She's Brave Podcast - Kristina Driscoll

ThirdLove CEO Heidi Zak's Disruptive Journey in the Lingerie Industry

January 30, 2024 Kristina Driscoll Episode 71
She's Brave Podcast - Kristina Driscoll
ThirdLove CEO Heidi Zak's Disruptive Journey in the Lingerie Industry
Show Notes Transcript

Heidi Zak, co-founder and CEO of ThirdLove, joins me this week to share her inspiring story. Heidi shares her inspiring story of starting ThirdLove after a frustrating bra shopping experience left her wanting more options that were comfortable, inclusive, and empowering for women.

She discusses the challenges of launching ThirdLove as one of the first direct-to-consumer brands and pitching mostly male venture capitalists on the idea of selling bras online. Heidi also talks about her commitment to philanthropy through ThirdLove, having donated over $50 million worth of products to women in need. She provides advice for women looking to start their own businesses, emphasizing that you don't need to create a billion-dollar company to make an impact. Heidi's story demonstrates how small, brave steps can lead to positive disruption in traditionally male-dominated industries.

About Heidi:

Heidi Zak is the Co-Founder and CEO of ThirdLove, the top online intimate brand with millennials, that has donated over $50 million worth of products to women in need since inception. Heidi co-founded ThirdLove with David Spector and Ra’el Cohen in 2013. 

Heidi has been recognized as Fortune's 40 Under 40, EY Entrepreneur of the Year, National Retail Federation's Disruptors, Fast Company’s Most Creative People and Goldman Sachs' 100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs. In addition to contributing a weekly column to Inc.com, Zak is committed to advancing more women in tech and is an active angel investor in female-founded companies. She graduated from Duke University and holds an MBA from MIT Sloan. Prior to launching ThirdLove, Zak held a variety of roles at Google, Aeropostale, McKinsey and Bank of America. In her spare time you can find her working out, or chasing after her two kids.

Connect with Heidi:

Web https://www.thirdlove.com/

LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/heidizak/

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/heidi 


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Kristina:

Hey everyone, it's Christina Driscoll host of this she's brave Podcast.

Unknown:

I'm so glad you're here with me. I did not start out brave at all. But I learned that we can do brave things, one small step at a time. After caregiving for my husband and son for 12 years, it was definitely time for my next chapter. I wanted to get brave women's voices out there in the world. And more importantly, I want all of you to have the courage and the resilience to live your best authentic life. So come along with me and learn how to live your best life. And I want you to hear the brave voices of women all around the world

Kristina:

Hey, everyone, it's Christina with the she's brave. Podcast. You guys. You guys, you guys guys. We have such an incredible treat today. You are not even going to believe this. This woman Heidi Zack is incredible. Incredible. She's like the dream woman of the she's brave podcast about women helping women, women lifting up other women. Let me introduce her first because I'm getting overly excited. Heidi Zack is the co founder and CEO third love the top online intimate brand with millennials and she's donated over $50 million worth of products to women in need. Can you even believe it? You guys, Heidi has been recognized as fortunes 40 under 40 Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year National Retail Federation disruptors I love it already Fast Company's most creative people and Goldman Sachs 100 most intriguing entrepreneurs. In addition to contributing a weekly column to inc.com, Heidi is committed to advancing more women in tech, and is an active angel investor in female founded companies. Yes, welcome, Heidi.

Unknown:

Yay, I'm so excited to be here.

Kristina:

I am deeply honored to have you on my podcast, I was just Googling some information about female investors helping other female investors. Now you guys don't get bored, don't get bored. I know what I'm going to say some of you're gonna not know what I'm talking about. But we're gonna break it all down. But if you didn't know, currently, in the US, women make up approximately only 11% of investing partners at venture capital firms, and only around 13% of venture capital dollars go to startups with a woman on the founding team. Now some of you may not know what that means. But basically what it is, is women helping raise money for other women. And we're going to talk more about that because this is part of your story. And I want to just go back to the very beginning. And I just want to ask you, you've definitely had the courage to live the life of your dreams. What advice would you give to any of my listeners out there, regardless of whether they're young with kids at home or older kids out of the nest, and they're thinking, listen to this Heidi's act, she's a rock star, but I can never do anything like that. What advice would you have for that person? Yeah, well, I

Unknown:

think if you're really passionate about something, and you want to see change, I think that's really what fuels most people who start a business and not every business has to be a billion dollar company, right? There's many women out there running really successful businesses that make a lot of money and do amazing things. And I hope to see lots of women starting companies that make it to a billion dollars. But that also I don't think we need to start something to achieve that. I think there's a lot of difference we can collectively make by building products and services and things that are actually designed for women that can start smaller, but still be super amazing businesses. So part of it is just like, I think sometimes there's this perception that you have to create something enormous and it's like no, you can just create something that you're really passionate about, that can make a difference in the world and like see where it goes. I think one point and then second is really, if you don't try something you'll never know if it was successful or not. And so sometimes people have asked me why Did I take the leap to leave my job to try to start something? And there were really two reasons. One was, I was thinking to myself, like, if I don't try to build this, I think somebody else might. And I would really be kicking myself a year or two down the road being like, look at that person, like, they actually went and did the thing that I was talking about. And the second thing was, like, really realizing that I could come back to something that I was doing already. So the world is big, there's a lot of opportunity, there's a lot of jobs. So what is the worst thing that can happen, you start a company, start a business, and it feels like that's the worst that can happen. And if you're able to sort of think through what that would look like, for you, make sure obviously, like you can handle that financial stress, whatever that may be, if you can do that, and you fail, and you learn something new, you can go back to doing what you were doing before, you know, that might be an opportunity. So I think sometimes risk taking, you just really need to think through all the things that could go wrong and be like, can I stomach it? And look, it's not for everyone. I'm not saying it is. And entrepreneurship is really hard and isn't for everyone, but you need to walk down the path of like, what would be the worst case scenario? And can I deal with that?

Kristina:

I have totally learned to do that as well. And I've only been officially podcasting for a year. And I have learned well, what's the worst thing that can happen? And it's okay, even if it does, I love that answer. And

Unknown:

you learn, right? Like if you think back then for sure you've had things that have gone wrong. It's like, cool, like you've learned from it. You you take something away that makes you better at what you do. Yeah, yeah, absolutely.

Kristina:

Love that answer. Tell us more about that journey. So tell us more about the journey of your company. Third love. Yeah. So

Unknown:

I mean, it's it's been 10 years in the making just an overnight success. And I was working at Google, and I didn't have kids yet. And I needed a bye bra. So the typical thing and I did what I done for legitimately my adult life, since I was a teenager, which is gotten in the car, I drove to the mall. And I went into a Victoria's Secret store. And I did what I always did, which was avoid that 16 year old sales associates try to grab some bras, try them on in a fitting room, kind of settle for the one that fit the best out of them. And get out of there as quickly as possible with the perfume and the full experience. I was just like, and this specific day, when I left the store, I took the pink striped bag, and I put it into the tote I was carrying, because I was embarrassed that I shopped there. And that was a real that was my aha moment of why am I shopping and spending money with a company that doesn't represent women? Well, that doesn't make high quality product. And that doesn't provide an amazing shopping experience. Like why as a consumer, am I further fueling spending money at a brand like that. And I went home that night, and I was like, There's got to be a better place to buy a bra, right? There's got to be an online bra brand. There's got to be someone who's doing it better that has inclusive marketing, higher quality product, maybe they sell online, nothing. And really, that was the time where I was like that look, Victoria's Secret, like there's gotta be competition to them if they're going to ever change. And that was the beginning of the third love story.