Entrepreneur Rochelle Webb believes in paying it forward. She founded the online platform Optimist Made not only to introduce global fashion designers to American shoppers but also to mentor the designers and support charities.
“I know what it’s like to have someone believe in you far more than you believe in yourself,” says Webb, who teaches designers how to scale their businesses. “That’s a big part of what I do for my designers, because I see their talent; they just need people to see them.”
Webb found South African-born Chantel Koning, founder of YouMeeWee, in London and sells her bohemian chic clothing with African-influenced textiles. She and Koning partnered to teach orphans in Ghana how to sew backpacks and start a business.
An accomplished global marketing executive, Webb crafted Optimist Made as a “lifestyle ecosystem.” The site includes health and wellness tips; a docuseries spotlights the everyday women who model the products.
“It was important that people get to feel and hear [my models’] stories because oftentimes, especially as women, we don’t champion ourselves enough,” she says.
Webb, also an assistant professor of entrepreneurship and marketing at Loyola Marymount University, is a consummate inspirer. She teaches her students self-confidence (without attitude), adaptability, and how to grow from failure.
“People always ask me, how do you do it?” says Webb. “I just start. If I start something that I shouldn’t, that’s not a waste of time. If you can look for the teachable moments you will always get something from it.”