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Why authenticity matters, and how it inspired a partnership with Kerry Washington, with Aurate Co-Founders Sophie Kahn and Bouchra Ezzahraoui

by Female Startup Club
February 18th 2021
00:42:45
Description

Joining me on the show today is Sophie Kahn and Bouchra Ezzahraoui, Co-Founders of Aurate.  

Aurate is the premier, direct-to-consumer fine jewelry brand offering ethically sourced, luxury je... More

doing here, we're in month two of being part of the hubspot podcast network and I wanted to take a second to shout out another incredible women lead podcast. Being boss with Emily Thompson. If you're a creative business owner or thinking about becoming one. Being boss is an exploration of not only what it means, but what it takes to be a creative business owner, freelancer or side hustler. I loved Emily's episode on taking time off as a business owner, it's definitely a really challenging part of running your own business and I recommend giving it a listen, check out being boss wherever you get your podcasts. This is Sophie and Bushra for female startup club. Hey everyone and welcome back to another episode of the female startup club podcast, I'm your host, june rasheen. And joining me on the show today is Sophie Kahn and Bushra as a row we founders of or it or it is the premier director consumer fine jewelry brand offering ethically sourced luxury jewels. Without the retail markup, founded in 2015 by Bouchra and Sophie the company seeks to democratize the fine jewelry industry through its online driven model, accessible price points and social impact strategy.

All of their jewelry is designed and manufactured with love in new york city. In this episode, we're chatting through how they got started and brought this brand to market, why authenticity is so important in today's world of brand building and the key takeaways from raising capital and if you're interested in taking part in some listen to research, please do Pop into my inbox, I've left my email in the show notes below this is Bushra And Sophie for female startup club. Mhm. This is yeah. It's safe to say that most of us have been doing more online shopping lately, right? And if you're any commerce brand that means you might be seeing more first time customers. But once they've made that first purchase, how do you keep them coming back? How do you keep them connected to you and your brand? That's what Clay vo is for. Claudio is the ultimate marketing platform for e commerce brands. Clay vo gives you the tools to build your contact list, send memorable emails, automate key messages and so much more.

That's why it's trusted by more than 40,000 brands including female founded businesses like Pearl Mix Hint and Campari beauty. Get in on the action to delight customers grow brand affinity and make some serious money. Clay Vo customers made $10.2 billion dollars through the platform last year. So whether you're launching a new online business or taking your brand to the next level Clay vo can help you get growing faster and I can confirm the platform is super easy to use and has all the hard stuff done for you like templates, automated sequences and general email related resources to learn how to win at email marketing. Plus it's free to get started. Just visit Clay vo dot com slash F. S. C. To create your free account today. That's K. L. A. V. I. Y. O. Dot com slash F. S. C. Female startup presence. Mhm. Sophie and Bouchra.

Hello and welcome to the female startup club podcast. Thank you for having us. I'm so excited to be chatting with you today. I always like to start by getting you both to introduce yourselves and what your business is. So we'll start with you. Sophie Hi, my name is Sophie, I'm originally from Amsterdam. Um we've been now in New York for around 10 years and I'm the co founder and co ceo of a startup called or in New York. It's a fine jewelry direct to consumer brand and in one sentence, because I can talk about it for hours. We're basically trying to improve the way women buy fine jewelry for themselves and really empower them in the process. Sounds beautiful fuchsia. And hi everyone, I'm Bushra, I am co founder of QC or alright, who basically again, very similar story to Sophie looking to change the way women shout for fine jewelry for themselves. I'm originally from Morocco, grew up in paris and the U. S. Where I actually met Sophie the first year I came to the U. S. So we've known each other for a long time.

Gosh, there's such global women, I love that. I want to go back to life before you started. All right. I think I read that you were at Princeton together in 2009 or something. So it has been such a long time. What was getting you excited to start a business together. So basically Bush and I to give you context, we were both working in the corporate world. So I was at the time at marc Jacobs doing strategy and Bush was a Goldman Sachs and we were already very close friends because you know, we had met at Princeton, it was a very quantitative program. We were very few women. So we loved each other not just for women, but also we had similar interests other than finance. So one day just in new york, this cafe called cafe Gitana nolita, we were talking about life and how yes, we liked our corporate jobs but we really wanted to do more, you know, have more impact, have a meaning in life and not do the kind of corporate ladder thing. And at the same time my finger had turned green from this ring I had just bought and we started talking and Bush was like in Morocco, people were, you know, fine jewelry, real gold.

This doesn't happen. And I was like, yes, but I want something that's cool and it looks good and they're like, hey actually kind of this light bulb moment, wow, there's actually no brand out there for women like us in our late twenties, early thirties where you know that hits essentially all the boxes of what we're looking for, which is high quality but affordably priced ethically sourced, it looks good, but it also does good kind of the whole shebang of and then that's from a product perspective and then from a brand perspective a brand that talks to us and not to men, there was nothing out there that took our hearts or took our wallets for that case and we were like you know what, let's try this, that's kind of how it originally started that light bulb moment for the first time. The light bulb moment. I love it. And what were people saying when you started telling people, oh you know we're going to start this business together, what was the feedback you were receiving? Which part of the feedback would you like to hear because the first feedback I think was your crazy that even like joking aside Sophie and I again we didn't have any background, let's say, and fine jewelry, we don't come from families of jewelers and I come from a family of entrepreneurs, so I do understand what it takes actually and all the hard work that goes into building a business.

Sophie had background in luxury because she works at marc Jacobs and she understood basically the ins and outs of basically working at a global corporate that actually wasn't in the fashion space. So that was basically the first feedback. However, however, when we actually spent we did those focus groups with it started like with our friends, literally our friends, our family members, all the women, basically, our colleagues, all the women surrounding us asking them, how do you shop for fine jewelry? What is it that bothers you in a current customer experience that you're seeing and how do you think we can improve things around? And that became kind of like a work in progress, almost like a project that we're working on on the side. Like how can we go over all those pain points that we as women working women or not necessarily. I wouldn't even call it working. I would call it more independent spenders looking to buy fine jewelry for ourselves and we don't need men to buy us a pair of hoops or, you know, a basil necklace whatsoever. It's nice to have a gift. But it was almost like this self gifted product that we enjoyed as women.

That's part of your story as a women. So, the story started building from there. So early feedback actually helped us a lot throughout all the building blocks of what or it should be, I should stand for. So better customer experience. The superior product, more transparency, ethically sourced sustainable. Like all these points like matter to people and get back in the concrete way we give back schoolbooks for basically the collections that we sell and a lot of people say we're given X percent of proceeds to X in a very vague way and it's not part of their DNA. But I think our D. N. A. Was more about transparency, but building a brand that spoke to the women that wanted to wear it brother sounds so beautiful and a really nice foundation to build upon. You mentioned in the beginning you were doing this more on the side is a bit of a side hustle. How long were you kind of dabbling before it became to the point where you thought, hey, we're going to actually quit our jobs and and pursue this full time.

So all in all I would say it was probably like two years from the very beginning of us thinking about the idea because right, you have the idea of this cafe, right? Then you need to start thinking putting pen to paper, looking if it's even realistic. So we did the whole strategy piece of, wow, this actually could really work, you know, looking at all the other players out there what they're offering. Yeah, there is really a white space. So that takes sometimes, especially if you're having, you know, a full time job. Then all these focus groups with your friends, you know, so I would say maybe we did the classic Parsons where we learned at least somewhat of jewelry and kind of the basics of how to the jewelry design. So I would say like six months was kind of just concept ideation and getting everything ready then starting off and then probably the first year was really actually up and running the year after that, basically the second year was actually up and running running the business right? So we had the first thing we almost did is open the store which is funny. So while we were you know while I was at marc Jacobs which was a goldman Where in Soho we found this location that was I remember it was like $1,000 a day, we have like $10,000 under a bank account, so we decided you know let's get it for five days into what happened.

So we put the jewelry in there that by then we had developed and it started working and that's also when we knew wow this thing actually has traction right? So anyways long answer to your story but essentially it took all in all two years before we decided okay we have the concept, we've tested it, it really works there. Women that want this, I'll never forget one day in their little Soho store that looked really scrappy because we had no money and we were just putting the jewelry there to test these like really cool french girls came in and they were looking and they were like you know I won't pretend I can do their accents, I won't do it. But they were basically like wow this stuff is amazing, I've been looking for this all my life and and they bought so much that's when you know these type of moments when you're like wow we're not crazy, this is, this can really be something, let's take the jump, wow, yeah, that is a tipping point. I can totally imagine that sort of profound moment of seeing people's faces also in real life and watching their, you know what happens to them when they see and discover a brand that they truly love. I'm interested to know about in the very beginning how much it costs to start a jewelry brand like this and you know, were you having to place huge minimum orders or if you were able to start small?

I would say especially in this space, that's very capital intensive, It helps basically to kind of have kind of a support system, I would say to kick off that first, you know that first gig. So it is, we started very small. Like we started and it was really hard because I think the first suppliers that we worked with just took a chance and believed in the story because in there, in their experience, obviously they're used to the traditional way of doing things and I think the first person who took the stab on us, we're just saying we haven't seen this before, so you're either crazy or this is actually going to work And we started very, very, very small, very small and it grew very fast and we went from ordering and just making up numbers from ordering 10 pieces to 50 pieces and it started scaling and as we were scaling, I think something that was helpful at least having those corporate side jobs on the side. I would say there were kind of side jobs now that we think about it is having that to burst them around us.

And we were fundraising capital around us. We were borrowing money from people who worked with us. Like we'll pay this back in three months, will pay this back in six months and we're collecting that. I'm just making products and selling it. So there is no shame in starting small, but you just need to have a vision of how that small becomes big and how you get too big. How can you finance the big as you're growing basically from the small. Mm That's so interesting. And I think that's something that we haven't spoken about before on the show is rather than immediately thinking, hey, raise money and give away equity more of this. Hey, ask your friends or colleagues or people who are in your life for some kind of loan with, you know, maybe exciting terms for them or something that it's not so big to jump into like a bank loan for example or something like that. Where it's a lot more strict, I assume. Very cool. I want to dig into the launch the launch of the brand, How you started getting customers finding out about you maybe even more so around the time that you've done the first pop up and things were starting to move and you were deciding to quit your jobs and go full time into or eight.

So basically we had, you know, so we both went full time. We had a little bit of money that we could use. And then it was really about, you know, a proof of concept was kind of there and then it was all about getting our name out because at the end of the day, I mean people think if you have an e commerce company or you have a website, people will just come. But it's like having a store in the middle of the desserts, right? If you don't, if you don't have traffic, nobody will ever know you're around. So how did we get a name? So obviously did the traditional things such as launch parties and all of that, like physical things the first time around. But then it's really trying to figure out on the income side how to generate traffic right now. For instance, two thirds of our traffic is organic, so unpaid. But to get there, that's the thing. In the beginning, obviously it's really hard to get there. So we did a mix of a lot of stuff, you know, obviously with some facebook advertising, we have some influencers, we got a lot of press, we worked with affiliate, so kind of like all of the basic standard marketing ideas that are out there.

We tried to do, but we try to always be innovative and how we're going to do it. So because also we didn't have all the money in the world at all. You know, and we do have a finance background so we wanted to be very careful with their money was being spent. We try to always just do it differently and really learn. So I think one of the things also is with you know, strategies, I mean I used to work in strategy so nothing against them but at a startup specific really, you have to adapt strategies much faster than in the corporate world. Right? So we could say it makes no sense to start saying, you know, x percent of our budget is going to go here doesn't make any sense. You just try it out and you look at it almost daily and after a week of seeing results, you know where to put more in. So it's very much I would say like the main thing that I can say about how we skilled or it relatively efficiently was by pivoting all the time in terms of where you're gonna put your money and how you're going to do it because having like this january strategy of the whole year, it's just, it doesn't work like data changes things change numbers change, you just need to be on top of it and edit as you go and when you were doing those pivoting, what were the kinds of things that were really working that you were like, okay, this sticks and now we're going to double down and scale in these areas.

It really, again, I think things change very fast as we started. For instance, our Pop Up strategy was extremely lucrative because we would open a space and it becomes profitable very quickly like month or month three. So that was basically something that that just did super well then Covid hit for instance, last year and now you hit a wall of like how does the physical experience need to change to adapt and get to the profitability when it has to be. So you pivot completely into something else. So we found different ways of talking to our customers that we're not only offline, but there were a combination of, you know, online styling, virtual styling, texting them doing different things where basically you talk to your customer or you go after them in a different format or you do partnership with different brands that speak to very similar demographic and they're your cross kind of crossing that demographic that sees both brands like or a demographic that you couldn't have rich if unless basically you've done partnerships with those other people.

So again, like piven has been kind of, I wouldn't talk about it like on a daily basis almost at a time, but it's more every month basically brought a different challenge, especially when you start like in the beginning for instance, a lot of people put a lot of their eggs into facebook and instagram marketing and sometimes you find another channel that could be a little bit more lucrative than that where you're on google instead of facebook whatever. So it really depends on the business, our business is more visual, so more visual channels have been working for us and our business relies a lot on word of mouth. So I think our job is for us to find ways to amplify the word of mouth, if that makes sense. So it's not heavily catered towards, let's just stay online and like acquire customers just for paying basically all my platforms. But how can we get our own customer actually to be our best ambassador? And that's been kind of the best pivot for us for the last two years talking to them more. Hmm, that's so interesting. And you mentioned the zoom styling session.

What happens in a zoom styling session? How does it work? What's it like? So basically, I mean, it's what we did and this is part of the whole pivoting after, you know, in general and specifically after Covid, we were like, okay, retail always worked for us. It was always profitable. People still want to, you know, what are the main reasons people still come to the store, They don't come to the store to just buy the jewelry because quite frankly you can do that online. They come because they want styling advice right? Like there's a certain way that the worried woman styles herself. So why not just do this online? So that's what we had. So we had our retail people that we didn't therefore have to furlough and instead what they would be doing is joining these virtual sessions with whoever was interested and they would have the jewelry there and they would talk about styling themselves the same way you would, you know, in the store. And that very much worked. So, it's exactly these things. And you know, you test it. You see if it works, if it works, you do more. If it doesn't work, you take it out. I think one of the things to add to what Bush was saying is on a high level. I think what really works for or it is authenticity. So, this idea of, for instance, what doesn't work for us is paid influencers. These type of things like it really works for us.

When somebody truly knows the brand, like the brand. Where is it whether it's your customers or influencers or press or whatever. I think that was our main for every brand that might be different. But for us, that was the main difference when we knew we really to go for authenticity for real people that really cared about it. And we're doing this to, you know, just make money and slap their name on something That's when we really took off. Mm That's so interesting. And you mentioned Bushra that another thing that had worked for you was partnerships and I saw that I think it was last year you announced a major partnership alongside Kerry Washington as an investor and a co designer on a capsule collection. Can you tell us about that partnership and how something at that scale comes about Like how does it actually work? And this is literally echo and exactly what we're talking about before. Word of mouth and authenticity. Carrie actually has been a friend of ours and advisor for the last three years. So it didn't come together just in a very commercial way.

It was more first she heard about the brand through word of mouth and she tried the product that she loved and then what was very important to her but to our us and what we're going to basically show our customary was more how authentic can this partnership be Like Carrie basically stands. She has the style. She has a lot of substance. And this is exactly what our women go for. And we worked on this for the last three years to align on every single point that we wanted to bring to life to that baby that became that partnership as well as the collections that we designed together to stand for something because or it stands for something. She stands for something and we wanted to amplify basically or its voice with her coming talking to our women and like that first collection was extremely symbolic, it was about women empowerment and or it was born to empower women to basically purchase a product that's very kind of like that comes with a story every time they buy it to just do it would basically the right people on board.

So I think for us a big partnership that sounds big, like that took a lot of time, that a lot of reflection to understand basically how basically Kerry can work with us together as a team to amplify basically the whole origin like statement call it the brand itself, like and how to discuss it and talk about it and you have this open conversation. Kerry has been kind of a great actually addition to have in our team Sophie and I don't have that pop culture background if you want to call it that way and we needed someone like that to come on and amplify everything. But basically we've been trying to bring to the world anyway and I love that you're coming at it from that approach of just this almost organic relationship that developed first versus approaching this kind of thing from okay, well who's a commercial partner that we should approach and go after it that way. That's so amazing. And I imagine that resonates really well with your community and your audience.

Yeah. And for us to adjust those in park the other side of being very opportunistic around it. I just don't think, I think the audience can tell that it's not real? And for us it just doesn't feel it doesn't feel right. And you know, it's like both ways, it's eventually and you know, for each brand their own. But I think for us, we stick to what feels good to us, which feels good to the brand DNA. It also is successful. The brand in the long term. Mm totally. I read that you had one of the biggest series, a investments into fine jewelry and I think that you've had, I think 15.6 million in funding across your two rounds. What are the biggest takeaways that you had from raising capital and what can you recommend to other founders who are wanting to go through this process? Well, I think you should always raise before you need it. I think that's something that I would always say, right? So the whole point is you should raise out of strength. You should never you know, it's like it's this in this instance, actually it helps to really plan and be strategic. So what you should not be doing is thinking got any money and then starts because that's really risky and scary.

So you should always be well in advance of you needing it. You can start working on a deck, right, telling your story. In fact, in a way you can think of it as I remember the beginning, sometimes will be like, oh, this is not a waste of time. Sounds harsh, but a little bit like we just want to run the business, why, why should we go out there and be raising money? But actually it really forces you to have discipline and to think bigger picture again and not be in the day today and focus on what do investors care about? What do we need to actually work towards on a very business side because yes, of course we're building a brand in the world and dream, but at the same time it's a business and if people want to put our money, they want to see returns. Right? So in order to do that, what do you need to look at? So that's the basic things, It's obviously revenue, its revenue growth, its efficiency with your capital, which goes into profitability. And then the third thing I would say is loyalty. They want to see three things like money growth, profitability, which is, you know, efficiency. And then the third thing is kind of loyalty and retention. Are these people going to come back because could it look good now? Yes, But how will it look in the future?

And those three things, you know, you can talk along that long and hard about, but those are the things that you have to kind of show and we've worked with, you know, a lot of analyses, power point stories, customer surveys help a lot research really kind of building your case and then of course finding investors that again are an authentic fit that you feel like are going to be a team player with you along the ride. So interesting is something that's important as those investors will be with you for a long time and a startup doesn't exit after a year or two or three unless you have something very outsized and generally the exception, not the rule. Think of it as a marriage that starts and you want to keep building on that marriage. So something extremely important. You really we always joke around saying like you want to find that investor that you can still like sit down and have like a glass of wine with and just have a good conversation and that people that you think would be not a good fit that you culturally or whatever that is. So I think for me being careful surrounding yourself by the rights and plasterboard is extremely important.

Especially the early ones. Mm totally. That makes total sense. I've heard that before. The dating analogy and the marriage analogy. What is the technology that powers your business? What are the kind of platforms that really help you run the day to day will not you run the day to day, but you know what I mean? That helped the business function. Yeah. So we have I mean we're data junkie. So we do have we try to run a lot of it on data, right? Of course like number one, we're on Shopify, but that's like a very kind of Standard thing I think for a lot of docs these days. And then we have on the marketing side we have a lot of analytics backend platforms, a lot that we actually built from scratch. So while I'm kind of the film inside the operation side to see exactly how things work. And then we built kind of a custom one to figure out exactly how we want to deal with designs in a way. So the design process for us is on the one hand, very analytical and on the other hand, very design driven. So we of course, and this is part of what I'm looking at, right? We look at trends, we see what's happening in the market. We talked to our customers and asked what she was looking for.

We do, I mean we did this literally last week with like an instagram story, like what do you want more of? But at the same time we also have a data platform that's actually built out of Holland where we have a team that's working on this really looking at what our customers clicking on, what are they liking most. So it's almost like, okay people are clicking more on white gold than a month ago so we should make more of that or they're enjoying, you know, they're actually much more into the flower earrings right now and into the pearls and we get all of that data and then we can make better collections from there. So it's very much I would say it's an inter an overlap between you know fashion and tech and having those two things is really important. If you look at all the data points we've accumulated since we've launched, It's more than you know, 10 million data points. So we have a lot to really look at all the different points. What are people looking at it from different angles? Right. So we have, you know, email but then you have your whole social platform, you have your sights, you have retail and retail. We've collected a ton of data. We did that from the very beginning every time a customer comes in.

Have you heard about us? Why are you here? What you're looking for? How long did they stay? What did they buy the whole thing? So we can even look at an omni channel approach like what are the customers actually by retail and online. What's there? A profile? So as much as you know when you see it you're like, oh this is nice, pretty jewelry, there's like a whole tech back end that goes behind it to power it because we, you know we're at the end of the day we are nurse and we love numbers and we believe that data is one of the most important things. So we make our decisions based on data as much as except for design where there's also definitely design component but all the business decisions or definitely based on data wow I love that. That's so cool. Holy moly tech founders as well. Sounds like where is the business today? And what does the future look like? We're in the new world Actually this whole corporate thing was I mean it sounds bad but today the business is actually exactly where we thought it would be.

Quite frankly when we started, when we started we believe that basically digital will prevail. We believe that we needed to have our own way of talking to our customers, our own way of analyzing all this data. We're talking about having this omni channel approach owning our data building our own systems that basically not only build, help us build a brand but have a very efficient supply chain. Something that we didn't touch upon too much in our conversation is where should the business be like they want, we wanted to have such a wide net of Ways of thinking about like problematic basically that would only have in one place and that we can activate if there's like Crisis 1234. And this is something that we were surprised by like in the upside like Covid happened and it was pretty terrific. I would say for us for the business it was very scary for us like you know our lives that were in like our team. Like we wanted to make sure everyone was healthy ruins our customers.

Like our customers going to buy fine jewelry and then they came to us and say yeah we are going to buy fine jewelry because it's a symbolic gift. It's something that I want to self gift myself because it makes me happy. It's something that I'm going to wear to zoom call. It's something that became kind of a necessity in that wardrobe that came into this new way of living that's you know, very digital. So actually the business proved to us that it could actually live through crisis that You only see once in 100 years and we're very, very proud of or it at this point like Sophie and I march when March basically came 2020 was almost like we closed our eyes like what is going to happen. But then we were very proud of a team that like power through it and actually very happy with the foundations that we worked on that you don't realize actually over the years like yeah, let's work on an RPI system like the system is going to do X, y and z. But those were just projects that we're working on like in case something happened and then Covid happened. So I think the business here talks to its customers better internally is much better run like in a very, basically consolidated, very kind of efficient way and now the next step is how you grow this beast at this point.

I love that. And let's not forget be to add to that for five secs. Actually while you were saying this, you know, when we, and sometimes you forget because we're so in the day today and we have young kids and you're just like working, working, working, you know? But when we started or aid people thought we were just crazy to even sell jewelry online. Do you remember people were like, I don't want to buy my earrings on my, like who's going to buy? You know, these were mostly men, but they were saying like, you know, why would people buy their jewelry online? Like don't you want to try it on? Like it was even a foreign concept. Just the fact because we were saying guys, eh, you know, E com is the future. It's really easy to ship. It's so light, I mean, crazy. Nobody's doing this. And then the experience in retail stores is so intimidating. Nobody likes it. If you go to those, you know, fifth avenue luxury brands and you're all scared and people were, you know, you just don't feel good. So we wanted to upend that and people thought it was just an insane idea to buy fine jewelry online. So, you know, now everybody thinks it's completely normal. We're not even talking about it anymore. And even more so after Covid, but there was a whole, you know, investment thesis essentially.

And Covid just brought that forward. Even my dad was, you know, I don't even know 66 he used to buy his little shampoo in the store and now he wants spotted online, he's like, I'm never going to go back to the store again. I was like, well, so basically, Covid just kind of, you know, proves, you know, like what you're saying, pushed everything for 10 years and everybody is now into the power of e. Com and it's great that we, you know, we thought of that in advance. So, in that sense, it was good for us, obviously, we have other reasons, we definitely didn't hope Covid would have been there, but from a business investment thesis, it's um, improves very well for the it amplified basically everything that we were believing in, our hypothesis is basically just proved itself and sustainability by the way. So, both the inside and we always believed in sustainability about, you know, basically leaving either a neutral footprint or positive footprint, whether it's by through the giving back in sustainability in terms of like, just like social sustainability as well as for the planet right? We have recycled gold diamonds that are basically not mind we have to make sure that from being good to the planet essentially.

And I think this year to Covid shot that To the world how interconnected we are and how, you know, whether it's fears about climate change and all of these things, people can now see, Wow, this could actually indeed happen in 10 years that we have a huge flood and again, this is something like this will happen people, it feels way more real. Uh, so it's been a wake up call, I think from all sides. So in that sense, the fact that we believed in both of those things is just helping the future of all right. Absolutely. Gosh. Times have certainly changed from, you know, early days of people not believing that you would buy jewelry on line. I can't imagine it any different. Now, I have a question for both of you. We can take it in turns, what is your advice for women who have a big idea and want to start their own business? Sophie you go first two things, one is just do it. I really, truly believe and that's what I've always said this. I hear ideas all the time and quite frankly, I've had ideas all the time, right? But talk is cheap and ideas are nothing without executing.

And I really believe that if you feel good about it and it's your dream. You should do it because you only live once and it's better to even when I study, even if we fail, we would have tried, it would have followed our dreams. We're still young. You know, we can do something else. So I would really just do it and not talk about it for too long, but give yourself a timeline within six months. The thing needs to be standing. You'll very quickly see if it's gonna work or not. So that's one the other thing I would say is don't underestimate how hard it is. Like it is a lot of work and I would not be doing it if I had other challenges in life, that would be my only thing. It's all consuming, Right? So if you have other things that are really grabbing your attention, I would wait. But if you don't then go for it, then jump right in love it. I'm ready and don't wait. Don't wait because something could happen. You know, you can, I don't even know. Uh and then you and then you won't be able to do it anymore. Mhm totally. What about you, boo Sure. What's your advice for women who have a big idea? I think for me this advice change over the years, but I do think that my biggest learning is you really need to build the capacity around you.

Like I was thinking about it like what does building capacity around me means surround yourself by the right investors that takes you a long way, build the right team and actually invest in the right team and also surround yourself by great advisors, formal or informal because what we found across the few years that, you know, we started or it like without all these three basically, it's extremely hard to push your company like without the right capital, it's hard for you to invest and grow without the right team, forget about it, just close shop and then just, you know, don't even do it and without the right advisors, you're blindsided by some things that you haven't thought about. So I think all of these things bring you to like the realities of what we're talking about earlier and Sophie was mentioning, it's hard, it's really hard, but you want to know these people who have done it before, People who invested in something similar before and people who actually believe in your company and who will believe in your company.

Like your team is the first basically kind of the first people you need to sell your company to are your team. Like you pitch it. Like it's hard to work at a startup, it's not an easy corporate job. So they really need to believe in your cause for them to actually work hard and go the extra mile to make things happen. And I do think my second advice would be, you know, you'll get a lot of knows a lot, like before you get a yes, you'll hear a lot of nose and it's okay, you learn from your nose and it's something that you change your attitude like in the beginning when you hear and know you're very sad about it and that's something that we learned from a lot, but something that's really hard while you're doing things is forgetting about celebrating the yeses like Sophie and I will get the yes, but we move on, there's the next challenge and we never really take time to ourselves and celebrate the yes that we got like have yourself on the back because it's it's hard. So I do think those small celebrations actually are great into, you know, your mental health, your, you know, show that even to your team, like your team needs to be like seeing also the non challenging side of things, but actually like the things to celebrate because hey guys, like we reach this milestone and we should celebrate it.

I think for me those are the two main advice is one thing I would add to that is don't get dissuaded right because everything be said is 100% accurate. Like you do need a team, you do need advisors, you do need the right money behind you, but if you have a brilliant idea, you can do it and like look at that, but don't get persuaded by not having it because you can also build that as you go because I do think bigger picture, the fact that 2% of funding goes to female entrepreneurs is beyond sad and you know, I think it has something to do with the fact that women potentially are more risk averse. Like you've seen the research right to get google it was where if you wanted to get promoted, you just have to ask for it. And then they noticed after a couple of years that it was only the men getting promoted? Because they were like, let's say you needed to know 10 things before to get promoted. If men knew two out of the 10, that would stick up their hands and be like I can do this, Women would need to know eight out of the attempt to stick up their hands. So they would basically never asked for it. So I do think that collectively as women, women are brilliant and can do a lot. We should also encourage ourselves, get a support network but go for it and help each other and believe in yourself because I do, we both strongly believe that the world would be a better place if women are also building things out there.

Absolutely Gosh, that's the truth. The point of female startup club getting more women inspired to go big and launch businesses for sure. We are up to the six quick questions part of the episode. But what I'll do is I'll alternate between the two of you for the questions and essentially I ask every woman I speak to at the end of the episode, these questions so that later in, you know, when we've interviewed a few 100 people, we can look back and look at the data and see if there are any trends that come through for what people say, Question # one Is, What's Your Wife? Why do you do what you do believe in it? If you don't believe in it, it's not going to happen. I need to believe in it. Amazing question number two is, what do you think has been the number one marketing moment that made your business pop? I actually think there hasn't been one moment and I think that's precisely the point. I always thought, you know, I was always talking about my husband was like, there would be that one moment. That's not how it works. It's actually hard work, grind day to day to day. You grow faster, you grow more and more. But there's never, there's not been one moment.

Question # three is where do you hang out to get smarter? What have you been reading or listening to or subscribing to truth is um, I've been trying to actually, I've been trying to take as much time as I think for myself. I've been trying to take walks. I've been trying to just take a shower by myself. I think for us it's really like, of course we do a lot of readings, but it's hard for us is just when you're very, very fried and just take yourself out of everything. I take my best way to hang out or whatever. My best thing is to just be outside in nature and think in peace totally same. It's not happening a lot lately because London has been so gray and gloomy question number four is how do you win the day? Sophie, what are your am and PM rituals that keep you feeling happy and motivated? I think sleep is number one, if you sleep good. I, if I sleep while I can do almost everything.

Um, and that's something really hard to do because you want to do a lot, achieve a lot. But sleep is kind of the basis for everything. And then honestly, that's it. If I sleep good, I feel like a power woman. That's it. I love that. Love a power woman question number five Bouchra. If you only had $1000 left in your business bank account, where would you spend it? And it's to kind of show, you know what's the most important spend of a dollar for you kind of thing on people. We'll pay our people. They, they make the business. Yeah. And last question question # six is how do you deal with failure? What's your mindset and approach towards it? I truly believe Bush and I are both fighters. It's you know, kelly Clarkson song. What doesn't kill you? Makes you stronger? I think that's it. Like very much, well maybe be sad for half a day and you know, we have each other, which helps. But then we're just even more of a fighter. I think the more you take us down, the more we wanted to win. Love that. Thank you both so much for taking the time to join us on female startup club today and share your incredible story and all the things that you've been creating for women in the world.

Thanks so much for having us. Thank you doing. Really appreciate it. Thank you so much. Hey, it's just me here. Thanks for listening to this amazing episode of the female startup Club podcast. If you want to hear more, head to my instagram at Dune rasheen to see my filmed interviews with incredible female founders like Erica from fluffy Beauty Greta from drop bottle and Sammy leo from breeze bomb. And if you like what we're doing here, visit our website and sign up to female startup club dot com to get all of the good stuff delivered straight to your inbox and lastly subscribe to the female startup club podcast. Mhm

Why authenticity matters, and how it inspired a partnership with Kerry Washington, with Aurate Co-Founders Sophie Kahn and Bouchra Ezzahraoui
Why authenticity matters, and how it inspired a partnership with Kerry Washington, with Aurate Co-Founders Sophie Kahn and Bouchra Ezzahraoui
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