When setting up their own business and going through accelerator programmes, Australian sisters and co-founders of TWOOBS Jess and Stef Dadon noticed a distinct lack of female presence. Now their female-friendly shoe business is a success story, they’re committing $5000 of that profit, plus plenty of their own time, to give other up-and-coming women a boost.
Online shoe brand TWOOBS is built on the premise of empowering women, with footwear designed to transition seamlessly from the beach to the shops to the dancefloor, all while keeping feet comfy.
Jess says the shoes are made for the woman who “really just wants a pair of shoes that are going to look cool without holding her back”.
It’s a female-run company, with female-run suppliers, so the decision to support other female entrepreneurs through their new TWO GOOD grants was a logical next step.
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“We really do want to be supporting females in business in every way,” says Stef.
“It’s about finding businesses that are run by passionate, empowered women who are doing something that we’re excited about, and getting the ideas off the ground.”
The co-founders are looking for varied business ideas — the only real criteria is the startups have to have at least one female founder. According to Jess, it’s more about “looking for the right fit”.
“We’ll be doing a couple of rounds of interviews,” she says, adding that they’re interested in working with “really enthusiastic incredible women doing awesome things”.
TWOOBS has a strong ethical and animal-friendly focus — all their products are 100% animal friendly — and while Jess and Stef are open to hearing about the causes applicants are passionate about, that’s not necessarily a requirement.
However, Stef says: “It’s 2018, and I feel like most businesses in some way do have a social cause that they’re passionate about”.
As well as the $5,000 grant, which could be split across multiple applicants, Jess and Stef will also work with the successful startup, or startups, as mentors.
Because they’ve had quite a public presence (before founding TWOOBS the sisters ran the blog-turned-online store How Two Live) and because they are, in Stef’s words, “quite outspoken”, the sisters often have female entrepreneurs coming to them to ask for advice.
Partly, Stef says, the TWO GOOD initiative came from “listening to our audience and following what they’re looking for”.
Jess says the sisters have benefited from some “amazing mentors” themselves, who have “been so instrumental to where we are today”.
“We’ve been so overwhelmed about how generous these people have been with their time,” she says. “It’s our time to pay that forward.”
In fact, Jess says her top piece of advice for early-stage startups is to find a mentor.
“Out of everything that we’ve done, finding the right mentor who can really propel you forward has just been so, so valuable,” she says.
“Why make mistakes when someone has made them for you?”
Applications for the TWO GOOD grants are open until June 30 2018.