Have you ever wanted to make a difference in your community but didn’t know where to start? Or perhaps you had an a-ha moment where a brilliant (!) business idea popped into your head, but you felt unsure of what to do with it? We all have moments of inspiration; however, turning a light bulb moment into a reality can be a daunting and arduous process. But we’re more capable than we give ourselves credit for.
Empowered women empower women – and there are a number of trailblazing women in both Australia and abroad who are committed to changing the world by founding kick-ass, thought-provoking companies. So if you’re in need of a side of inspiration today with your morning coffee, here are five female founders doing big things for the environment, underprivileged women and more.
Rebecca Percasky, Founder of The Better Packaging Co.
Via her start-up The Better Packaging Co., Rebecca Percasky is changing the world one plastic bag at a time. The Better Packaging Co. offers a sustainable alternative to traditional packaging by producing courier bags, bubble bags and snap-lock bags that are easily home-compostable.
Confronted by the growth and scale of e-commerce – did you know that 87 billion packages are shipped worldwide every year? – Percasky knew there had to be a better way. “I saw how quickly e-commerce was growing,” she says. “Along with that growth, there’s an extraordinary amount of packaging waste. Eventually I said, ‘I can’t be involved in that. I don’t want to be responsible for putting any more plastic into the world.’”
It all started when her then seven-year-old daughter began a school project about how to save the planet. “She listed simple things she could do like switching off the lights and walking to school, and it really got me. I was heartbroken. Here was this little person I loved and was responsible for, and she was carrying such a heavy burden.” In that moment, Percasky instinctively knew that the time to act was now.
This year, Percasky was named was named the 2021 Laureate for South Asia & Oceania by the Cartier Women’s Initiative for her work. Founded in 2006, the programme aims to drive change by championing female entrepreneurs making an impact. In being named one of eight Laureates globally, Percasky will take home US $100,000 and plans to use this to create a new range of innovative sustainable packaging. Watch this space!
Isobel Marshall, Co-Founder of TABOO
Remember the name Isobel Marshall because this 22-year-old is one to watch. In January, Marshall was named Young Australian of the Year, thanks to her extensive work to help alleviate period poverty. At just 18 years of age, she co-founded TABOO with school friend Eloise Hall to help break down stigma around menstruation and provide greater access to hygiene products. TABOO is a social enterprise with 100 per cent of the net profit going to sustainable projects that support sanitary health and education, which we think is pretty amazing!
Edwina Sharrock, Founder of Birth Beat
When Birth Beat founder Edwina Sharrock had her first baby, she didn’t bother with prenatal classes. Being a trained midwife herself, Sharrock confidently assumed she didn’t need them. “If I’m really honest, I was probably a little bit arrogant about it,” she says.
However, she felt differently after the birth and not long after, Sharrock created Birth Beat – a digital-first resource that offers supportive, nonjudgmental birth education to expecting parents. “Birth Beat is something that I created as a midwife but also as a mum. Like most entrepreneurs, I created the business because it was something I saw a need for but couldn’t find.”
This year, Sharrock was a finalist in the South Asia & Oceania division of the Cartier Women’s Initiative for her tireless work educating soon-to-be parents, so that they feel empowered in the delivery room. At the core of Birth Beat’s evidence-based childbirth education is the philosophy that there is no ‘right’ way to give birth. “It’s about what’s right for the woman,” Sharrock shares.
Clare Press, Host of The Wardrobe Crisis Podcast & Founder of Wardrobe Crisis Academy
Clare Press is a Sydney-based journalist, podcaster and writer who specialises in sustainable fashion – you might have read her words in Vogue (she was the publication’s first-ever Sustainability Editor) or right here in marie claire. Recently, Press launched Wardrobe Crisis Academy – an online course or ‘sustainability school’ that gives students a thorough foundational knowledge of the issues driving sustainable and ethical fashion today. The six-week course covers everything from supply chains, living wages and modern slavery to waste, textiles and fibres.
Ronni Kahn, Founder of Oz Harvest
Ronni Kahn is the founder and CEO of food rescue charity OzHarvest. In 2004, she became aware of the huge volume of food that goes to waste every day and came up with a simple solution: to rescue the food before it makes it to the bin and deliver it to local charities. Through her work with OzHarvest, Kahn has helped feed thousands of underprivileged Australians who need a helping hand and a warm meal.
Sponsored by Cartier.