By Kimberly Caccavo
Being a woman has never held me back; I never felt discriminated against or disadvantaged. I was always the youngest, and the first female, to accomplish any goal I set for myself. I was one of five women to graduate from my chemical engineering program at UC Berkeley. I was one of the first female research scientists in high temperature ceramics. I was one of the first female business executives in telecommunications as I climbed the corporate ladder. I felt I could do anything.
In 2010, I did a triathlon in honor of a local San Diego teen, Chelsea King, who was murdered while running alone. I hired Kate Nowlan, my son’s swim coach, to whip me into shape. I wanted to look my best while training. I searched for athletic apparel that met my needs; I wanted apparel that held me in, protected me from the sun, and kept me safe on both land and sea. Kate wanted that too. A few years passed. We were convinced somebody would develop clothing for women like us, 30 to 60 years old, who wanted to train hard and look GREAT doing it. By 2013, what we wanted in women's performance apparel still wasn’t on the market, so we founded GRACEDBYGRIT.
We immediately went in search of funding. Our first stop was a local incubator in San Diego where we presented to thirty men. At the end of the presentation, they gave us advice for our next presentation: I needed to smile more and my business partner needed to stand in front of the podium so she could show off her legs. No, this wasn't the 80’s. This was 2013. Since then, we have pitched to over thirty venture capital firms, primarily men, who just don’t get our mission and don't relate to our product.
We knew we had created something special, so we invested our own money. In just four years, we’ve generated over $2.8 million in revenue, sold over 50,000 pieces of apparel, identified over 400 brand influencers and formed close relationships with over 40,000 customers. Today, we need further investment to achieve our goal of becoming a hundred-million-dollar company and a brand that empowers women to look, feel and be their best selves.
Undaunted by our experience with venture capital firms, we looked for other ways to raise money. This year, we connected with StartEngine, a new equity crowdfunding platform that developed after Title III of the JOBS Act was passed in 2016 to increase funding for entrepreneurs and small businesses. This law allows anyone, especially non-accredited investors, to invest in crowdfunding offerings. Prior to this, you had to be an accredited investor to invest in a non-public company.
StartEngine had already raised millions of dollars for start-ups. However, there were no companies that prioritized women’s empowerment and safety like we do. We knew we could make an impact through StartEngine. We launched our equity crowdfunding campaign this summer and met our first goal in one month.
The future of retail is online. We need to improve our e-commerce platform to take our business to the next level. That’s why we have increased our goal on StartEngine. This second round of funding will allow us to optimize our website and allow us to expand the reach of our digital presence. As women, we face the unique difficulty of raising money from traditional VCs, with only 2.5% of female founded businesses receiving funding. None of the news that continues to surface about predatory venture capitalists or harassment at companies like Google, UBER, and Facebook is surprising.
The story is the same every time: it’s hard to raise money as a woman. It wasn’t easy when we started the business and it’s not easy now. Luckily, we have the most intelligent and supportive family, friends, employees and customers. What we need now are supportive investors who believe in GRACEDBYGRIT’s mission and believe in women as much as we do. Things must change and we need your help to spearhead this change. Anyone can invest in GRACEDBYGRIT. Learn more about our company, our story and our equity crowdfunding campaign here: http://bit.ly/GBGStartEngine.
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