This month Worn hosted its 11th F*it focused on how incredible women are thriving as entrepreneurs and leaders through moments of grit, grind and hustle.
Our November F*it, hosted at R/GA Ventures in NYC, sparked some especially awesome conversations, thanks to our four speakers:
- Stephanie Manning, Director of Platform at Lerer Hippeau Ventures
- Erin Carpenter, Founder of hosiery line Nude Barre
- Coco and Breezy Dotson, Founders of Coco and Breezy Eyewear
Each of these ladies bravely shared their personal stories of struggle and ultimate redemption. Here’s a snapshot of each one.
Stephanie Manning, Director of Platform, Lerer Hippeau Ventures
Stephanie Manning kicked off the conversation, describing a challenge she faced early in her career within the startup and venture capital world.
While at her first job, Stephanie debated whether to leave the company, due to office politics and her ambition to expand professionally. Her father also passed away from cancer around this time which convinced her that life was too short to stay at a job you don’t like. Her supervisors discouraged her from making the jump, saying she wasn’t in the right emotional state to make a sound decision. But Stephanie knew she was thinking clearly. She boldly left the company and landed on her feet. She’s now the Director of Platform at Lerer Hippeau Ventures, which is an NYC-based seed stage VC fund. She’s also passionate about mentoring and helping women within the VC space.
“Whenever another woman in the VC world reaches out to me for advice, I always make time to talk with her. Women in our industry need to stick together.” – Stephanie Manning
Erin Carpenter, Founder, Nude Barre
The concept behind Nude Barre sparked from unfair and embarrassing industry rules Erin Carpenter faced as a young ballet dancer. When auditioning, Erin was asked to wear “nude” colored hosiery. After being unable to find a hosiery line in her exact skin tone and wearing beige colored hosiery instead, Erin was turned away from dance auditions, told she didn’t follow instructions. After years of hand-dyeing tights and “pancaking” pointe shoes with makeup to match her skin tone, Erin had had enough. She had trained with the Dance Theater of Harlem, Alvin Ailey and the Knicks City Dancers, and nowhere in this time could she find hosiery to match her skin tone.
In 2009 Erin took the leap to start Nude Barre, and soon after worked up the courage to send TV host Wendy Williams product samples. Wendy loved the product and bought Erin’s entire stock in her size. Nude Barre has now been worn by The Lion King cast on broadway, celebrities like Star Jones, and countless others. The company offers twelve different shades of tights and undergarments in children’s women’s and plus sizes.
Coco and Breezy Dotson
We just can’t get enough of Coco and Breezy. These twin founders and designers rocked the stage at F*it, showing their edgy personal style and best-friend relationship as sisters and business partners. What’s even more impressive is that these twins are completely self-taught, having started their eyewear brand by hand-gluing rhinestone studs to safety goggles in their apartment.
As the business grew, the twins learned to navigate “make it or break it” situations, and after a large scale product shipment cancellation, they faced their hardest days the brand had seen. The twins gave everything they had to keep the brand alive, even going on food stamps to literally make ends meet. And these women kept going. They “stopped giving a fuck” about what others thought, worked harder, smarter and faster, and after some time, gained big-time attention from key players in the entertainment and fashion world.
Today Coco and Breezy’s avant-garde designs have ranged from the “third-eye” sunglasses for the late Prince to recent collaborations with Hershey’s, Ciroc, and SIX:02. These twins certainly have our hearts, and our eyes.
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