No one told me I couldn't do this because I'm a woman.
They had lots and lots of other reasons -- "Isn't soap a long shot?" "That's a very competitive industry." "Everyone thinks a handmade business is easy. It's not." "Aren't you more of a 'desk jockey' type?" -- but none of them were related to my gender.
And I've taken a fair amount of flack from the general folks of the Internet. My favorite is this one:
For the record, you criminally under-stating doucheknuckle, Russ is an absolutely phenomenal dude. "Good" doesn't even begin to cover it. And if you think we're raking in money off this business, you clearly don't understand small business economics.
And yeah, that's definitely the most pointed, but even the recent Reddit BLESSING FROM GOD was sexist:
(the great irony being that I, a woman, designed the original Fire in the Hole because we couldn't go camping one weekend, and I missed it. It turns out that women can like camping and shooting and rousin' rabble just as well as men can)
But honestly? I don't care. Why? Because PEOPLE ARE OVERWHELMINGLY AWESOME. Our customers and our folks are all that matters, and we've turned off most of the people who would be upset to learn that a woman is running a business.
This, my friends, is what it means to be an Outlaw.
I am an Outlaw. And I think you're an Outlaw, too.
Other people's expectations just can't matter all that much. If I want to start a business with my husband, I should do it. If we (all of us, including you) want to smell like badasses, we should do that.
We Outlaws just can't be bothered to worry much about other people's limited worldviews. It's their problem, not ours.
Russ is AMAZING
Russ, the co-founder and (if we're being honest, which I think we are) the creative genius behind the soap, the names (even the company name!) and our ability to actually stay in business, is SUPER FREAKIN' AMAZING.
He has always supported me and my leadership in the business. We are a great team, and I absolutely wouldn't be doing this if it wasn't for him. Between the two of us, we balance each other out... I want to always go, go, go, and he wants to make sure we take care of the foundation along the way.
I appreciate him so much. Never once has he "mansplained" business to me or questioned my ability to get the job done. We both work hard. It's a real partnership of equals.
The Recent Scene
Recently, I've become aware of my gender as a handicap in business.
We're fundraising, and sexism in venture capital is a real thing. Less than 3% of all venture funds go to a company with a woman founder. And it's not because we're less capable of running a business -- as one (potential) investor said "Oh, you know why we invest in women's businesses? Because we like money. Women-run businesses tend to be more stable and go out of business less often. It's just a good investment."
Multiple people have even recommended that I have Russ do the fundraising. He is allergic to speaking in public, and most of the fundraising is specifically speaking in public, so he just isn't all that interested.
But yeah, it's a thing.
And has anyone ejected me from a meeting when I show up as a woman? No. Nope. Everyone's been really nice. But is it always a question when I leave without a deal? You bet it is. I wonder how much money I'd get if I was a guy with a business with a proven track record and clearly enthusiastic customers.
We'll never know.
But, you know, as long as you keep buying Outlaw and sharing our products with your friends and family, this little train's engine might just be strong enough to make it up the mountain without much of a booster.
That's why I almost always close every blog thanking YOU for being on this adventure with us. It's not easy. It's never easy. It's never been easy and it probably never will be easy.
But that's ok, because you're ridin' in this rodeo with us. And we appreciate that a lot. I appreciate that a lot. We couldn't do it without you.
Thanks for supporting this little woman co-owned business.