At Taylor Magazine, we believe that through inspiration we are able to grow, learn and adapt. Taking inspiration from people who are constantly becoming better, staying true to themselves, living authentically and working to make the world a better place helps us to look at ourselves and the path we’re on. With the end of 2019 around the corner, this year has been an exciting one for us. We’ve evolved, built a sister company (Taylor Content), and continued to share stories about wellness, lifestyle and self-care. So with the end of the year close-by, we wanted to dedicate a feature to the women who inspire us the most, and have continued to inspire us this year. By learning more about these women’s journeys, we felt motivated, positive but most of all… more inspired.
We came together and compiled a list of the ladies who are on our inspiration radar. Whether they started a venture that we admire, made us want to better in our daily lives, risked so much to help others or created something that gives other women a chance to follow their dreams, these women have all motivated us in different ways. We’ve included a mixture of women we were fortunate enough to speak to and others who really deserved a place in our list. Here’s our list of 14 entrepreneurial, incredible women, what they do and the journey they’ve been on to get to where they are now.
Actress, Activist, Director & Producer – Sophia Bush
Though many know Sophia from her rise to stardom on One Tree Hill and her acting career, it’s her activism since then that has made her one of Taylor Magazine’s inspirations. Name a cause – period poverty, gun control, the environment – and Sophia Bush is there, ready to advocate for the greater good.
It’s difficult to point to one thing Sophia has done that we love, because we’re inspired by all of them. The rest of the world seems to be too. After BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, Sophia set up a crowdsourced fundraiser to help those affected by the disaster, even running a half-marathon to support the cause, despite having asthma and a knee injury. She won the Do Something Twitter Award for this and ended up helping countless people. Feminism is also something Sophia champions. I Am That Girl, a feminist cause aiming to uplift and empower women, is one of her passions and in 2013 she held a fundraising campaign for the organisation, offering donors the chance to win a skydiving experience with her. She also wrote the foreword to the book of the same name, written by activist Alexis Jones. Cementing her place in our list of inspirational women, Sophia is a founder of the Time’s Up movement, campaigning against sexual harassment and abuse. She has given speeches benefitting the cause, and even designed a clothing line to raise funds for Planned Parenthood.
There’s nothing that Sophia Bush won’t fight for if she decides she cares about it, and for that, she is one of our biggest inspirations. She’s used her platform and voice to really make a change. Currently, Sophia has a podcast entitled Work in Progress, and will be starring in the upcoming Disney+ show, Love Simon. We’re excited to see what she does next.
The Kind Campaign – Lauren Paul & Molly Thompson
Lauren and Molly set up The Kind Campaign back in 2009, stemming from their own personal experiences that they went through at school. An internationally recognised non-profit organisation, The Kind Campaign’s sole aim is to prevent girl-on-girl bullying. By visiting schools, creating an incredible documentary, presenting at school assemblies and adding to education curriculums, Lauren and Molly are making an impact and helping to stop the harmful effects bullying can cause.
“The inspiration to start the project was from personal experiences that we had while we were at school,” Lauren told us in an interview when we first connected. “I personally went through a really hard time in middle school and it became a life defining chapter for me. Through that experience, one of the things that really helped me through, was this idea that one day I can use that story to start a conversation about bullying between females on some platform.” Now, The Kind Campaign is making a huge difference, helping to change young girls’ lives all over the world and championing honest, open conversations between young females.
One thing that really allows Lauren and Molly to make a difference to girls’ lives is their ability to just be themselves. “When we do our assemblies in schools, it’s just the two of us wearing jeans and a t-shirt, trying to build a relationship with the girls,” Molly says. “We want them to look to us like an older sister or peer, rather than a teacher or a counsellor. I think that helps and allows our message to really resonate with them.” They’ve visited hundreds of schools all over the globe and have recently embarked on their 16th Founders Tour earlier this month, continuing to make the world a kinder place.
Activist – Malala Yousafzai
At just 22 years old, Malala has already accomplished and achieved so much. Brave and inspirational, Malala is the youngest ever Nobel Laureate, an activist for female rights and education, and founder of a non-profit organisation. Malala loved school until 2008 when the Taliban took control of her town, banning girls from attending school and at just 11 years old, she said goodbye to her classmates, not knowing if she would ever see them again. After speaking out publicly on behalf of girls and their right to learn, Malala became a target and was shot in the head a year later on her school bus. 10 days later, she woke up in hospital in England and once she had recovered, she joined her family in their new home in the UK.
Having been deprived of an education and rising to international fame, she has since provided thousands of girls with the opportunity to go school and reach their full potential. In 2014, she established her non-profit organisation, the Malala Fund, dedicated to giving every girl an opportunity to achieve a future she chooses. The charity has support in the forms of Angelina Jolie, Bill and Melinda Gates, and Apple, to name a few. She secured $2.9 billion in pledged funding from the World Bank and G7 countries for female education, and has helped girls in Afghanistan, Brazil, India, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria receive a full education by buildings schools, training teachers, and campaigning against child marriage, amongst many other things.
She is currently studying Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford University, England, and says that she has hopes of one day becoming the Prime Minister of Pakistan. With already so much under her belt, we know Malala will continue to make an impact and help millions of girls.
Author, Fashion Designer & Philanthropist – Lauren Conrad
To say that Lauren Conrad is a jack of all trades would be an understatement. After rising to fame at the age of eighteen by starring in reality series Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County, Lauren was awarded her own five-season spin-off series, living her life on-screen and inspiring girls all over the world. Since her last appearance on The Hills in 2009, Lauren has worked hard to build her lifestyle brand, working on everything from books to clothing lines.
In the last 10 years, she’s launched her own fashion label, become a New York Times best-selling author when she signed multiple book deals with Harper Collins, and co-founded a fair-trade artisanal marketplace with friend Hannah Skvarla. In 2009, she launched LC Lauren Conrad exclusively at Kohl’s and she’s built up an incredible collection of articles on her website www.laurenconrad.com, an online lifestyle destination, where Lauren (who is the editor-in-chief) curates all of the best in fashion, beauty, good, family, home décor, and much more.
In 2013, she delved into the world of philanthropy with The Little Market, an independent nonprofit, charitable marketplace and fair trade shop where people can purchase beautiful products, handmade by artisans around the world of varying cultural backgrounds. They practice fair trade principles and each purchase from The Little Market generates meaningful income for the artisans and their families. By working with artisan partners, it helps to improve the quality of life in their communities in a number of ways, ranging from literacy workshops, business training and health programs.
The main reasons that we’re inspired by Lauren is her entrepreneurial drive and the fact that she’s made it her mission to use her platform to help and empower others, building sustainable partnerships and giving women the opportunity to support themselves and their families. Most recently, The Little Market launched their first brick and mortar location in LA in 2018, Lauren celebrated her 10 year anniversary of her fashion line with Kohls and she also launched her podcast ‘Asking For A Friend.’
Filmmaker – Ava DuVernay
Ava DuVernay is someone who is making a difference and making history, and we’ve been following her journey for a while. Working to make big changes from behind the camera, representation is at the forefront of her work, as she champions independent women and minority filmmakers with her thought-provoking, impactful art. The director for film and television has worked on so many incredible, awe-inspiring projects from the widely acclaimed Selma (which won a Golden Globe and also an Oscar for Best Original Song!) to the Disney film version of the classic A Wrinkle in Time. Selma was also the first movie directed by a black woman to receive an Oscar nomination for Best Picture, and Ava became one of only a small number of black women to direct a film with a general theatrical release in the US.
She then released 13th, a feature-length documentary looking at the problem of mass incarceration, which was nominated for an Academy Award, making Ava the first black woman to ever be nominated in that category. Moving into television, she created acclaimed hit TV show Queen Sugar, where she is also an executive producer. We love how much she champions women, with one example being when she chose all female directors for each episode of the show to create opportunities in particular for black women directors.
When she became the first black female director to make a movie that grossed over $100 million, she continued to use her platform to show her support for other women, saying, “Lovely room to be in. But can’t wait for more sisters to be here too. #Onward.” She keeps breaking ceilings and has been the first to do a number of things on her journey so far. We can’t wait to see what her next ‘first’ will be.
Create & Cultivate – Jaclyn Johnson
Can you imagine having entrepreneur, investor, best-selling author and CEO as your title? Jaclyn Johnson does, and she can tell you how you can have it too. With more accolades most likely coming her way, Jaclyn is the definition of the phrase ‘strive for success’. As the founder and CEO of Create & Cultivate, an online platform and offline conference enabling women to build the career of their dreams, Jaclyn focuses her time on helping women to be who they really want to be. The modern working woman is changing, and Jaclyn, with her multitude of projects, experience and knowledge, knows all about it.
By being a strong force in female empowerment and boosting the importance of equality in the workplace, Jaclyn is very much at the forefront of global entrepreneurs. Better still, the success she has sown is all from within – everything she has built is based upon her own work-life philosophy: female empowerment, hustling-hard and innovation. Women seeking advice and skills can put their trust in Jaclyn, understanding that it works for her, and so it can absolutely work for them.
A relatable and true role-model for the millennial woman, Jaclyn has rocketed to recognition, being featured on Forbes 30 under 30, Adweek Disruptor and Wall Street Journal Woman of Note. We just love her ambition, her relatability, her strong force and passion for bettering the female cause and we cannot wait to see where her success and hard work takes her next.
Singer, Songwriter & Activist: Alicia Keys
Making it onto TIME’s 100 Most Influential People list twice, Alicia Keys is someone who has long been known for her continuous humanitarian work, philanthropy and activism. Garnering success as a singer and songwriter, Alicia has earned an incredible 15 Grammy Awards, is a New York Times best-selling author, and has received countless accolades for her work in the music industry.
Using her platform to really make a difference, she co-founded and is the Global Ambassador for ‘Keep A Child Alive,’ a non-profit that works to support families in Africa and India with HIV and AIDS. The organisation provides medicine, orphan care and support, and every year Alicia hosts the fundraising gala, The Black Ball, where artists come together to show their support and perform, raising funds for the cause. In 2016, she continued to use her voice and platform to talk about things that matter and took part in a video against systemic racism, as well as protesting during the Women’s March in Washington. Here, she was one of the key speakers, saying, “We value education, health care, equality.”
Then, in 2016 Alicia made the choice to go for a makeup-free look when shooting for her new album at the time, Here, and had arrived at the shoot after going to the gym. Showing off her true self inspired her to go makeup-free for good. In a letter she wrote for Lenny Letter, she said it was, “the strongest, most empowered, most free, and honestly beautiful that I have ever felt.” Wanting to share this experience she then created The No Makeup Movement, encouraging women all over the world not to be pressured into wearing makeup, focusing on stripping back and embracing natural beauty. We’re so inspired by her and her achievements, on stage and off.
BossBabe – Natalie Ellis
The first thing Natalie Ellis (co-founder of one of the fastest growing digital communities for women) tells us, is that she has been an entrepreneur since she was 13. “Yeah – I’m one of those clichés!” she laughs. But, having that entrepreneurial spirit is what has gotten her to where she is today. “As I was leaving University and deciding between a great graduate job offer or setting up a company, most people around me thought I was crazy for taking the leap and deciding to start a business,” she says.
Natalie started out with a product-based company with no marketing budget, but using Instagram, she shipped to over 60 countries within the first few months of launching. This then led to products being in over 200 stores in the UK. Talk about inspiring! Her key to success? Social media. “I really saw the power of social media then, and from there, I got into BossBabe,” she says. Her mission is to encourage and empower other females to also be their own bosses and make their dreams come true through hard work and determination.
“BossBabe was simply started as an account on Instagram sharing sassy, ambitious quotes – something which no one was doing at the time!” Natalie tells us. “We’ve been able to scale it rapidly and continue to be one of the fastest growing online communities of ambitious women – a platform that provides inspiration, information and resources for ambitious women looking to start to level up their career.”
Natalie’s main advice for growth and authenticity is easy. “Simplify, focus and be consistent,” she tells us. Any entrepreneur is inspiring to us, but Natalie has an air of success around her that is relatable, and playful even. The key to this, she believes, is letting go of that ‘all hustle, no play’ mentality. “I really don’t believe in all hustle, no play. I know I’m more productive when I’m full of energy – and so I do everything I can in the name of energy management. I build it into my culture.”
Investor, Interviewer & Host – Komal Minhas
Just take a glimpse at Komal’s social media channels and you’ll be in awe of what she has achieved. From film producer to podcast maker to interviewing Michelle Obama, Komal is the definition of a Girl Boss. Her documentary film Dream, Girl premiered at The White House, of all places, landing her on Oprah Winfrey’s Super Soul 100 list. Komal is also an interviewer to a host of incredible women, talking to Sophie Gregoire Trudeau and Rupi Kaur among many others. Her podcast, Lessons Learned with Komal, helps to guide other women through life’s battles, and she is vocal in her support for female empowerment, which is just another reason why we love her so much.
Not only is Komal a career inspiration, she’s also a cancer survivor and chronic illness advocate. Being diagnosed with skin cancer three months before Dream, Girl was set to showcase, she had her first operation only a month before the film was set to air. Shortly after her second operation, she received the phone call that she’d made Oprah’s Super Soul list.
“It was so surreal coming out of barely being able to move a few weeks ago and being in so much pain, and taking all these meds and hating my meds, and wondering what I’m doing in this world, to now this and being able to be brought back to life,” she told the National Observer. It just goes to show – nothing stops Komal Minhas from striving for greatness, which is why she’s made the list as one of our biggest inspirations. We love listening to her inspiring podcast and we’re excited to continue following along with her on her journey, as she continues to push herself and encourages us to push ourselves too.
Photographer, Entrepreneur & Podcaster – Jenna Kutcher
When we asked Jenna how she knew this is what she wanted to do, she had a pretty simple reply: “I have pivoted and transitioned so many times that what I do today, could have never have been on a vision board. I didn’t know it was possible!” Having started her career in the heart of corporate life sitting in a windowless office, Jenna says, “I thought I’d be the girl in the corner of a corporate office, climbing the ladder and excelling in my career – until I got there and realised that the ladder climb wasn’t for me.” She then decided to break free, and jumped into wedding photography with a $300 camera from Craigslist in hand.
This, in turn, led her to education and podcasting. “Sometimes I don’t even know how to describe what I do,” Jenna tells us. “My business is so multidimensional and ever-changing.” It all, however, has one thing in common. Jenna’s pure desire to make a bigger impact. “My goal is to help women see that it’s possible to pursue your dreams, get paid to do what you love, without having it take over your life.” She’s taken her own experiences and her journey, and built a business that encourages others to strive for more.
With a real love for the little things in life, like taking her pup for a walk with her beautiful family, Jenna is just like you or I. Describing herself as “passionate, driven, and your biggest hype girl”, she has worked day in, day out to get to where she is now. She wants you to know, that you can too. Her best piece of advice? “Trust your gut, you’re smarter than you think.”
Advice Columnist, Writer & Creative Strategist – Nomi Leasure
It wasn’t always obvious to Nomi Leasure that she would be doing what she does now. Working as a creative strategist and project manager in the field of experiential marketing, she had other things in mind for her career at the beginning. “I assumed I’d work in television, but you often can’t fully imagine where you’ll end up because the opportunity hasn’t presented itself yet,” she tells us. “I think it’s important to remain open and continuously pivot as you change as an individual. I always liked to write and had people in my life who encouraged me to make my writing public. As it garnered more attention, I was really taken by how many people felt connected to what I had to say.”
One thing that is really important to Nomi is enjoying what she does. “I’ve made it a pretty big priority to always be enjoying myself as much as possible. If I’m dissatisfied with something, I make a change. I’m definitely not one to drudge along through circumstances I find unsavoury. I have no stomach for boredom, for complacency, for the mundane. If I’m not excited about what’s going on in my life, I short-circuit.”
Nomi is Taylor Magazine’s advice columnist too, and through her honest work, she uplifts young women with heartfelt tough talk and words of wisdom on relationships, career, self-exploration, and identity. With an authentic voice, unique perspective on life, and ability to touch on the often unspoken but universal conditions that affect us all, she is a big inspiration to us.
TV Star & Podcast Host – Kaitlyn Bristowe
You’ll probably remember Kaitlyn from The Bachelorette, Season 11, but that’s only a small part of what she’s done and we’re inspired by her drive and ambition. “Since The Bachelorette, I’ve started a few of my own businesses and I’m feeling unstoppable!” Since appearing on the hit TV show, Kaitlyn tells us how it’s always been important for her to be successful. “I always want to grow personally and professionally,” she says. “It didn’t happen overnight. I had to put myself in vulnerable situations but I wouldn’t change it for anything!” We love her vivacity, unapologetic honesty and authenticity, which is why she is so inspiring to us.
After coming off the show, Kaitlyn has started a variety of projects, including her podcast that she hosts called Off The Vine. “I wanted to stay connected to my followers and a podcast felt so natural to me. I created a space for them to feel empowered to be themselves,” she says. “We’ve done one live podcast tour in the spring and I’m about to go on another one this November. The energy in these rooms is magnetic! I can honestly say I’ve found my purpose and that’s a great feeling. “
She also told us some of the best advice we’ve heard in a long time: “Life is filled with ups and down, so don’t take everything too seriously. Do the right thing, and the most important thing is self-love.”
The Bucketlist Bombshells – Cassie & Shay
It all started for Cassie and Shay (aka: The Bucketlist Bombshells) when they craved freedom, purpose and adventure. They both booked one-way tickets to Mexico to ‘figure it out,’ and this ended up being the best decision they ever made. “We started taking online courses and got our feet wet by freelancing on freelancing,” they told us. “After a while, we officially launched our Graphic Design Studio and Virtual Assistant Company. It was a major light-bulb moment for us – we realised that we could make a career out of running our own online businesses!”
Two and half years later, the girls were living in Italy and launched Bucketlist Bombshells, all from their personal desire to empower more female location-independent entrepreneurs. Now, their journey has led them to being featured on Forbes (a childhood dream for both of them) and learning important life lessons along the way. The girls feel that self-care must be a priority, as well as finding a like-minded community. “Self-care is usually the first thing that falls to the wayside when you’re an entrepreneur – be disciplined about making time for your passions and setting boundaries to avoid feeling overworked and burnt out,” they tell us. “At the same time, it’s incredibly important to find an entrepreneurial community: join co-working spaces and connect with others to combat the isolating feeling that can come with being a location-independent entrepreneur.”
When it comes to travelling while building and running a business, Cassie and Shay stress the importance of travelling slowly and intentionally. “We realised it’s not feasible for us to grow a business while constantly travelling – we need some stability to allow for creativity and growth. Now, we usually settle in a new city for a minimum of three months, which gives us the necessary stability to focus on growing our business.”
Celebrity Hairstylist – Justine Marjan
Justine Marjan – global hairstylist for TRESemme and celebrity hairstylist to BIG names such as Ashley Graham and Olivia Culpo (to name a few) – is certainly a lady we look up to. Having worked at a salon as a receptionist shortly after high school in her hometown, she loved the atmosphere so much that she decided to enrol in beauty school. “I’ve always wanted to excel in everything I did,” Justine tells us. “I would take advanced education classes every six months, all over the world.”
Eventually, Justine decided that she reached her full potential doing salon work. What comes next is one of the many reasons we find her so inspiring – she made the decision to move to LA and start her career over as a freelance hairstylist. “I gave up a steady salon career in Santa Barbara to work minimum wage as an assistant in LA,” Justine says. “I worked really hard my first couple years in LA. I assisted Jen Atkin when she was first building OUAI and Mane Addicts and eventually became Editorial Director of Mane Addicts, writing stories and creating content for the online platform in addition to personal assisting, hair assisting, and taking my own clients on the side to make money.”
With this drive and determination, Justine has achieved endless career milestones. “Leading shows backstage at NYFW was a career bucket list and major milestone for me,” she admits. “The key hairstylists for this have traditionally been men, so I was honoured and excited to be among some of the leading women in the industry working alongside legends.” Another amazing opportunity for Justine was to work the Met Ball with Ashley Graham, styling her hair the past two years and getting to do her hair for this year’s Oscars. But for Justine, the little things in life matter too. Although she is a hard-working career inspiration, she loves to unwind and switch off. “I love to do yoga and meditate,” she says. “I also love to play with my dog Cashew, and watch a movie with my husband to unwind.”
Among all of her success, her main piece of advice to her younger self? “Know that life gets better, and what other people think does not matter.”