…Next, I’d like to hold a mirror up to those who are allowing the law to be misused as a way to persecute survivors of sexual assault. My experience with this is the reason why Restless was created, but Restless encompasses the entirety of the female experience, it’s a lot more than that. But I am planning to bring attention to this issue, as it’s something that most people don’t even know is a problem. Within Restless, we’re definitely plotting more bombshells, but if I told you now, it wouldn’t be a surprise!
As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Olivia DeRamus.
Olivia is the 24-year-old founder and CEO of Restless Network, a media platform, editorial site, and app with a mission to empower women through connection and information. Olivia launched the Restless Network app to create a social network that offers a safe space for women online. Covering #metoo, mental health, sex & relationships, and work & money — the app offers video, podcast, and written resources as well as the ability to make friends and find support in a supportive community.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
This was definitely not where I thought I would be when I was in high school! I had a lot of ambition, but it wasn’t directed at anywhere specific. It might sound cheesy, but I really just wanted to do something that helped people. I thought that the natural thing to do then would be to work in non-profits and international development. But while getting my degree in International Relations, life threw some difficult experiences at me that ultimately left me silenced for a number of years, even to friends and family. Specifically, the fact that the person who sexually assaulted me sued me for defamation, just because I reported him. I spent a long time trying to change what was happening to me, but eventually I had to come to the not so great realization that no matter what I did, I couldn’t change my situation. Having my voice taken away from me caused me to realize how vitally important it is to have access to freedom of speech. Something I had always assumed was a right and not something that could be taken away. At first, Restless was a creative way for me to feel empowered again. While I couldn’t use my voice, I thought that maybe if I was able to platform other women’s voices, then that would be a way for me to express myself. Now with the launch of the app, I’ve landed at the intersection of tech and publishing, and no one is more surprised about it than me! It’s not so much about the industry that I wanted to be in, but the impact that I wanted to make.
Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
Both the publishing and tech industries are led by old, usually white, men. Even if it’s a women’s platform or publication, it’s usually owned by a male led corporation that doesn’t have the best interests of its readers at heart. Restless the media platform and editorial site, and now the app, is challenging all of that. We’ve taken the traditional publication model and evolved it into something a lot more interactive, community focused, and actually helpful. The wellbeing of our members and readers is our first priority. We don’t put ad revenue before the information that women need to be informed and empowered. I believe, and am proving, that you can have a successful company while still prioritizing creating a positive impact at every level. In fact, a key part of our business model is that we donate a portion of our app revenue to a charity that is helping women or the LGBTQ+ community. I don’t think that helping others and making money are mutually exclusive. And that’s something that isn’t popular with a lot of people. Beyond that, the simple fact that I’m openly talking about the fact that I’m a survivor of sexual assault while building a company is breaking negative stereotypes. The journalism and resources our app and editorial website provide, are continuing that and focusing on issues that other publications shy away from talking about. As far as I’m concerned, nothing is controversial if it’s a part of women’s lives.
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?
Caroline Frost, journalist, author, and BBC broadcaster, is definitely someone I consider a mentor and to whom I’m extremely grateful. She emailed me before we had launched the original editorial site last year and since then, not only is she a great contributor to the site, she’s taken the time to talk through a lot of challenges I’ve faced. I’m an industry outsider, so there’s a huge amount that I came in not knowing about. Our coffee chats over this past year have greatly contributed to my success.
Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.
The first would be to just go for it. The first few months I was so scared to tell people I knew what I was doing, I had no idea if it would work out. But pushing through the fear of failure and what others would think was ultimately so incredibly worth it.
The next would be to lean into my unique perspective. In the beginning, I was afraid that I would alienate people if I came out guns blazing about the female empowerment aspect of Restless. I thought that it was better to walk the walk than just talk the talk. I still do, and I’m much more interested in doing the work than using buzzwords as a shortcut to success, but I’ve also realized that it’s ok to openly embrace the fact that yes, I want Restless to be a source of empowerment for women. It’s not cheesy, it’s who we are and what we’re trying to do.
I think the third would be to sleep on a problem and to take time to come to a decision. Usually, I’ll still feel the same way in the morning, but in the few times I’ve changed my mind, it’s really helped with the success of Restless.
How are you going to shake things up next?
Next, I’d like to hold a mirror up to those who are allowing the law to be misused as a way to persecute survivors of sexual assault. My experience with this is the reason why Restless was created, but Restless encompasses the entirety of the female experience, it’s a lot more than that. But I am planning to bring attention to this issue, as it’s something that most people don’t even know is a problem. Within Restless, we’re definitely plotting more bombshells, but if I told you now, it wouldn’t be a surprise!
Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?
Elaine Welteroth’s More Than Enough, and Glennon Doyle’s Untamed have both had huge effects on my life. They impact so many women because they are able to bring into focus what so many of us have been feeling but haven’t found the words to express. They’ve really helped me focus on what’s important to me as opposed to what will make other people happy.
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. 🙂
It’s estimated that 30% of the world’s women will be sexually assaulted during their lifetime. One of my greatest wishes is that if we can’t eradicate sexual assault, that we could at least create more protections and help for survivors. The #metoo movement has been extremely valuable, but the reality is that not much has changed for women who are out of the spotlight, and that isn’t acceptable to me.
“Freedom is what we do with what is done to us” Sartre — This came into my life while I was going through that period of being silenced, and it really helped me to realize that there were other ways to take my power back, which ultimately lead to the creation of Restless and all the way up to the app that we recently launched.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
You can find Restless at @restlessnetwork on social media and if you search Restless Network in the App Store. You can also read the Restless editorial site at https://restlessnetwork.com/
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!