The Co-Founder Of Women-Only Member's Club AllBright On The Power Of Community
AllBright co-founder Debbie Wosskow on why a strong sisterhood is key to professional success
The idea of private membership clubs and the coveted communities that come with them has been around for centuries—from old-school gentlemen's clubs to the modern, creatives-only Soho House. But two women, Debbie Wosskow and former Hearst CEO Anna Jones, felt there was still a major market that was going underserved: professional women.
That spurred them in 2017 to found AllBright, an exclusive club for like-minded women from different walks of life and at all ages and life stages, with a focus on broadening their networks. “We were very motivated by the idea of building a billion-dollar for-profit business that was driven by purpose,” says Wosskow, “the purpose being to create this monster global sisterhood of kick-ass women and create environments where women are able to flourish and thrive.”
Wosskow and Jones decided on the name AllBright, after the former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright, because of her famous quote “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” “We just felt like that is who we are, and we wanted to help other women create a sisterhood,” says Wosskow.
Their motivation to get AllBright off the ground stemmed from their own personal experiences as entrepreneurial women. Jones rose up the ranks in the publishing industry, eventually leading Hearst Magazines as the only female CEO in its history, and Wosskow started her career as a tech entrepreneur at the age of 25, built and sold three companies, including Love Home Swap, a subscription-based home exchange business, and also earned herself an OBE.
Yet despite her success, Wosskow emphasises the harsh reality of being a woman in the entrepreneurial space. “I was so used to being the only woman in the room that I didn’t even notice anymore,” she says. “And still the statistics of women raising capital still remain stark: only 2.17 percent of capital raised in 2017 backed a female founder, and only 7 percent of investors are female—2 percent at partner level. So it’s very unusual to pitch to a woman for capital and you’re in an industry where there are very few women.”
Wosskow credits her upbringing as the reason she was able to start her own company at such a young age, with both her mother and grandmother being entrepreneurs. “I grew up around women running their own businesses, and I think that just normalised it,” she says. “That’s what all women need: better networks and more female role models, especially as one in 10 women say they want to start their own business but they don’t. There’s this whole generation of women who need a bit of a push in order to get going.”
That’s the gap AllBright aims to fill, focusing particularly on exposing women to their peers in other industries and sectors, which women tend to feel less comfortable exploring than men, according to Wosskow. “To build the skills and the confidence that we need and for women to realise their career ambitions, we need to change some of these statistics,” she says.
“Networking breeds your future and your plans. As an entrepreneur you need to think not just big but broad, all the time, so it’s really important to know people who do really different things, and not to stay in your lane.”
Since 2017, AllBright has expanded its physical clubs from the UK to the US, with ambitions to expand into Asia in the near future. The duo have also created AllBright Connect, an app that enables women to connect on a professional level, as well as AllBright Academy, offering online classes that help women skill up in a practical and transferable way, including content tailored to Asia.
In the few years AllBright has been running, Wosskow says she’s seen amazing things emerge from the community. “All sorts of things are happening—women co-founding businesses together, a writer chatting to a literary agent in the club and getting a book deal: it’s amazing,” she says. “Women are a very powerful force when they come together.”
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