We work hard and we play hard in our professional and personal lives – from navigating the birth of a new business to connecting with friends over drinks to waking up before the sun to hit a spin class. Every decision and every moment are opportunities to hustle, learn and move forward.
Sara Panton (Vitruvi), Bettina Khan (RIDE vs ONE) and Amy Kizaki (Kits Kitchen) know the secret to starting a business while keeping other aspects of their lives dialed. Whether they are building brands around small-batch soups, essential oils or charitable exercise, these three power women constantly innovate to create products and experiences that are breaking through industry norms.
See how they bring an unapologetic sense of self and some badass advice to the table.
ON BEING A WOMAN IN BUSINESS
Bettina Khan: “Even though I work in an old boy’s club type of industry, I never feel that being a woman compromises me. There’s empirical evidence of socio-economic disparity between men and women, so I understand why the term ‘girl boss’ was born – it distinguishes women in roles they were previously excluded from. That said, I am a boss because I’m a boss. Period.”
Amy Kizaki: “To be really honest, I'm not keen on the term ‘girl boss.’ Highlighting gender unintentionally creates a divide. I'm a boss because I run my own company and control how I live my life. Drop the ‘girl’ or the ‘lady’ and just call yourself a boss if that’s what you are.”
Sara Panton: “I feel no need to call out my gender as it relates to my profession. In my experience, being a female in business has been an absolute advantage. Our grandmothers did a lot to get us to the boardroom table – venture capitalists are now looking for female-run companies and women are celebrated as we continue to make new milestones.”
ON PARTNERSHIPS AND CHALLENGES
BK: “It’s a challenge to know who and what to say no to. Create priorities and take effective action to make sure those priorities manifest in life. The worst is saying yes and then half-assing it. Be hyper-responsible for the impact you’re having on other people. If I say I’m in, you’ll get 100 per cent from me.”
AK: “When you're partnering with someone, as long as there's respect, honesty, open lines of communication and a solutions-based attitude, anything can be resolved. Joni [my co-founder] and I always remember that the intention and effort we put into our business is bigger than us. We try our best to be respectful and fair to each other – that's the key to a great working relationship.”
SP: “I’ve learned to get really comfortable with being uncomfortable. When you are innovating in any industry, everything can be categorized as a ‘problem.’ The secret is to see that issues mean progress and change, and change is going to get you to your goal, regardless of how uncomfortable it is.”
ON MANAGING YOUR MONEY
SP: “Speak with ease, clarity and full transparency about money in all contexts. Start as small as you can, launch what you have, and edit and iterate from there. Agility is your friend – keep things lean so you can address and make changes quickly.”
AK: “With a product-based company, controlling margin is key. When you're trying to forecast a new product, think ahead and safeguard. With Kits Kitchen, we leverage external resources to stay lean – this means controlling expenses, increasing revenue and being congnizant of cash movement."
BK: “People will often have a relationship of fear when it comes to money. Consider what it looks like to lead with abundance and freedom around money, and learn to be generous with what you perceive to be currency because there are so many different kinds, like karma and spiritual currency."
ON MAKING TIME TO PAUSE
AK: “Working out is my version of meditation. There's no place I'm happier than on a mountain with a view. It sounds so West Coast, but that's how I keep my mind in check. It's a necessity – put it in your calendar like it's an appointment and just do it. Because you need it.
SP: “I recharge on the Seawall when my head is in a completely different place – that is usually when my best ideas come to me. When you love what you do and it fuels you, find whatever ‘balance’ means to you. Check in and make sure you are happy. Some days that happiness is with my dog, some days that happiness is negotiating a contract.”
BK: “Be so clear about what you’re committed to and be present in those commitments. My husband and I walk in nature every day – we walk by the ocean with our phones away. Sometimes we can’t stop talking and sometimes it’s just silence. I’ve also recently understood the importance of sleep, which I used to disregard. It’s been such a transformation to learn how to rest.”
A LAST WORD OF ADVICE
SP: “Be kind. People’s lives are hard enough and there isn’t a circumstance that can’t benefit from compassion. I try not to sweat the small stuff – that’s true for the home I live in, the friend I am, and the office I lead.”
AK: “Business is about solving a problem that exists, whatever form it's in. Put a thousand per cent in and always create ways to solve whatever it is you're trying to find a solution for.”
BK: “Always lead with love, generosity and gratitude, and do not ask for permission. Be unapologetic about your self-expression. Do whatever the fuck you want to do and be the best at it.”