Soul Sisters and San Francisco

Written By - Tessa Cash

I’ve been listening to this podcast my girlfriend Sarah recommended to me. Sarah is one of those people I will love until I die, the kind of friend I knew I could call upon waking from a five hour surgery that is banned in several countries due to the risks it involves. As I sobbed hysterically down the phone in the most excruciating pain I’ve ever experienced,(yes yes, everyone has a different pain threshold but general consensus in the healing home I moved to after I realised that I wouldn’t be able to fly back to London five days after an operation as significant as this, no matter how much heparin I took), she calmly counselled me as to how I should work around the fact that I’d lied about having someone to pick me up and that in Miami it was illegal to be discharged without a carer to drive you home. Uber driver anyone? That had been my grand scheme plan. Pay off the Uber driver to pretend he’d know me so they’d let me go back to my hotel on my own. The problem was, I could hardly move. I’d had five litres of fluid pumped into me, two internal drainage tubes running down my abdomen draining fluid into little tear drop vessels from the exit point just above my pubic bone. Every time I shave I cut myself on the slightly raised scar that resulted from the sutures. All besides but quite ineffably adding to my point, Sarah is that type of friend.

The podcast is called “How I Built This,” and although I’ve barely listened to one and a half episodes, I find myself extracting such vehemently poignant gems of thought from the conversations and themes discussed. I chose two to listen to, based on instinct, which threads it’s way throughout this cute first little blog of mine.

Glossier. Anyone a fan of this completely inspired beauty brand founded by Emily Weiss? I come from a family of five women and a Dad (lol, love you Poppy), four of which (read: everyone except me), are all over the latest beauty trends, fashion must haves and who look like they’ve walked out of a Harrods catalogue on the daily. I do not. My mother described me to the Tuscan Bed and Breakfast owner last May as, “dressing like she goes to the gym everyday.” Well, I do go to the gym almost everyday, so I guess the whole active wear thing is kind of valid. My boyfriend joked that I needed a nice coat to wear to evening outings, and after a period of dating blatantly admitted that he didn’t like one of my puffer jackets, which he hilariously guessed was from Piazza Vittorio in Rome. My god I love him but he comes right out and says the bluntest shit sometimes. A nice healthy dose of reality for my esoteric ass. It is nice to be balanced out sometimes. I mean, it was just about ten years old and made me look like a cheapass wannabe gangster.

So I don’t know fashion and I’m hopeless when it comes to beauty. I sheepishly replied to this man of mine when he began to notice my regular workout attire, “I like to be comfortable.” “So do I,” he replied. Tiny bit adorable.

So the fashionista DNA mustn’t have been included in the gene pool that the egg and sperm my mother and father merged twenty nine years ago. Hence, it was indeed my eldest sister that alerted me to this trendy new beauty brand that seemed to be taking the beauty world by storm, one Soho suburb at a time. A few things struck me whilst I listened to how the Glossier brand was born. The first was how she raised the funds to start the brand; Venture Capital. A little bell dinged in my head. I rented an apartment in New York from a chick in Venture Capital. I had no idea what it was but Emily was kind enough to explain it. “You have Venture Capitalist’s who’s job it is to make smart bets on companies who are going to grow super super fast and become the next Facebook…” essentially, pattern recognition. Interesting. But the part that really sparked my interest was the fact that only four percent of VC deals last year were awarded to female CEO’s. Out of one hundred deals, only four were given to women. And only 6% of VC is comprised of women. Gosh no wonder my short term landlord looked like a whippet. She’d have to be whip smart and a complete piranha to survive in that male dominated industry. This isn’t a gender assumption or stereotype either. A woman who’s home I stayed in via AirBnB in San Francisco last year worked on stock market floor on Wall Street for a time and described it as a shark tank. She was one of only three or so other women. She’d moved to SF for the mellow, woke, wheatgrass lifestyle. I didn’t blame her.

Back to Ms Weiss and how she managed to land the $1M cheque to launch her incredibly innovative and well researched beauty brand into a $450B dollar global market amongst huge and entirely established conglomerates such as L’Oréal, Estée Lauder and Sephora. Out of the thirteen VC’s she and her CEO approached, only one recognised the genius and novelty in her product. A woman by the name of Kirsten Green, renown for “gut and data backed knack for identifying consumer product companies…she has really good instincts around what are people going to care about, what are they going to live with, what moves people.” The rest took one look at her product and said something to the likes of, “oh that’s so nice, I’m going to give this to my wife and ask her what she thinks.” She described how one of her best qualities was her curiosity, and that if someone had presented her with a prospective foreign industry product, she wouldn’t have gone to her husband or boyfriend and asked him to explain it to her, but instead would have sussed it out for herself. This is one of the many reasons Glossier was and is so successful, as she touts the beauty industry at the time as being “ripe for disruption” and a brand that jumped on listening, sharing, (particularly through social media), and being built from asking what the consumer really wanted and being able to “create conversations and connections through beauty.”

What really provoked thought about this story was the fact that if it hadn’t been for qualities in this Kirsten character that are predominantly cultivated by high vibrational feminine energy (nurture, instinct, empathy, care, emotion) that recognised the legitimately ingenius business plan of Emily and her team had to offer, Glossier would cease to exist.

Another conversation with my partner springs to mind as I speak about gender roles. He illustrated as we walked along the Southbank esplanade one crisp January evening that some industries benefitted from employing men over women, or vice versa. A labouring company surely could extract more productivity from a man who could lift fifty kilograms at a time as opposed to a woman who could only lift twenty kilos in one trip. That I can understand. But finance? Why was it a vastly male dominated industry? Surely in an industry reliant on instinct women might feature more? Are women not trusted with money in traditionally patriarchal societies? Why are women trusted with bringing up men who then go on to dominate industries that women aren’t trusted to work within yet the very minds that shaped them were in fact women? Isn’t that a contradiction in terms?

Another soul sister of mine recently alerted me to this concept of dakini energy, an intuitive sacred feminine energy, a “very sharp and brilliant wisdom,” that is present within all souls. Humans have both feminine and masculine energy running within them, and an evolved soul who isn’t tied down by gender constraints and labels allows these energies to empower them equally. The problem with society is that it traditionally views so many feminine qualities as weakness. Being emotional, soft, tender, gentle. They are perceived as negative and obstructive forces in a steely business world. So perhaps we don’t need more women in VC. Perhaps we need more men who harness their dakini energy. Perhaps we need more women who harness their inherit masculine energy. Perhaps we need more acceptance and less chastisement of qualities that are seen as weakness. If you awaken and champion weakness it transforms into empowered strength.

More thoughts coming soon xox