Meet the female enterpreneurs who battled sexism in the most amazing way
It's surprising how rampant subtle sexism is, even in the most refined of work environments and professions, as these two young entrepreneurs' story goes to show.
Penelope Gazin and Kate Dwyer are the founders of Witchsy, an online shop that deals with quirky and raunchy artwork, illustrations, pins and fabric patches by various artisans and craft makers. Their line of products has been aptly described as 'pleasantly disruptive,' and the lovechild of Etsy and Pornhub. In fact, they say that the name was inspired from Etsy, which banned witch spells, a move they saw as unnecessary censorship.
The Los Angeles based company did decently well in its first year of operations, making around $200,000 in sales and catching the attention of Vice and Racked. Many applauded their entrepreneurial and curatorial skills, but recently they revealed a strategy they developed to make working with collaborators more bearable.
The two began to notice a strange pattern when they contacted male artists, developers, and designers: That most would take a long time responding to requests and often employed a rude and condescending tone in their emails. Though it wasn't obvious, getting replies starting with 'Listen, girls,' often irked them to no extent.
And here's how they solved it!
Their ingenious solution was to fabricate a male co-founder named Keith Mann who would handle all their communication for them. They even gave Keith an extensive backstory. He was a dude’s dude, they decided, the kind who played football in college. He was devoted to his wife of five years, and he couldn’t wait to be a dad. “He was just a really good guy,” says Gazin. “He doesn’t really understand Kate and me, but he’s been happy to help us with our project before we find husbands.”
The six months that Keith handled the communication, they began noticing a significant change. Though no one took Penelope's and Kate's email's seriously when 'Keith' contacted collaborators, most would reply quickly and positively.
Dwyer told Fast Company: "It would take me days to get a response, but Keith could not only get a response and a status update but also be asked if he wanted anything else or if there was anything else that Keith needed help with.” Of course, Keith always had to cancel on conference calls at the last minute."
Now, their site offers products such as these:
Though he was integral to getting their site built, the founders say he has now been given 'time off to be with his new baby,' and that roleplaying as him have increased their assertiveness and authority. They also say that it's easier to be taken seriously now that they have their own operating website to show potential investors.
Though there aren't any plans for Keith to return to the company, they say they're interviewing a new guy named 'Ted' in case it becomes necessary to fill the role.
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