Create & Cultivate is proud to partner with Nine West to celebrate strong, spirited, accomplished – and of course, stylish – women who are fearlessly pursuing their dreams.

 

We asked five trailblazing entrepreneurs – Cynthia Andrew, Melanie Elturk, Jaclyn Johnson, Kasey Ma, and Monroe Steele – to share their take on cultivating confidence, overcoming fear, and defining success on their own terms. 

 

Keep scrolling to discover how they are forging new paths, inspiring others – and doing it all in style.

What does being “Fierce and Fearless” mean to you?

For me, ‘Fierce’ means passion, and ‘Fearless’ isn’t the absence of fear – it’s pushing through in spite of it.

Is confidence something that comes naturally to you or is it something you’ve had to learn?

Definitely not naturally – it’s something I’ve worked on. I try to do my homework – talk to people, improve my skills, and see what I can learn and how I can be better – so that when all is said and done, I can walk into a situation with much more confidence. But sometimes you just gotta fake it until you find it.

Where do you think is the most important area for a business owner to focus their energy right now?

Make sure your energy is directed towards your goals. It’s easy to get distracted and overwhelmed. While I encourage looking for ways to diversify and generate multiple streams of income, be careful not to lose your energy or your focus.

What advice can you share for others on overcoming fear and taking the leap to launch their own business?

Stop waiting for fear, hesitation, or second guessing to disappear – sometimes it just doesn’t. You have to find a way to suppress that inner saboteur that we all have. I tell people, if your premise is sound, and you know what you want and are ready to do the work, then let go – don’t think, just do.

Who is a fellow Fierce and Fearless entrepreneur you admire and why?

Right up here with me – Monroe Steel. Such a fan of her work ethic, creativity and all around badassery!

What does being “Fierce and Fearless” mean to you?

‘Fierce and Fearless’ means moving with conviction from what you know to be true inside, rather than based on what people expect of you or what others want. It’s calling the shots and moving by your own knowledge and intuition.

Is confidence something that comes naturally to you or is it something you’ve had to learn?

It definitely comes naturally to me, and is something I have built on over the years. I am very grateful to have two very amazing parents who helped instill confidence and a high sense of esteem in me early on.

Where do you think is the most important area for a business owner to focus their energy right now?

Know what you’re good at. Focus your energy on your strengths and what you do really well. Anything outside of that will be inauthentic.

What advice can you share for others on overcoming fear and taking the leap to launch their own business?

Don’t think 10 steps ahead. It’s too overwhelming and fear will grip you. Instead, focus on the immediate next step. Once that’s done, tackle the next step. You have to crawl before you can walk, and walk before you can run.

Who is a fellow Fierce and Fearless entrepreneur you admire and why?

Huda Kattan–– her IDGAF attitude is infectious and I can only imagine it’s played a significant part in her success.

What does being “Fierce and Fearless” mean to you?

Being ‘fierce’ in your convictions and ‘fearless’ in the pursuit of your dreams.

Is confidence something that comes naturally to you or is it something you’ve had to learn?

I believe confidence stems from knowledge and know-how, combined with self worth. I have always been confident in my self worth, but integrating the knowledge gained from experience is an active and ongoing practice.

Where do you think is the most important area for a business owner to focus their energy right now?

On community – never underestimate the value of an engaged community. Brands need communities more than they need consumers. Creating a shared space for meaningful connection has long-term ROI for both your consumers and your business.

What advice can you share for others on overcoming fear and taking the leap to launch their own business?

Start by starting! There is no ‘final’ business plan, no right moment, no good time to start other than this moment. Understanding and accepting your worst case scenario (ie. your business fails) will make you less fearful of doing the work and getting started.

Who is a fellow Fierce and Fearless entrepreneur you admire and why?

Deepica Mutyala from Live Tinted! I love how she is changing beauty standards, creating space for community, and working to make the cosmetics industry more diverse and inclusive.

What does being “Fierce and Fearless” mean to you?

Being ‘Fierce and Fearless’ means being not afraid of taking chances, flying, falling, failing, and still getting up to fly again until you reach your goals. It means welcoming challenges–– because with challenges comes great strength–– and with strength comes confidence. With confidence and ambition, you can do anything you set your mind to.

Is confidence something that comes naturally to you or is it something you’ve had to learn?

Confidence is something I definitely had to learn over time. Growing up, I always felt like an outsider because I looked different than my peers, and my culture was not aligned with theirs. I always felt left out and could not view myself as pretty, smart, or athletic enough to be “cool.” What really made me confident was pursuing my hobbies of online digital marketing, writing, photography, and eventually becoming a full-time content creator and streamer. I have been able to build my own empire in which I am my own boss, and nobody can take that away from me. I had to learn how to work hard and be proud of myself, and that truly is the key to my eternal confidence.

Where do you think is the most important area for a business owner to focus their energy right now?

The most important area for a business owner to focus their energy on is to know when to delegate. Focus on the tasks that you have strength in, and delegate tasks in which you are not an expert to someone else. Time is the most valuable asset, and if you can save time and be efficient, that is a true recipe for success. You are then working smarter, not harder.

What advice can you share for others on overcoming fear and taking the leap to launch their own business?

Save, save, save! For me, the scariest thing when I quit my job was wondering if I had enough safety funds in case I failed to generate any positive income. Before quitting my 6-figure income job, I worked hard to save up enough for a year’s worth of living expenses before I decided to take the leap of faith into my own journey of entrepreneurship. It was the best way to start off my career as a content creator. My biggest takeaway in taking the leap of faith is to always take risks––but only smart and calculated ones.

Who is a fellow Fierce and Fearless entrepreneur you admire and why?

A fellow Fierce and Fearless entrepreneur I admire is Michelle Phan, makeup artist, beauty Youtuber, public figure, and founder of multimillion dollar cosmetics line EM Cosmetics. She is a prime example of taking social media by the reins and using it as a platform to help build her beauty empire. She not only has inspired me to learn how to do makeup on a face that looks like mine, but she also has inspired me to want more out of content creation. I hope to one day launch a product just like she has.

What does being “Fierce and Fearless” mean to you?

‘Fierce and Fearless’ means being unapologetically yourself and embracing every part of what makes you uniquely you. In a world that expects so much from women, particularly when it comes to how we should act, look, think and feel, I think it’s refreshing to push all that aside to walk to the beat of your own drum. Do what makes you happy and pursue your dreams with reckless abandonment.

Is confidence something that comes naturally to you or is it something you’ve had to learn?

I’ve always been pretty confident. Luckily, I had very encouraging parents who always told me that I was smart and beautiful and capable. I really believe that confidence starts at a young age and the people in your life that you look up to during those tender years. I have had my moments though, when I’ve had doubts about whether I was all the things that I think I am, but then I look back on all the things I’ve been through–– all of my accomplishments, all of my selflessness–– and realize that I am exactly who I am.

Where do you think is the most important area for a business owner to focus their energy right now?

The thing that drives them to be an entrepreneur in the first place. Whether that’s creating, selling, customer service…whatever it is that you’re most passionate about when it comes to your business that’s where your energy should be. Other things can always be delegated but passion is what drives your business.

What advice can you share for others on overcoming fear and taking the leap to launch their own business?

I’d remind them that life is short, no matter how morbid that sounds. It bears reminding people that we only get one life and no do overs so if they want to launch a business there is no time like the present. A year from now may never happen and it doesn’t matter if you don’t yet have every single tool and thing in place. You’ll learn and get better along the way.

Who is a fellow Fierce and Fearless entrepreneur you admire and why?

A Fierce and Fearless entrepreneur I admire is Gabrielle Union. She is such a go-getter when it comes to her acting career and doesn’t take no for an answer but more than that she has parlayed that success into a successful book career, beauty products anc clothing line collaborations. She’s the ultimate boss and has such an amazing heart.

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