Meet 9 Young Entrepreneurs Who Risked Everything — & Won

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We get it. You want to do your own thing. Start a business. Be your own boss. But, while it’s easy to complain about your current secure-but-not-so-satisfying position and ramble fantastically about an ingenious invention or innovative business idea you have, one daunting question always remains: Where would you actually start?

In our latest installment of Beauty Nation's The New Provocateurs, we teamed up with Revlon to track down nine brilliant young entrepreneurs who once arrived at that same crossroads and asked them how they found the courage to make the leap. Below, they talk openly and honestly about going into debt, getting fired, and becoming power players in brand-new fields. Their stories are equal parts empowering and unnerving — but that seems to be the guiding principle when it comes to successful entrepreneurship.

And, these sharp, fearless women have made it work. They share how they keep it all together, from defining a work-life balance to perfecting their executive-level beauty moves. So, grab a memo pad and put on your thinking cap. It’s time to draft that business plan.

The Communicator: Azita Ardakani

PHOTOGRAPHED BY GEORDY PEARSON.
Traditional advertising is nothing if not loud. We’re bombarded with commercials, ads, and billboards telling us to buy this, look at that, or feel this way, on absolutely every medium. It’s understandable, after all — saturating media with ad campaigns often seems like the best tactic for getting a message out there, at scale, into the world. Not so, according to Azita Ardakani, the founder of Lovesocial, a communications agency that’s built on a more focused, straightforward approach.
No flashy half-time ad campaigns. No million-dollar celebrity endorsements. Lovesocial’s entire idea is to get down to the very soul of the brand, identify its core audience, and only send out the heart of the message to a thoughtfully targeted consumer.
It is a risky business tactic, sure, but with clients like NPR, Joe Fresh, Converse, Nike, and Tribeca Film jumping on board, it’s become evident that brands crave the no-frills, this-is-who-we-are approach when selling their products. And, the company’s growth is sheer proof: It was only four years ago that Lovesocial was run entirely by Ardakani at her dining room table in her hometown of Vancouver. These days, the intrepid Canadian, who has relocated to New York City, oversees a team of eight employees (make it 16, if you count the collective of consultants and freelancers). Ahead, Ardakani practices what she preaches and opens up her heart on CEO life.
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What sets us apart from the rest
“I’d say we are an anti-agency in the sense that we’re the first to call bullshit on an idea or sniff out something that feels inauthentic. We have a process called the ‘grain of truth’ where we start with a brand and try to find out their heart and soul to determine the key differentiators of who they are. From that, we build out the strategy and community that’s going to be most connected to them and have the most affinity for the right reasons. We always start with the guts of what makes them them versus what we think others will see in them. No matter how old these companies are, they need to do a heart and soul check in the modern-day context we’re living in now.”
The secret to finding your dream job
“The biggest risk I’ve taken in my career was quitting my job with no promise of what would come next. I quit because I wanted to see what else was in store that wasn’t obvious, and Lovesocial turned out to be my dream job. No one can really define what’s good for you. We’re always told what to do, so breaking those rules and going outside of your comfort zone is the only way you’re going to learn what really matters to you.”
It’s about the journey
“For me, not being a destinations-thinker is challenging. As an entrepreneur, your life is always in-between, [meaning, you’re] thinking about your next client. So, embracing the gray areas is something I’d like to do more. I’m afraid that if I’m not present in the process, I’m going to blink and the whole thing is going to disappear. The in-between takes a lot more time than the destination, so if you’re not present you might miss the whole journey, which would be a damn shame.”
Hold out for what you believe in
“I think I’ve been lucky because I didn’t have any preconceived notions of what I was supposed to be doing. The whole idea [with Lovesocial] is that you don’t have to sell yourself. Just tell the truth. And, if that resonates with you, then you’re the client we want."
Don’t get discouraged
“When I was in Vancouver, I was called into a lot of meetings where I would show up and they’d be like, ‘Oh, is your boss going to attend?’ And, I’d be like, ‘Nope, you’re looking at her!’ I’m a big fan of not letting those moments get in the way and using those opportunities to surprise people. I love it when people underestimate me.”
Diane Von Furstenberg dress, Ruthie Davis heels, Aesa bangles, model's own necklace.
Photographed by Geordy Pearson; Makeup by Sophie Haig; Hair by Michiko; Styled by Laura Pritchard.