It was May of 2011. I sat on the bed crosslegged in front of my macbook with my completed Illinois Bar Application open on my browser, my offer from Jenner and Block sitting next to my Harvard Law mug on the nightstand, and the clock ticking in the background counting down the seconds to the next step of my future. I had been sitting in that same position with my application complete for three hours, trying to get myself to hit the submit button before the application deadline of midnight.
At 10:15pm I made a decision that would change the direction of my life in incredible ways and launch me on a journey I could have never imagined: I shut my macbook and walked away. I wasn’t taking the Bar Exam and I wasn’t taking the job.
I was building a company.
At the time, I made that decision because I thought if things got hard, it would be too easy to jump to the safety of a set career path. I wanted to force myself to fight. Things did get hard. Really, really, gut wrenchingly, hard. But between those hard parts, and sometimes even in the midst of them, were blessings and joy and the opportunity to build something (FashionProject.com) that went on to donate money to over 2,000 organizations, work with over 70+ incredible people, delight tens of thousands of customers, and make over 300,000 pieces of clothing a force for good.
Throughout that journey I learned so much, almost more from the end of the company than it’s beginning. I can talk for hours about these lessons and will likely someday share all of my notes and learnings on topics like how the people you surround yourself with matter, how too much money too early can mask a whole host of challenges, how there is such a thing as scaling too fast when you aren’t prepared for it, and a myriad of others. But, this post and all the posts that follow aren’t about the past- they are about the future. This post is about the journey of doing it all over again and this time, tackling a problem that is even bigger.
This time, we’re fighting for gender equality with our wallets.
At my first company I saw the power of directing purchases to causes that matter. From funding school lunches to animal shelters, every item we sold made an impact. This time, we’re harnessing that power to fund the dreams of women entrepreneurs across the country by making it easy to discover and purchase their products.
At a time when less than 3% of venture capital goes to companies with a female CEO, our consumer wallet power is more important than ever. There are some good strides being made towards equality at the top- as an example, XFactor Ventures, the fund I co-founded with Chip Hazard from Flybridge Capital, has now funded close to 30 companies with female founders and expanded to over 20 women investing partners. However, at the current pace, it will still take over 100 years to reach gender parity in the upper ranks of venture.
Rather than wait around, we’re kicking in the capital gap from the bottom up.
Introducing Dough- the premier platform to find, discover and support female founded products with your wallet. Each day starting in September, we’ll be highlighting an incredible product made by an inspiring woman across America. With every purchase you’ll be using your consumer power to fight for gender equality by directing dollars back to women business owners and helping them rise.
Money is powerful — when we swipe our credit cards we are making a statement about what we value. I’m excited about the next chapter and the impact we can have using our wallets as force for women. If you’re ready to join us in the movement, head on over to www.joindough.com, sign up, and start shopping.
Let’s get women business owners the dough they deserve.