The Quality Makers: Rebecca Minkoff & Ali Wyatt of Female Founder Collective

Photo credit: Female Founder Collective

Welcome to The Quality Makers, an interview series highlighting pioneers in the direct-to-consumer space. Join us as we get an inside look at the world of digital shopping through the eyes of the individuals shaping it…

Beyoncé once said, “Who run the world? Girls.” Feels like she was onto something.

Yes, women make up 50% of the population, but they’re also making a pretty significant impact in the business world as well. Did you know women own 42% of businesses in the United States, employing over nine million people across the country? So why aren’t we talking about it?

Ali Wyatt and Rebecca Minkoff of Female Founder Collective are here to change all that.

Both Rebecca and Ali have each respectively learned a thing or two about what it takes to start a business and make it successful. With such a deep understanding of the challenges female founders face today, they started Female Founder Collective, which is unlike any other female-focused collective out there. Not only is it offering women a safe space for thought exchange with other like-minded female professionals, it provides female founders with tactical solutions and networking opportunities with which to grow their (future) businesses. Women lifting women, am I right?!

We were lucky enough to sit down with the enlightened pair to dive into all things female foundership, and “pick their brains” (there just isn’t another way of saying it) about new ways for women to transform their big ideas into something executable and memorable.

Photo credit: Female Founder Collective

TQE: Let’s start off with getting an idea of how this all came to be! How did you both meet, and what jump started the idea for FFC?

RM: We met many years ago on a panel and saw each other at different events. We reconnected through Hey Mama when Ali reached out a few months after I started Female Founder Collective. I had wanted to start a community and give founders the tools and learnings they so badly needed. Ali knew immediately how to bring this to life and how to turn this into a real thing. She joined as my Co-Founder shortly thereafter.

AW: I had been at Girlboss and a slew of other start-ups. At Girlboss especially, I had found that the biggest proportion of our audience were women starting businesses—because they had reached the glass ceiling and knew their potential, OR because they wanted to solve female-specific problems to change the future for women everywhere.  Simultaneously, I was investing in and advising female-founded companies. I had seen that their problems were all similar. I felt, if they would only connect with one another, they could, akin to Waze, help each other more easily navigate roadblocks. I reached out to Rebecca when she launched FFC, and away we went.

TQE: I saw a whole bunch of stats on your website about how “productive” female-owned businesses actually are in our global economy. Why do you think this isn’t more common knowledge?

RM: Because it is isnt shared, it isn't in the news or marketed.

AW: I agree with Rebecca. What we see in the news is largely centered around venture funding or who has received the biggest check. It’s not fun to talk about the business that is run most efficiently. Fortunately and unfortunately for women, it’s much harder to get any source of funding, including business loans. As such, their only option is to run a healthy business or to go under.

TQE: What does FFC do differently than other female-centric collectives?

RM: We are not currently a “space” or a “place.” We offer a very focused and specific way for founders to learn from each other and navigate all of the unsexy parts of business. This is done with other founders and luminaries who have done it and succeeded.

AW: We are also just solely focused on founders. Places like Chief, for example, have a broader focus, serving as a space for the world’s top female executives to come, learn, grow, and thrive.

TQE: Even though there are more women running their own businesses than ever before, what are still some prominent challenges/hurdles female founders face when either looking to start a business or scale a business?

RM: Access to capital, bias aimed at women, and often shouldering the load at home as well as work.

AW: As Rebecca mentioned, there is an embedded bias against female-run businesses by institutional capital holders. That said, creating strong networks and having more female funders making decisions is essential for women to helping change these stats.

Photo credit: H3R Magazine

TQE: At what point did you both want to break off from the corporate status quo and start doing your own thing? Did anyone ever make you think you wouldn’t be able to beat the odds?

RM: I did the fashion design thing from day one, so there was never a corporate status quo for me. I worried all the time about beating the odds. Still do!

AW: I broke off from corporate after about eight years of navigating through and working my way up. I never intended to go to a start-up, as I didn’t understand the world of difference it would be from the corporate environment that I knew. But I wanted to build things that didn’t exist and I got too frustrated that I couldn’t in a corporate environment. I never felt limited at all as a woman as I was in female-dominated industries until I had my first child. It was then that I realized how difficult it was for men versus women. Like Rebecca, I still worry as well and am constantly in a state of trying to shore up the balance of being a great mother while building a business. It’s hard.

TQE: What is either 1) the best piece of business advice you’ve ever been given or 2) the best piece of advice you would give to someone who has a great business idea, but doesn’t know where to start?

RM: Find your white space and, via smart marketing and brand positioning, figure out how you stand out.

AW: I always say this advice because it’s business and life advice. “Shy girls get nothing.” In life, and especially in business, you can’t be afraid to ask for what you want. Persistence, follow-through, and muscle are the name of the game. You can’t stop at ‘no,’ and you’ll never get something you didn’t ask for.

For someone who has a great business idea, I, like Rebecca, would say to be sure you know the problem that you’re solving. Most importantly, execution is everything. Everyone has great ideas. But few people can bring them to life. Create a plan, be honest with yourself, and build a team to make it happen.

TQE: Tell me about The 10th House. I’m getting major astrology vibes!

AW: The 10th House is our private membership community where we super-serve paid members with resources to grow their businesses. This includes access to weekly expert programming for skill-building, up to 10 meet-ups IRL per month in different markets, a digital platform to ask questions for real-time advice or resource needs, and a robust resource directory and member directory. The goal here is to tap into collective knowledge to help founders who are looking to grow.

Photo credit: Female Founder Collective

TQE: Where do you want to take FFC in the future? What are some opportunities you see in store for female founders as the business landscape continues to change?

RM: We want to ensure that every female founder who starts their business with a passion has the tools and opportunities to succeed. This is done through relationships, education, and access to capital. We want to grow FFC internationally and continue to ensure that FFC reaches these goals.

AW: There will be new funding vehicles created, more female funders entering the mix (you’re seeing this already!), and more transactional relationships created to help one another grow. We want to get into the funding and/or fintech space and we plan to expand our NORTH 1:1 advisory board to provide access to expert advice in a really meaningful way.

TQE: You have a pretty amazing event coming up on 3/23/23. What is Female Founder’s Day all about? What can people expect from attending?

AW: Female Founder’s Day is the culmination of all that we do on a day-to-day basis — in our private community as well as publicly. We know that founders have very limited time, so we wanted to create a day packed with ROI. The day includes:

  • inspirational advice from founders who have been through the journey and have done it all in the form of panels.
  • hands-on workshops, teaching relevant skills that founders can implement into their business the moment they come back to their desks.
  • mini sessions with our roster of NORTH advisors, where founders can ask for real-time help. This is something extra special we’re doing this year.
  • networking with their fellow founders, and becoming part of this extraordinary community so that no one has to be lonely in their process!

If you’re looking to scale your business, or you just want to get inspired about what could be possible for your next venture, sign up to join this group of intensely powerful women at Female Founder’s Day.

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