Speaker: Shawna Stepp-Jones, Founder & CEO, Divaneering Lab, Inc
Happy Women’s History Month/International Women's Day - How are you celebrating?
Shawna Stepp-Jones: Happy Women's History Month and Happy International Women's Day. I'm Shawna Stepp-Jones, hardware engineer from Baltimore, Maryland, and the proud founder of Divaneering Lab where we build and commercialize hair innovations. I'm celebrating Women's History Month International Women's Day by blazing trails in an underserved untapped market. The wig and weave hair market, which is a $10.1 B market, but has not had innovation in more than 50 years. When I think about technology. And I think about the lack of women in this space, creating technology and creating hardware, it causes me to want to do more in this space and want to create more opportunities for the generation coming behind me. So I'm celebrating by continuing to be a maverick, continuing to dream big and continuing to leave a legacy much like one of my inspirations Madam C. J. Walker, where I not only create opportunity for myself but I create economic opportunity for my community.
2023's International Women's Day theme is #EmbraceEquity. How do you think (the collective) we can work together to impact positive change?
Shawna Stepp-Jones: The 2023 International Women's Day theme is embrace equity. And I believe that in order for us to make an positive impact collectively and change, we must embrace equity and how do we do that? We embrace equity and create a positive change collectively by supporting those who have always had the inequitable stick in this game of life. Women, minorities and, and we can support them, we can fund them, we can celebrate them and we can advocate for them. It would be a great opportunity to embrace equity as it relates to Women's History Month by showcasing more women who are disruptors and who are revolutionary leaders and who are educating the generation behind us about change, about how to be a change agent, demonstrating as a role model, as a mentor, what positive change looks like. What it looks like to support one another and support equitable ideas that may not have been readily accepted in the past. Now is the time to embrace equity. We have so much data to support the catalysts of change and impact that comes from embracing equity through education, advocacy, funding, support and celebration.
What advice would you give to the next generation of women as they begin their careers?
Shawna Stepp-Jones: What advice would I give the next generation of women starting their careers? Well, as a underrepresented and underestimated black female engineer, I would tell these young women to be fearless and to be confident in what you know and what you don't know. There is power in being teachable and coachable yet having enough insight and confidence and belief in yourself to challenge things that may not sit well with you. I believe that we're living in a very revolutionary time where ideals, principles, laws are outdated. And so this is an opportunity for these young women, this next generation of leaders and trail blazers and tech entrepreneurs to fully take agency over their career and recognize that you bring power and you bring benefits and you bring vision to any organization and you bring diversity to any organization that you are part of, that is greatly needed in society. So be fearless, be confident and be coachable.
Bonus question: Share a favorite Google Workspace hack/tip for running your business or your personal life?
Shawna Stepp-Jones: So my favorite Google Workspace tip that has been beneficial in running my business would be to purchase a Google Domain. For a long time I was running my business with the standard Gmail domain, but I found that using a Google Domain that is reflective of my business entity has provided me with a more professional presence online with the same functionality of the standard Gmail account. So I encourage you all to invest in yourself, invest in your company and invest in a Google Domain. It's gonna give you a much more professional presence. Folks are gonna be more receptive of your emails if it's a business email and you still have the flexibility and the ease-ability of the standard Google functionality. So you don't have to change your processes that you have built using the Google suite, you're just changing your presence and how you showcase yourself in this digital space to others. Invest in a Google Domain. Thank you.