We love being part of female owned brand marketplace, like TheWMarketplace, the economic engine for women. If women just supported other women financially, we could change the world. We interviewed Kate Isler from TheWMarketplace about what drives her and her co-founder, Susan Gates.
What make you decide to launch TheWMarketplace?
In the spring of 2020, we kept hearing the impact that the pandemic was having on women, and knew we had to do something to put money in women’s bank accounts. Everyone was shopping online for everything, so starting an online marketplace for women-owned brands seemed like the perfect way to support women. Beyond the pandemic, we see TheWMarketplace as a place for women-owned businesses and service providers to grow their sales and as a “one stop shop” for consumers looking to shop their values and support women-owned businesses.
You are "older" founders (like me). Is this what you envisioned doing at this age?
I’m not sure I really had a plan. When we launched TheWMarketplace, I was having a book being published and had co-founded a non-profit that organized an annual event to celebrate International Women’s Day. I was busy and happy. The pandemic changed everything for people and I couldn’t imagine not jumping in to do something constructive with all of the devastation to women’s economic parity.
Why is it still so hard for female founders to get traction?
I wish I knew! When you ask women, they all say they will support other women and that they are willing to shop women-owned, but when it comes down to it, people buy based on habit. Virtually all of the large consumer goods companies are owned by men. Change is hard and slow but if we all make small changes in how we buy and truly focus on supporting women, I know the traction will come.
Kate Isler and Susan Gates, Co-Founders of TheWMarketplace
What is your goal for TheWMarketplace in 2 years (5 years is too long!)?I would like TheWMarketplace to take on Amazon as a premier online shopping site. Consumers need a choice. While I believe in-person shopping will come back to a degree, the convenience of online, 24/7 shopping is something we have all gotten used to. Today ALL of the social media and advertising sites and the vast majority of ecommerce marketplaces are owned and controlled by men. I want TheWMarketplace to be a brand that people know and trust as place where women-owned businesses are supported and can grow into large brands.
What are some ways women can support each other?
First, I would say always ask other women what type of support they need. There is room for all of us to be successful and each of us have something to share that will help another woman. Second, recommending that you always purchase from women-owned businesses can be overwhelming, but a woman I met with recently had a wonderful approach. She suggested picking one item you purchase regularly, like hair care products, and always buy that product from a women-owned business. It will become habit and you can expand from there. I loved the idea and think this will have such an amazing impact. Women shopping and doing business with women will change the world,
Do you have anything new in the works for TheWMarketplace that you can share?
We are piloting our first trademarked HER-Commerce™ program this summer and are really excited about expanding this to other regions and product sectors. We know that with just a little support, we can successfully bring other women-owned businesses onto TheWMarketplace so they can access our national audience of consumers.
We are forming partnerships with women’s networking and education/coaching organizations to serve as their e-commerce platform. All of these organizations have directories or referral lists to highlight their members’ businesses, but few of them are able to give their members access to a direct sales channel like TheWMarketplace. We are excited to support those organizations in what they do best: networking and education/training, and to offer their members what we do best: a robust sales channel for women. By partnering and focusing on the things that each of our organizations do best, we will all grow stronger. Women supporting women!
What is the biggest thing that holds women back?
The voice inside our heads, questioning us about our ability, skills and qualifications. We need to stop living with a sense of scarcity and encourage one another to think and do big things. I hear a lot about “the next generation of women entrepreneurs”. That’s me! I am the next generation of entrepreneur, I don’t think this definition is, or should be, based on age. We work every day to redefine what it is to be a female entrepreneur and businesses person, and our business is just one year old. We are thinking BIG and will not allow ourselves to be defined as a small business. Much of my career has been built on the idea of “Why not me?” and I just couldn’t live with not trying. So I try to inspire women to ask themselves that same question “Why not me?”. I think they will be surprised at how far that will take them.
If you're interested in learning more, visit TheWMarketplace and be part of the engine supporting women entrepreneurs.