| April 28, 2023
On April 19, 2023, the Arcadian Court in Toronto was buzzing with energy as over 200 in-person attendees and 280 virtual guests gathered to hear from two trailblazing women founders, Joanna Griffiths and Noura Sakkijha.
Joanna Griffiths is the founder and CEO of Knix and KT by Knix, one of the fastest-growing global intimate apparel brands. The company launched in 2013 and recently, Essity, leading hygiene and health company, acquired 80% of Knix, making the sale the largest publicly disclosed private sale by a female founder in Canada.
Opening the conversation, Karen pointed out the similarities between the two founders. Both received funding from Futurpreneur in the early stages of launching their businesses, both businesses carry a mission to empower women, and interestingly, both entrepreneurs raised funding while pregnant with twin girls.
Growing up, Noura observed that jewelry was marketed as something exclusive, at a high price point and, towards men to buy as gifts for women. After noticing a gap in the market for affordable quality jewelry, she was inspired to create a brand that empowers women to buy jewelry for themselves. With the spirit of “buy yourself the damn diamond,” Noura wants women to celebrate what matters to them, regardless of the occasion.
Joanna, on the other hand, knew little about the intimate apparel industry. She had the idea of creating leak-proof underwear when she realized many women experience leaks from pregnancy, post-partum, or even sneezing, or exercising, but there were no products in the market to address that issue. In a world that perpetuates a photoshopped version of women’s bodies, her aim was to create a brand that “talks to their customers for who they are, and that honours them by showcasing how fantastic they are.”
When asked about the challenges they faced, Noura shared that “the challenges never stop, but you get better at handling them”.
Early on, the first difficulty she encountered was raising capital, as she faced multiple rejections from venture capitalists. She emphasized that entrepreneurs should learn from their failures and most importantly embrace them as they represent an opportunity for growth and improvement. Despite the hurdles, surrounding herself with other like-minded entrepreneurs, helped her get back on her feet and remain motivated to not give up on her dream.
Joanna agreed that challenges vary along the journey. Between figuring out how to make a product that did not exist, convincing manufacturers to take a leap of faith, and going through numbers of prototypes, there were periods filled with self-doubt. She highlighted, however, the importance of resilience and pushing through difficult times, sharing “looking back at things that used to break me, when they happen now, I’m able to brush them off and keep going”.
Talking about their first investors, Joanna explained that support came in from mostly friends and family, as well as Futurpreneur. “The organization gave me money when no one else would!” Noura mentioned that she received grants and support through Founder Fuel, and she was grateful to Futurpreneur, specifically for providing a non-dilutive loan that allowed her to remain in full control of her business at that early stage.
After taking questions from the audience, both entrepreneurs provided words of wisdom for entrepreneurs going through hard times in their own journeys. “In the early stages, talk to and learn from customers and when you grow, hire the best people,” Noura shared, as she strongly recommended that aspiring entrepreneurs surround themselves with great individuals.
Joanna emphasized that hard times inspire real growth stating, “the struggles and failures are incredibly normal, and I wish more people would talk about it.” She added that it was crucial for entrepreneurs to take care of themselves “it is a game of resiliency and it’s important that you keep a positive mindset,” she urged. “We are all a work in progress and as you build and lead a team, you must evolve, and step up to a place and that takes an entirely different skillset. You are working on building an incredible company, brand and legacy that will exist for generations. Once you get past the point of self-doubt, focus on what you want the brand to be known for and on its impact!”
Photo by Mike Hagarty
If you feel inspired and ready to start your own entrepreneurial journey, don’t hesitate to reach out to us! Whether you want to start a side-hustle, purchase a business or launch your own, we have a team of experts who can guide you through the process and lead you to success!
And don’t forget to check out the full fireside chat with Joanna Griffiths and Noura Sakkijha for even more insights and inspiration.