It’s been quite a month or so – a spontaneous decision to head to New Orleans for Real Screen which was an energising, exhausting, whirlwind of sessions and meetings – but the highlight (Gumbo, cocktails and jazz aside) was catching up with other female led labels to share ideas, experiences and some laughs. And last week Creative Director, Nav Raman, went to a unique immersive coaching and transformation programme for female creatives and entrepreneurs in rural Suffolk, where she met ten brilliant engaging women who are without exception a real force. While there she chatted with the CEO of the Santalan Retreat, Dalbir Bains and Nabila Virani-Neriman founder and Director of Le Grey PR on her podcast Nobody’s Comig to Fix You about the challenges and joys of running your company. And to continue the theme – we loved the mixer put on by the Intertalent Group where we heard from the fabulous Jo Elvin. And today we will be doing a panel organised by PACT for young students aged 16-18 about working in television and film joined by Lou Tonner and Chloe Clover MD and CEO of Wander Films and Kate Beal, Founder and CEO of Woodcut films.

We look forward to their questions and comments, particularly as according to a recent report by Barclays, 85 per cent of young people who named an inspirational entrepreneur named a man. And although women, are now a significant part of our industry and have been redefining the media landscape – some would say they still “need to do more to be noticed in an industry that was built on an old-boys clubs”.

Female role models are important for women, who have started, or are hoping to start, their own business. You can’t be what you can’t see.

So, as we head into International Womens Day we thought we’d share some of the stories, and advice gathered along the way. Ali Quirk Founder and CEO at Chatterbox, “If you want to change the story you have to change the storytellers – there are so many of our stories and perspectives yet to be told’.

What many women we spoke to feel is that we tend to underplay our success and achievements – and that’s why we should celebrate the incredible female entrepreneurs in the media space.  Writing blogs, attending networking drinks, speaking on panels is all important both for personal profile connection and for supporting the next generation of business leaders. Reach out for a mentor, you’ll be surprised how generous other women are with their time – and if you can mentor someone yourself.

We’ve asked some leading female media entrepreneurs for their thoughts and advice for those coming through the ranks. Rukhsana Mosem, founder and MD of Ten66, ‘I would encourage any woman who wants to start their own company – you do need a tough and robust natural survival instincts and some acute financial acumen – and if you’ve got a side hustle to get you through the hard times, I’d recommend that as well’. She continues, ‘I’m amazed by how many women ask “how on earth did you do that, I wouldn’t have any idea about how to go about it “They usually mean the mechanics of setting up your own company, getting incorporated, contracting employees, paying them. Men on the other hand don’t see such obstacles to start up, they just think I’ll start my own company and hire someone else to deal with the details”

Jazz Gowans, founder of Transparent Prodco “when I set up Transparent 20 years ago, I had no idea I would be one of the only black/brown working class women in the UK founding and running a prime time indie for far too many years I’d like to mention! My mantra : Be fearless , be respectful and be kind  –  status means nothing’. Now running Nine Lives in Birmingham and Manchester, partnering with another kind & fearless woman, Cat Lewis, I’m so happy to see the number is growing but there are still only a handful of us running indies – especially from the ground up. I started with nothing but I had the dream of somehow making it in an industry where I didn’t exist, which wasn’t easy. But I was determined and I do LOVE a challenge! For me it was all about telling universally relatable stories with a message that resonated with (ideally) millions of people in the UK and globally.

Cat Lewis CEO of Ninelives, continues,

‘I wasn’t worried about failing and I’m still not.My advice to anyone wanting to set up a TV company is only do so if you’re someone who comes up with lots of content ideas, learn about employment and media law. Treat your employees how your best ever managers treated you, find yourself a great business accountant and finally be fearless!

And finally, Jannine Wadell of award-winning NI indie Waddell Media is pragmatic about the current landscape, ‘We all face a very challenging industry at the moment and it is going to be another tough year. Getting heard can be extremely hard in a very competitive market. You just have to keep focussed, look for the low hanging fruit, keep going and be able to pivot quickly. You need a thick skin and a lot of resilience which sometimes you have to dig hard to find.’ but she notes “It is a real joy when you win a commission that you have fought so hard and passionately for – then you realise you have to make it!”

Tenacity, drive and a clear mission are crucial – so when the knocks backs come, as they will, you can ride the hard times and move forward.