|18 May 2021|
On the evening of 18th May, friends Serena Oppenheim and Celia Pool, (both 2000 Leavers), spoke honestly and with real clarity about their entrepreneurial journeys over the last 10 years, including their massive highs, lows and everything in between. Both reflected on the privilege of going through their journeys at the same time, being able to share the challenges and triumphs of their chosen paths, which at times had been very lonely. Hosted by Calne Girls' Association (CGA) member Clemmie Broom, this was the 3rd virtual CGA Talk and again proved popular with current girls, alumnae and the wider school community.
Serena has worked in the entrepreneurship space for most of her career, both in sustainable energy and in health and wellbeing. Currently, she is Chief Strategy Officer for WAVi, the complete brain assessment tool taking braincare into the 21st century using machine learning, and is in the process of launching a new direct-to-consumer lifestyle business. She described the challenges, as a sole-founder, of both trying and failing with businesses; the lessons learnt; the ability to see and fix problems and ultimately how she has found a purpose and drive in everything she does.
Celia is the co-founder of DAME, the sustainable period product company. Launched in 2019 with their world first, award-winning reusable tampon applicator, DAME now sells in Waitrose, Boots, Sainsbury's, Ocado and Selfridges and globally via their e-commerce site. They launched their second product, a patent-pending reusable period pad, in late 2020. DAME is carbon negative, climate positive and a B Corp, believing that business can be used as a force for good. Celia reflected on being a co-founder, and having the professional support of a business partner along an equally tricky path to that of Serena – taking on the big brands and retail outlets and challenging their attitude to waste and packaging. She continues to measure the success of her business by the market share her products take from the mainstream producers in female sanitary ware.
Both agreed on the resilience and optimism needed to back your own ideas, the need to network and get on with people, the relentlessness of ever-moving goals and targets but ultimately the sense of achievement and personal fulfilment that comes from running your own successful business.
Serena and Celia recommended many books that budding entrepreneurs might like to read, including Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, CEO of Facebook, Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia and Sara Blakely’s Spanx Story, as well as many TED lectures and podcasts.
Click here to read a little more about their careers to date.