HOBBIES: Brazilian jiu jitsu, training rescue dogs, hiking. FAVORITE DISH: Sichuan spicy noodles. SOMETHING I’M REALLY PROUD OF: Medalling at the European Championship in Brazilian jiu jitsu after spending the first 30 years of my life being supremely unathletic.
Shedding layers of judgment
JUDGEMENT-FREE CLOTHING. Meg He wondered why she never felt comfortable in her clothes. It seemed like she could choose between clothes that looked good or clothes that were comfortable—never both. She was working at Poshmark at the time—a social commerce marketplace for clothing, and it felt silly that finding the right clothing was so hard.
But as Meg thought further about her relationship with her clothing, she realized that discomfort stemmed from a deeper place. “I realized a lot of women’s clothing had been sexualized for the male gaze and that was uncomfortable for me,” she says.
Meg mentioned these ideas to Nina Faulhaber, her coworker at Goldman Sachs in the firm’s Investment Banking Division in London. Nina had similar thoughts about why clothing needed to be more versatile. “There’s no reason they can’t look good and feel good at the same time.” And so in 2015, they founded ADAY, a clothing line that utilizes lasting and technical fabrics, focused on sustainability.
However, starting ADAY was more than starting a new venture for Meg. It also started a new chapter in her life. “For a long time, I had a lot of self-judgment of who I was and how people perceived me.” She would be conscious whether her haircut made her look queer, or anxious that some other part of her would pass judgment, and wondered why she cared so much.
She realized that her discomfort with clothing and self-consciousness about other people’s judgments stemmed from the same place. “I felt compelled to wear clothing that others thought I looked good in, which were tight, sexualizing pieces for women, while deep inside I resisted what it meant to be me,” Meg says.
Meg decided to come out as queer two years ago, and acknowledge that she was attracted to women. And she decided it was important to lead her new company without fear of judgment of who she is. She feels she is still learning what being queer means to her. “How does it work? Do I just put it on my biography and LinkedIn?” Meg laughs, admitting to being a “baby gay.”
THE POWER TO MAKE THE DIFFERENCE. Founding a company gives you the opportunity and privilege to create your own company culture, Meg says. But thinking about what kind of culture to create is hard to pinpoint. She remembers a vendor who started yelling at her when a contract wasn’t what he had expected. “I tried to say something and he started yelling over me. He wasn’t explicitly being racist or homophobic, but he made her feel unsafe. I realized I wanted to create a safe space for me and my team, and that principle guided how I led the company."