This week, we had the absolute pleasure of catching up with Gina Pell — a dynamic spirit with an inspiring story. For almost two decades, Gina has been pushing boundaries and creating spaces designed to empower women and foster deeper connections. We are so fortunate to have been able to sneak in some time with Gina, and we are thrilled to share this story with you. Please, enjoy.
Gina Pell (L) with Amy Parker (R). Photo by Emily Scott.
1. Describe yourself in 3 words.
Curious. Generous. Industrious.
"WE HAVE CREATED A PLACE ONLINE THAT DOESN'T ISOLATE, ALIENATE, OR MAKE PEOPLE FEEL LESS THAN. THE WHAT WOMEN IS A SAFE HAVEN OF UNDERSTANDING AND WISDOM."
2. Tell us a bit about the work you do and why you chose that field.
I have been a creator of women’s digital media since 1999 when there were fewer than a dozen women-focused sites on the web. I started in technology in 1993 when most content was being made by men, for men. I started my first company Splendora to change that. We focused on fashion and lifestyle. We sold that company a decade ago and started The What in 2015. I’ve had the same partner, Amy Parker, spanning three startups. The What is our third venture. We are both committed to curating interesting content, experiences, and people and bringing them together in unexpected ways that help fuel creation or solve problems.
Currently, I am the Content Chief for The What, a content and community platform for women to discover interesting things and ideas, as well as share life strategies with other women. We send out a weekly lifestyle newsletter called The What List which features five things we‘re currently digging both personally and professionally — from a great book, to a bottle of wine, to articles on leadership, products that work and everything in between. We also have a private women’s Facebook community called The What Women to compliment our newsletter and to hear what our readers have to say. It grew organically from women adding friends to over 20,000 members talking to each other daily. Women ask questions about and discuss every topic imaginable: fashion, beauty, wellness, travel, sex, psychology, finance, cancer, divorce ... you name it. It’s beautiful to see how our members help each other by sharing what has worked for them or simply by saying "hang in there I’ve been there too." It’s a powerful place to feel seen, heard, and embraced by supportive women. And it amazes us that we have created a place online that doesn’t isolate, alienate, or make people feel less than. The What Women is a safe haven of understanding and wisdom. I love what Debra Messing said about it at our summit last year: “The What Women has become a place where I can go to find comfort, inspiration, advice, recommendations and to my surprise ... sisterhood.”
3. Any big plans for the rest of 2019?
We are winding down from last month’s The What Summit, our annual gathering of 200 supportive women to engage them personally and professionally. It was a major success for us and we are in the throes of planning more summits for 2020.
"I WOULDN'T CHANGE ANYTHING ABOUT MY HIGH SCHOOL EXPERIENCES .... IT'S HOW I LEARNED RESILIENCE AND HOW TO VALUE MYSELF AND WHAT I'M GOOD AT."
4. What advice would you give to your 15-year old self?
I wouldn’t change anything about my high school experiences. They were exhilarating, painful, and all the feels, but it’s how I learned resilience and how to value myself and what I’m good at.
5. Best advice you ever received?
The best advice I ever received is that 100% focus can only be on ONE thing and that when running a business you should have one metric for success — the one thing your company does that adds value to the business. Many times our companies were “focusing” on three initiatives: events, web, email, which meant we were spending 33.3% on each goal. Clarity is achieved at 100%. It’s a lesson we continue to struggle with as we try to balance our financial needs with our grander vision to build a global sisterhood.
6. Happiness is …?
Enjoying and treasuring the present.
7. What is your biggest pet peeve?
8. Describe your go-to style.
I don’t really have a go-to style. I dress for mood.
Portrait by Drew Altizer
9. You feel most beautiful when …?
I’m excited about something and also when I’m wearing something finely made. I recently bought a Petar Petrov dress (pictured here) and the last time I wore it a female bartender said it was the best dress in the room, which was flattering since there were A-list celebrities present and a lot of other beautifully dressed women.
"FASHION IS THE LUXURY OF SELF EXPRESSION AND A BAROMETER OF INTENTION."
10. What does fashion mean to you?
The luxury of self expression and a barometer of intention — how you want to be or be perceived.
A SPECIAL CURATION OF OUR FAVORITE FEMALE DESIGNERS