made to inspire and empower women

Danielle Newnham, Co-Founder


Posted on August 12 2015

It has been some time since we told you a bit about co-founder Natalie Bardega so we thought it was the turn of Tease and Totes co-founder Danielle Newnham! Here goes:

Tell us about your background:
Newnham: I knew early on that I didn’t want a normal 9-5 but I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do. I felt I hadn’t done enough of anything to know what career path I should take but I knew I wanted to try a few things, so that's what I did.

You have worked in startups for ten years and co-founded a couple. How have you found being a woman in the tech industry?
Newnham: Having worked in music and fashion, tech is definitely the industry I feel most at home in, despite its obvious bad reputation. I feel you can spend your time focusing on the negative (and tech is by no means the only industry which is not equally split by the sexes) or you can focus on the positives and get on with it. I chose to do the latter and it has served me well.

Whilst on maternity leave you decided to write a book ~ what spurred you to do this, and what led you taking the decision to ultimately self-publish?
Newnham: A few things led me to writing the book in 2012. Having worked in mobile since 2006 so pre-iPhone, I was acutely aware of many amazing mobile inventors and innovators who were faceless. Millions used e.g. Shazam but had no idea who had come up with the idea for it or who founded the business behind it. So, firstly, I wanted to tell their stories.

Secondly, having a child changed my perspective on life and I felt a sudden strong urge to do things that meant something to me, despite any obvious challenges of e.g. having a newborn.

Thirdly, I like to challenge myself and there is no greater challenge in life than trying to achieve anything whilst simultaneously trying to entertain your firstborn.

I also learned so much during the whole process because I had never written a book before. All the research, interviews and contacting of publishers was new to me but I enjoyed overcoming the challenges, and was over the moon to be offered a book deal which I promptly signed. However, with the ink barely dry on our agreement, my publisher started moving the goal posts and wanted to impose a very archaic way of doing things which didn’t sit well with me. I had to weigh it all up and decide was it worth spending precious time away from my newborn to write a book I wasn’t happy with and the answer was no. So, I terminated the agreement and self-published and learned a host of new things along the way (huge thanks to Joanne Penn and Guy Kawasaki for their guides on self-publishing which I highly recommend).

We recently partnered with Worldreader to produce a GIRL POWER Tee - can you talk about this partnership and what your ultimate vision is for Tease and Totes?
As soon as we started Tease and Totes, we knew we wanted a percentage of our profits to go straight back into the empowerment of girls who need it most, and so whilst wondering what type of non-profit to partner with, I asked if anyone on Twitter knew of a great charity which provided books to kids who couldn't afford them... As serendipity would have it (and I am a big believer in fate/serendipity), Worldreader co-founder Colin McElwee was the first to respond and the rest, as they say, is history.

As well as continuing with designing slogan tops with inspirational and empowering messages, we also want to extend that to technology to help tell stories of the many fantastic pioneering women in history. The idea is that customers can use their phones and RFID on our tags to learn the stories of historical and modern-day, female role-models every time they buy an item from us. Our vision has always been to empower as many women and children as we can, and we believe that fashion, with tech, is the best way to distribute that message far and wide.

As you said, Tease and Totes is about inspiring and empowering women but who inspires you?
Newnham: I am inspired by anyone who gets off their backside and gets stuff done. That includes all the amazing women we interview for our Wednesday Woman posts. Top of my list at the moment includes Eileen Burbidge, Danielle Morrill, Emma Sinclair, Doreen Lawrence and Juliette Burton.

Finally what advice would you give your younger self?
Newnham: I have regrets every day so there are many pieces of advice I would give myself. I wish I had had the confidence people thought I had. I wish I had listened to my gut more, and not worried about convention. I wish I had sought out inspirational role-models earlier and, listened to my father who said I should have carried on studying "Information Technology" after GCSE!

Most of all though, I would tell the younger me to:

"Dream bigger, do more, and worry less."

Danielle on Twitter / Medium


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