opportunity to do the same for a new generation of the best and brightest founders who are redefining the consumer landscape. I’ve always found that those who seek out advice are usually the most confident and ambitious people, so my advice to those looking to seek out mentors is don’t be afraid to ask for help — it’s not a sign of weakness.”
“Diversity of all kinds is necessary within any organization,” Massanet continued. “We’re proud that more than 50 percent of Imaginary Ventures Fund I & II portfolio companies are female-founded or cofounded, including two female-founded unicorns. Women inherently bring a number of important leadership skills to the table. I believe that women are more intuitive, and better risk-takers. We are typically more consumer-centric, are inherent multitaskers and strategic delegators, and generally opt for more democratic organizational structures. These are all things that allow a company to succeed and move nimbly.”
Edith Cooper, cofounder of Medley, said mentorship begins with someone being genuinely committed in another’s growth.
“Mentorship, though, is a truly two-way relationship. In my experience as a mentor, I imagine I’ve learned as much, if not more, from my mentees as they’ve learned from me,” she said. “Being a mentor can have a powerful impact on your own growth. For example, I was once asked by a mentee at a new hire event, ‘Do you bring your whole self to work?’ After I answered the question, it occurred to me that I didn’t fully appreciate the significance of what I’d been asked. I connected with my mentee later on and our conversation really helped me understand the why behind the question and that people’s expectations of their place of work had evolved.”