Please meet FREDA Women Amy Parker and Gina Pell, co-founders of The What. Gina and Amy are dot.com OG's and have created a global community of women sharing wisdom, friendship and inspiration. They have been partners and friends for over 19 years, which we love. We may be biased, but feel the power of female business partners carries exceptional weight. We love hearing from other Founders about why and how their partnership works.
Check out Gina and Amy's Q&A and head over to the FREDA X THE WHAT page to see their personal selects.
Please explain what you do and why you started The What.
We started The What as a weekly newsletter, however it has since grown vibrant community of 100,000 women around the globe, who gather to connect, discover, share and figure it out together. We are both natural curators and enthusiasts who are curious and eager to share our discoveries--what works, what’s good, what’s worth the time and money. While we vet everything together, Gina gravitates towards art, culture, and literature and Amy unearths the best in food, health, beauty, and lifestyle.
We were so sick of celebrity driven stories and thought it would be breath of fresh air to share the discoveries and conversations of real everyday people who march to the beat of their own drum and who are fun to hang out with. You can connect with all these incredible women through our weekly newsletter, our private group or our annual Summit. It’s a powerful and connected community but we’re always looking for more intelligent, generous women so please join us.
Being female Co-Founders as well, we feel there is something truly special about the power of partnership. Can you put in words why your partnership is so special and how it sets your business apart from others?
We began as colleagues, became good friends and that relationship grew into a creative and professional partnership evolving over 19 years, three companies, layoffs, one acquisition, marriage, moves, kids, deaths and all the shit life throws at us. And still we can’t quit each other. Everything we have built with The What, from our recommendations and community conversations to our Summit programming is through the lens of our friendship. And, whether it’s our teams or our clients, we’ve always found a way to create meaningful friendships with the women we work with. Reconnecting with you, Megan, is a perfect example. You worked with us 15 years ago at Splendora, we’ve been obsessed with FREDA since you launched and now we’re coming full circle with this collaboration.
Now that we’ve built our entire business around women lifting each other up, it makes our partnership even more special. People ask us all the time how we move through disagreements. It’s simple. We have the utmost respect for each other and we trust each other implicitly. We butt heads, we disagree, we challenge and check each other. It’s what keeps our friendship strong, and our vision fresh and focused.
Your point of view is very authentic, which I am sure has a lot to do with why your community is so loyal. Where do you find your inspiration behind what you share with your readers?
Absolutely everywhere. In our own conversations, our travels and especially within our own community. We are so fortunate to have this group of women sharing candid conversations and discoveries about the shit that matters to them, whether it’s a WFH hack or finding rad sneakers to supporting a friend through cancer, eliminating dairy from your diet or CBD microdosing. It’s a goldmine of wisdom. All we try to do is connect the dots - creating conversations and connection experiences that spark curiosity, generosity and reciprocity.
You started and sold Splendora, now The What. Did you do anything differently with this new endeavor? Is there any instance where you learned from your mistakes and did things differently this time?
Plenty. During our Splendora heydays we made the mistake of chasing revenue rather than delivering awesome content. As a media brand, content drives audience engagement and growth. When the recession hit and we lost 75% of our revenue overnight, we realized we’d been focused on all the wrong metrics and our brand suffered. Luckily, we got crystal clear on our key success metric, re-org’d, recovered and exited within two years. It was an important lesson and this time around we made a very conscious decision to prioritize stellar content over everything else. It’s served us well, as our content has been the primary driver for our 100,000+ community of women who turn to us and each other every day for what to buy, what to try and where to go.
Any words of wisdom to a woman wanting to start her own business?
Find your tribe - that group of women (and men) who energize you, challenge your ideas, celebrate your wins and losses and can give you an outside perspective when you’re struggling. Starting a business is a slog - and a long one. There are no quick wins, so know WHY you’re in it and be ready to work harder than you ever have. Have patience with yourself as every business evolves over time and you have to live with it, take the feedback and iterate. One of our favorite books is ‘Great At Work’ by Morten T. Hansen. It’s all about the critical importance of obsessive focus and creating value. And the sooner you can create smart work practices you’ll move the needle towards a very focused vision. We wish we’d read this book as we were getting started, but it’s never too late. Lastly, just fucking go for it. Entrepreneurship is the master-class on life.