This summer, AllBright will be opening their third club, but first U.S. location, here in Los Angeles and we’re all kinds of excited. AllBright debuted in 2018, on Women’s Day (very fitting), in London’s Fitzrovia neighborhood. With a name inspired by Secretary of State Madeline Albright, the members-only club was designed to do more than help women–it’s a resourceful community constructed to change lives. Founders and creators Debbie Wosskow and Anna Jones met years ago at a mutual friend’s party and bonded immediately, which in turn changed their lives immediately. So much so, that they’ve launched multiple businesses and projects together. Of course, there’s AllBright (which includes the magazine), then AllBright Academy, FoundHER Festival, and their recent book Believe. Build. Become.: How to Supercharge Your Career (add this to your summer reading list!). Debbie and Anna are prime examples of practicing what they preach. They live, breathe, and generate female empowerment with their eyes closed… and they’re just getting started.
Congratulations on your new book “Believe. Build. Become.”. The advice and insight you’re both handing over is priceless, and extremely beneficial to women’s careers and success. What has it felt like to hear feedback from those who have read your book?
We started our global sisterhood to help other women smash the glass ceiling, connect, and collaborate so they can achieve their career ambitions. There’s no higher accolade than hearing from the women who have read our book and finding out about the positive impact it’s having on their lives and careers.
You both met through a friend at a party, and clearly hit it off! Female connection is so important for us to grow, succeed, and make change. Can you share what each of you means to the other, and how your relationship has impacted your lives beyond your businesses.
Debbie: I’ve started several businesses but I’ve never had a co-founder before, and having done it both ways I can definitely say it’s a lot more fun having someone else along for the ride. We prepare and practice for everything together and we’re each other’s critics on everything from dresses to delivery.
Anna: This is my first foray into entrepreneurship as I’ve spent most of my career working in corporates. Having Debbie, who has done this several times before, at my side as Co-Founder, makes it so much easier. Ultimately, we were friends first, so we have common ground – we’re on WhatsApp with each other from 6am every day on everything from team structure to which book to read next.
Private clubs for the modern working woman are growing in popularity these days. What is it that you think draws women to the idea of them, and how does AllBright set itself apart from other members-only clubs?
Among women, there’s a recognition now that things are changing and it’s time for new networks, spaces and ways of thinking. Our clubs were created to foster connections between busy women, who want a place where they can work, meet like-minded people and attend inspiring events as well as have something delicious to eat, do an exercise class or get their nails done – our Mayfair club has it’s own fitness studio, Stylist Strong, and both our London clubs have in-house beauty salons. We’ve heard so many amazing stories of members meeting each other and collaborating on projects, starting new ventures and making new friends. These are spaces where women can come together over everything from book clubs and stand-up comedy nights to tech workshops and panel discussions with leaders and game-changers.
What was both of your experiences with sisterhood coming up in corporate environments and the entrepreneurial scene? How have you seen it evolve in positive ways, and what do you feel are areas for growth?
We’re excited to see it moving away from this idea of women being in competition with each other, and there only being space for one woman on a team or in a certain role – there’s room for everyone at the table. We were both raised by feminists and grew up with examples of strong women all around us – we were never brought up to believe we couldn’t do something because of our sex and that carried us through in our careers.
What are your first memories of girl power (not necessarily the Spice Girls kind, but female strength) at a young age?
Debbie: My route to becoming an entrepreneur started early – I saw my mother and grandmother run their own businesses and it just felt natural that I would do the same. When I was 15, I had an award-winning hair scrunchie business (it was the Eighties!). After a brief spell as a management consultant, I quickly realized I wanted to work for myself – as my mum and grandmother had done.
Anna: I’ve been surrounded by strong women all my life! I’m the eldest of four girls, so growing up I was naturally assertive, pioneering, and good at corralling people.
There’s a commercialized, almost glamorized, definition of “boss” that has sort of taken on a life of its own for women. How would you both define the role?
Every woman is different - being a good manager, boss or team leader looks completely different from one woman to the next. There are so many meanings to the word ‘boss’ – we both have quite different leadership styles but both manage a productive and engaged team effectively in our own ways.
Let’s talk goal setting–what does that process look like for each of you? Do you set goals at the beginning of each year? Are you big on manifestation or mapping everything out?
Anna: We’re both very visual – we started AllBright on the back of a napkin, so we definitely like to map things out and be able to see a plan. I like to boil complex business challenges into single goals that everyone can get behind. Daily and weekly targets are very galvanizing.
Debbie: And every New Year’s Eve I take out the same old notebook and write my goals for the year, both personal and business. I look at my notebook halfway through the year and see that I’m on track. If I’m not, I check that it’s still a priority and use it as motivation to get cracking.
What’s the one thing you do each day that helps to shape your future?
Anna: I write my ‘to do’ list in the notes on my phone every evening so I can switch off and sleep well at night – then I know I can pick it up fresh the next day.
Debbie: I make the time to box every single morning – I even have a punch bag at home.
Your schedules must be packed to the brim! How do you each handle stress and time management?
Anna: I do Pilates every morning before the rest of my family get up to de-stress and get ready for the day.
Debbie: I’ve always wanted to be a yoga person, but I’m just not at all — I need to hit things, hence the daily boxing.
What are some characteristics or skills you each possess that you’re most proud of?
Debbie: I’ve always been very driven. I don’t really compare myself to others, but I am very motivated by what I’ve already achieved. For me, the next project or business always has to be bigger than the last one – I find this very motivating!
Anna: I’m optimistic, a quick problem-solver and a straight-talker. I have not always been super confident, but I have always been the first to volunteer for something that needs to be done. Debbie has been an entrepreneur all her business life, so we have very different skills and outlooks that complement each other.
Each of you are mothers to a son and daughter. What have you learned about yourself in raising both of them? What examples do you hope to set for them as they become adults?
For us, we don’t like to talk about work-life balance – it’s more about having a work-life blend. We love what we do, and so our children are involved in that. They’re proud of what we do and it’s important for them to see their mothers working hard at something they love. We bring our kids to the clubs – they’ve even had their birthday parties there.
Between AllBright, AllBright Academy, FoundHER Festival, and your recent book… you’re developing an empowering community for women in multiple ways. What could the next level be? Any future plans to expand in ways we haven’t seen yet?
We’ve got two clubs in London now - our first club, the AllBright Rathbone, opened in Fitzrovia on International Women’s Day 2018 and our second, the AllBright Mayfair, opened at the beginning of May 2019. We’re about to open our first international club in West Hollywood, Los Angeles at the end of the summer, and after that we’ll be opening in New York, with plans for further clubs in the pipeline and a plan to scale our digital network and Academy further. We’re all about creating a monster global sisterhood.