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Joanna Griffiths on Dreaming Often, Owning Your Timeline & Fundraising While Pregnant

May 18, 2021
Joanna Griffiths

One thing that you should know about me is that I am a dreamer. Always have been. I used to dream of meeting the Backstreet Boys. I dreamed of singing on the big stage. I dreamed of being CEO of a media company. And then I started to dream about Knix. 

At first my dreams were small— figure out how to make a product, get people to know about it, get people to buy it. Over the past nine years I’ve had the pleasure of having so many of my dreams come true. At the same time, it’s come with more hard work than I could have ever imagined and I’ve had my heart broken more times than I can count. I’ve become immune to the word no. I had to learn you collect thousands of no’s on your journey to get one yes

I’ve become super comfortable with being underestimated. Rather than taking it personally I view it as a strength— because I set the expectations I have for myself. I get to define and redefine the person that I want to be. Always growing, always learning.  

Last fall I had a new dream. I wanted to raise a round of financing for Knix before giving birth to my twin girls. I wanted to prove that pregnancy or motherhood doesn’t have to be viewed as some kind of setback. I knew it would be hard. I knew that some people would underestimate or overlook me because of it. But I also knew I could do it. 

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Dream by dream I have been fortunate enough to build an incredible team and a brand that touches more people than I could have ever imagined. Today we announced our minority growth equity round as we gear up to surpass $100M in revenue. I closed the round on March 5th at 4:30 pm on my last day of work— three days before the girls were born. I am so incredibly grateful to our new partners TZP as well as Acton Capital, Ashley Graham (pinch me), Tom Williams and Yard Ventures for believing in my vision and helping me realize the next chapter of dreams. People say to dream big. But I say dream often. Because what you thought was impossible yesterday might just be possible today. 

While the concept of raising money for your business doesn’t apply to everyone, we all have moments where we contemplate taking a risk and going for something big. Regardless of what that big thing is, the same considerations apply in a lot of ways— especially if we’re thinking about how or if they line up with the timeline of having a family or other major life events. 

With that in mind I wanted to share three things I learned through this process that might be helpful for others.

Don’t be afraid to own your timeline

It can often feel like life happens to us, versus us happening to life and this concept has never felt more true than in the context of the past year during the pandemic. So I am here to remind you that you can own the timeline of your life. There is never really a good time to do something but there certainly are bad times— and a lot of it has to do with your bandwidth which is something that is uniquely personal. I took a big risk in raising money while pregnant but it worked best for my timeline. I knew that once the girls were born I would be exhausted so I made it work for me—  even though it went against everything I had been told as a female founder. There’s an unspoken rule that you shouldn’t raise money while pregnant. Turns out you can. 

Be selective about who you partner with 

This is true in any relationship— whether that be a life partner, a company, a working partnership or an investor. Each of these unique relationships require trust, communication and mutual respect.  

In the case of raising money I had a simple rule: if someone spoke negatively about my pregnancy and my ability to run Knix while raising a family, they were removed from the process. It was clear to me that if they questioned my ability to parent and run a company, they clearly didn’t understand what Knix was about. From my perspective, it was better to find out ahead of time than in the boardroom. In a lot of ways I’m grateful to have had this litmus test. It gave me more faith in who we ultimately decided to work with, knowing that we shared similar values. 

Understand the power of relationships 

The key to understanding is to invest in your relationships ahead of time. In the case of TZP, I had known the partner Erin O’Brien Edwards for over 5 years. She actually visited Knix’s first basement office back in 2016 and was an original customer of our Evolution Bra and headbands (RIP Knix headbands). Having an established existing relationship meant that I could move quickly (owning the timeline) and be selective about who we partner with— all because there was already a track record of trust. It can be a challenge to nourish relationships while juggling everything else but don’t underestimate the value of regular check-ins with people in your life.

So what does this mean for Knix?

Ultimately it means that we get to do more of what we love. We can make more products, and buy more stock so we aren’t selling out all the time. We can tell more incredible stories and bring you even more breakthrough campaigns. We’re looking forward to connecting with more of you on a personal level—  by opening more stores and expanding our virtual fittings.

I am so excited for Knix’s next chapter of growth and very grateful to our community of customers and supporters that has helped build Knix into the company it is today. We couldn’t have done it without you.

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