Women entrepreneurs continue to face tremendous obstacles. They have limited access to financial information, assets, and resources. More access to resources will help them grow their firms. In addition, 80% of women-owned businesses have a finite access to capital and credit, and 48% of female founders lack advisors and mentors, further hindering their growth.
This is something actress Reese Witherspoon understands all too well. In 2016, Witherspoon founded Hello Sunshine, a media company that puts women at the center of every story it creates, celebrates, and discovers.
Hello Sunshine tells stories across all platforms – from scripted and unscripted television, feature films, animated series, podcasts, audio storytelling, and digital series – all shining a light on where women are now and helping them chart a new path forward.
This objective and a strong commitment to telling women’s stories motivated them to collaborate with Stacy’s Pita Chips by celebrating women’s strength in the face of adversity with Rise, a short film created by PRETTYBIRD filmmaker Nisha Ganatra and produced with Hello Sunshine and Ventureland. The film will debut in January, but a preview of the film will be released during tonight’s Primetime EMMY Awards.
“We’re so thrilled to continue our partnership with Stacy’s Pita Chips through this inspiring short film that shines a light on the unique stories of three women entrepreneurs,” said Witherspoon in an email interview. “At Hello Sunshine, we are honored to continue telling stories that put women at the center of the narrative. We’re so grateful to partners like Stacy’s who believe in and support this mission through our work together. We’re beyond thankful to them for helping to bring Nisha Ganatra’s beautiful vision for this film to life.”
Illustrating the Strength of Women
Rise was created by award-winning filmmaker Nisha Ganatra and depicts powerful women entrepreneurs’ daily trials, tribulations, and achievements. In addition, the film features an original poem by No. 1 New York Times bestselling author and poet Rupi Kaur, inspired by Stacy’s greater mission to help women rise.
“Hello Sunshine’s mission to celebrate women through inspiring, emotional and engaging storytelling is exactly what our filmmaker Nisha Ganatra and narrator Rupi Kaur have brought to this project,” shared Witherspoon. “It’s not just about giving women a seat at the table but making sure we build a big enough table with room for everyone. Hello Sunshine invites and celebrates diverse female voices, and that’s what Stacy’s is doing with their Rise Project in supporting small businesses.”
The film spotlights the stories of three previous Stacy’s Rise Project winners that, include:
- Sajani Amarasiri is an immigrant entrepreneur and founder of Kola Goodies, whose mission is to increase cultural representation and wealth in communities where today’s trendy wellness rituals originate and connect cultures to create a more equitable industry.
- Jocelyn Ramirez founded Todo Verde and is creating culturally relevant plant-based Mexican food and aims to create lifestyle shifts within the Latinx community with healthy eating and self-care through awareness and access to naturally good food.
- Maria Jose Palacio is a fifth-generation coffee farmer who founded Progeny Coffee with a mission to take Colombian farmers out of poverty. Progeny has taken on the challenge of designing its coffee chain by providing absolute coffee transparency and unprecedented support to coffee growers stuck in a poverty loop.
Each of their unique stories demonstrates how their roots – the stories, voices, and fortitude of those who came before – are a rich reserve of resilience that inspires their continued fight for progress. During the Primetime EMMY Awards, viewers can get an exclusive look at content from the film. The full-length short film will debut early next year, but fans can get a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Rise today.
“Each of these women has a great story about where they came from, how they got here, and the women who came before them,” said Witherspoon. “Women’s progress is a constant story of strides and setbacks, and sharing our stories helps us overcome those setbacks. I turned my frustrations with Hollywood into a positive, and that’s what these three women have done in starting their companies, using their roots as inspiration.”
Offering Inspiration For Women Everywhere
Although women now own 4 out of every 10 businesses in the U.S. and are making great strides, they’re still missing from entry-level and middle management positions. That’s something companies of all sizes need to address.
In addition, more women are returning to work after the pandemic forced many to leave their jobs. As of August 2022, more than 49 million women aged 25 to 54 were working or looking for work. The return has been especially noteworthy among Black and Latina women.
“As a filmmaker, I have always been dedicated to representing and amplifying the underrepresented stories of women and immigrants, and that is what we’re doing with Rise,” said Ganatra. “By telling these women’s stories, both past, and present, we are continuing the legacy that will uplift all those who come after. I’m very excited for the world to see the full film in January.”
Wherever you are in your career-building journey, Ms. Witherspoon hopes that projects like these will encourage those looking to climb the corporate ladder and others who can help invest in female entrepreneurs to remain persistent.
“There will always be someone who will tell you it can’t be done, so we need to show that every day, more and more women have done it despite what we’re constantly told,” Witherspoon said. “Storytelling has the power to change perspectives, and films like Rise, coupled with the actual work being done behind the scenes with mentorship and financial support, can make all the difference.”