Author Archive

October Amber Grant Awarded to Lisse Shave

Monday, November 11th, 2019

Last Monday, we posted 5 Amber Grant finalists for October. After much consideration, we’re writing to share the recipient and the 11th qualifier for the $25,000 year-end Amber Grant.

Congratulations to Amy Mitchell, Founder of Lisse Shave. Read on to learn about Amy’s product, how she’s giving back, and much more.

WN: What motivated you to create Lisse Shave?

AM: By 2050 it’s predicted there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish, which is devastating! I’ve always been conscious of lowering my plastic footprint and that’s when I discovered the world of safety razors. Right now over 2 billion plastic razors are dumped into landfills and oceans every year and that’s just from the US alone. The big money-making corporations don’t want you to know about the alternative way of shaving (ie. with a Safety Razor) because it will hurt their pockets. Safety razors are made completely of metal and the blades are made from 100% stainless steel (20 times cheaper than multi-blade cartridges!) so everything is 100% recyclable, no plastic in sight! Not only that, but companies don’t legally need to disclose the ingredients in those moisturizing strips. They are loaded with toxic chemicals, PEGs, and ingredients on PETA’s watch list for animal cruelty. These are usually the culprits behind your shaving irritation, not the blade itself!

So I made the switch to a safety razor and couldn’t believe I hadn’t done it sooner. Not only are they better for the environment but they offer a closer shave with less irritation and limit ingrown hairs. Traditionally, safety razors have been targeted towards men and around 98% of my girlfriends had no idea what a safety razor was. So I set out to create a brand to position them differently and help educate and empower women to make better choices for their bodies. And so, Lisse Shave was born!

WN: Share your core values

AM: Commitment to sustainability: This is incredibly important to me and this means living my values even behind the scenes. ‘Sustainable’ should never just be a marketing slogan. Everything even down to our packaging is 100% compostable, recyclable, or reusable. We’ve even rocked a typo on our razor boxes as I refuse to recycle a thousand boxes in the name of perfection. I shared the story with our customers and they loved it!

Female empowerment: We gotta lift each other up! I’ve never been interested in ‘just selling products’. My true motivation comes from building a long-lasting brand that shares knowledge and adds value across a variety of topics that impact women.

Quality and clean products: If you can’t understand the ingredients list then you shouldn’t be putting it on your body. I am committed to delivering simple, clean, and effective products free from any of the nasties. And quality, that goes without saying! Not all safety razors are made equally. I want my customers to have the best shaving experience. Think of it less like a razor and more like a piece of jewelry on your countertop!

WN: What differentiates your product from others in the space? 

AM: Compared to other safety razor companies I feel there are 3 key areas where Lisse Shave is different:

  1. I’m a big believer that business should be used as a force for good which is why 2% of gross razor sales go straight to Femme International who empowers young women through health and menstrual education in East Africa. Femme equip girls with the supplies and confidence they need so they’ll never have to skip school because of a period ever again.
  2. Being cruelty-free was incredibly important to me. I’m proud to be Leaping Bunny certified which is the only certification that verifies the entire supply chain for animal testing.
  3. Community! I have built a very engaged community that are actively involved in our design process for our 2.0 razor, so we are building something together which is truly exciting.

WN: Where are you reaching your target market?

AM: I didn’t have a marketing budget so I organically grew my email list to over 1k pre-launch and I had around a 10% conversion on launch day on our website. Right now our customers are mainly finding us through Instagram, organic search and referrals.

WN: Share some advice you’d give an aspiring female entrepreneur.

AM: These are the 3 things I like to remind my friends of:

  1. Just start somewhere! It’s incredibly overwhelming starting a business, especially when you’re on your own. You’re going to be thrown into things that make you feel uncomfortable or that you have no idea how to accomplish but as long as you take small steps each day and keep chipping away, all of a sudden you’ll find yourself with something ready to launch.
  2. Drop the idea of perfection — this will seriously hold you back! If you wait until your website is ‘perfect’ or the timing is ‘just right’ you will never launch. Everything in your business is a constant journey and evolution. So just start somewhere then test, learn, optimize, and repeat.
  3. Recognize the imposter syndrome. Yes, you are good enough!

WN: If you have anything else to share, please do!

AM: Thank you again to WomensNet for believing in my business so far. It’s still a surreal sensation when someone else believes in your dreams, it starts to feel like a reality! I genuinely love connecting with other women and I’m more than happy to offer advice or moral support to anyone in a similar situation.  So feel free to look me up and drop me a line!

October 2019 Amber Grant Finalists

Monday, November 4th, 2019

Hi everyone,

We’re here to share 5 finalists for the October Amber Grant. The recipient will join 10 businesses currently in the running for our year-end Amber Grant of $25,000.

Expect the recipient to be announced within 7 days. For now, congratulations to:

The Kitchen

Website

 

Lisse

Website

 

Perfect Fit Therapy Clinic

Website

 

Long Life Linen

Website

 

Beautiful Fight Woodworking

Website

Earn a $5,000 Grant Toward Your Business Education

Thursday, October 24th, 2019

Early-stage woman-owned businesses looking for educational support should consider applying to be a Tory Burch Foundation Fellow. Applications are due by November 19, 2019.

Up to 50 Tory Burch Foundation Fellows will be selected and asked to commit to participate in a one-year program that includes:

  • A $5,000 grant to be invested in their business education.
  • A five day visit to the Tory Burch campus in Jersey City, New Jersey, paid for by the Foundation. During the visit, Fellows will participate in experiential learning workshops on entrepreneurship and leadership development led by guest experts.
  • Additional educational programs and networking events.
  • Ten Fellows will be invited to pitch their businesses to potential investors.

The educational opportunity can be a workshop, conference, class, or other event.

To apply, you must:

  • Be a woman business owner and own a majority stake in the for-profit company, which is between one and five years old (considered early stage)
  • Be an active owner, meaning involved in the business on a daily basis
  • Be over the age of 21
  • Be generating at least $75,000 in revenue through the business
  • Be proficient in English
  • Be a legal resident of the US

As part of the application, be prepared to share your résumé, business plan, personal statement, and know how you want to spend the $5,000 educational grant.

According to the Fellows website, judges “will take into consideration multiple factors including how your business creates positive and lasting impact, what unique factors differentiate your business, what problems you are trying to solve for, how your business reflects your passion, the substance and quality of your business plan, what obstacles you have overcome, and your investment opportunities.”

The 2019 Tory Burch Fellows learned from experts that included authors Seth Godin and Kelly Hoey, Instagram’s Emilie Fife, PureWow’s chief content officer Mary Kate McGrath, and The Muse co-founder and CEO Kathryn Minshew. They visited area companies and tapped into the network and expertise of other Fellows.

To be considered, complete the free application online.

Decisions will be made in April 2020 and Fellows contacted at that time.

September Amber Grant Awarded to Sugarless

Friday, October 11th, 2019

Last Friday, we announced 5 September Amber Grant finalists. After much consideration, we’re writing to share the recipient and the 10th qualifier for the $25,000 year-end Amber Grant.

Congratulations to Tina Degano, Co-Founder of Sugarless. In our interview, Tina shares Sugarless’ backstory, highlights some of her top products and reveals powerful business advice.

WN: What led you to create Sugarless?

TD: I grew up with a huge sweet tooth. Cake, candy, soda. All the good stuff. When I was sick and recovering from brain surgeries, desserts comforted me. When I was stressed from applying to colleges or tutoring to raise money for supplies, sugar was always there for me. When I got my first job teaching middle school in the South Bronx, coffee with no less than 4 sugars became the most important thing in the world.

Sugar and I went on like this until one day my co-worker stopped mid-sentence and looked at me horrified. After she gathered herself, she asked why I was always rubbing my face raw and scratching my arms. Up until that moment I had never thought about it as strange. My whole life I’d always had extremely sensitive skin. Itchy, swollen, sometimes red skin. It had become so normal that I’d keep plastic ziplock bags full of ice in my freezer. I told all this to her but she kept insisting something was wrong. Worried, and a little offended, I agreed to go to a hospital. That same day my Doctor said the meanest thing I’ve ever heard in my life. “You’re allergic to sugar.” I was diagnosed with sugar intolerance.

This meant saying goodbye to my daily 3-4 cups of coffee, orange juice, glazed meats, and most importantly…desserts. I had to change my diet almost completely overnight just to avoid the painful swelling, itching, and frustration.  I became angry and upset because I quickly realized sugar was in almost everything I ate. Something I loved (sweets) were made with something bad for me. It was a terrible feeling.  My fiancée saw me struggling and, alongside working on his own health, had the idea to start making desserts with different types of sugar replacements. We went through dozens of recipes until I could enjoy one without itching or becoming swollen. It was a success! I was finally able to have cakes, cookies, and other items again, but then we wondered how others with different health conditions were impacted by sugar. This issue was especially important in the Bronx, my native borough.

After some research, we found out that diabetes, tooth decay, heart disease (and many other illnesses) were caused by processed sugars. People trying to live healthier were going through what I was. We spoke to friends, relatives, co-workers and looked across the internet for high-quality, sugarless replacements for great desserts. But the search didn’t go well. We learned that on top of regular old school baking, younger and older consumers wanted options for their desserts that were high quality and better for their health. Sugar was one major issue, but so was taste, the overall level of nutrition and the quality of ingredients. That was when we decided to solve the problem ourselves; so that people who care about the harmful effects of sugar could still enjoy the great treats and desserts they grew up with. My goal is to bring people happiness through food.

So this year I co-founded ‘Sugarless’ for people to enjoy classic, keto-friendly and vegan sweets; all without the harm of sugar and in some cases with much lower carbohydrates than any traditional sweet.

The feedback has been great and I’ve been able to help people in many industries fall in love with dessert again. Teachers, doctors, nurses, personal trainers, and even upscale Grocery Stores have loved the food we make and have expressed a need for more items. Working on Sugarless has been the most challenging and most fantastic experience of my life. It has been wonderful to make so many people happy, but the process of growing the business to meet their needs has been challenging. At the moment space is limited and it’s been difficult making and storing large orders. On some days it feels like we make boxes instead of dessert.

We are also slowly growing our social media following and are navigating marketing for the first time. The challenges are real, but I am up to face them. It is a rare thing to be from the Bronx and start a business that helps the community – it’s an honor and a privilege to do so.

WN: How are you getting the word out, and where can customers purchase your products?

TD: Currently, I am getting the word out about our goods through word of mouth from delighted customers, friends, family, and social media marketing. I am planning to get more word out by apply to street markets, and by sending out samples to select vendors.

Currently, customers can purchase our products on Etsy, Facebook, and at our website sugarless.fun. We also plan to apply to incubators and are seeking investors to continue growing.

WN: Share some items that you create and the ingredients that go into creating them.

TD: One of my favorite sugarless desserts is the Keto Chocolate Espresso cake. When I first tasted it I didn’t believe that it was both low carb AND completely sugar-free. It was like eating magic. The cake is made with an extravagant mix of Dutch and Brazilian cocoa blended with Sea Salt and imported Espresso. It also includes Almond and Coconut flour for a much smaller carbohydrate load than traditional baked goods. My second favorite dessert is a huge plate of the Classic Chocolate Marble cookies. The texture and taste are out of this world! They are so special that it takes over 48 hours to make them. The cookies include gourmet crafted chocolate (sugarless, as always) and savory roasted almonds for the perfect balance of soft, salty, crispy (on the outside) and sweet.

I want a plate right now, but I have to be sure not to eat the inventory.

WN: What are your plans for future growth?

TD: For future growth, the plan is to rent a storefront to increase production. We will continue to sell both wholesale and to customers directly and a full-fledged bakery will make that much easier. Any and all money will go towards setting up a private commercial kitchen, stocked with equipment that runs on green technology. Convection ovens, for instance, are very high efficiency and bake faster than older gas ovens. They make less heat, cook faster and are better for the environment than what traditional bakeries use.

With a commercial location we can also begin selling other items that are not yet on the menu such as Gourmet Chocolate bars (like Hazelnut praline and Sea Salt) and sweet potato-based brownies (no carbs!) – products many people have asked for. In this way, the business will be able to grow to meet customer demand while also helping to save the environment. A commercial kitchen would also enable Sugarless to start shipping to customers outside of New York State.

In addition to selling desserts, the storefront would be a hub for the community and allow me to have a class once a month – open to the community – to teach families how to eat healthy on a budget.

WN: Share some advice you’d give an aspiring female entrepreneur.

TD: If you can imagine something, you can make it possible in real life; like willing something into existence. Envision, create and edit on repeat until what you envisioned is in front of you. Learn whatever you can and there’s no shame in failing. There is always a lesson to be learn. I also believe it’s harder for women to enter business because the world has been set up in a way to limit success, but our society is changing because we are fighting for a better world.

Another really important thing that I’ve learned is that progress isn’t a straight line. It’s normal to feel exhausted, angry, anxious or even depressed on your journey. The best way to handle that is to invest in wellness, both mentally and physically. Do whatever possible to be the best version of yourself. It is also really important to believe in yourself and be around people who uplift, inspire and trust in your talent.

September 2019 Amber Grant Finalists

Friday, October 4th, 2019

Hi everyone,

We’re here to share 5 finalists for the September Amber Grant. The recipient will join 9 businesses currently in the running for our year-end Amber Grant of $25,000.

Expect the recipient to be announced next week. For now, congratulations to:

The STEM Labs

The STEM Labs

Website

Eyas Gymnastics

EYAS GYMNASTICS

Website

Fearless Readers

Website

Sugarless

Website

Two Turkish Girls Specialty Coffee

TwO TURKISH GIRLS COFFEE INC.

Website

August Amber Grant Awarded to Kateboards

Thursday, September 12th, 2019

Last week, we announced five August Amber Grant finalists. Today, we’re delighted to share the recipient and the 9th qualifier for the $25,000 year-end Amber Grant.

Congratulations to Kate Adams, Founder of Kateboards. In our interview below, Kate shares the backstory of her company, walks us through her product and its production, dishes on advice for female entrepreneurs, and more.

WN: What led you to launch Kateboards?

KA: Kateboards is the reality of a dream that has been cultivating for the past 25 years. However, it wasn’t conceptualized until the end of 2015 and it didn’t materialize until the end of 2018. Kateboards is the culmination of my innate drive to have a positive & meaningful impact on others coupled with my love for skateboarding.

Born and raised in Southern California, surfing and skateboarding have always been a natural and constant part of my life. I don’t remember my life without a board under my feet. From the moment I started skateboarding, I was hooked. The joy, freedom, self-expression, challenges, fun, awareness, the falling and getting back up, the grace + flow, excitement, the individuality, the camaraderie, the confidence garnered, and the fresh air in my lungs as I cruised down the hill. There is a power that comes with propelling yourself on wheels and plenty of life lessons that come along with it as well.

My love for skateboarding, my experience in the industry, and my determination to have skateboarding be more approachable for women led me to launch Kateboards. I am the girl on the skateboard with all the childhood joy + wonder and I am the woman running the skateboard business. Same person, yet different. 

I’ve always felt like I am on this Earth for a reason bigger than myself – I believe we all are. I believe I am here to share who I am, to encourage and support others, and to lovingly help others grow just as others have helped me. 

I find depth in the simple things in life, things that keep me connected to my being. Skateboarding is one of the simple, yet profound parts of my life. I spent a lot of time searching for my purpose and came to recognize that any dream pursued with 110% effort, passion, and care is worth doing. Sometimes it just takes a little push, a dose of courage to get us to go for something that can lead to greater things, greater life experiences. 

After graduating from SDSU with a degree in business, I worked for the largest longboard skateboard company in the world for 5 years in sales and customer service. The highest quality boards were being produced at the factory and distributed globally from the attached warehouse. From the ground up I was able to see and be a part of how the business operated as a whole and it was an invaluable experience.

At Kateboards, we’re on a mission to create an inclusive and progressive environment for female skateboarders of all levels through community, collaboration, and quality products. I want women to harness the courage that is required to get involved in skateboarding + the confidence they gain from it and apply that to other areas of their lives. Kateboards is for all levels and all ages. 

In my time skateboarding as a kid, parlaying into a career in the skate industry, I saw first hand how many women would shy away from skateboarding due to the intimidation factor of it being male-dominated, fearing they’d get hurt, and not sure how they would even get started. These are all real and perceived barriers that I’m looking to dismantle.

I’ve had countless one on one interactions with women who said they felt intimidated to go into a skate shop, afraid to try skateboarding by themselves, or that they were too old to try. It may seem like women skateboarders are the norm here in Southern California, the mecca of skateboarding, but these are all personal conversations I’ve had with women in our town. What is great to see, though, is the outpouring of excitement from women who have tried skateboarding for the first time or have decided to take it back up. That’s definitely a major motivation for me and it provides so much joy.

It has become abundantly clear that there is a sheer lack of females represented in skateboarding. If women are not represented, then how do we expect them to progress? Representation is at the forefront of creating a larger scale of awareness and involvement. That being said, change has started.

Talented young women are earning sponsorships from the biggest brands in the industry, and women skateboarders will be participating in the 2020 Summer Olympics. It is truly an incredible step for women in skateboarding. However, there is still a lot of work to be done… and fun to be had. 

The Kateboards logo is the delta symbol, which signifies change. The purpose is to represent that change leads to growth, and to represent my goal of increasing the number of female skateboarders.  

WN: What challenges have you faced since launching last fall?

KA: In the 10 months since Kateboards launched, the biggest challenge thus far has been growing the business while self funding and being the only one to run day to day operations. But this has also built character, resilience, and taught me how to be even more resourceful.

Asking for help has not been a strong suit of mine in the past, but it is something I now practice more often. It has been amazing to have people’s support with Kateboards. I am positively overwhelmed by the community and how they have contributed to the business + showed they care through their words, actions, and purchases. My connections in the skate industry have also been so genuine in their support of Kateboards and made it possible for me to pursue this dream. 

WN: Take us through how Kateboards are produced and sold. What differentiates your product?

KA: The first run of Kateboards was all about laying the foundation for what the brand stands for and they were all sold direct to consumer except for the support of one retail location, which I purposely kept as the only retail shop to carry Kateboards. 

We collaborate with female artists to create the graphics for Kateboards and create a brand that it is female-oriented with the quality boards women deserve. Oftentimes women are marketed to with cheaper components and gimmicky reasons as to why the product is better for a woman. Our focus is on clean, bold, meaningful, and quality skateboards. 

With this second run of boards, and going into the 2nd year of Kateboards, there will be a bigger push to have them in retail locations resulting in the mission behind Kateboards gaining more exposure. This company isn’t just about selling boards or being another skate brand – it’s important that the purpose of Kateboards is communicated effectively.

Kateboards are quality boards made from hard rock maple and manufactured locally using state of the art machines. The boards are incredibly stable, fun, and easy to ride. They are perfect choices whether it’s your first skateboard purchase or your 10th board!

The manufacturer I’ve partnered with is one of the best around and I am so excited to be working with them. When it comes to longboards and cruisers, compared to standard street decks, there are countless shapes that affect the style of riding. Cruisers and longboards typically require more precision in their construction compared to street decks. They are easier to ride and we set them up with bigger + softer wheels and trucks that create a smoother ride. With my knowledge and experience in skateboarding I feel confident in the boards I am selling.

WN: What are your plans for future growth, and how will you get there?

KA: There are a lot of plans for future growth and the possibilities are endless. 

I am looking forward to building the Kateboards team, expanding our group skate meet-ups, and increasing our private lesson offering. I am incredibly excited to launch a new series of boards with talented artists and get Kateboards under the feet of more women. There are plans for more sustainable practices as well along with modified board designs. After 10 months it’s clear there is no limit to where Kateboards and women in skateboarding can go. 

The focus will always be on providing the best boards possible, creating value for the customer and community, and maintaining a supportive environment for female skaters. 

In the next five years I’d like to have warehouse space, ambassador programs, larger skate events, philanthropic opportunities through non-profit collaborations, skate team sponsorships, scholarships, after school programs, and Kateboards retail locations to name a few things. I feel strong, enthused, and ready to take this to the next level.

WN: Share a piece of advice you’d give an aspiring female entrepreneur. 

KA: There are several things I’d like to share:

I will say that the idea of not starting Kateboards scared me much more than starting it. It might be good to ask yourself if you feel the same way about your idea/business.

Don’t underestimate the importance of taking excellent care of your health. Without good health, running a business (or doing much of anything) is even more challenging. 

Have a plan for what you want to create and accomplish. Do your homework. Ensure that what you’re pursuing is something you truly value and feel connected to. Don’t shy away from your dream, because you think someone else is doing it better. There is a lot of noise out there – come back to your center. Do it your way. Stay on your own path and trust that what you’re doing is worth it.

Don’t be afraid to ask the big, bold questions. Encourage and support those around you. 

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” —Anaïs Nin.

WN: If you have anything else to share, please do — this is your platform!

KA: Thank you to the WomensNet for believing in me + Kateboards. And thank you for the ways you are supporting women with their dreams. To anyone reading this, please feel free to reach out. I’d love to hear from you. -Kate