If Heather Serden and Danielle Yadegar, co-founders of Above the Glass, were to poll 1,000 women, these are the top five questions they'd ask:
WHAT IS YOUR MAIN SOURCE OF MOTIVATION?
WHAT DOES SUCCESS LOOK LIKE TO YOU?
WHO IS YOUR BUSINESS ROLE-MODEL?
WHICH BUSINESSES DO YOU WISH EXISTED OUT THERE?
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO SEE FROM ABOVE THE GLASS?
Recently launched, Above the Glass is setting out to empower and mobilize young women and female founders by removing the fear around the financial and business aspects of a startup. While the class of 2017 at top business schools reported record numbers of female enrollees, there are not enough resources for women who are not afforded similar opportunities. But that's exactly what we can expect from Above the Glass: business resources and downloads, interviews with women paving the way, and career advancement advice.
We checked in with the partners ahead of Create & Cultivate DTLA where they will be joining us as mentors.
We talk about understanding the who of your brand, but also the why. What’s your why?
We started Above the Glass to fill what we saw as a huge void in the market – a lack of formal business training amongst creative female professionals. We knew from time spent with private clients what types of questions these women were asking, and what services and information they were looking for.
The real turning point came when Heather experienced sexism at work. She was working in tech, which is notoriously a boys club, and honestly didn’t realize discrimination in the work place was still an issue. We think that as women get older, get married and have families, that a lot of the dynamics change, and we often get stereotyped to be on the “mommy track,” or taken less seriously as we climb the corporate ladder. She knew she could go start a business with the tools she had, but so many other women didn’t have the background or the knowledge to take that leap - so we started Above the Glass to give that opportunity to all women.
And why is now the right time to launch?
There is so much inspiration out there right now for female entrepreneurs. It is a really great time for female empowerment, and women are stepping up to help other women. Women have the ideas, and are inspired to take that next step – often they just don’t know how to do it. We think that Above the Glass can give them the information and the resources that enable them to execute on their ideas.
What is Above the Glass doing to close the gender gap?
Women are under-represented in business school and in leadership positions in corporate America. We are definitely as smart as men, but the numbers show we don’t have the same formal business training. By creating Above the Glass, we provide women with access to information and tools that can empower them to start businesses. This equal access to information and resources to take that leap can allow us all to be our own boss, regardless of gender.
"We are definitely as smart as men, but the numbers show we don’t have the same formal business training."
April 12th is Equal Pay Day. A year from now what do you hope has been achieved?
Starting a business isn’t necessarily about making money overnight, it’s about building a future. We hope everyone has the opportunity to start their own business, if that is what they really want to do. Being your own boss means you have a say in what you get paid, or the success of the business dictates it, not someone else.
What women do you admire?
We admire all women who have built and scaled businesses, despite the challenges they faced. We also admire the women who have taken the time out of their busy schedules to give us their feedback and advice. Kindness has made the greatest impact on us – we will always aspire to be like the kind women who have been so generous with us.
Who is your dream interview? What would you want to know?
Our dream interview would be Alexa Von Tobel. She started her company, Learnvest, to help women manage their personal finances, and turned it into this incredible investment platform - she transformed an entire male-dominated industry. She was young, hungry, and just got it done. Being an entrepreneur is so hard - an emotional roller coaster - and we would want to know all of the challenges she faced and how she got through them. We would want to know everything about her journey.
What are some skills you want to help women in business hone?
Women are often intimidated by a lot of the numbers and abstract concepts in business. We think that by just talking about it more, and breaking some of these topics down into simpler terms, we can make all of it approachable. Whether it is the financial side of starting a business, the legal side, or just the ability to discuss business in casual conversation, we think the best thing we can do for women is to make it more familiar.
Do you ever feel the pressure to perform both genders in the workplace?
When you start a business, you are every role and every gender. It can be hard, as a woman, to negotiate deals that are in your best favor. Men would push harder for the lower prices on contract services, and higher fees for their own services, but women can come off as “bitchy” or “high maintenance.” At Above the Glass, we just try to continue to do what is in the best interest of our business, despite the traditional gender roles others may want us to play.
How do you think women are taking up space differently than they were a decade ago? Both at work and at home?
We think women are starting to see some creative options on how to have both a family and a career. Statistically speaking, the rate of female entrepreneurship is growing 1.5X faster than male entrepreneurship – and the types of businesses that women are starting tend to be smaller, lifestyle businesses. There are fewer boundaries between work and life, and if you can create a business for yourself, then you control your own hours. A tradeoff of in having your own business is that you never officially turn off. If there is a work emergency, you are responsible for it, not matter what the hour is!
What does ‘Having it All’ mean to you, respectively, and how do you think this differs from your mother’s generation?
These days, so much about having it all is about timing. You can have it all, but not necessarily all at once. Our parents’ generation focused on having a family early and fitting a career into that family life, no matter what sacrifices they had to make. These days, people are so focused on a career that they often wait until later in life, once they are successful, to have children. For some people that timing works out better, but we don’t think it has to be that way. We can still have families and careers simultaneously, we just need to be aware that there are trade-offs. If you are scaling your business with an infant at home, you may not be able to spend as much time with your baby as you want. If you want to be a full-time mom, you are going to have to wait to scale your business.
These days we know we have more options, in terms of timing, for how to have it all.
Answer Heather and Danielle's questions in the comments below to give us more insight!