Life is more than a screen. Anything you can do offline, do it. For my writing, I like to hand write my outlines and notes before I type everything out. For website design, I’ll start by drawing mockups and research colors from physical books. For branding guides and goals, I get a poster board from target and markers. If your job prevents you from being offline at all, try incorporating a new activity, even walking around the block, to get your screen time down.
As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Amy Will.
Female Founder Amy Will started her first e-commerce business at the age of 24 years old with a 100 dollars Etsy gift card, and has since launched 4 successful brands. Before starting Girl Gang, Will held the role of Marketing Director at Tower Paddle Boards (of Shark Tank fame), having also started as their first employee. Will graduated from California Lutheran University with a Major in Communications, and was born and raised in Ventura. She moved to Los Angeles in 2014 to scale her first e-commerce business and establish a centralized office space.
“I was inspired to become an entrepreneur because of my father. Watching him start and scale a business from a young age made me want to also have my own business one day, instilling the spark in me that I still have today.”
Currently age 32, Will’s latest and very notable brand, Girl Gang, was created out of a want to connect and inspire women. She started by launching ‘Girl Gang the Label’ as a merchandise line with their flagship product, a “Support Your Local Girl Gang” sweatshirt. After a positive response from initial customers layered with social media buzz and organic influencer following, she decided to create a full line of products. To date the brand has secured retail partnerships with Nordstrom, The Beverly Hills Hotel, and boutique fitness studios across the US.
‘About Girl Gang the Label’ — Founded in Los Angeles, CA by a female entrepreneur on a mission to inspire women to reach their highest potential, together. ‘Girl Gang the Label’ started with a signature collection of the “Support Your Local Girl Gang” sweatshirts and has since grown to seasonal collections that customers can shop via their online store, girlgangthelabel.com. They recently created a collaboration with Peanuts exclusively for Nordstrom, established a retail partnership with The Beverly Hills Hotel, and created an eco-friendly sweat set with the female-owned athleisure brand, Nourish Sweat Soul. A percentage of all profits are also donated to charities that focus on female education, health, and empowerment.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
In college, I had 6 corporate internships which led me to the decision that I did not want to work in the corporate world. Sometimes, learning what we do not want to do can be just as valuable as finding our passion. I dove into the startup world and quickly fell in love. The fast paced, constantly changing environment stimulated me creatively and I enjoyed learning something new almost every day. My focus was on website development and search engine optimization and I decided to take that skill set to start my first company at 24 years old. My husband and I now run 4 ecommerce brands and I host a podcast where I interview female founders and creators.
Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
I’m hoping to create a narrative about the journey on the way up, not just the destinations. On my platform, Girl Gang, we focus our storytelling on how women started and not just their accolades and net worth. In doing so, I hope these stories give the next generation the tools, tips, and confidence to go after what they feel called to do.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When I was Marketing Director at Tower Paddle Boards I also ran the shipping department in the beginning. After sending a paddle board to a billing address instead of a shipping address, we outsourced.
We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?
My first mentor was my boss, Stephan Aarstol. He taught me work ethic, to zig where others zag, and how the only way out is through (no matter how many emails that may be).
In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?
I think the intention is usually good. Founders see a flaw in an industry and want to make it better. As long as you are focused on how to best serve your customer, I think disruption is positive. The only negative I can see is when founders use it more for buzz and funding then pivot back to old industry ways.
Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.
- Say no — This is counterintuitive to the person I was growing up, the girl who said yes to plans, helping with anything, or picking up a call. Saying no can leave room to re-energize yourself and not lead to burnout.
- If you don’t know, ask — I prefer to learn something new than to “sound smart” in a room. Don’t be ashamed to speak up if you don’t know how to do something.
- Life is more than a screen — Anything you can do offline, do it. For my writing, I like to hand write my outlines and notes before I type everything out. For website design, I’ll start by drawing mockups and research colors from physical books. For branding guides and goals, I get a poster board from target and markers. If your job prevents you from being offline at all, try incorporating a new activity, even walking around the block, to get your screen time down.
We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?
I’m coming out with a book I wrote for the Dummies brand, Launching and Building A Brand For Dummies later this year.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by ‘women disruptors’ that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?
I believe the conversation around finances and worth hold some women back in their careers. For example, men are four times more likely to ask for a raise than women. There is a lot of unconditioning and education that needs to be done to destigmatize discussing finances in general with women. I believe that financial literacy and conversations about money can make us more powerful, versus being timid to discuss high earnings or being embarrassed to discuss debt. The more we know, the more empowered we will be to make our own choices about finances.
Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?
So many.. Some of my favorite books are Atomic Habits, The Power Of Now, Ego is the Enemy, and 100 dollars Startup. My favorite podcast is How I Built This with Guy Raz. Overall, I think taking time to work on yourself and learn from others can go a long way. My main focuses are developing new habits, aligning with your purpose, running a better business, and silencing the ego.
A story I’d like to share is about developing new habits. I identified as a night owl most of my life, I did not enjoy the mornings. I would have to constantly pull all nighters for my business and it encouraged unhealthy sleeping patterns. I always had to set an alarm. After reading a handful of stories about morning routines from successful founders there was one thing in common, they woke up early.. Very early. I wanted to be up with the sunrise and enjoy it and I knew it would take time. So I read books on habit, listened to podcasts about people that got rid of extreme habits, and developed a strategy to change myself from someone that would be rushing in the morning to watching the sunrise. It took over a year and now, I don’t even use an alarm unless I want to get up before 6:00am. I find myself getting all of my work and emails out of the way by afternoon and I can just enjoy the day. Changing my routine from waking up in reactive mode and a flooded inbox to proactive mode has truly changed my life and lowered my anxiety.
I encourage anyone that wants to develop a new habit or learn a new skill to go for it. It takes discipline and time but good news is those are both in your control.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
My girlfriend Laura told me in an interview — “Every dollar you spend is a vote for the type of world you want to live in”. If I could encourage anyone reading to make one purchase from a small business this month, that’s the movement I want to get behind.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“What you don’t do determines what you can do”. If something doesn’t align with your business or life, say no and trust that you are leaving room for something bigger and better to come along.
How can our readers follow you online?
@mrswont on IG and @girlgangthelabel is my business account
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!