How women are supporting women

When women build businesses, it empowers communities, brings diverse perspectives, and advances gender equality. We’re not the only ones who think so. Numerous studies have found this all to be true—women-owned businesses draw more diverse talent, provide a huge share of the family income and continue to drive economic growth. This in spite of the roadblocks and challenges particularly for female entrepreneurs

Nike Nadal-Reyes of handmade crochet jewelry and accessories business, Nyuki, knows those challenges all too well, especially as a mom and small business owner. She shares that while having a mentor in any field is helpful, a female entrepreneur mentor would have spared her so much time and energy. “Not to mention tears and my sanity!” she adds. 

Nike knows the pressures and expectations placed on women, especially moms, when it comes to navigating between work and family. “If only I had someone show me ten years ago that being a mother AND a successful business owner at the same time IS possible. That success does NOT have to look perfect, and that failure IS part of the entire experience, I probably wouldn’t have been so hard on myself,” says Nike. 


For Common Room’s Roma Agsunod, who started her enterprising venture with handmade custom dolls Popjunklove, their challenges mostly rose from lack of resources. But she also cited that “a female role model could have helped to give us a sense of direction in terms of milestones or goals we could aspire for.” 

It’s no surprise that Roma, Nike, and other Common Room makers who’ve experienced challenges setting up their small businesses find ways to support fellow female makers and employees to make their own business dreams a reality. 

Mentorship and stories

One of the ways the community of Common Room tries to help aspiring female makers is to share stories of how other women—who worked as designers and illustrators, office workers, teachers, stay-at-home mom, producer—were able to build their own businesses. “Stories about other female makers who took the leap to pursue a creative life. This makes the journey less scary and lonely,” explains Roma. 

Some of those women include Real ScentsRia Olizon and Sarah Garcia, who after leaving their corporate jobs, pursued their own home fragrance brand. “Just being able to share our own experiences in starting a business, balancing work and our multiple roles—as a mom, wife, business owner etc.—would be something other female entrepreneurs could benefit from,” says Ria. 

Kimberly Tiam-Lee of Pulseras by Kim tries to share a lot of her small all-woman team’s struggles via their reels on IG in a humorous way. “The number of messages we’ve received about people relating and sympathizing has just been overwhelmingly sweet!” Kim adds, “So social media is also a huge way to connect with and learn from fellow entrepreneurs.”

 Think-outside-the-box mentality

Because women-owned ventures lure more diverse and inclusive teams, studies have found that this often means seeing more innovation and better solutions to problems

“For our team, we always encourage them to think outside the box and to be proactive,” Kim shares. One of their past interns, who graduated cum laude and is now a licensed professional teacher, actually borrowed the hand-stamping kits of Pulseras by Kim for her students during an entrepreneurial activity. “We were so happy to see her passing along the skill of jewelry making and all the entrepreneurial know-how she learned from her interning days to her students.”

Moving forward

Women-owned businesses have been known to create positive change in their communities. Making a difference, one study found, was a motivator for many women entrepreneurs (70.5% of those surveyed). Aside from building social enterprises, many women-owned businesses prioritize giving back to their communities in some way or the other. 

The sewers of Popjunklove all start with basic hand-stitching and cutting work. They’re allocated time every week to be taught to sew using machines. Eventually, the more senior sewers are entrusted with basic pattern-making as well. Roma explains, “Should they wish to start their own business, we believe all will be equipped with the basic skills to craft products and sell to their family and community.”


Nike also believes in making sure her female staff knows that dreams are possible and worth fighting for–something she would have wanted to have known herself when she was starting.  “This is what I try to show my female staff, that their current life situations need not hinder their personal growth and chances to thrive. We can always choose to make things work out for us, even our failures. Failure is an inevitable part of the human experience, and as soon as we come to accept that, the sooner we realize that there is really no other way to go but forward.”

Failing together

Even if failure is inevitable at some point in our lives—most of us still fear it to the point that it stops us from going after what we want. And as we found in some of the roadblocks for women aspiring to be entrepreneurs, the fear of failure is more prevalent among women. So when fellow females, like Nike, talk about their experiences when they failed, when they show how failure doesn’t have to be the end of the road, but just another way to move forward, it makes it less intimidating. 

Kim has the same idea. “I’ve always told anyone who would ask about starting their own business to just try it out!” She and her sister Tiffy started and failed at five different side businesses before they succeeded with Pulseras by Kim and Love, Susie, their fine jewelry line. “It takes a lot of trial and error to learn what works for you and your clients, and sometimes that takes one try, and other times, like for us, it was five!” 

If you ask Kim, the best time to start your entrepreneurial journey is now. She adds, “You’re never too young or too old to try something even if it's just for a new hobby.” Failures, triumphs, making mistakes, getting it right, they’re all part of it. As Kim, Nike, and other makers we’ve talked to have done, just keep moving forward. It will lead you to the path that’s meant for you. 


Written by Mabel David-Pilar
Mabel has been a writer and editor for many publications, including fashion, shelter, and food titles and a book on the most endangered Philippine trees. She spends most of her time writing, illustrating, stalking Common Room’s online shop, and making ferments. Together with her sisters, she co-created to celebrate fermenting in the Philippines.