Starting a business can be stressful. Beginning a relationship can be stressful. Starting them both at the same time is the next level of stress. But starting a business while also starting a relationship with your business partner is the craziest combination imaginable. That’s what McKenzie Bauer, co-founder of Thread Wallets, did in 2014, and thankfully, both the business and relationship were successful.
Bauer admits the early business years were a little bumpy as she and her husband Colby began their relationship, established the company’s direction, and defined their roles. However, facing those challenges made her navigating other stages easier, like adding three daughters to the mix.
“When I became a mom while running a business, I became more aware of women’s needs in the workplace and how companies can better serve their female employees,” Bauer said.
She has since become a vocal advocate for childcare. “If you want talented women who bring a lot to the table, you need to offer childcare,” she adds. “This can be a challenge for small and growing businesses, but it needs to be a regular conversation within companies.”
Bauer believes it’s important for more women to be in decision-making places because a well-rounded group that includes men, women, minorities, LGBTQ+, and others produces well-rounded thought patterns and solutions that better represent the community. “Having women at the table has the added benefit of making it easier to recruit other female employees, and it shows the upcoming generations of women they can be whatever they want to be,” she notes.
Bauer feels companies should make every effort to make women feel welcome. She adds that businesses can implement simple things, like ensuring the bathrooms are equipped with period products and changing tables. Having flexible meeting and vacation policies is also important. She also notes that being open to discussing women’s concerns and needs is critical.
In addition to providing a supportive work environment for women at Thread and encouraging other businesses to do the same, Bauer prioritizes giving back to women in the community. She mentors young female business owners and volunteers with The Period Project, which puts free period products in schools. She also volunteers with the Utah Refugee Connection, which provides essential supplies to refugee families.
“These are things I’m passionate about and want to continue doing to give back to this community that’s given us so much.”
Bauer’s work in the community and within Thread Wallets is an excellent example of how companies can champion and support women, especially in the workplace.