We challenged you to be fearless this month. It didn’t matter how big or how little of a leap you took, it just mattered that you challenged yourself and got outside of your comfort zone. Take a moment to yourself and reflect. Be real. Be honest and really listen to what that little voice is trying to say and finally ask yourself, are you really happy or are you just really comfortable?
This month we had the absolute pleasure of attending the screening of Dream, Girl – a feature-length documentary that showcases stories of inspiring female entrepreneurs around the world. Premiered at the White House this past May, producers Erin Bagwell and Komal Minhas decided to take their masterpiece on tour to spread the message to women around the world on how powerful they are no matter your race or age. With hard work and ambition, these women have uplifted thousands of women globally, received enormous amounts of positive feedback, and were named on Oprah’s #SuperSoul100, a list featuring extraordinary individuals that live life intentionally, create great social impact and bring inspiration to others. These are two visionaries who exude fearless in their everyday life, and we were thrilled to have had the opportunity to sit down with them one-on-one.
There is no formula to success, no blueprint to guide you. There’s just your voice telling you to DREAM BIG. Now go listen to it!
Prior to the film, Erin felt that she wasn’t living up to her full potential. Not only was she working in an uncomfortable office environment, she was also unmotivated. This sense of discouragement quickly led her to start questioning her career identity and herself as an individual. In hopes of igniting her creativity, she decided to start a blog called Feminist Wednesday to see if she was the only one that was feeling that dread. Surprised by the amount of response she received, it turned out she wasn’t the only one. This revelation led her to believe that something needs to change about the way women are being treated in the workplace and how they feel about chasing after their dreams. So, she did what every go-getter would do if they were unhappy. She quit her job, launched herself into the unknown, and started to pursue her own passion: to be a filmmaker. With a brilliant idea in hand, and support from her friends and family in the other, Erin launched a Kickstarter campaign that raised over $100K to help turn her concept into reality. She was blown away by all of the love and support she received, formed her all girl’s #dreamteam, and found her co-founder, Komal Minhas. Komal is an indo-Canadian film producer, writer, and investor, who started her first company, KoMedia, at 23. Komal has been deeply committed to improving the lives of women and girls globally at a young age, and her expertise and passion aligned with Erin’s vision perfectly for Dream, Girl. In a short time, they became best friends, business partners, and an unstoppable force.
This wasn’t about making a movie anymore, it’s about showing girls that they have the power to change the world.
When we sat down with Komal and Erin, we were interested in learning about the nitty-gritty of their journey together. Throughout their lives, they grew up with strong female role models advocating for women’s rights. Erin admired her grandmother, Alice, an audacious entrepreneur who shaped how her family was raised, and Komal, who was inspired by Hillary Clinton’s impressive political career and record of public service. Both have dreamt of being as strong and powerful as Alice and Hillary were, and they are well on their way achieving that. Soon after Dream, Girl was launched, they both met many influencers who all have a common passion: changing the world into one that isn’t male dominated. Not only are these influencers women who are strong and ambitious, but they also fearlessly believe in themselves and in their value. We were curious to hear about what they have learned interviewing women from around the world and what the biggest common struggle was for women in the workplace, and contrary to popular belief, women are still constantly being underestimated in all aspects of their career despite how far we have come in 2016. In light of the recent US elections, it is evident there is still “so much work that needs to be done: to culturally change stigma, to culturally change expectations”. As women, we need to realize that impact outweighs fear, and that we need to accept failure as apart of success. We need to stay courageous and continue to support one another in all that we do while constantly looking to create change. By being resilient and critical with a positive mindset, we are working towards a better and stronger future for women around the world.
We need to acknowledge that we are underestimated and we need to stand up for ourselves. Together we will continue to change the climate. Women have been bred to behave a certain way to be taken seriously, but now is the time that we need to speak up, be honest and open, and say what we expect from society. – Erin Bagwell
One of their biggest struggles producing the film was manifesting both their personality and creativity into the film towards the end. After countless hours of travelling, interviewing, producing, and editing, they struggled to finish. It took them a year and a half to edit, where they were advised to scale back and to restructure time after time. Aside from the lack of energy, they were thrown another curve ball. Komal was diagnosed with Dermatofibrosarcoma Protuberans, a very rare cancer that develops in the deep layers of skin, the day they were to launch their new distribution system. Waves of emotion washed over them, for similar yet different reasons: Anger. Denial. Sadness. Fear. Plans started to fall between the cracks and the film began to feel like a job, and not a passion. Their relationship as business partners and as friends suffered immensely for a bit, but whereas some would feel angry and defeated, they fought for their dreams. Komal fought cancer fearlessly with friends and family by her side, and was instead thankful for what it reminded her about life, privilege, family, and more. Because of cancer, she holds the deepest gratitude to every challenge and joy brought to her. Erin, on the other hand, went into survival mode for the both of them, and finished editing the film with perseverance despite feeling disconnected from her co-founder. With one last push, they premiered their vision for the world to see, and came out stronger than ever.
Over the course of the past month, each of us here at DiscoverHER Project have seen this film at least two, if not three times each. We love how light, personable, and captivating it was from a documentary standpoint, and we have never seen something quite like it. We could feel a real and deep connection with the way the characters were portrayed, no matter the race, age, or industry they were in. If we want to be the “Mark Zuckerberg”, “Bill Gates”, or “Steve Jobs” of our gender and generation, we need to go after it and be our own role models. All of us can be a changemaker, an entrepreneur, or anybody we want to be at any stage of our lives. We all have our unique set of capabilities, personality traits, and life experiences that made us into who we are today, we simply need to look at things from a different perspective to achieve the goals we have. All of us can BE, HAVE, or DO. The question is how bad do we want it?
Women are our most under utilized resource and I feel like it’s up to us to take care of each other, it’s up to us to look and see what the needs are and to fill those holes. We can’t wait for someone else when we are the answer. – Marie Forleo
Having the opportunity to speak with these two women one on one and seeing how passionate they are about raising awareness on female entrepreneurship truly empowered us like no other. At DiscoverHER Project, we are constantly encouraging young women to take action and become leaders in their community. Similar to many, we are battling our own sets of fears and doubts everyday, but listening to Erin and Komal has pushed us to try harder than ever to chase after our dreams despite any hurdles that come our way. It ignited that fire within us. Being fearless means being vulnerable, and there is no sugarcoating it – it is a scary thing. We need to remind ourselves to say yes to new opportunities and challenges, and to hold ourselves up high to a pedestal when it comes to our happiness and ambitions. It’s time we believe in ourselves the way our friends and family believe in us.
Thank you Erin and Komal for inspiring us with your vision, your wisdom, your journey, your hardships, and your accomplishments. We are so lucky to have you advocating for us.
I started this journey because I so desperately wanted to view myself as a leader. I wanted the power, the respect, and freedom that comes with creating something authentic. But what I have learned, is that I already have this voice and this mission inside of me, and I just needed to be surrounded by ambitious women so that I could see it myself. – Erin Bagwell
Interested in hosting a screening? Please visit: http://dreamgirlfilm.com/host/
Founded on an ambition of helping girls succeed in becoming their best selves, DiscoverHER Project advocates the right to education for girls and women around the world. We aim to educate, invest, and empower in young women globally by offering a platform with programs, tools, and resources to enable them to succeed.