How One Woman Balances Work, Life and Running A Social Enterprise

How One Woman Balances Work, Life and Running A Social Enterprise

Born out of a desire to create change, Domini Marshall founded her words to talk about the things women experience. It began as a web platform sharing the diverse stories of women and their individual encounters with things like everyday sexism and misogyny.

Fast forward a few years and her words is now working with corporates and classroom teachers to provide better education through stories of lived experience.

Domini accelerated her words through participating in our Young Social Pioneers program in 2016. It’s our annual incubator program supporting young people who are leading responses to the most pressing social and environmental challenges of our time. We thought it would be nice to check in with some of our alumni to find out what they’ve been up to since Young Social Pioneers.

At the time of the interview with Domini, just prior to International Women’s Day, had just decided to resign from her day job to spend more time working on her words. In this interview she tells us everything you might want to know — from what she got out of Young Social Pioneers to how she runs a social enterprise and still pays rent! Please note that some episodes of her words may be triggering for some viewers so to take that into consideration before viewing episodes.

What do you think you got most out of your experience in Young Social Pioneers?

I think [it] 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 [Young Social Pioneers], 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.

What have you been up to since you participated in Young Social Pioneers?

After I finished [Young Social Pioneers], I was lucky enough to go on FYA’s female entrepreneurs bootcamp. It was a 3-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. 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.

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.

What kind of advice do you have for young people that want to do something like this?

I think for me [when I brought] someone else on board [that] 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. 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.

Feature image of Domini Marshall, courtesy of the Binge Thinking podcast team.

This article was originally published as Where are they now? Part III: Domini Marshall.