Anna Mackenzie and Caitlin Judd, co-hosts of one of Australia’s most popular entrepreneurship podcasts, lady-brains, are presenting their breakout show live from AAFW this year.
We sat down with the women behind the microphones to learn a little more about how podcasting is the next great fashion frontier, their favourite lessons from world-class women founders and how their partnership with AAFW came to be.
F: Why was it important for you to partner with AAFW to become the official podcast for the event and how did you go about scoring the gig?
LB: Our main goal at lady-brains is to help founders and founders-to-be build businesses with impact. We’re less about the endgame, more about supporting founders through the trials and tribulations of building brands from the ground-up. We especially love sharing the stories and experiences of female founders who have paved the way, and what industry is more female led than fashion!
Partnering with AAFW and profiling some of the incredible Aussie founders, designers and creatives about their journeys building businesses and brands in this space is a dream come true. It allows us to platform inspiring women in a whole new way.
The story of how this partnership came about is one for the history books! Back in early 2020, we received a LinkedIn connection from the Head of Partnerships at IMG – the brand that manages not only AAFW, but also international fashion weeks like NYFW. We could hardly believe it. Straight away we responded to the LinkedIn request, pitching a meeting to chat about how we could partner with them in the future. Before we knew it, we were making our way to meet the IMG team in real life, and in that meeting we learned the Head of Partnerships was a massive fan of our poddy show and wanted to find a way to work together.
Fast forward 18 months, one cancelled Fashion Week (due to COVID), and a lot of back and forth later, we’re hosting the world’s first live podcast recording at AAFW! Hosting a podcast at Fashion Week has been on our vision board for the last few years, no joke. For us, this partnership is a manifestation of years of grind and hard work, focus, and a sign from the universe that we’re on the right track. We couldn’t be more excited!
F: What have been some of the common themes you’ve heard from women entrepreneurs over the course of your podcasting journey? Do they surprise you?
LB: We interview and work with women from all different backgrounds, industries, types of businesses, and stages of the entrepreneurial lifecycle, but there are a few common themes that bind all founders.
Firstly, building a business can be really lonely, and it’s critical to connect with others who are going through the same experience. Making other entrepreneurial friends to chat to, learn from, workshop problems with, vent to, and share the wins with, is so important to keep founders sane! That’s why we offer our female founder supper-club dinner series, and group mentor program The Brains Trust. It’s all about connecting with the right people and making magic together.
Secondly, it’s so easy to get stuck in the grind of ticking things off the to-do list and being in a constant state of ‘doing’. Being able to execute is absolutely key – we like to say that ‘vision without execution is delusion’ – but there is something to be said for stepping back from the business, taking a break, and giving your brain (and body) some space. It can be so difficult for founders to step away from their business-baby, but we’ve seen that when they have some space, they’re able to gain perspective, see new opportunities, and get creative.
Lastly, along the journey it’s easy to compare yourself to other brands and feel like you’re not making progress, or not growing fast enough. It’s common for founders to feel like they’re treading water. Whenever we chat to someone who feels this way, we always encourage them to zoom out. Building a business is a 10-year journey, minimum. When founders adopt a long-term perspective, more often than not they realise that they’re moving at just the right pace, and that good things take time.
F: How have you grown lady-brains to become Australia’s top-rated entrepreneurship podcast? What’s an example of an activity that paid off, big-time?
LB: We’re very proud that our podcast is one of the top-rated entrepreneurship shows in Australia. It’s been a long journey and a lot of hard work to get to this point! When we set out to create the show almost 3 years ago, we committed to producing episodes that were of the highest quality, at all costs. Our standard in terms of guests, conversations and production is super high. We do extensive research before every interview, work closely with our producer to ensure that the audio quality is on point and the episode flows, and spend many hours crafting our introductions, voiceovers, and lessons. We truly believe that businesses will succeed if they have a quality product and strong brand, and we’ve worked hard to create both.
In terms of marketing our show, there hasn’t been a smoking gun when it has come to growing our audience. Our show has primarily grown through word of mouth and while this is a slower growth model, we’re really proud that we have such a cult following. One thing that has worked really well for us is hosting small, intimate supper-club events with our community. These not only allow us to connect IRL with our listeners, but they act as grassroots marketing for our brand. Our podcast audience has grown one person, one conversation at a time.
F: What role does podcasting play in PR and fashion? What are some great examples you’ve seen?
LB: Podcasting is such an incredible medium, as it allows brand founders to share their story in an authentic way, and in their own words. When founders are interviewed on our podcast it allows them to be directly in the ears of their target audience, speaking about their brand for up to an hour. Audio is retained 5X longer than visual, so the impact that hearing the founder’s story has on the listener, compared to other PR or marketing initiatives (like print or digital advertising), is profound. We often get DMs from our audience saying that they fell in love with a brand or even bought their product or service after listening to the founder story on our show! The podcast medium is an incredible brand builder, and we love to platform other businesses to help them spread the word about their brand.
When it comes to fashion, podcasting is a relatively untapped channel. That’s why we’re so excited to be the first podcast to broadcast live at a Fashion Week, anywhere in the world! It’s such a brilliant way for listeners all around the world to access all the action, and hear stories from the brilliant brains who have shaped the industry.
F: What advice have you learned from the women you’ve interviewed that you’d pass on to those wanting to scale up in the fashion industry?
LB: There are so many pieces of advice to share from our wonderful podcast guests, but here are a few of our faves:
- Jo Horgan, founder of MECCA: “Define your north star, and pursue that ultimate ambition. However always remember that the path to get there is flexible.”
- Jodie Fox, co-founder of Shoes of Prey: “Acknowledge that experiencing failure is part of building a business. Learn to view failure as an opportunity to learn and evolve.”
- Hannah Spilva, co-founder of LVLY: “Do what scares you. It’s true that happiness lies just beyond your comfort zone. Flex your muscle of courage and resilience, and doors will open for you.”
- Maeva Heim, founder of Bread Beauty Supply: “Delegate, delegate, delegate. For tasks you’re not strong at, outsource them to others.”
- Carolyn Creswell, founder of Carman’s Muesli: “Never die wondering. If you’ve got a burning idea or desire to do something, give it a crack. We never regret the things we try, but we really regret the things we don’t. Hunt for the bravery in your life, don’t shirk from it.”
F: How do you see fashion and tech joining forces at AAFW ‘21 and in the future?
LB: AAFW have created an incredible online platform that allows people to stream runway shows, talks and our live podcast from anywhere in the world. As the first (and potentially only) international fashion festival to run in 2021 due to COVID, this platform is an incredible way for AAFW to reach more interested people and broader audiences. Tech has obviously played a huge role in being able to open Fashion Week up and democratise access to an event that has traditionally been open to industry only. We’re very excited to see what comes next!