This interview is published as part of Pledge 1%’s Women Who Lead series, which celebrates women in the Pledge 1% community who are creating change within their workplace and communities.
Q1: What is your Name and Title?
Gemma Sole, Cofounder and COO/CMO of Nineteenth Amendment
Q2: How long have you been in your current position?
3 years (!). Before this I worked in Venture Capital and Strategy and Communications consulting.
Q3: What inspired you to work in this industry?
I’ve always loved bringing beautiful things to life. I’m an artist on the side and was very into fashion growing up. I went from consulting to the startup space and Nineteenth Amendment allows me to combine things that I care about: 1) helping creative makers do what they love , 2) helping small businesses grow and scale, 3) building things that are awesome.
In terms of fashion tech, the fashion industry really hasn’t had much innovation aside from effects of globalization (good and bad). What out platform does is provide the first real process innovation in fashion that is a win-win for all players. There is nothing more exciting than creating a business where everyone can win and talent is the determining factor.
Q4: What would you tell women who are looking to work in tech? Any advice on how they can build their career?
My greatest piece of advice would be to have conversations with real people in the industry you want to go into. This applies to any industry, but especially startups. The startup environment, the tools people use, the players change so quickly. You will learn so much more in one hour of conversation than an entire week or research, and you’ll be networking to boot.
As a woman, you have the ability to connect with other women in the industry who often want to help. So take advantage of it, just don’t forget to get the coffee and send that thank you. It’s also important you ask what you can do for them to show that you are willing to help and understand the value of their time.
Q5: Is your company a Pledge 1% member or do you personally give back to your community? If so, how do you give and to what cause?
Yes! Nineteenth Amendment is a Pledge 1% member initiated by my cofounder, Amanda. We mentor for Girls Who Code and personally do volunteer work for groups for disadvantaged children.
Q6: Do you serve as a mentor? What does mentorship mean to you?
Yes, I mentor a lot in my college alumni network. I love mentoring. I like to give mentees real world advice to hopefully save them time and effort as they begin the process. Mentorship is really about making the next generation a kinder, smarter generation so they can make the world better for everyone. Sounds wishy/washy but it’s true! If I can pass along lessons and examples of integrity and kindness in business and personal life, I feel like that’s building a better future for everyone.
Q7: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received to help you with your career?
Have faith in your ability to deliver. If you don’t understand something, speak up and ask about it. The worst thing you can do is just nod… Half of how you achieve in the long run is by trying something, understanding what you did well and what you didn’t, and suggesting ways to do it better next time….and then actually going and doing it (i.e. executing). What you quickly learn, as entrepreneurs or as employees, is that a lot of people have good ideas, but the best people actually do something about it.
Q8: What’s the one piece of advice you would give to yourself 5 years ago?
Five years ago is actually when I met my cofounder and quit my first corporate job. I had a great consulting job, had been promoted early, but wasn’t feeling like it was right for me. At the time, I moved from DC to Boston to live with my parents and figure out what to do next. I was scared and it was a lot of work. I’m so glad I did. My advice would be lead with your head but follow your gut. Mitigate risk but follow your feelings – if you do both of those things, at the end of the day, you know you will have made the best decisions and won’t have regrets.