We have another Woman Crush Wednesday – Becky Holmes from Ello Raw. The WCW series features women leaders, mentors, inspirations, and business owners in the Raleigh community. If you know a woman innovating in your life or you are one, send us an email at [email protected] Let’s dive into our crush this week!
A Little Bit About Becky
I went to Duke for my undergrad and graduated in 2015. While there, I studied dance, markets and management, and got my teaching license. I studied a lot of different things that were all important to me – they all made sense for my entrepreneur life. In an entrepreneur class, it taught me how to take an idea and turn it into reality. There was a fellowship program, Connect Fellows, that enabled me to either start a company or get an internship as it connected college undergrads to high impact entrepreneurs in Brazil.
I knew that it was the time in college to start a company since I still had a life buffer. That’s when I started Ello Raw the summer after my junior year of college. More and more it just seemed like a reality and how I could sustain myself. When in college, I was on the typical route of consulting, but this was just something I really enjoyed and wanted to continue. I came back to Raleigh for another fellowship program, continued to develop Ello Raw, and never looked back.
Ello Raw consumes a lot of my time now. When I was growing up, I was the person who just did everything. So, when I started Ello Raw, that was all I did. Now, I’m getting back into having hobbies and things I enjoy outside of the business. I do some content programs on the side and building brands. I love audiobooks and I’m on an IM kickball team.
How Ello Raw Came to Be…
When I was a sophomore in college, I went through a bad breakup so I resorted to eating better and going to the gym. Essentially, I was doing things I could control in a time when I felt like I couldn’t control much. It led me to doing a lot of different diets and learning about nutrition. I grew up in a family with food instability and we just didn’t really care about our nutrition. When I started eating better, it made me so much happier in life. As I would be looking for healthy snacks, I would turn the label over to just find chemicals and sugars – just so many things that are bad for you. So, I wondered why there wasn’t anything healthy out there. This prompted the idea for Ello Raw.
One of the pivotal moments for Ello Raw was being accepted by Whole Foods as a vendor. I remember waking up one morning and seeing an email from Whole Foods saying, “Welcome to the Family.” It just reaffirmed that I was actually going somewhere. Getting on Amazon was another big milestone with having the ability to reach so many more people.
Being a Female Business Owner
I never thought, “I can’t do this,” just on the basis of being a girl. I played on a tackle football team growing up. As I go further into the business world, I realize my gender does impact things, so I need to accept it and just know where that gap is to push harder. There have been situations with male investors, brokers, vendors, and distributors where I’m trying to be taken seriously, but they want to be referred to a man in my business.
In the beginning, I would watch guys my age who had ideas or be looking for funding, and they would talk to someone who within a week would give them funding. The gender gap is hard to make it tangible – we only have stories and feelings of being the only woman in the room or at the table. Any female who has been a founder has felt those things and knows they’re at a disadvantage because of their gender.
How Raleigh Can Better Serve Businesses
I think it’s about having men be a part of the conversation – we can’t separate from each other. We need to all be at the table. Having more events with equal representation and giving a voice to them. We need things for confidence, empowerment, and equipping women, but we need things to lessen the gap. These things are very different. Women’s events are to help empower and provide support systems, but there needs to be a time when we are at the table with men and others.
As women, we have to accept we might have the short end of the stick, but it can’t stop us. We need to be proactive in going to events and meetings with investors that are predominantly male. If every time we go to an event that’s all men, we tend to think that’s what an entrepreneur looks like. We need to be bold and show that “we are here, too” by becoming an equal voice in our fields.
It’s A Balancing Act
It’s easy to just say, “she got invested in because she’s a woman,” or on the basis of race. There’s also the counter of not getting invested in because of your gender or race. You have to step back and look at the data. Stories are important, but looking at the data and recognizing the gap and why it exists is important. There’s so much conditioning as a society, so while we might be saying that we don’t stereotype or judge based on race/gender, it’s hard not to because of the conditioning. We don’t want to get things because of our gender, but we don’t want to be held back because of our gender. When we become victims, that’s a really bad place to be. So it’s a delicate balance of not victimizing yourself, while acknowledging we still have a ways to get in attaining equal opportunity.