Women's Equality: Founders Fireside Chat at ThirdLove HQ

Veronique Powell, Heidi Zak, Magdalena YeÙil, and Meaghan Rose at ThirdLove HQ Fireside Chat

In celebration of Women’s Equality Day this year, ThirdLove HQ hosted female founders for a fireside chat on female leadership, empowering future generations, and the hard work still to be done. Though we consider every day a chance to advocate for women’s equal rights, we took this opportunity to invite guests to hear our panelists speak to important issues that impact women in tech.

On Aug. 27, ThirdLove Co-founder and CEO Heidi Zak, Rocksbox Founder and CEO Meaghan Rose, and Magdalena Yeşil, founder of Broadway Angels and author of Power Up: How Smart Women Win in the New Economy, took stage to share their experiences and lessons with the audience. Over 100 guests gathered in our atrium as Veronique Powell, Head of Strategy and Planning at ThirdLove, moderated the discussion. See some of the event highlights below!


Veronique Powell, Heidi Zak, Magdalena Yeşil, and Meaghan Rose at ThirdLove HQ Fireside Chat

(From left to right) Veronique Powell, Heidi Zak, Magdalena Yeşil, and Meaghan Rose

On the biggest challenges they’ve faced as female founders

“My answer is going to be unorthodox. I’ve thought that being a female was usually a benefit for me, not a minus. In some ways, if you don’t believe that, it’s going to be so hard. You’ve got to get up every morning and say, ‘In fact, I have an advantage.’ It’s not easy asking for money, it’s not easy being rejected.” — Magdalena

“One of the more interesting VC meetings I have had in the past six years was one where Dave, my co-founder and husband, we were pitching a well-known firm and he was probably around 30, the associate, and at the end of the meeting, he looked over and he was like, ‘You know, we only invest in things we really understand.’ I couldn’t believe it. Needless to say he didn’t give us money.” — Heidi

“The stats can be so discouraging, so the way that I usually think about it is what’s in my control? I think it’s so empowering for me when I see another woman who is unapologetic about how awesome she is, who is unapologetic about what she wants, and then I think to myself, that’s the woman I want to be. And that really inspires me when I have a particularly frustrating fundraising conversation.” — Meaghan

On the failures they’ve experienced along the way

“I think back on the early days of ThirdLove, and I think about 90 percent of things went wrong and only 10 percent of things went right. I spent a very good amount of time at our factory down trying to get the factory up and running. And we quickly came to realize that the quality wasn’t there and we needed to shift out of Mexico to Asia and lose hundreds of thousands of dollars. And we actually almost went under from that and we managed to recover by the skin of our teeth. Always do things urgently and quickly, and don’t wait for things to get better.” — Heidi

“We could not get funding and it took me three years working for zero salary. I finally, with my cofounder, realized that it was just not going to happen for us. And so instead of having this incredible feeling of being crushed and disappointed and just giving up, we said, ‘OK, who can we partner with?’ You can’t let your own ego get in the way.” — Magdalena

“Before I started Rocksbox, I started another jewelry company called Urban Gem, which was a huge failure. Nothing came of it from a business perspective. But it was such an incredible learning experience. I truly do believe that if you’re getting value out of that experience and you’re rolling that forward into the things you’re doing in the future, what’s a failure really? It’s all part of the same story arc.” — Meaghan

On combating the gender wage gap

“I think the biggest thing is you are your biggest advocate, and also you need to make sure that other people realize that and support you. It’s not just about you, it’s about your impact on others in the organization.” — Heidi

“One of the things I really advocate for is in fact audits on equal pay for equal work. Why is that such a difficult concept for people to get? We need to pay people doing the same job equally.” — Magdalena

“It goes back to the idea of valuing your own time and your own worth and investing in that. That means having a conversation with your manager and saying, ‘Look, I want to work towards this salary, what does that take?’ And being deliberate about making the people on your team successful. It’s not an afterthought, you have to manage your own career.” — Meaghan

On the best advice they’re ever gotten

“‘I’m just not going to let it get to me.’ That positive energy carried the day. I’m one of those people who will have a great day or a bad day, but I carry myself really well and go to bed. And all my monsters come out, my anxiety, my sadness, so I have to remember that motto.” — Magdalena

“It’s one of our ThirdLove values, which is every day is a new day. You get up in the morning and you have a choice you make every single day personally, professionally, as a friend, a parent. You have to reframe every day because life is so fast-paced.” — Heidi

“It’s a really simple saying: Don’t take it personally. The things that people give you, whether they’re commenting or giving you feedback in some way, it’s more a reflection of them and their own mindset and their mental models of the world than it is a reflection of you. You sort of have to put things in that context just objectively, and choose which things you’re going to take in and which things you’re going to leave behind.” — Meaghan

On their motto

“Make it happen.” — Heidi

“No regrets.” — Magdalena

“Life is beautiful.” — Meaghan

Who should we invite to our next Founders Fireside Chat? We’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments below!