By Lynn Power, Co-Founder & CEO of MASAMI & Isle de Nature
As the co-founder of two premium DTC+ brands that launched in 2020, we’ve had our share of challenges. Besides the obvious (Covid), there have been many other challenges around growing a DTC business including digital advertising ROI, constant content creation, customer acquisition, cash flow and more. Not to mention, there is still a huge gap in access to funding for women. Some days it seems that at every corner, there’s another iOS update to sort out or a new Facebook algorithm to work through. Not that easy for a bootstrapped startup.
But with the challenges comes andOne of the bright spots for us over the past two years has been partnering with other like-minded brands (mostly in the clean beauty, luxury or fashion space). We have gravitated towards female founders who share a sense of community and partnership and also share our values (inclusivity, giving back, sustainability), because picking the right partners makes all the difference. We’ve found that through promotions, giveaways, blogs, livestreams and more, we are able to tap into each other’s audiences, add value and help each other grow. This has been both emotionally and financially gratifying.
In 2022, we decided to take the partnership approach to the next level. We launched an indie beauty & wellness pop-up in San Francisco. Of the 32 brands participating, 30 are female founded and most of the brands were ones we’ve worked with before. It’s a bit of an experiment but so far, it’s been incredibly inspirational to see the connections that have been made not just in the pop-up environment, but also seeing the brands finding innovative ways to partner together outside of the store. For example, several of the brands are doing live commerce shows together on multiple platforms, which makes the shows much more engaging and fun for all. Other brands are now sharing resources and tools – from bookkeeping help to PR to email expertise. And we have started community calls to share learnings, frustrations and successes with the spirit of helping each other’s brands grow.
As a small business owner, it’s not easy to feel motivated to take on the business every day (it really is a 24/7 job). So building a community where people are open to sharing and are rooting for each other is so important. I saw firsthand in my years in the advertising industry how men naturally band together, and for some reason, it’s just not as easy for women. Maybe our multi-tasking brains, our time commitments and our desire to just get things done ourselves gets in the way of prioritizing these partnerships. But once you make the step to actively support other women, you’ll see it return many times over.
Our advice to women wanting to support other women:
1) Don’t be afraid to reach out to women who inspire you (even if it’s a cold email). I have made some great connections through LinkedIn and some I now consider friends. You’ll be surprised at how receptive many women will be to the connection (even women who you might think are intimidating or super successful).
2) Shamelessly plug brands you love. I would do it here if I could – but anywhere you are able to give a shout out to another brand (especially a female founder), do it! This is an easy, no cost and virtually no time way to spread the love.
3) Share your connections. One of the most powerful things any business owner can do is build a network. It will help you when times are good and when times are bad, so don’t be afraid to share your connections with other women so they can build their own support system. And a plus is that it’s always great to have people to bounce things off of who are not so close to your business.
Finally, don’t just talk the talk but really try to walk the walk. If you really want to support female founders, support their businesses by buying their products (and then leaving a fabulous review) or investing in their business if you can afford it. There are some great female founder e-commerce marketplaces, crowdfunding sites and investor groups that make this easy to do. Your financial support will go a long way to helping women grow and thrive. And evidence shows that supporting female owned businesses helps lift the broader community also. So what are you waiting for? With just a little bit of effort, we can all help each other be stronger together.