5 Female Entrepreneurs Explain How They Reframe Failure

It’s no secret that being an entrepreneur is hard work. Perhaps the toughest part is being told ‘no.’ Busy schedules and long to-do lists are frustrating, but there’s nothing like experiencing rejection when you’re working on a project that’s close to your heart. Instead of letting these setbacks stand in your way, press on knowing that every successful businesswoman has experienced the same challenges. If you find yourself in need of motivation, read the first-person stories about powering through pain from 5 women we admire.


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Shop: Dress, Sachin & Babi; Photo, Bridget Fleming


1. Sarah Dubbeldam, Founder and Editor in Chief of Darling Magazine


“There are tough days when I don’t want to do Darling anymore. When I think about why I’m discouraged, it’s usually because I’m focusing on the lack again. For me, tenacity comes from recognizing impact. I keep a drawer full of letters, emails and reviews from our audience saying how Darling has influenced how they feel about themselves — and that gives me the energy to persevere. That’s why it’s so important to have a why behind your business and to believe in your mission, because otherwise, what are you fighting so hard for?”



Shop: Jumpsuit, Nicole Miller; Photo, Melodie Jeng


2. Dee Poku, Founder of Wie Network


“I recently did a talk with Norma Kamali, who said to never be afraid of the word ‘No.’ As women, we often shy away from difficult situations or something we want because we’re afraid of the answer. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know. Another piece of advice that helped me was from Shelly Lazarus, Chairman of Ogilvy & Mather and mother of four. When asked how she does it, she basically said, don’t sweat the small stuff. We spend so much time dealing with minutia — like email or a messy house. Set your priorities and know what’s important to you. As women, we’re such doers. We’re so thorough. It’s something we need to be conscious of, and ensure we keep the big picture in mind.”



Shop: Dress, Clover Canyon; Bracelet, Elizabeth and James; Photo, Stephanie Bassos


3. Elaina Vazquez, Founder of Boutique Bites


“Running your own business makes you self-critical. Sometimes I worry, ‘Did I sound ok? I hope I came off alright.’ And a lot of people think if you’re just one person, they can take advantage of you. I’ve learned a lot from past mistakes, especially when it comes to putting my foot down and fighting for myself. If my energy is really off, I’ll take the loss and move on.”



Shop: Jacket, Rebecca Minkoff; Jumpsuit, Trinka Turk; Photo, Melodie Jeng


4. Claire Chambers, Founder and CEO of Journelle


“When you have an idea you believe strongly in, you need to be prepared for the ups and downs that come with that. I remember this period a few months before we launched, when I spent at least 20 hours one week in bed watching Lost. I was just exhausted with the daily roller coaster of it all — that was definitely my low point. Right after that, a bunch of positive stuff hit at once, which was affirmation that it was all worth it.”



Shop: Dress, Elizabeth and James; Photo, Amy Harrity


5. Brit Morin, Founder and CEO of Brit + Co


“I’ve never been close to throwing in the towel, but some days are harder than others. Like many first-time founders, I used to judge whether the day was good or bad from an analytics perspective — and would beat myself up if we had a bad day. I’ve since learned to look at the bigger picture and trends over the course of weeks and months.”


Photo credit: Amy Harrity for Rent the Runway