September Muse: Title Nine Movers And Makers Pitchfest Takeaways
Wild Rye was over-the-moon excited to be chosen as a Title 9 Movers and Makers Pitchfest Finalist in July. After a summer of prep, we set off for T9 HQ in Emeryville, Calif. last weekend for weekend full of inspiration, orienteering, learning and, oh yeah,...pitching and...
We were so honored to be named a winner alongside Mina Yoo of Heroclip and Amelia Leme of Mana Threads (plus a special shout out to Emily Trower-Young of Em & El Organics was named runner-up winner for an in-store partnership with Title Nine).
Fellow finalists included: Chelsea Camarata, Kaden Apparel; Suni Gargaro, Sunia Yoga; Amelia Leme, Mana Threads; Darcy Conover, Corbeaux Clothing; Iwona Kapcia, Anowi Surfwear; Elyse Kaye, Bloom Bras; Emily Trower-Young, Em & El Organics; Mina Yoo, Heroclip.
It was a total whirlwind that’s 100% worth reflecting on. Here are some of our T9 Takeaways (and yes, there are nine of them):
1) Scary Things are Hard. Be Brave.
It’s no secret that I (Cassie) am terrified of public speaking. In middle school I was borderline mute. I love meaningful conversation, but standing up in front of a room full of people I admire... no thanks! That said, fears or insecurities are meant to be overcome and that’s what bravery is about. Facing your fears head on, with a little extra preparation and practice and that's just what I set out to do. I’m not going to lie, coming out on top after overcoming one of my biggest fears was that much more rewarding. Not only did we take home a “W” as a result, but I sure did come out the other side stronger and more confident… maybe even ready to give another pitch a go. We love to celebrate the victories both big and small here at Wild Rye, because the same is true in outdoor adventuring - clearing a new obstacle, using clipless pedals for the first time, or skiing a new steep line - it takes bravery and we're here to cheer you on!
2) You Can Be Rich or You Can Be Queen.
Many thanks to Kelly Jones of NoSo Patches for bringing back this beautiful wisdom from Title Nine Founder Missy Park. Queen=control. Which do you think she chose? (Although we also don’t blame you for thinking why not both?). While we hope to build a sustainable, successful business, It’s never been about the riches. It has been and always will be about delivering great product so women can explore the outdoors with confidence and style. And to make sure we keep true to our business and product promise, we will channel our inner Queen every day. Because you deserve it, and so do we.
3) You Will Figure It Out
One of my biggest fears as a founder is how my first baby (Wild Rye) survives the early years of motherhood. And even more so, how do I survive while keeping a small brand and a newborn alive without true maternity leave (surprise, I (Cassie) have a baby boy on the way, due in January). I’m absolutely terrified and probably would have put motherhood off a little longer if the biological clock weren’t ticking away (I’ll be close to 37 when “Spider-Man” arrives). I had the opportunity to poll some of the incredible mothers in the room at Title Nine HQ about how they did it. The answer I took away is that there’s no right way to survive, but it WILL all work out. You’ll try it one way, you’ll try it another way, and eventually you’ll try something that works for you, your business and your baby! Seeing all the mothers who lived through those first few months with a business still striving put me at ease, more than any words. Women are resilient!
4) No Excuses. Play Like a Champion.
Not going to lie, we were *concerned* when we saw “orienteering” listed as the very first activity on Thursday. We were tired from a long travel day, nervous for the next day, and (one of us) was carrying around an extra lil buddy the size of a coconut (lovingly referred to as “Spiderman” until his due date in January). To add to the chaos, half way through the course the other one of us was stung by a yellow jacket. We know, not a big deal...BUT my foot is still swollen five days later after a swell situation so extreme I hobbled through the Bay Area like I had a peg leg. Anyway, point of the story is you bet your ass we still hustled through Tilden Regional Park, “injuries” aside. And while we weren’t all winners, we had a great time. And we remembered we can read maps. And wake up our minds with movement outside.
5) Fail Fast, Learn Quickly
At Title Nine, they have an annual competition for the Biggest Failure. Team members publicly share their fail and shame, but most importantly, what they learned from it. This culture is not only supportive, transparent and often times hilarious, but it’s also productive. As Missy said, the faster you fail, the quicker you learn.” Here’s to failing fast!
6) A Rising Tide Lifts All Ships
There was a lot of talk about how we continue to support each other beyond the Pitchfest event. Jennifer Fergeson of Handful presented a passionate monologue about how women so need to support each other long term - emotionally, sure - but more importantly by buying each other's products - or how we like to put it, “by voting for women in leadership with your dollars”. That is Women-Led Wednesday in a nutshell. If you’re not familiar, head on over to @womenledwednesday and www.womenledwednesday.com to learn more about how you can #ShopWomen this holiday season and beyond. We just launched a new website that makes it easier to sort, filter and learn back-stories on women-led brands nation-wide! Come November 27th, 2019 we hope all of you will make a point to shop women-led brands in lieu of (or in addition to) Black Friday, Cyber Monday etc
7) In Praise of Difficult Women
The first wall you see when you walk into Title Nine says “In Praise of Difficult Women” and lists the likes of everyone from Gloria Steinem to Lady Gaga to Eve. Gender equality and existing in a white male dominated society—and business world—is a topic at the top of our brains, pretty much most of the time. But we are so grateful for the many badass and difficult women who have blazed the trail in front of us. A special shout out to the T9 Mentors Sally Bergesen (Oiselle), Jen Ferguson (Handful), Jen Gurecki (Coalition Snow), and Bronwen Lodato (Bronwen Jewelry) and all the wonderful women who shared this memorable weekend with us!
8) Business is a Team Sport
Teamwork makes the dream work. This has been my favorite motto since, forever. Missy Park just introduced me to my second favorite phrase, “Business is a Team Sport.” One of the most valuable experiences from my childhood and beyond was playing on various teams and learning to work with people, rather than in competition with. The same is so dang true in business. A rising tide really does lift all ships, so we here at Wild Rye are strong believers in working together AND supporting other women-led brands. Again, Women-Led Wednesday is a great way for you to seek out and discover new women-led brands to keep your eye on and shop when the time is right.
9) Connecting to Our Why
Let’s just say we were in good company at the T9 Movers and Makers Pitchfest. We were surrounded by entrepreneurial, brave, feminine, strong, creative and laugh-out-loud funny women. THEY and YOU are why we’re in business. Wild Rye is dedicated to crafting beautiful AND technical mountain apparel for women that fits, inspires confidence and welcomes more women into the outdoors.
(No, not picking our noses, but very seriously considering how best to show off Wild Rye threads to the judges and audience)