By Ryan Velez
Black Enterprise reports that some of the top entrepreneurs across the country came together to share their stories and wisdom about small business at a recent American Express OPEN event. Celebrating the launch of several benefits for the Business Platinum card like card member access to exclusive networking and educational opportunities, a few bonafide celebrities were among the names who came to share their knowledge.
The first panel was the American Express Open Success Makers Panel, featuring Shonda Rhimes, founder, chairwoman, and CEO of ShondaLand, not to mention her television success. In her panel appearance, Rhimes was very clear about what led her to success in the television world. “What made the difference is that I was willing to stay longer and work harder than anyone else,” she said. At the same time, she supported those who wanted to strive for success in the world of television to try and go for it: “If you love it and it is exactly what you want to do, just do it.”
Also appearing in the session, moderated by journalist Tamron Hall, were Jen Rubio, co-founder of luggage retailer Away, Tony Hawk, known for professional skateboarding and for founding Birdhouse Skateboards, as well as Chieh Huang, CEO of mobile shopping app Boxed.
After the conclusion of this panel, Neil Blumenthal, co-founder and CEO of Warby Parker, conducted a one-on-one conversation with Jessica Alba, founder of The Honest Co. The company’s focus on healthy and sustainable products for childcare has made Alba one of the most successful celebrities to transfer over to the business world from Hollywood. In the conversation, she was very candid about the struggle of starting and growing a company with no business experience. Chief among the lessons she shared was setting ego aside in order to let other criticize or hone your ideas.
“The first name of the company was Love & Honor, which sounds like a bridal company. Every time I pitched it to women they were like, ‘Aww, because of your daughter Honor. I totally get it.’ But guys just didn’t have the same reaction. And even though I knew my core consumer was going to be a woman, you have to have everyone at least buy in—especially knowing the world of finance and who you were likely going to get capital from,” she shared.