Where are they now? Part III: Domini Marshall

Where are they now? Part III: Domini Marshall

Domini Marshall was a participant and finalist from FYA’s 2016 Young Social Pioneers (YSP) cohort. She is the Founder of her words. It’s an Australian web series giving a platform to diverse women’s voices and sharing the stories and experiences of those who identify as women. Her words started out as a content platform to tell more female stories, and now Domini is working with corporates and classroom teachers to provide better education through stories of lived experience.

I contacted Domini to talked to her about her words, and share her story for International Women’s Day. She had just decided to resign from her day job to spend more time working on her social enterprise. Here are some of the exciting things she’s been up to since YSP…

What have you been up to since the end of YSP?

After I finished YSP, I was lucky enough to go on FYA’s female entrepreneurs bootcamp. It was a three day intensive, with a group of about 10-12 women focusing on pitching, money, and business plans, which were areas I really needed help with.

We continued to make content for her words in 2017, and we published 35 episodes on a different theme each month. At the end of 2017, we applied for and won the Tom Organic Female Empowerment Grant. We received $25,000, which is really exciting. So we definitely ended the year on a high. It’s really great because we’ll be able to diversify and think bigger about what we want to do in 2018.

What’s that going to look like?

Our proposal was to spend it on a few different things that would create revenue streams in order to make us more sustainable. This includes the events, workshops, dinners, merchandise, upgrading the website, and then paid social media reach and advertising which we didn’t have capacity to do before.

All of this is with the goal to grow our community and engagement, and hopefully drive some funds that can then go back into the production of the content itself, and then with that larger community, higher engagement and developed content, then that’s a stronger position to bring on board partners later down the track.

Because her words is very educational in nature, we’re also looking at how we can package up the content and sell it in two different ways: firstly as content for courses at universities and high schools — we know some teachers have already started using our content in their classrooms; secondly using the same idea, but selling the content package to corporates as training material around issues of gender equality, diversity and sexual harassment.

What do you think you got most out of your experience in YSP?

I think YSP forced me to get really clear on the idea of her words itself; its purpose and mission.

Something else that always comes to mind when I’m asked about what I got out of YSP, which is important to mention, is being a part of the FYA network. Not only for the opportunities that happened afterwards, but for continued mentorship which has been really amazing for me.

Everyone is a volunteer for her words, including yourself, so how are you paying your rent?

I have two jobs, but just resigned from one of them to focus more on her words. I work 3 days a week as the Product Content Manager for a Swedish stationery company —  I write and manage all the content for their products. And then I also work as a freelancer doing similar things in copywriting and media content creation.

Do you find that stressful, working these jobs, particularly the freelancing, while trying to focus on the project?

Yes absolutely. I think it’ll be interesting to see what happens in the next couple of weeks because my decision to resign was a bit spontaneous. I was seeing opportunities opening with her words but I didn’t feel I had enough time to go after them, and it was kind of now or never.

I thought to myself, if I do it, and it means in a couple of months I’m totally broke and have to go get another job then so be it, but I just wanted to have the space to actually go for it.

Given the journey you’ve been on, from developing the idea, going for it with not a lot of background in business or the enterprise space, going through YSP and the bootcamp, delivering the project and now expanding your potential revenue streams, what kind of advice do you have for young people that want to do something like this?

I think for me, bringing someone else on board was instrumental, because it held me accountable to someone else — I knew we were actually doing this, and it meant I had to do the work.  

Importantly, I think you just need to start it – and I know that people probably hear that all the time, but I truly believe it. We could’ve held back and waited to get the content perfect —  and it’s not perfect and not where I’d like it to be — but we just worked with what we had, and got it out there.

It’s great because you kind of figure it out as you go along, things will happen to make you either pivot or question it, or even change direction, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Each year, FYA works alongside young Australians from across each state and territory, backing their ideas for social change through its incubator program Young Social Pioneers (YSP). With an alumni of over 200, YSP is Australia’s first, and only, national youth entrepreneurship incubator designed exclusively for young people leading initiatives that respond to society’s most pressing challenges.

In our ‘where are they now?’ series, we catch up with a few of our alumni to see what waves they’ve been creating and ground they’ve been shakin