Changing the Narrative on Women and COVID-19: Four Female Entrepreneurs Disrupting Traditional Industries

The past 18 months have not been kind to women and gender equality. A study conducted by McKinsey & Company has indicated that the COVID-19 pandemic could set women back half a decade as the number of people leaving the workforce to tend to domestic and child-care duties falls heavily on women’s shoulders. But now is not the time to right-off your future, but rather see this as a calling card to action.

While the crisis of gender equality is real, what is also true is women forging their own path and walking away from corporate structures to innovate and disrupt industries that have remained the same for too long. Here are four female entrepreneurs disrupting traditional industries and inspiring a new generation of CEO’s.  

 Natasha Chadwick

In 2017, Natasha Chadwick launched the award-winning NewDirection Care in Bellmere, QLD, a $30+ million residential care community that is changing the face of what ‘aged care’ means both domestically and soon to be international, with its innovative MicroTown™ model. 

Natasha’s ground-breaking model seeks to create a community that allows residents to live in homes according to their lifestyle, not their diagnosis, and are supported to be as independent as possible. 

She has been an outspoken advocate of improved care across the industry, most especially during last year’s Royal Commission hearing into Australia’s aged-care industry. I can’t understand why we accept as a society that someone who is living with a brain disease should be locked away. It’s a diagnosis, but it doesn’t stop people from living”, says Natasha speaking about her frustration with the current model of care.

Natasha was the winner of the 2019 Telstra Australian Business Woman of the Year award and she has not let the COVID-19 pandemic damper her entrepreneurial spirit. 

“We were on a growth pathway before COVID-19 hit and we had planned to launch our expansion in 2020 with a licensed product, but we simply had to change direction. However, now, in 2021 we have decided that we can’t put it off and we are moving forward.”

 Danielle Johansen

In late 2019, Danielle Johansen launched her AI-driven fashion platform Threadicated, a bespoke styling service shipped straight to your door. Danielle recognized a gap in the market while out shopping for her mum. 

“I was in a clothing store one day and I spotted a sign advertising their styling service,” she said. “But when I inquired about purchasing the service as a gift for my mother I was told it was only offered in-store. 

“As my mum lived hours away from the store, it got me thinking personal styling should be available to everyone no matter where they live, or where they shop. And when I saw no one in Australia was offering an online styling service, I decided to do it myself.”

And while she couldn’t predict a global pandemic, she also couldn’t predict the massive effect this would have on the way consumers shop. Australia Post recently reported that online shopping had grown 31.8 percent for the 12 months to 30 June 2021. That was good news for Threadicated. Danielle suddenly found herself with a thriving online business, tripling her sales year on year and in a position to take her business to the next level. 

Sharon Williams

 Sharon Williams is the founder and CEO of Taurus Marketing and a veteran in the brand, PR and marketing space. After 26 years in business, she remains the leading voice on brand strategy and the first agency to coin the phrase ‘personal branding’ and create a trademarked process around it called TaurusProfile™.

But like many firms, the global COVID-19 pandemic saw the hardest year yet in Sharon’s 26 years running her own business. But rather than burying her head in the sand, Sharon decided to follow the advice she had been giving her clients and refresh the Taurus brand. The ‘Going For Gold’ campaign, complete with a new gold logo was launched at a poignant time, a few weeks before, the Tokyo 2021 Olympics. 

Speaking about her decision to rebrand, Sharon says: “We have made the decision because reinvention, or as we call it – a refresh – is key to brand longevity. Brands and leaders have to be clever and reinvent to stay relevant.

Sharon continues to innovate with the recently launched TaurusCrypto©, Australia’s first PR and Marketing agency offering crypto marketing as a dedicated service.  

Robyn Foyster

For the past two decades, award-winning journalist and consultant, Robyn Foyster, has been shaping the female narrative. She was the first (and only) person to edit and publish Australia’s three biggest flagship magazines – The Australian Women’s Weekly, Woman’s Day, and New Idea – and her websites Women Love Tech, The Carousel, and Game Changers celebrate women professionally and personally.

In early 2020, Robyn was riding the wave of a successful app launch – Sweep – the world’s first AR shopping app designed to bridge the gap between the online and offline retail worlds and revolutionize the way consumers shop and how retailers market their discounts.

And then, well, COVID-19 happened and suddenly brick and mortar retail took a backseat to online shopping, making Sweep effectively redundant. 

Robyn cut her losses quickly and went back to the drawing board. She decided to take a big swing and launch InProfile, a boutique agency that helps time-poor CEOs build their personal brand, something she knows a lot about.

 “I knew I had to build something that existed online and I was already being approached by my network to provide advice on personal branding, so it made sense to monetize it,” Robyn says. 

InProfile is a strategic thought leadership agency that helps clients craft their own unique message into compelling multi-media content. “We work with seasoned CEOs as well as emerging entrepreneurs to deliver campaigns that build credibility and grow authentic connections. It’s an exciting space right now and I’m so proud of the content we are creating for our clients.” 

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