RK: Think Big, But Start Small — Going off of what I said earlier, you cannot claim to be a lifestyle brand out of the gate. The most important thing for a business — because a lifestyle brand is still a business — is to be smart and seek sustainable growth long-term success. I want my clients to see the bigger picture, but I strongly encourage them to start with a core idea, have a plan, and stay focused to reach the larger goal.
KB: Who’s joining you? Assembling the right team is paramount, especially when you’re building multifaceted strategies that will span many touchpoints. When you have the right people in the right seats and you take care to nourish collaboration among them, your organization — thus, your brand — will thrive.
As a part of our series called “5 Things You Need To Know To Create A Very Successful Lifestyle Brand”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kelley Bowen and Rachel Katz.
The Brand Set is a branding agency founded by Rachel Katz and Kelley Bowen offering approachable and transparent brand development and one-on-one consulting for small businesses and entrepreneurs.
Rachel Katz is a marketing strategist who specializes in helping individuals, teams and companies identify and implement smarter brand, marketing and communications efforts. Rachel has managed the marketing and PR efforts for some of the strongest hospitality brands in the country, in addition to consulting with lifestyle brands and small business owners.
Kelley Bowen is a creative strategist focused on providing creative direction for branding, art direction, design and fashion development. Kelley has led creative and visual strategy for some of the world’s largest CPG and fashion brands, and she has consulted with small businesses alike to craft thoughtful and revenue-driving creative assets and brand campaigns.
Katz and Bowen created The Brand Set because they know the value a strong brand foundation can have for a company’s long-term success. The Brand Set offers an affordable approach and a clear path to help business-owners and entrepreneurs get set up for success.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your “childhood backstory”?
RK: I grew up in Tampa, Florida and spent my childhood outside in the sun and on the water. I had an entrepreneurial example set really early on — my grandfather owned a women’s clothing store in Queens, NY, and my parents built and operated a computer repair store for more than 30 years. From the time I was really young, my best friend Sharilyn and I would spend our weekends and summers thinking up business ideas and turning our hobbies into business ventures. From our own babysitting business, to a custom friendship bracelet business at summer camp, or selling tattoos and hemp bracelets on the beach when our families would go away on vacation, we knew how to hustle. We both now own our own businesses so I think that says something pretty cool.
KB: I was born and raised near Atlanta, Georgia. As a kid, I was drawn to creative activities like painting, writing, and sewing clothes for my dolls. Little did I know I would incorporate all of my favorite childhood hobbies into my future career! I was also a competitive runner, extracurricular fanatic, and self-declared nerd — so my Type A personality was apparent from a young age. I’d like to think this helped pave the way for leadership opportunities, though it’s also been something I’ve learned to control so as to share the spotlight and give space to other voices in the room.
Can you tell us the story of what led you to this particular career path?
RK: I knew I wanted to work in the restaurant industry and move to New York City from a young age. When I was enrolling at the University of Florida, I was drawn to Public Relations — it was an ideal intersection for my outgoing personality and love of strategic problem solving (I’ve always been the person to try and solve the problem rather than dwell on it). True to my determined ways, I found internships in New York City that immersed me directly in the experience I desired, having the opportunity to work under amazing mentors, and with the incomparable chef Marcus Sameulsson. Working for Marcus led me to my first job in NYC with Baltz and Company, a PR agency that specializes in restaurant and hospitality PR. From there, I transitioned to in-house Marketing and PR roles with restaurant groups in Charlotte, NC and New York City and ultimately had the opportunity to join ESquared Hospitality where I rose to Vice President of Marketing where I developed and managed the marketing, PR and digital efforts for the company’s portfolio of 40+ restaurants around the world.
I’ve been lucky to spend my career building, growing and promoting restaurant and CPG brands. But, the one thing that always stuck out was that Marketing and Branding is so essential to help a business grow, but is often-times overlooked, underfunded or cut altogether because of budget. When my husband and I moved to Atlanta in 2019, I decided to start my own strategic consulting group, RBK + Co, to help businesses understand, identify and implement better marketing strategies; finding the right people to do the job and putting dollars towards the right internal and external positions and efforts.
Over this past challenging year, the need for smarter marketing and branding strategies is more essential than ever. My friend and creative brand expert, Kelley Bowen and I partnered together out of a desire to bring the best of both of our skill sets to offer businesses and entrepreneurs affordable and holistic brand development packages. Our three Brand Sets, a Reset, a Start Up Set and one-on-one consulting feature services and deliverables that a brand can use immediately and get ready to grow.
KB: When I enrolled at the University of Georgia, I had hopes of becoming a sports broadcaster (a rare career dream for women at the time), which positioned me in the Journalism school. My path shifted when I elected an Advertising major, then realized that the program wasn’t as creative as I’d hoped. Defying all of my academic advisors, I added a rigorous Fine Arts undergrad degree to my plate. This required two additional years of college without the added clout of a Master’s degree, but I’ll never regret my decision. I switched from a Painting major to Graphic Design, which ultimately catapulted me into my creative career.
Upon graduation, I immediately moved to New York City to pursue a career in advertising — in the midst of the Great Recession. Jobs were scarce, so I signed up with a temp agency and took whatever odd jobs I could with enthusiasm and humility. That attitude, and my willingness to get my hands dirty, took me in a direction I hadn’t anticipated: into the world of fashion. After a short stint in corporate communications at Calvin Klein, I was craving a more design-driven role. A two-week gig at Tommy Hilfiger preparing presentation boards morphed into a contract role as a graphic t-shirt designer. Five years later, I had carved out a new role as the Senior Designer leading graphic design, knitwear design, branding, packaging, and visual merchandising for the North American women’s team. Over the course of a few fun but grueling years, I became a leader on the team that grew the division from scratch to a billion-dollar enterprise.
My husband and I relocated to Atlanta, and I was put in touch with leadership at Spanx. I was thrilled to be considered to work on a team of mostly women, designing and marketing products for women. I became the head of the Creative Services team, which presented a new challenge having come from a product development background. I learned the power of integrated marketing strategies and stayed true to my roots in brand development to lead a re-brand and map out Spanx’s new eCommerce presence.
I realized it was time for me to blend all of my experience into a holistic approach, and that I was clearly most interested in brand building. I founded a creative direction agency, Kelley Bowen Creative, that provides holistic brand and creative strategy to fashion, lifestyle, and CPG brands. This path led me to my newest venture: a partnership with friend and fellow strategist Rachel Katz called The Brand Set. We’re so excited to bring our combined experience in creative and marketing strategy to entrepreneurial brands. We offer three Brand Sets of services, a brand Reset, and one-on-one consultations — aiming to simplify the way businesses approach their branding needs with successful growth in mind. Our ultimate goal is to foster a collective wherein we can connect like-minded businesses with one another and reinforce cross-pollination in the entrepreneurial space.
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?
RK: I worked for a PR agency right out of school and one of the clients I was responsible for was one of the city’s most well-respected French chefs — his patisserie was world-renowed (even featured in Sex and the City). I had pitched and secured my first story with The New York Times and they called to fact check but added a few additional anecdotal questions to which I answered. Little did I know that those ‘extra’ few questions, and my personal responses, were included prominently in the article. I wanted to crawl under my desk and hide for months. But, it was a great learning lesson about how and when to share your thoughts/opinions with the press (or anyone for that matter).
KB: When I first started at Tommy Hilfiger, I was asked to present my first round of work to a small group — very much on the fly. I didn’t realize that I hadn’t yet honed my presentation skills when it came to the fashion industry or professional speech in general. I stumbled over my words throughout the presentation, and to make matters worse, I didn’t learn until the end of my “debut” that what had seemed like an informal group was actually our division’s top executive team. Oops! They were forgiving of my inexperience, thankfully, and a team leader pulled me aside after the meeting to coach me through where I’d gone wrong and suggest improvements. She turned into an incredible mentor, and I gained great insights from her and from that pivotal experience. Now, I make sure that I’m aware of who each stakeholder is in a meeting, what exactly I need to be presenting to them, and how to shape presentations and pitches that are focused on education and buy-in.
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
RK: For a long time, I had a 30 minute walk to and from work through Central Park and my favorite thing to do was listen to Guy Raz’s “How I Built This.” Even when the founder’s story wasn’t necessarily something I could relate to, I always loved hearing how some of our most used and recognized brands got started. I especially loved the trials of founders who were on their 2nd or 3rd business, or got started later in life. I prefer those stories because I think it’s important that younger professionals understand that becoming a founder or successful executive at 24 years old isn’t the norm; taking your company public at 30 doesn’t happen often; and most of the time it requires years of hard work, experience, and failures to really reach the good stuff in your career. That perspective is always something I try to remind myself. Just because you aren’t selected for a 30 under 30 list, getting your MBA, or seeking millions in VC capital at 28, does not mean you are behind. And I think that perspective can sometimes get lost due to the nature of the world we now live in.
KB: The Myth of the Nice Girl by Fran Hauser completely changed my outlook on leadership and how I relate to it. I had admittedly struggled with how to be a woman leader in a “man’s world” (yes, even in fashion). Reading this book reinforced something that had been gnawing at me for some time: the idea that strength and power can coexist with grace and flexibility. Since, I’ve been able to reframe my professional approach to leadership and problem solving, without feeling boxed in by regressive stereotypes about strong female leadership. In doing so, I’ve formed lasting relationships with coworkers, direct reports, clients, and vendors that are founded on the basis of mutual respect. I’m convinced that these connections wouldn’t be as strong (or exist at all) had I not figured out how to be “a boss” in a way that’s true to myself.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
RK: “Life is too short to wake up in the morning with regrets. So love the people who treat you right and forget about the ones who don’t. And believe that everything happens for a reason. If you get a chance, take it, if it changes your life, let it. Nobody said that it would be easy, they just promised it would be worth it.”
The end of 2010/early 2011 had been a difficult time. I was dealing with health issues, a terrible break up and just all around felt lost personally and professionally. I read that quote and it resonated so strongly with me. April 2011, I went down to Charlotte, NC for the wedding of a close girlfriend from college and she encouraged me to take some meetings while I was in town, just to see what could happen. I did just that and the morning after her wedding, I had my final meeting with Jill Marcus who, at the end of our brunch together, offered me a job to oversee the PR, marketing and brand development for her company. I flew back home to NYC, and moved down to Charlotte, NC Labor Day weekend that September. I knew two people, moved into an apartment I had never seen, in a city I had only been to once before. I taped this quote up in my closet and looked at it every morning. The two years I spent in Charlotte were transformative for not only my career, but it gave me a group of friends that will be with me the rest of my life, and a sense of place and community I had not felt in a long time. My time in Charlotte was the meaning of that quote brought to life and today, it still serves as a constant reminder that we may have plans, but sometimes the best-laid plan is to veer off-course. I now have my husband, our baby, two blossoming businesses and so many other worthwhile experiences to show for taking those chances.
KB: Paula Scher is a design hero of mine, and she says, “It took me a few seconds to draw it, but it took me 34 years to learn how to draw it in a few seconds.” This idea that the accumulation of experience can lead you to do your best work at the drop of a hat has always resonated with me — even when I was a beginner grappling with the “taste gap” of knowing what I liked but not being able to create or brand it. Many years later, my imposter syndrome has faded and I enter into new projects with confidence, knowing that each new challenge is what I’ve been training for the whole time.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. For the benefit of our readers, let’s define our terms. How do you define a Lifestyle Brand? How is a Lifestyle Brand different from a normal, typical brand?
RK: I define a lifestyle brand as a business that provides a product or service with a breadth of voice and range that does not limit the customer to a single purchase. I believe a lifestyle brand provides the customer value beyond what you purposefully buy from the company whether that be a regimen to follow, someone to look to for insight and guidance, education you gain from the brand, etc.
I think a lifestyle brand looks to engage its customer beyond what they purchase. Whether it be a customer community, related applications, a program to be part of etc. The brand provides a tether to connect you to a larger concept, belief or interest. A brand is at its heart, a business, which means they want you to buy from them, and continue to buy from them over and over again. A lifestyle brand seeks to gain you as a member and continuously innovate and provide ways in which you can participate in their community while you continue to purchase their products. It takes buy-in, trust and a keen understanding of what your customer needs to build and maintain a successful lifestyle brand.
KB: To me, a “lifestyle brand” represents a cross-categorical brand that rises above one particular market segment or product to encompass a breadth of offerings. A lifestyle brand portrays more than just consumption; it presents an opportunity for engagement through the idea of building something bigger and more emotional than a one-time transaction. It identifies a lifestyle movement and helps build a community around it.
What are the benefits of creating a lifestyle brand?
RK: One of the benefits of creating a lifestyle brand is the opportunity for great flexibility when it comes to growth and collaboration. You can experiment and extend into different facets of a business more seamlessly without being limited to a specific niche, product or space. The opportunity for partnership with other businesses and innovate internally to remain profit-positive is endless.
KB: There are financial benefits, to be sure, when you cultivate brand loyalty and lasting, repeat purchase behavior by becoming a fixture in a consumer’s life. But in my mind, the crucial and most motivating benefit is being able to engage with customers beyond the point of sale. More and more, consumers are looking for brand transparency, and purchasing choices follow an awareness of a brand’s investment in social or environmental causes that impact their customer base. In creating and becoming a lifestyle brand with an authentic mission, there’s a huge opportunity to impact communities, to champion change, and to help disrupt the systemic issues that affect your brand’s constituents.
In your opinion, what is an example of a company that has done a fantastic job building a believable and beloved Lifestyle Brand? What specifically impresses you? What can one do to replicate that?
RK: I think Studio McGee has been a fascinating brand to watch grow. They have taken an interior design business and grown it into a coveted lifestyle brand. They knew how to market their style and talents, services, owners, etc to create a perfect storm of business avenues. The evolution of their brand is what impresses me the most. Their interior design business led the way to both their housewares line and retail store, then their netflix show, all while maintaining a really clear message and brand identity.
Replicating this is hard but I think it requires listening to the needs of your business and ensuring that you have thoughtful business goals attached to each effort — be it a collaboration, a social strategy, etc. Instead of simply having a blog, the blog exists to drive customers to be inspired by their designs, and purchase products from their line. No effort should be made without a clear intention of what growth you want to come from it — whether sales related, brand awareness related or otherwise. This is the approach I take with all my clients, mostly because it’s the most common misdirection I see. Instead of saying ‘we need marketing,’ I say ‘what are we trying to accomplish in the next 6 months’ and work with the team to name those goals. Doing this allows us to reverse engineer the process to truly hone in on what needs to get done and who is needed to accomplish those goals in the most effective and efficient manner.
KB: A great example is Bumble. Digital dating has become a way of life, but for so long it was a misogynistic endeavor. Following her negative experience (personally and professionally) as an exec at Tinder, Whitney Wolfe Herd founded Bumble to recenter the online dating experience around single women. Bumble’s mission to end abusive relationships is backed by its vision to empower women in their day-to-day lives, and the statistics don’t lie. According to Pew research, 21% of women experience sexual harassment online. Comparing this to Bumble’s industry-low abuse report rate of .005%, it’s evident that the company has inverted the power structure while creating a lifestyle brand that authentically represents women. Through campaigns for women’s rights, a vertical that helps build female friendships, and addressing inequities on professional social media platforms, Bumble continues to pave the way for women in modern tech and social spaces. The best way to replicate this model, to me, is by focusing on the “why” first. Why does a brand exist? What’s its point of view? What is its North Star? Building a product or service around a brand’s core mission means that even as the business shifts, product offerings pivot, or services change, the essence of the brand will always be consistent and relatable.
Can you share your ideas about how to create a lifestyle brand that people really love and are ‘crazy about’?
RK: I wish i knew the secret formula to create a cult lifestyle brand. What I can share is what I’ve learned, and that is that a lot of the success is hugely based off of good timing and the right audience. I’ve seen lackluster brands become household names and amazing concepts fall flat, all with the same path, marketing efforts, launch etc.
There is no secret sauce. But there are a few things that can put you on the right path. 1. Spend time thinking about what you want to achieve with your brand — identify those goals be it monetary or otherwise. . 2. Do not try to repeat something that has worked for someone else and expect their result. We are a society built on the constant comparison of ourselves to others. Trying to take the same track that worked for someone else is a fail-safe way to find an eventual dead end. You have to find your authentic voice and approach. 3. Leave space for feedback and keep your circle small. It can be really overwhelming to receive feedback, advice, thoughts and opinions about your brand from every person you speak to. So find your core of personal and professional contacts that you trust. Confide in them, and be open to know that their feedback may not always be positive, but it always means something. You have to be prepared to know every idea you have, every effort you put forth, will not be a slam dunk — so leave space for that. I don’t know a single successful person that won’t tell you that in order to succeed, you must be unafraid to fail.
KB: In the book Leapfrog: The New Revolution for Women Entrepreneurs, author Nathalie Molina Niño describes the age-old idea that necessity is the mother of invention in a direct way: “Find something you want to punch,” then ideate on a solution. This is the best bet in terms of creating a lifestyle brand that people will really be drawn to. When you solve someone’s messy or incessant life problem with an innovative solution that’s tied to addressing a bigger issue, you’re providing a brand experience that will resonate.
What are the common mistakes you have seen people make when they start a lifestyle brand? What can be done to avoid those errors?
RK: The common error of over-communication. Iphones, the internet and social media have created a cycle of instant gratification, with breeds oversaturation of marketing and sales trying to convert customers. Be mindful, authentic, and intentional about how and when you communicate with your customers. Be thoughtful about what you say to them and why you are sharing it. Customers are smart enough to know when a brand is missing honesty and heart.
KB: I’ve seen founders start up their brands with the aim of launching as “lifestyle brands” right out of the gate, which is usually only possible for incredibly well-funded and forward-thinking brands (think: Goop). By launching a brand with a narrow product focus that you expect to scale to a lifestyle movement immediately, you may be setting yourself up for failure. Instead, it’s important to approach your brand launch and scale in phases, planning strategically to build a lifestyle brand over time, piece by piece. Manifesting the brand’s overarching vision, which should be tied to a greater impact rather than a particular product or service, is the best place to start. From there, telling the brand’s story in the context of a lifestyle will come more naturally, and product or service rollouts will feel right at home with the brand along the way.
Let’s imagine that someone reading this interview has an idea for a lifestyle brand that they would like to develop. What are the first few steps that you would recommend that they take?
RK: Research. Does it already exist? Who are your competitors in the space? How will you sell and promote your product? What makes your product/business different? If you can’t answer those questions or are not willing to, the rest of the process will be slow and painful. I’d also say that starting a business claiming you are a lifestyle brand is not a sustainable path. Start with the simplest form or your idea, identify how you will find success with that idea and get to work. Set a strong foundation to grow your brand, and your business, in a sustainable way. A lifestyle brand evolves from a successful brand.
If you aren’t sure where to start, that’s the exact place where Kelley and I come in with The Brand Set. We encourage our clients to start with our Brand Quiz where we match them with a Brand Set that will let us help to build a smart foundation with visual identity and messaging so you are set up for success.
KB: Once you’ve done enough soul searching to determine the high-level vision for your brand’s impact, it’s time to reach out to a team of experts who can help you articulate that vision into your core mission, brand pillars, and visual brand approach. Getting to the heart of your “why” is a crucial first step in building a lifestyle brand, and it’s helpful and healthy to have a sounding board you trust to help hone in on it. This is exactly what we focus on at The Brand Set. It’s important to participate in a discovery process that helps you unearth what makes your brand tick, as you lay the foundation for all of your brand’s next steps. Your brand setup will touch every single thing you do next, from investor pitches to organizational growth to cross-categorical scaling. Nail it upfront so you can move forward with agility and the assurance that you and your team are headed in the same direction with the same goals in mind.
Ok. Thank you for all that. Here is the main question of our discussion. What are your “5 Things You Need To Know To Create A Very Successful Lifestyle Brand” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Think Big, But Start Small — Going off of what I said earlier, you cannot claim to be a lifestyle brand out of the gate. The most important thing for a business — because a lifestyle brand is still a business — is to be smart and seek sustainable growth long-term success. I want my clients to see the bigger picture, but I strongly encourage them to start with a core idea, have a plan, and stay focused to reach the larger goal.
- Identify the Why — This is the core of where we start with our clients, no matter the scale or scope of the project. You could be building a brand from scratch, or refreshing a brand you’ve had for years and our first question will always be “Why are you selling this product or service? Why is this your brand?” Our work always distills into a focused effort to help our clients better understand the answer to this question, and find the right way to express it via their brand creative and messaging. That is the starting place to get set up for success.
- Be Authentic — I think everyone has reached a point on social media at one point or another where they contemplate unfollowing someone because they are tired of seeing #ad every time they see a post or story. We live in a world where everything around us is over-curated and over-filtered. The brands that stand the test of time are those that stick to a mission and voice true to them. One brand that stands out to me when it comes to authenticity is @ThingsIBoughtAndLiked. She is honest and witty; transparent and helpful. I find myself wanting to support her content and I am actively buying things she recommends because the trust is there. Knowing you have an authentic voice, and being ok that it may not resonate with everyone, is the making of something good.
- Set Achievable Goals — We all start businesses with the hope that they grow beyond our wildest dreams. It is what we hope for all of our clients. But we also ensure that our clients know that it takes time and focus and baby steps to get there. That mentality goes beyond the brand and marketing efforts but for the business as a whole. While a business plan is essential to know the path of your brand, setting achievable goals within that plan will help keep you motivated and on track to accomplish all you’ve hoped for and more. The best example I can use here is what we’ve planned for The Brand Set. Our mission is clear, our short- and long-term goals are established, but we’ve set specific goals for what we hope to accomplish with our core Brand Sets and services before we take the next steps. We want to grow a collective, a business bigger than the both of us, but we cannot get to tomorrow without staying focused on today.
- Be Willing to Pivot — The idea for a lifestyle brand, and hopefully the business plan to build it, are only as good as the paper it’s on until you have sales to prove it true. Maintaining flexibility to know how to lean into what’s working, and being unafraid to lose what isn’t, are facets that will pay off as you grow. I worked with a restaurant that was banking on making it’s money on the sandwiches on their menu. They had a few salads, and created a grain bowl as an afterthought to help with food cost by utilizing ingredients from other menu items. They slowly saw that the bowl they developed last minute was far and wide their best seller. As they rebranded to grow and scale, they used this insight to pivot their menu development to better diversify their menu based on what they saw was selling.
- Why are you building your lifestyle brand? This is your North Star, and everything you do should point back to it. What’s the greater impact you hope to make now, and in the future? Who will be impacted (including but not limited to your customer base). Your brand mission will stem directly from the “why.”
- How will you accomplish the “why?” With your brand mission established, determine your high-level strategies for fulfilling your core purpose. This will dictate how your messaging and visual brand elements come to life across your communications and sales channels.
- What will you provide? This is the product or service that your brand will stand for. How does your initial offering represent the brand’s DNA? How will future offerings support and sustain your brand’s “why” and “how” to cultivate a lifestyle around them?
- What’s your timing? No matter when you plan to launch, timing is everything. Do you need to rush to market with something completely new, in order to gain market share before the copycats arrive? Do you need to wait for the right season or a particular market opening? From a logistical standpoint, a high-level milestone timeline accompanied by tactical mile markers will take you far (and keep your team on track).
- Who’s joining you? Assembling the right team is paramount, especially when you’re building multifaceted strategies that will span many touchpoints. When you have the right people in the right seats and you take care to nourish collaboration among them, your organization — thus, your brand — will thrive.
Super. We are nearly done. Here are our final questions. You are an inspiration to a great many people. 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.
RK: The movement I’d wholeheartedly throw myself into would be post-partum care to moms. I have a 9 month old and can share that pandemic or not, my post-partum experience was challenging. Our healthcare system provides minimal support to the mom after childbirth. We are expected to go home less than 48 hours after giving birth and immediately be able to care for a newborn all the while healing from major physical events. 6 weeks later you see a doctor for one follow up appointment, and for the next 6 months following you get a questionnaire from your pediatrician before each visit. That’s it. There is no open offer for counseling or therapy, the mom must ask for it. There is no encouraged or prescribed physical therapy or pelvic floor therapy There is minimal support to help the mother heal physically, and even less to help the mother heal emotionally. If a mom is able to find those resources, they are often out of network, private practice, and expensive for long-term maintenance. A mom does not heal in 6 weeks. It’d be my mission to bring this insufficiency to the forefront and find ways to better support mothers with clear, approachable and open forms of support and resources.
KB: I would love to inspire a movement that addresses the intersectional inequity that oppresses marginalized women. While some women like myself have the singular privilege of being able to “bootstrap” to the top, it’s a much shorter distance to break the glass ceiling than many other women are faced with. I think the movement would need to include accessible financial advising, leadership and soft-skills education, and a completely newfangled type of “brand consulting” designed with marginalized women in mind.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
RK: I’m beyond impressed with what Whitney Wolf has built. Seeing her take her company public with her child on her hip was a goosebumps inspiring moment for me. I’d love to spend time with her to hear more about her story, struggles, lessons learned and general insight for navigating a very male dominated world and how she formed such a strong and empowering community of women. I met my husband on Bumble and while it was out of character for the both of us and a little unusual at the time, I love that I made the first move and am grateful to Whitney for creating such a unique opportunity that truly flipped the script on what online dating was and has since become.
KB: I would love to sit with Anu Duggal of Female Founders Fund. FFF is the leading source of institutional capital for female founders raising seed capital — per their tagline, “Investing in the exponential power of exceptional female talent” — with over 3B dollars in enterprise value! Historically, less than 2% of venture capital funding has gone to female founded companies. Duggal has said, “The opportunity with Female Founders Fund was unique in spotting a non-obvious opportunity, as well [as] to say there are more and more women starting unicorns, or billion-dollar business opportunities that will change markets or create new ones… I want to prove that when you invest in women you get a great return.” She has really impacted diversity in VC while helping women create valuable businesses, and both of these initiatives are close to my heart. FFF has invested in some of the fastest growing female-led startups nationwide including: Eloquii, WayUp, Tala, Zola, Primary, WinkyLux, Billie, and, of course, Thrive Global. They’ve also created a lifestyle brand in and of themselves, offering events, a podcast, and accessible resources that highlight and support female industry leaders and funders. It would be incredibly enlightening to learn more about their internal insights, investment vetting process, and communications strategies.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.