Highlighting female entrepreneurs at USC in honor of Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

Los Angeles mayor announced official day of recognition for female entrepreneurs in the city.

Eric Garcetti announced that Nov. 19 is officially recognized as Women’s Entrepreneurship Day in Los Angeles.

This decision comes as more and more women are making names for themselves in a male-dominated business industry, with six in 10 businesses are owned by men, according to Guidant Financial.

USC has bred many successful female entrepreneurs in the past. These notable women have combined business with other important issues in today’s society like environmentalism, sustainability and art to create companies with great impacts.

Macki Alvarez-Mena

Macki Alvarez-Mena graduated in 2018 from the Iovine and Young Academy. Her business, Mackie and Company, combines entrepreneurship and illustration and features a number of products with Alvarez-Mena’s personal cartoons.

She began drawing these cartoons at a young age and by college, Alvarez-Mena knew she wanted to find a major that gave her an opportunity to highlight her art and grow her brand. The Iovine and Young Academy gave Alvarez-Mena the skills she needed to build her business, she said.

Alvarez-Mena recently collaborated with the USC bookstore to create her own collection of products. They feature her personal designs and give students new, unique options to choose from.

“It was a good way to show off what I learned at USC,” Alvarez-Mena said.

She said this collection allowed her to expose her art to many people and to give back to the USC community.

Alvarez-Mena stressed the importance of focusing on one’s own journey and not being distracted by others.

“Stay in your lane,” she said, “don’t worry about what everyone else is doing.”

Daphne Armstrong

Daphne Armstrong, current USC Senior and creator of SUPCUP, focused on combining elements of sustainability and entrepreneurship with her creation of a reusable party cup.

SUPCUP, a stainless steel red cup, serves as an alternative to non-recyclable red party cups, which are not environmentally conscious.

Armstrong came up with the idea for SUPCUP last year. After saving the money she needed, she launched the product in Sept. 2019.

“I am super passionate about climate change,” she said. “My hope is that with our branding, we can educate consumers."

Her product not only highlights her passion for environmentalism, but also serves as a tangible example of the efforts being made against climate change.

Armstrong explained that with no background in business or marketing, she felt “totally out of [her] element.” Because of this, she stressed how important it is for young female entrepreneurs to find mentors to rely on.

“Find female mentors who have experience and who also have your back,” Armstrong explained.

Kaitlin Mogentale

Kaitlin Mogentale graduated from USC in 2015 and within the next year had launched her business, Pulp Pantry. The company focuses on the issue of food waste and uses commonly-wasted ingredients like juice pulp to make other kinds of food, such as chips.

For about two years, Mogentale worked with farmer’s markets to sell her product, but as of this year, she began working with a manufacturer to create a commercialized line of “pulp chips”.

Mogentale was prompted to create her business when she noticed the scale of the issue of food waste and how widespread the issue is across the country. She said there are many people without adequate access to food.

“We really need to tackle this issue to best elevate human and environmental health” she said.

In addition to her want to resolve food waste, Mogentale was also interested in creating this business because of the huge market opportunity.

“Consumer diets preferences are also shifting,” she said.

In giving advice to young female entrepreneurs, Mogentale stressed the importance of finding a reliable mentor and establishing connections.

“There is such a strong community of female entrepreneurs in Los Angeles,” she said. She felt that they have been her biggest supporters.

Asha Gabriel

Asha Gabriel, created her company, Bridget, with the hopes of encouraging young females to go to college.

Gabriel taught SAT classes in Los Angeles and grew close to the young girls she was working with who were not showing any interest in attending college. She recognized this as an issue and knew something had to be done about it.

“I connect to this issue,” she said. “I knew it was something that could be solved through a solid business model.”

Bridget started as a non-profit that held large scale panel events for young female teenagers to attend. The panels focused on a specific industry in the hopes of getting young females interested in their educational future.

Gabriel and her team later shifted the business to a for-profit model and began meeting in smaller groups of girls. This put more of a community focus on confidence and communication, Gabriel said.

Gabriel hopes to show other young females how to be passionate about their interests and concerns, just like she was when creating Bridget.

“You have to care about something so deeply that it will sustain you through every failure,” she said.

Her business model and approach may have changed through the process, but the issue she is trying to solve never faltered.

Los Angeles celebrated the inaugural day with a series of events seeking to empower female entrepreneurs at City Hall.