Female entrepreneurs discuss challenges, accomplishments in business world

Panel was organized by alum KaDeadra McNealy, founder of Millennial Nail Bar

Female entrepreneurs discuss challenges, accomplishments in business world

Female entrepreneurs, all AU alumni, speak at a panel in February. 

KaDeadra McNealy, a recent graduate of the AU public policy master’s program, hosted a panel discussion about AU Women in Startups on Feb. 21 to highlight fellow women’s accomplishments and promote networking among female entrepreneurs. 

McNealy, an entrepreneur herself and founder of Millennial Nail Bar, through AU’s Kogod Entrepreneurship Incubator program, said she hoped the event would help other women with aspirations like hers gain access to the resources they need to get their ideas off of the ground.

“You don't have to have the next major idea,” McNealy said. “If you’re just good at something, let’s figure out how you can make money off of that.”

The event featured Megan Nelson, Amaya Smith and Jennifer May -- all AU alumni and successful entrepreneurs. They discussed industry tips and resources as well as how to be taken seriously as a woman in male-dominated spaces. The event was sponsored by the American University Incubator, the Alumni Association and Student Activities.

McNealy mentioned how venture capital, or funding provided to early-stage businesses with potential, is primarily given to men. Now, more than ever, women are breaking into industries previously dominated by men, she said.

“I definitely want to keep it going and keep giving women that extra push or extra resources that they need to make it to that next level,”  McNealy said. “We are hoping that women pulled into those circles don't have to play it safe.”

McNealy, whose startup focuses on bringing high-end nail art and nail technicians to customers, said that she came up with the idea while in grad school when she realized she found it difficult to fit self-care into her busy schedule. McNealy then realized how lucrative the nail industry was.

However, she felt that her idea was not taken seriously at first. McNealy sees how there’s a largely untapped financial opportunity in the nail industry. 

“I could tell that at first, they didn't get the importance of nails and how impactful it was and more specifically the money making behind it,” McNealy said.

McNealy said that she hopes to put on more events like this in the future.

“I hope someone walked out of the room and was able to make that connection,” she said.


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