Behind Women-Led Wednesday: An Interview with Founder, Cassie Abel

"This is pretty insane and worth pondering: last year, there were more CEOs of S&P 500 companies named “Michael” or “James” than women of any name. This without question is indicative of a very disproportionate number of female role models, and women need female role models.

With all the discussion about getting more women into C-Suites and on executive boards, coupled with the fact that women-led brands get somewhere around 2% of venture funding, I thought, ‘why aren’t we making a point to support brands that already have women at the top?’ I was shocked to see with all this chatter, something like Women-Led Wednesday didn’t already exist. 

“A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats”

I launched Women-Led Wednesday in 2018 as I was exploring how to launch holiday sales for my own brand, and wanted to think outside of the box. Black Friday is grossly driven by mass consumption, Small Business Saturday felt oriented towards brick and mortar business (still very important, but not the right fit for us) and Cyber Monday felt like a surefire way to get lost in the war of ad dollars." - Cassie Abel, Founder of Wild Rye and WLW 

Cassie and Mom

From that, Women-Led Wednesday was born. In this Q&A with Founder + Wild Rye Owner Cassie Abel, we dive into the importance of female mentorship and how we can continue supporting women in leadership to help create a gender-balanced workforce.

What is Women-Led Wednesday?

Women-Led Wednesday is an annual holiday that occurs the day before US Thanksgiving. This year - on Wednesday November 24, 2021 - the public is encouraged to shop at women-led businesses in an effort to create a more gender-balanced economic landscape. To find a women-owned business in everything from active lifestyle apparel to home goods, beauty and kids gear, visit our directory here!

What first prompted you to create/start the WLW movement?

When we launched in 2018, the world was a buzz with getting more women into C-Suites and onto executive boards, but very little chatter about supporting brands and businesses already led by women. There are countless studies that indicate women are more likely to benefit from female mentors. Women are also more likely to hire other women and more apt to bring women up the corporate ladders with them. It's clear we need more female role models if we’re going to create a gender-balanced economy.

How has the pandemic affected women-owned businesses and women in leadership? How do we move forward from those effects?

Cabin Bench

The pandemic has been crippling for women in business. Nearly 3 million US women left the workforce in 2020 due to the pandemic. It’s hard enough being a working mom, juggling childcare with a business, but throw a pandemic in the mix with childcare stripped away and it becomes a monumental task. For me personally, I was in full-on survival mode, doing whatever I could to stay afloat, both at home and at the office. 

When these women are ready to return to the workforce, we need more women at the top to welcome them back! 

What types of brands qualify for a directory listing?

All consumer products brands, nationally reaching travel/experience brands and non-profits that are run by and benefit women are invited and encouraged to join us. Since 2018, we've grown 600% and now have close to 500 listings in our directory; and we're eager to add more! 

How do brands sign up?

4 Women at Cabin

Simply head to the Women-Led Wednesday “Join Us” page, create an account and build a brand directory page. On your dedicated brand page, you can tell your brand story, add images, tell the public more about your founder and link directly to your website and social media channels.

As a general consumer, how can I get involved?

Share @womenledwednesday with your communities via social media (or otherwise) that you’ll be shopping women-led businesses on November 24, reach out to your favorite women-led brands to ensure they’ve joined the initiative and shop-women led beyond November 24th!

What are your hopes and goals for the future of WLW?

Women on Tailgate

I dream that the Women-Led brand directory will be the place to discover and shop women-led brands on WLW and the other 364 days a year. I hope that brands will continue to put competition aside to encourage the general public to use their purchasing power to put women at the top. I dream that together, we will create a gender-balanced workforce.


Head over to the women-led directory at which now features close to 500 women-led brands to shop and support an amazing community of women-led businesses. To stay updated on WLW news, follow us on Instagram!

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