It would be rude to talk about nipple hairs in the company of a lady right? Wrong. For any podcast lovers and girl-gang fanatics, nipple hairs are but one of the many incredulous and hilarious topics covered by the LadyGang. Launched in 2015, the podcast has seen its fair share of female faux pas and triumphs. Viewed through the lens of its three hosts, Entertainment Tonight's Keltie Knight, former Glee star Becca Tobin and fashion designer Jac Vanek, you get honest and hilarious views on the daily life of women.
The program, which has amassed a whopping 25M downloads, fuses self-deprecating stories from the trio themselves, and allows lots of audience interaction, whether that's in the form of questions or conversation prompts. And while that number seems massive, the ladies were quick to point out that the devoted listeners don't necessarily, and interestingly, translate to social media followers. “If all the millions of people that listen to our podcast would follow me on insta I would be so happy," noted Knight laughingly. “I had a girl come up to me this week and said, 'I am the biggest LadyGang fan, I listen every week,' she was an actress, [I said] 'Oh I'll follow you on Instagram, what's your Instagram?' and she was like 'I don't think I even follow you.' I'm like 'how do you listen to the podcast every week and don't follow me on Instagram, what the hell?'"
SWAAY chatted with two of the three ladies, Vanek and Knight about the podcast's trajectory and some inspirational collaborations in their near future.
On LadyGang origins
The three ladies, all in entertainment and fashion, knew each other through friends of friends, with Vanek and Knight ironically united by a mutual ex-boyfriend. And while they may come together twice weekly to record the show, it's certainly not something that gets in the way of three very hectic schedules. "That's the really cool thing about the three of us together," says Knight. "We're certainly friends and have certainly become closer through LadyGang, but we all have our own lives, we all have our own careers, and we sort of come together, very different women, every week, to make the show."
Originally intended to be a celebrity-focused show, data then found their listeners were equally devoted to the shows with just the three of them on the mic, than with some A-Lister (the self-deprecating and overly humble trio refer to themselves as D-listers, but not so say their legion of cult fans). “As we kind of went along over the past couple of years, all of our listeners and our fans became really invested in our own lives and our own personal anecdotes and stories that that has been kind of the driving force through the podcast," says Vanek. “We'll get just as many downloads of a show that's just the three of us versus if we have some A-list celebrity."
“I think what makes the show cool is our motivation to always make all of our women feel less alone and feel more normal by opening up and telling our stories." Keltie Knight
On giving back to the LadyGang community
We've encountered a lot of phoney "women's empowerment" in the last few months who've rode on the coattails of #metoo and #timesup, and have come to recognize that many are in fact doing lip service to further women's societal position. These three are doing the opposite.
"I think what makes the show cool is our motivation to always make all of our women feel less alone and feel more normal by opening up and telling our stories."
Recently they partnered with Claremont Lincoln University to give out $100k in student scholarships to women. The non-profit, which reached out to the ladies via Vanek, will benefit the women who haven't the time or money to commit to an onsite University degree. "We have so many questions coming from girls that want to go back to school, that are working full time jobs, are stay at home moms, or don't have the funds to actually pay for a master's degrees," says Vanek. "So this was a way for us to make that happen for women who wouldn't get the chance otherwise."
The competition is an easy application and only requires the submission of a one-minute video, through which you might end up with a master's degree. "It's not some bullshit degree that won't be able to help you," advises Vanek. "These women are able to take power and become as confident as they can in whatever jobs that they're in."
On LadyGang TV
In May of this year it was announced that the LadyGang will no longer be beholden to a single microphone in a recording studio, they're about to hit the small screen. And not only will they be featured in their new show, but they'll be producing, because who knows how to put on a good show better than these three?
“Wait, if you think Kim Kardashian is crazy, you wait till you see Becca Tobin."
- Keltie Knight
"The E! Network was always our top choice, it just felt like our realm really fit so well with what they were doing and so we pitched to them," notes Knight, who's no stranger to television herself. The show, which will launch in the fall is sure to ensue in hilarity, and the real talk that really come to connote the LagyGang brand. What you see is really what you get with these three, and we're sure that's what has landed them this major career move.
Gang's all here! (L-R) Becca Tobin, Keltie Knight, Jac Vanek
And what's more, they promise that even with the advent of their TV adventure, the podcast will never go away. Vanek was adamant about this, commenting, "we would never get rid of the podcast. The podcast is everything and it's so great for us to be a part of." So there you have it ladies, come fall, you will get your fill of this trio three times a week. Is that even enough? We're entirely unsure.
"Steal the mesh underwear you get from the hospital," a friend said upon learning I was pregnant with my first daughter.
It was the single best piece of advice I received before giving birth in December 2013. My best friend delivered her daughter eight months previously, and she was the first to pass along this shared code among new moms: you'll need mesh underwear for your at-home postpartum recovery, and you can't find them anywhere for purchase. End result: steal them. And tell your friends.
My delivery and subsequent recovery were not easy. To my unexpected surprise, after almost 24 hours of labor, I had an emergency C-section. Thankfully, my daughter was healthy; however, my recovery was quite a journey. The shock to my system caused my bloated and swollen body to need weeks of recovery time. Luckily, I had trusted my friend and followed her instructions: I had stolen some mesh underwear from the hospital to bring home with me.
Unfortunately, I needed those disposable underwear for much longer than I anticipated and quickly ran out. As I still wasn't quite mobile, my mother went to the store to find more underwear for me. Unfortunately, she couldn't find them anywhere and ended up buying me oversized granny panties. Sure, they were big enough, but I had to cut the waistband for comfort.
I eventually recovered from my C-section, survived those first few sleepless months, and returned to work. At the time, I was working for a Fortune 100 company and happily contributing to the corporate world. But becoming a new mom brought with it an internal struggle and search for something “more" out of my life--a desire to have a bigger impact. A flashback to my friend's golden piece of advice got me thinking: Why aren't mesh underwear readily available for women in recovery? What if I could make the magical mesh underwear available to new moms everywhere? Did I know much about designing, selling, or marketing clothing? Not really. But I also didn't know much about motherhood when I started that journey, either, and that seemed to be working out well. And so, Brief Transitions was born.
My quest began. With my manufacturing and engineering background I naively thought, It's one product. How hard could it be? While it may not have been “hard," it definitely took a lot of work. I slowly started to do some research on the possibilities. What would it take to start a company and bring these underwear to market? How are they made and what type of manufacturer do I need? With each step forward I learned a little more--I spoke with suppliers, researched materials, and experimented with packaging. I started to really believe that I was meant to bring these underwear to other moms in need.
Then I realized that I needed to learn more about the online business and ecommerce world as well. Google was my new best friend. On my one hour commute (each way), I listened to a lot of podcasts to learn about topics I wasn't familiar with--how to setup a website, social media platforms, email marketing, etc. I worked in the evenings and inbetween business trips to plan what I called Execution Phase. In 2016, I had a website with a Shopify cart up and running. I also delivered my second daughter via C-section (and handily also supplied myself with all the mesh underwear I needed).
They say, “If you build it, they will come." But I've learned that the saying should really go more like this: “If you build it, and tell everyone about it, they might come." I had a 3-month-old, an almost 3 year old and my business was up and running. I had an occasional sale; however, my processes were extremely manual and having a day job while trying to ship product out proved to be challenging. I was manually processing and filling orders and then going to the post office on Saturday mornings to ship to customers. I eventually decided to go where the moms shop...hello, Amazon Prime! I started to research what I needed to do to list products with Amazon and the benefits of Amazon fulfillment (hint: they take care of it for you).
Fast forward to 2018...
While I started to build this side business and saw a potential for it to grow way beyond my expectations, my corporate job became more demanding with respect to travel and time away from home. I was on the road 70% of the time during first quarter 2018. My normally “go with the flow" 4-year-old started to cry every time I left for a trip and asked why I wasn't home for bedtime. That was a low point for me and even though bedtime with young kids has its own challenges, I realized I didn't want to miss out on this time in their lives. My desire for more scheduling flexibility and less corporate travel time pushed me to work the nights and weekends needed to build and scale my side hustle to a full-time business. If anyone tries to tell you it's “easy" to build “passive" income, don't believe them. Starting and building a business takes a lot of grit, hustle and hard work. After months of agonizing, changing my mind, and wondering if I should really leave my job (and a steady paycheck!), I ultimately left my corporate job in April 2018 to pursue Brief Transitions full-time.
In building Brief Transitions, I reached out to like-minded women to see if they were experiencing similar challenges to my own--balancing creating and building a business while raising children--and I realized that many women are on the quest for flexible, meaningful work. I realized that we can advance the movement of female entrepreneurs by leveraging community to inspire, empower, and connect these trailblazers. For that reason, I recently launched a new project, The Transitions Collective, a platform for connecting community-driven women entrepreneurs.
As is the case with many entrepreneurs, I find myself working on multiple projects at a time. I am now working on a members-only community for The Transitions Collective that will provide access to experts and resources for women who want to leave corporate and work in their business full-time. Connecting and supporting women in this movement makes us a force in the future of work. At the same time, I had my most profitable sales quarter to date and best of all, I am able to drop my daughter off at school in the morning.
Mesh underwear started me on a journey much bigger than I ever imagined. They sparked an idea, ignited a passion, and drove me to find fulfillment in a different type of work. That stolen underwear was just the beginning.