- Debbie Wosskow OBE and Anna Jones founded women’s membership club AllBright in 2017.
- It aims to help women develop their careers and provide networking and upskilling opportunities.
- It now has an audience of around 400,000, and has raised $42 million in funding to date.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
At the start of the pandemic, women’s careers and networking club AllBright around 40,000 people in its community, which it defines as paying members, app users, newsletter subscribers, and social media followers. Members predominately connected with the company through its three club buildings – two in London and one in West Hollywood.
A year on, its buildings have been closed for the best part of 12 months. But the business now has an audience of 400,000 thanks to a rapid pivot online – and it’s expanding into new markets, too.
Since its launch in 2017, it’s raised $42 million in funding to date in three investment rounds led by private investment firm Cain International. It’s launching operations in India, and already has a presence in the UK, US, and Australia.
AllBright was cofounded in 2017 by Debbie Wosskow OBE and Anna Jones after a mutual friend introduced them at a party. Wosskow is a multi-exit entrepreneur in digital who founded Love Home Swap, which she sold to Wyndham Destination Networks for £40 million ($53 million) in 2017, while Jones was formerly the CEO of Hearst UK.
The pair found they had similar experiences of being women in business.
Only 2% of capital goes to support a female founder, and this dropped to 1% during 2020, Wosskow said. Only 7% of investors are female, she added.
And when Jones led Hearst, she was the only female CEO of a large media business in the UK, Wosskow added.
“Both of us were so used to being the only women at the boardroom table that we’d stop noticing,” Wosskow told Insider.
So they decided to launch AllBright, the UK’s first women-only membership club, aimed at creating what Wosskow dubbed a “monster global sisterhood.”
AllBright opened its three buildings, which Wosskow describes as “flagships.” These provide women with “a hub away from home,” she said. At the sites, women can work, network, and attend a range of events organized by AllBright, including upskilling sessions.
The boutique-style clubs all have a restaurant, lounge, and bookable meeting rooms, alongside event space.
AllBright opened its first club in Bloomsbury, London on International Women’s Day in 2018. It expanded its presence in the city by opening a second club in the city’s exclusive Mayfair area the next year, in a five-storey townhouse with a rooftop garden and two restaurants.
Shortly after, it launched in the US with a club in West Hollywood, Los Angeles, which offers rooftop dining, a hair and nail salon, and aromatherapy and massage services.
Despite the popularity of its physical clubs, AllBright had always planned to launch digital operations – but the pandemic accelerated this, moving its launch from an eight-month delivery time to just eight weeks.
Alongside its club membership, which costs £1,300 ($1,800) a year, the company has launched a digital-only membership for £15 (around $20) a month. This includes access to articles, courses ran in partnership with education platform Future Learn, and both live and on-demand events, as well as networking opportunities.
And AllBright realized that, once it had the tech already in place, it was much easier to launch operations in new markets.
It first bought Australian female lifestyle platform The Grace Tales, founded by Georgie Abay, the former deputy editor of Australian Vogue. The site is aimed at working mothers, and as well as articles about parenting and interviews with celebrities including Miranda Kerr, The Grace Tales holds in-person events.
Months later, AllBright acquired Chicago-based digital hub EvolveHer, which held events focused on careers, money, and networking. Jones said the acquisition helped AllBright expand its presence in the US outside of Los Angeles.
AllBright is also targeting other English-speaking areas, and is soon launching operations in India, Jones said.
The pandemic highlighted the importance of AllBright’s mission
Women have been disproportionately hit by redundancies and furlough during the pandemic. Jones said this had caused a surge in the number of women wanting to retrain: AllBright surveyed 2,500 women and found that 57% were thinking about pivoting their careers post-pandemic.
“I think that there’s a general concern that we need to all ensure that [the pandemic] doesn’t set the agenda of women and work back,” Wosskow said.
Employers are increasingly recognizing this too, she said. During the pandemic, there has been a big uptake in the number of companies choosing to provide their staff with corporate membership to AllBright so they can develop their careers.
Despite the huge surge in interest in its digital operations, with enrollment in its online courses up around 200% since the first lockdown in March 2020, Jones thinks AllBright’s real estate offering will remain important to many of its members.
“I think that there’s always going to be a desire and a need for women and people in to be able to connect in real life,” Jones said.