Giulia Iannucci is the founder and CEO of KnowThyBrand Women. It is a social enterprise, which means that they are a for profit organisation but use the profit for a social cause. Their social cause is empowering women and creating a more inclusive future.
What were your initial years of growing up like? Also, was there any turning point in your life that changed your journey? If so, what was it? Please tell us the backstory behind it.
Growing up, gender inclusion but also generally speaking, a more just word was something that always mattered to me. I’ve been studying international diplomatic sciences and I wanted to go and work in developing countries. Then life took its course and I ended up working in marketing but I always tried to include giving back to the community in whatever I was doing. I’ve been volunteering for years, I chose companies that were having a positive impact on society and when I started my own company I made a point of using my skills to help those that couldn’t afford it. The turning point in my life was when I realized that I wanted to do more to help those that couldn’t afford support and do it in a way that it was financially sustainable. So that’s when I decided to turn my traditional marketing and branding company into a social enterprise. That was a couple of years ago. Basically, I was helping a female entrepreneur that had lost everything because of COVID and I was making her marketing strategy and all of this but I realized that I only had limited the resources to really help her and so I decided to create a social enterprise. And now I’m very happy to say that we paid for her website and we continue to support her so that she can continue to grow her business, which by the way is a very interesting business because it’s upcycling of two pipes bicycle and car wheels and turn them into bags and belts and other accessories. Please check www.pielderueda.com
What was that idea that made you start this brand? How did such a unique idea strike you, and what motivated you to “YES, go for it?”
So, my original idea for my company was really to create a branding and marketing agency that was focusing on internal branding, not just external branding. That’s why it’s called KnowThyBrand, and our focus was about helping businesses understand what they stand for as a company, understand their inner purpose and values and then bringing them to life. That is how KnowThyBrand was born in 2014 and then as I said before, a couple of years ago in 2020 turned into a social enterprise. So, we still leverage branding, in the form of personal branding, corporate branding, market research, but we use it specifically to help women and to help companies to attract, retain and champion their female talent. So, the idea that motivated me was to create a better future for my kids, for the next generation. And one thing that has always mattered to me is the fact that women and men should have the same rights, equal opportunities. In fact, everybody really should have the same opportunities, not just women and men, but I realised that as a woman I understand the challenges that we face and I can really have an impact. I’ve seen through my work with many female entrepreneurs and with many women in career the impact that branding, personal branding and corporate branding could have on them.
Tell us something about your initiative or current role. What is it about, and what impact are you trying to make?
KnowThyBrand Women’s about creating a better future, a better future for everybody. We start with women, taking down barriers for women, but let’s not forget intersectional barriers. So, if you’re a woman and black or if you’re woman and gay, we can start movement to support minorities and really make a difference and create a more inclusive world for everybody. A more just world. That’s really what we want to achieve. Starting with women of course, but that is really to include everyone else and that’s why we also, despite the fact that we are there for women, work with men and we work with everyone to create a more inclusive world. And my job ris to work with large organizations particularly to help them with their gender inclusion agenda and then to support individuals with their personal branding to increase the opportunities for women in business to play in a level playing field. The biggest challenge is resources and time because decided to bootstrap my company. So, I didn’t look for investment, it’s me and a few people who help me. But the biggest bulk of the job falls on me from sales to marketing to deliver to clients, to tax, to anything. So, the biggest challenge is to find the time and the energy and the focus to do it. How do I cope? I live a very active life and I try to re-energize myself through my active life.
While the global pandemic of COVID-19 is associated primarily with adversities, it has also brought about a true boom in startups, with successful entrepreneurship in many countries. The pandemic has impacted all of us in one way or another. Would you like to share your experience on a personal and professional level?
Well, COVID is really what made me decide to turn my company into a social enterprise, because during the time that obviously the number of clients had reduced dramatically. So, I had more time for myself and more time to think. And that’s when I realized that what I wanted to do was to use my skills, as I said, to create a better world. And I think a lot of companies have realized during this time what really matters to them, and they have pivoted to do more of that. I also believe that a lot of people are now expecting companies to do more after COVID and to not be there just for profit. So hopefully this is an exciting time where we could use companies and profit for a good purpose instead of just being there for the money which is a bit sad.
Your journey and your vision are very inspiring, but are there any achievements or accomplishments you would like to mention?
This year I’ve been awarded an Inspirational Woman in Finance. That was the result of me working at all this year trying to have an impact in the finance industry, trying to make companies aware of the challenges that women face in this industry and really trying to help them develop systems to support a more inclusive workplace for women in finance.
Would you like to share with our young budding women entrepreneurs the change you would like to see in the world if given an opportunity?
I would like a world that is more just where we all have the same opportunities. So, it’s not just about equality but it’s really about equity. We talk a lot about meritocracy and if you work hard you get to the top. But that’s not true. It really depends where you’re starting from. You can be working very hard giving 100% but if you don’t have the chances, you will struggle much more to get where other people can easily go. So, the change I like to see in the world is a world that is fair towards everybody and that gives the same opportunities to everybody.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in your personal life and professional journey? What is your personal motto in life?
My personal motto in life used to be “don’t do to the others what you don’t want others to do to you”. However, over the years I realized that that doesn’t really necessarily work because I might think that I don’t want something done to me and I think that’s very important, but someone else might think that is not important and so they might live for the same principle and hurt me in the process. Or I might hurt people in the process because don’t realize that something is important to them. So, what I learn in life is to be very humble and to listen to people, to be open, to understand. We all have our biases, we all have it, there is no question about it. But let’s catch ourselves when we do have a bias. Let’s be humble and listen, let’s learn from other people and understand what matters to them and how we can help them.
Women are a growing force in the workplaces worldwide, standing shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts. There are cracks in glass ceilings everywhere, with many women breaking through to carve out a space right at the top of the pyramid. What are your thoughts about women’s leadership today?
That’s a very good question. Women are growing leadership positions and I think we can bring a lot. I think what is important is we don’t try to be men when we become leaders because men bring their own set of skills and we as women, we bring our own set of skills. Diversity works because we bring diverse skills. So, I think that to succeed, you shouldn’t try to be men, which is what has happened in the past. We shouldn’t elbow each other. Unfortunately, there are still too few little places for women in leadership. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t help each other. We should really support each other and help each other to get to the top. And when we are there to be ourselves, to really bring what makes us strong, not what makes men strong. Again, diversity works because we bring our own set of skills. So, I think a woman should really bring what makes her unique, which is individual. And as women we are different from men. And that’s fine, it’s totally fine. It’s actually very cool.
With your grit and determination, you are making a considerable impact, breaking through, and serving as role models for many budding entrepreneurs. What would you want to say to our young women leaders/audience reading this?
Well, I think every woman would say the same: go for it, you can do it. You’re young, you have in front of you your entire future. Don’t let negative people take you down. Ignore the negative people. Surround yourself with positive people. That doesn’t mean not taking negative comments. People that really love you will be the people that tell you things you might not want to hear, but that’s okay. Listen to them. Take what is valuable to you. Ignore the people that are just jealous so they don’t care about you. Take that out of your mental space and focus on what you want to achieve and really go for it. Go for it because you can do it. We all have our own superpower. It’s just a question of finding what that superpower is and to use it. That’s it.