It’s no secret that the majority of action and adventure sports brands are led by males.
As one of the founders of a new campaign, Women-Led Wednesday, Cassie Abel knows this first hand. Abel hails from roles at major brands like Smith Optics, but lately has ventured in a different direction to create her own women’s activewear company, Wild Rye Mountain Apparel. She acknowledges that while big shifts are happening across the board and many people are working together to bring more women into leadership positions, there is still much work to be done.
To put things into perspective, in 2015 there were more CEOs named John than women of any name running S&P 1500 companies, according to a study published by the New York Times. That’s where she hopes Women-Led Wednesday – which encourages consumers to shop female-founded brands this November 21 – will be able to help move the needle.
“It all comes down to encouraging people to vote with their dollars,” Abel tells TransWorld Business. “The idea behind this campaign is to let people vote with their dollars for women in leadership. There’s been so much talk about supporting brands with sustainable and environmental initiatives, which is so important, but the same rings true for initiatives to put more women in leadership.”
Lauren Fennema, who most recently worked as brand partnerships director and senior buyer for Huckberry, has joined Abel in the campaign with support from her new women-driven start up, Confidants. Together, along with more than 100 other brands, the campaign hopes to drive sales and awareness this Wednesday, November 21, leading up to other holiday sales kick-offs like Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday.
“Not only does this campaign encourage people to invest in women-led businesses by helping them shop with intention, it also creates a place for us to celebrate, highlight, and build momentum behind women brave enough to start businesses,” Fennema says. “It's a way to show other women, ‘hey, you can do this, too!’"
The power behind the campaign has been revealed over the past three and a half weeks since Abel stumbled upon the idea, with an outpouring of support from companies, both large and small. Everyone from Icelantic Skis, who is led by a female CEO, to LIV Cycling, the women-specific brand within Giant, have become a part of the mission.
Online retailers like Confidants and Wylder Goods have also joined the mix, and Abel says as the campaign continues to build momentum over the next year, she hopes to include even more shops – both online and physical locations. “I would love to work with brick and mortar stores to highlight women-led brands through curated pop-up shops,” she adds.
Beyond driving awareness through dollars, Abel is also aiming to elevate the stories of influential women leaders and the brands they’ve started, in an effort to inspire others.
She also hopes to build a “give back” section, where women-led non-profits can receive the attention they deserve.
“There are so many people out there that are moving things forward; this is just a piece in a complex puzzle of hundreds of others who are working to make a difference,” adds Abel.
For those looking to get involved in Women-Led Wednesday, the campaign will continue to add relevant, full-developed and “giftable” brands to their roster as they they are submitted for consideration.
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