As we rapidly approach the 5th anniversary of Women-Led Wednesday we want to take a moment to look back on the progress that has been made. What started as a way to launch holiday sales on a day that felt meaningful and right for our own brand, has turned into a community of over 600 like-minded female entrepreneurs from all over the world. To witness this growth has been nothing short of incredible. Women-Led Wednesday is so much more than a shopping holiday. It is a movement of empowered female leaders shaking up the economic landscape. It is a societal shift of people voting with their dollars to lift up women across the world. It’s the perfect, real-life example of the aphorism “a rising tide lifts all boats”. WLW is a wave of change, and a damn effective redirection of funds to people and places that can truly make a difference. Sure, it’s about the support. But, it’s also about the money. As a society we vote and enact change with our dollars, and WLW is changing the voting landscape.
To learn more about the history, future, and the important work of WLW, we sat down with the woman herself: Cassie Abel.
How does it feel to see so many women resonate with and want to be a part of Women-led Wednesday?
When Wild Rye launched this initiative in 2018, I had no idea what the response would be like and today it has exceeded my expectations ten fold. I’m a more the merrier person by nature, so this initiative was no different and so I’m thrilled to see so many women in leadership roles coming together to lift up colleagues and even competitors in the name of shining the spotlight on and elevating women in leadership. As one of my favorite female leaders and role models, Missy Park, founder of women’s activewear retailer, Title Nine, says regularly, “business is a team sport” and Women-Led Wednesday is a really sound example of that! I think when women realize that we should collaborate rather than compete with each other - instead focusing our competitive attention on the mega-retailers (ahem, Amazon) - really meaningful movement happens for all of us.
What sort of expectations did you have when you created this holiday?
I really didn’t know what to expect, but my dream was and still is to have Women-Led Wednesday be a household name and a holiday that’s recognized widely, much like Small Business Saturday. We still have a ways to go (and certainly don’t have the budget behind WLW that Amex infused into small business Saturday) but every year more and more people of all genders join the movement, help spread awareness and #shopwomenled. It just gets better and better!
What do you think is special about what WLW stands for/is doing for women?
The energy that comes with the big day is palpable. So many folks show up because they want to see women-led brands succeed. While Women-Led brands like Wild Rye only receive a fraction of what male-led brands receive from institutional funds - 2% and tend to receive pennies on the dollars from bank funding (and there’s no replacement for equal funding), it’s a huge statement that our communities stand behind us and make a point to use their purchasing power for good.
Any advice for women looking to start their own businesses/make space for themselves in these spheres?
This is a loaded question as there are so many layers to starting a business. The advice I’ve received and hung onto is “fail fast” - as in, just go for it hard and fast and if it doesn't work out, pivot, adjust, make tweaks to find that market fit as quickly as possible. And once you start, be prepared to be ALL in because it’s all consuming to take a brand to a sustainable level.
Where do you see WLW going in the future?
I don’t do small dreams, so I dream of the day that EVERY women-led brand participates in Women-Led Wednesday, encouraging their communities to shop with purpose. My goal is for Women-Led Wednesday to be a national, even global, annual event, with the end goal of seeing more women in leadership, pay parity and so much more for women.
Head over to the women-led directory at womenledwednesday.com which now features well over 600 women-led brands to shop and support an amazing community of women-led businesses. To stay updated on WLW news, follow us on Instagram!