Mushpit’s Bertie Brandes and Charlotte Roberts go head-to-head with budding entrepreneurs Ashanti and Moon BedeauxBarbie
In collaboration with Barbie, Girls Like Us opens a window onto five women who have made their dreams a reality. Through this series of features, we hope to inspire a new generation of girls to conquer challenges and follow their own paths.
Despite the phrase ‘girl boss’ going viral, a wealth of inspirational female role models working on their own terms and it seemingly never easier to start your own creative venture from the comfort of your own bedroom – there’s a distinct lack of practical, insightful business advice for young women going it alone.
However, that’s not to say those running magazines, clothing brands, blogs or labels are lost in the dark when it comes to how to operate their ventures. With this new wave of female entrepreneurship comes a heightened sense of collective power, a dismissal of competitive bitchiness and a desire for our peers and other women to succeed. The young women working on their own terms in 2016 may not have business degrees, but with a renewed sense that no-one should be held back by their gender – and that girls can be whatever they want – are instead driven by a desire to reject convention in favour of the things they love.
Take Mushpit for example. The satirical, feminist fashion magazine pushing an anti-design ethos, with founders Charlotte Roberts and Bertie Brandes working advertisement free and rejecting corporate power in order to remain true to themselves and their readership. Or Moon and Ashanti Bedeaux, sisters and fledgling female businesswomen – with Ashanti ditching her job in a barbershop to follow her dreams of a jewelry line and Moon developing a swimwear brand and food blog all while studying for her undergraduate degree.
With Mushpit five years down the line with two feet firmly placed in the publishing world, as opposed to Ashanti and Moon who are just setting out on their own creative ventures — the four may be at different stages of their projects, but can certainly glean wisdom from each others’ experiences. As part of our Girls Like Us series in collaboration with Barbie, we sat down with the four women to share advice on starting out, being business minded, and the appeal of going it alone…
“There is a female entrepreneurial wave right now, so a lot of women and young girls are wanting to do their own thing – but coupled with that is a real lack of information or access to it” – Mushpit
Mushpit: Ashanti and Moon, what do you do creatively?
Ashanti Bedeaux: I used to work in a barber shop and quit because of boredom. I’ve now started a new business called “Hot Tramp,” making body jewels out of Swarovski crystals. I’ve only just started selling them, so it’s still early days but we’ll see what happens.
Mushpit: We started off without funding. We basically only just figured out how to use an online shop, we were giving the new issues of Mushpit away for free kind of by accident because we felt embarrassed about people spending money at our parties.
Ashanti Bedeaux: No, don’t. That’s what I did. You’ve got to. You’ve got to be up front. You want it you pay.
Mushpit: Our magazine is £10 now and literally every email we send we’re like, “by the way, it’s £10 and you have to buy it and we won’t talk to you if you don’t by it”. They really have to because we’re broke now. What about you Moon?
Moon Bedeaux: I’m just very into food, so I’m just launching my blog at the moment called “The Last Supper Society.”I’ve already started interviewing inspirational people about what would be their last supper, who they’d dine with, and each person gives me a recipe for the blog.
Me and my best friend are playing around at the moment with trying to start a bikini company. It’s early days but we can never find the perfect bikini. We really want to focus on crochet. So we’re going to go to Mexico because loads of women crochet there, and also looking at more fabrics that aren’t traditionally used for swimwear.
Ashanti Bedeaux: Yeah, the designs are really cute. How did you start Mushpit?
Mushpit: We met through a friend, it’s so weird. We met when we were 20, we’re both from North London and we’d figured out that we’d led parallel lives. Kind of like sliding doors. So like two versions of the same life. We’d both snogged the same boy, he broke both of our hearts when we were 13, we both used to go shopping to the same shopping centre, it’s really strange. But we thought that if there were two of us, then there would be more of us, and we should make a magazine to speak to all of those people. Assure them that they’re normal too
Dazed Digital: You’ve already explained how you got started with the jewellery Ashanti. But Moon, how did you start doing what you’re doing, or realise that it was what you wanted to do?
Moon Bedeaux: I’ve always known that I’ve wanted to do something with food but just wanted it to be different. I didn’t want it to be like, “I’m starting a Youtube channel”. I wanted to have a different angle about it. So then I came up with this idea — interview inspirational people and get their personal insight because food’s so personal.
“Entrepreneurship just comes with it along the journey, you have to step up to the plate otherwise no one else is going to do it – it’s literally all on you” – Ashanti Bedeaux
Dazed Digital: How have you all learnt to manage the creative side of your projects with the need to be business minded?
Mushpit: It’s very difficult. That’s what we struggle with the most, and we realise now that if we start to make enough money out of Mushpit then what we should do is hire someone else rather than us keeping on trying to learn it ourselves. When it gets down to advertisers and things like that, actually if it’s not your passion or your interest, you’re not very good at it.
It’s about having that language and also knowing how to approach different brands because everyone’s very different. Obviously, we live in a very brand saturated, media world right now so you definitely have to have that vernacular down. We often go into meetings feeling quite intimidated. There are simple things like knowing how to follow up, or contracts when we’ve not been savvy enough on imagery or stuff like that.
Ashanti Bedeaux: I’ve tried to do it myself and it never works out. There aren’t enough hours in the day.
Moon Bedeaux: I fully work well from making plans and just putting things in boxes basically. You can do it like that or else you’re going to be all over the place and get swamped. You got to just sift through it and not get overwhelmed.
There are a huge wealth of women who want to start their own creative or business ventures, but don’t necessarily have the skills to do so. Do you think we should be educating girls on these things from a young age?
Mushpit: There is a female entrepreneurial wave right now, so a lot of women and young girls are wanting to do their own thing — but coupled with that is a real lack of information or access to it. So as exciting as your idea might be, if you don’t have the sort of business know how in some senses, then you are going to come across some obstacles for sure.
Moon Bedeaux: In school, they don’t really teach anything that prepares your for real life, it should be way more hands on. You can read and educate yourself on some things, but everyday things, they need to push that more.
Dazed Digital: What are some of the things that have inspired you to become female entrepreneurs?
Mushpit: We never thought about it like that. Mushpit’s an interesting one because I wouldn’t say that it’s the savviest business venture. Print in 2016 with no adverts and being independent, it’s insane – we are the opposite of entrepreneurs. But we’ve learned so much that we do both feel really confident that if this were to all fall apart, we could go into jobs at the level of what our friends of our age have been working at for years and years. We've learned so much through the magazine. That’s a really great bonus.
“Everything is just so unsure now. It’s almost easier just to be like ‘oh sod it. The world’s crumbling around us. We don’t know what’s happening next, we might as well just do what we love’” – Mushpit
Ashanti Bedeaux: Entrepreneurship just comes with it along the journey, you have to step up to the plate otherwise no one else is going to do it – it's literally all on you. You have to be proactive, you have to be in situations that you’re not comfortable with, but you have to wing it.
Mushpit: Push yourself – that’s the hard thing about being your own boss. It’s actually a very different pressure to having a work structure. You have to go out to those things or do that out of the blue email that makes you cringe.
But despite those pressures, why do you think so many women are choosing to create things on their own terms as opposed to entering into a 9-5 job?
Mushpit: Everything is just so unsure now. It's almost easier just to be like “oh sod it. The world's crumbling around us. We don't know what's happening next, we might as well just do what we love.” The structures that we know and previously trusted are very uncertain, in a weirdly pessimistic — optimistic way.
Ashanti Bedeaux: We kind of have nothing to lose, do we?
Moon Bedeaux: You’re going to be unhappy so you may as well just take a chance. You’re never going to be successful, or know if you could have done what you wanted to do if you never actually go out and do it.
Ashanti Bedeaux: And that’s the easy way out anyway isn’t it? Following rules, being led by your boss and being told what to do. When you go out and do it by yourself, and have to think by yourself, it's much more challenging. And it’s much more rewarding as well. Just believe in what you’re doing.