By Saya Matsumoto, Finance Director
On Wednesday, April 26th, FEW and Mums in Business hosted the first screening of Dream, Girl in Japan, followed by a panel discussion with female entrepreneurs based in Tokyo.
Dream, Girl is a documentary about female entrepreneurs, written, directed and produced by an all female crew. Inspired by the female entrepreneurs she was meeting through her blog, Feminist Wednesday, director Erin Bagwell, decided a film highlighting their stories was the perfect opportunity to turn her dreams of directing a feature-length film into reality. The film, which first premiered at the White House in May 2016, has now been seen by over 20,000 people in 81 countries.
The documentary follows 11 entrepreneurs and one investor, focusing on their backgrounds, the birth of their businesses, their struggles and their successes. The film addresses the struggles of being an entrepreneur and the adversity faced simply by being a woman. The film is a celebration of women, of female entrepreneurs, of girls and all the wonderful, incredible things we are capable of.
Following the documentary, a panel discussion featured three Tokyo female entrepreneurs. Our moderator, the award winning actor, writer, talk show host and YouTuber Koël Purie Rinchet, did a fabulous job of bringing to light the challenges, inspiring moments and reflections of our panelists.
While the panelists have widely differing beginnings to their businesses, they discussed the meaning of success and failure, what messages they would send to their younger selves, what it’s like being a woman in Japan, and more!
Tia Haygood initially came to Japan as a teacher, but a lifelong love of photography quickly meshed with the incredibly photographic nature of Japan and she started using her camera to capture the world around her. A commitment to learning, combined with a couple of lucky breaks and supportive mentors, got her where she is today. She’s learned that gear does not make you a better photographer and to embrace the lean business/canvas. She says put your product/service into the market and tweak it – she learned the Japanese eye for photography and found her sweet spot.
Abi Terrien has experience in a variety of different businesses and growing up in an entrepreneurial family, it’s not altogether surprising that she too has the entrepreneurial spirit. In her second business, Abi learned to give herself time to grow the business. She says that it’s important to be aware of potential changes in technology and plan to adjust your business accordingly.
Yuko Watatani transitioned from the hustle and bustle of New York to slow village life in France to find her inspiration. She and her co-founder are now creating a bridge between Japan and the rest of the world. She says that businesses are just like individuals, there all shapes and sizes with different growth potential. Keep working towards your own goal and don’t compare yourself to a million dollar business. She reminds us that, with the internet the possibilities are endless. You could be based in Tokyo but have clients all over the world!
Dream, Girl is truly a reminder to all that there isn’t anything that girls and women are not capable of. Likewise, the panel discussion was a window into the minds of some of Tokyo’s shining entrepreneurs and helped bring the theme of entrepreneurship closer to home.
Thank you to Impact Hub Tokyo for hosting us, Kiwi Kitchen for the catering and a big thank you to all of the speakers and participants for the creative, inclusive and thought-provoking dialogue!
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