Our founder Marisa sat down with entrepreneur Sahar Hashemi to talk about the female economy, her incredible journey, and how women can find confidence to start their own thing.
On International Women's Day 2023 we launched our year-long interview series with women who inspire our founder & CEO. Marisa Hordern is our very own inspiring link, from age eight seeking gemstones on Portobello Market to building Missoma as it is today.
Sahar Hashemi has been described as “a change agent” and “a powerful catalyst to drive entrepreneurship within big corporations.” We know her as the co-founder of Coffee Republic, author of ANYONE CAN DO IT and START UP FOREVER, and, most recently, the driver of the platform Buy Women Built. “I never thought I was an entrepreneur,” the former lawyer says. “There’s no secret or special skill, it’s just doing something and getting it done.”
While most of us start our days with coffee (or five), it was a then unconventional type of caffeinated beverage that kick-started Sahar’s career. “I’d gone to New York and I’d seen a skinny latte for the first time. I couldn’t have been further away from entrepreneurship, but I couldn’t believe that in the UK I couldn’t get one.” Five years and 110 stores later, it was time for Sahar to step away. The bigger companies get, the more they can lose their soul. And Sahar was ready for her next challenge. “You have to keep trying. There’s no such thing as an overnight success,” she says. “It’s all about perseverance.” It’s about everyday action. “Sometimes,” she smiles. “A grand plan is too grand.”
In the UK our rates of female entrepreneurship are really low. We’re 30% behind America and Canada.
- Sahar Hashemi
But she certainly had a grand vision with her next venture. She describes her mission as to connect the heart as well as the head in big business and distill the unnecessarily complex subject of innovation and entrepreneurial behaviour down into simple, actionable and human terms. Buy Women Built then was a natural next step.
“In lockdown I was going through my Twitter. The work I was doing had slowed down,” she says. “I saw this one tweet… It was: “not all of us can invest in women, not all of us can mentor women, but we can all buy from women”. The most proactive, productive thing you can do to support women is by choosing a women-built brand and buying from them. When I wear women-built, I feel more empowered; I feel a connection.” This was the catalyst for Sahar’s journey into shining a light on female entrepreneurship, and starting a consumer movement.
A platform for shopping brands founded by females, Buy Women Built believes you can’t be what you can’t see. “In the UK our rates of female entrepreneurship are really low. We’re 30% behind America and Canada,” Hashemi tells us. “That 30% is costing our economy £250 billion.” She believes our natural feminine traits are perfect for entrepreneurship, from intuition to, for some of us, a love of shopping. “The consumer economy if it had a sex would be female. That’s the start of a million ideas.”
Leap and a net will appear.
- Sahar Hashemi
She inspires female entrepreneurs, but what inspires her? “I get so much energy from everyone,” she says, in relation to the Buy Women Built community. “Empowered women empower women. I’ve done quite a few things in my career but this is one of the most satisfying because I get so much out of meeting all of you.”
If she could put one piece of advice on a billboard, what would it be? “Leap and a net will appear. It means that if you want to do something, if you’ve got that idea, don’t sit there thinking about it, asking people if it’s the right idea. It’s almost like you’re on the edge of the cliff. Just bloody do it, just leap and the net will catch you.”
Each woman we've interviewed for our ‘Inspiring Links’ series has picked out the jewellery that makes them feel empowered. Find Sahar's picks alongside other powerhouses like Elli Jafari and Chloe Réuter.