Founded more than a decade ago by industry leaders Diane Sullivan and Carol Baiocchi, WIFI has provided a community and forum for women to connect and support one another.
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Since its debut, the community has grown to 5,000 member at its peak and the organization is looking to scale even more. Last week, Baiocchi and Sulliva, along with the members of the new WIFI Advisory Board — Stephanie Berg, Sarah Bloch, Eli Del Carmen, Kathy Forstadt, Christina Gigante, and Jori Miller Sherer — came together for a virtual town all to discuss the past, present and future.
“You get a bunch of women together in a room and things happen,” Baiocchi said on the start of WIFI. “It was a time for us to establish what this community could be like and it was our time to do this. The relationships that were built were tremendous and at all levels.”
Sullivan added, “It put a spotlight on women in the industry that no one had done before. It exposed this female talent. You’re aware of it in your own company but I had the opportunity to meet so many others within in the industry and see the power of what great talent is. That spotlight helped people take notice.”
Now, WIFI is focused on the next generation. Community growth is the No.1 priority for the group as it looks to advance women in footwear and increase representation all around. Recently, WIFI launched its first new grant in 60 years to offer upscaling and professional development, for instance.
“We need to make sure we continue to stay focused on things like this in our industry and we don’t back off and we be consistent,” explained Sullivan. “You have to find new ways of moving forward and pushing sustainable growth. “We have to fight [for women in this industry].”
In addition to grants, WIFI plans to continue its educational panels as the goal is to meet the needs of women in the business. The organization will also host in-person networking events. Next up, there will be a cocktail hour on Nov. 27 during FFANY market week at Foot Locker headquarters.
Head to twoten.org/wifi to join today.
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