First One In, Last One Out: In the Shoes of an Entrepreneur Written by Janan Leo, Founder & Creative Director of Cocorose London I’m often asked about how and why I set up Cocorose London and what it’s like running my own business. As an entrepreneur in the fashion industry, the glamour and glitz often mask the daily highs and lows that go on behind the scenes and the whole-hearted team effort that goes into creating a beautiful, international brand. My passion here is to unfold the emotions that run with every step of being my own entrepreneur and to lay bare what it’s like being in my shoes. Find me on twitter and Instagram @jananleo with the hashtag #InMyCocorose. __________________________________________________________ Mums, grandmothers, sisters, aunts, guardians… Mother figures come in many different forms. With 2018 marking 100 years of suffrage, we are reminded of our Mothers from yesteryear; the strong, committed and brave suffragettes that fought and gave up their lives for us, so we would have the right to vote in this country. International Women’s Day on the 8th of March is a time to celebrate and reflect on the progress made but to also call for continued progression. Although much has changed since the turn of the last century, we must also recognise what hasn’t yet been achieved, as recent revelations from Weinstein to the gender pay gap have proved, and we must continue to fight our Mothers’ battles to this day by sharing our stories and raising our voices. As an entrepreneur, I’m often asked how I came up with the idea for foldable shoes. The truth is quite simple – I needed an antidote to my love of wearing beautiful but uncomfortable heels. I realised that this was a problem not just for myself, but for millions of women all over the world. The number of times that I was forced to remove my shoes because of the excruciating pain in the balls of my feet or the utter frustration that I’d have when I missed a bus or train because I couldn’t move fast enough in my heels. So in 2007, I founded Cocorose London and I set out to resolve this problem by inventing portable, beautiful and comfortable footwear for modern, on-the-go women like myself. But there was something more – something far, far bigger - to my concept rather than just a pair of foldable shoes that would help to ease the pain from heels. EMPOWERMENT This was about empowering me – empowering women - with confidence through comfort and style, and making our lives easier so we could master our days. Unlike much of the last century, women today are multi-tasking more, juggling careers, family and everything that life throws at us and we’re taking a stance to be measured by our performance and success rather than just by what we’re wearing. We’ve heard the stories of high profile firms turning away employees for not wearing heels; of how women have fractured their feet after being forced to wear heels and of air stewardesses taking action against their uniforms. There is a movement that’s been gaining momentum for the equality of women, whether it be equal pay, the #MeToo campaigns or the row over women being forced to wear heels, whether at work or on the red carpet. WOMENPOWERED Cocorose London was built on our philosophy of WomenPowered; the very foundations of this movement, lending confidence through comfort and style and empowering women with the freedom of choice to wear what she wants and when. As a female entrepreneur, I’ve recently started my journey of raising investment for Cocorose London. Never before had I realised how male dominated the investment world is. Yesterday I pitched to a roomful of investors; not even a handful were female. Although our Mothers from yesteryear would recognise the huge step forwards that Britain has taken in the last century, it’s now up to us - sisters and brothers - to carry forward their voices and legacies and continue to pioneer their journeys.