CEO raised $53 million while rejecting investors who took issue with her pregnancy

When you're a venture capitalist considering investing in a company that makes women-oriented products, you better be comfortable with all aspects of womanhood. That includes seeing the head of the company pregnant—with twins—while she makes her pitch.

CEO Joanna Griffiths made that perfectly clear while raising capitol last year for Knix Wear, the undergarment company she founded in 2013. After online sales during the pandemic pushed the company's revenue in excess of $100 million, Griffiths decided it was time to expand. When approaching venture capitalists about investing, she had a rule—any investor who spoke negatively or disparagingly about her pregnancy, raising it as a concern about her company's future, was automatically disqualified from investing.

No matter how much cash they could bring to the table, she didn't want their money if they thought her pregnancy was going to devalue her company.



"Knix, at its core, is so rooted in women's empowerment," Griffiths said. "My viewpoint was if that was the way that they felt about me, then they were never going to understand what Knix was about and what we were trying to accomplish and they sure as hell weren't going to be the right partners for me."

The philosophy didn't end up hurting Knix's prospects. The company raised a whopping $53 million in capitol, taking in its final investments for the fundraising round just days before Griffith gave birth to her twin daughters.

"Last fall I had a new dream," Griffiths wrote in a post on Instagram. "I wanted to raise a round of financing for Knix before giving birth to my twin girls. I wanted to prove that pregnancy or motherhood doesn't have to be viewed as some kind of setback. I knew it would be hard. I knew that some people would underestimate or overlook me because of it. But I also knew I could do it....I closed the round on March 5th at 4:30 pm on my last day of work—three days before the girls were born."

Griffiths told CTV News that the money will be used to increase the company's product lineup, open more physical stores, and expand the brand's storytelling.

"I'm really excited to lean into this momentum of growth and to continue to build the company," said Griffiths.

Women have had to climb a steep hill to be taken seriously as entrepreneurs and heads of companies. Even with the strides that have been made, pregnancy can still be a sticking point for some people. Griffith's insistence on standing up for herself and her position in the company was a way for her to challenge people's assumptions and prejudices about moms in high-level careers. There's no doubt that having kids changes your life, but that's true for both moms and dads, and becoming a parent doesn't automatically mean you won't be able to do your job as well.

The support Griffiths has received for refusing funding from people who don't get that has been overwhelming.

"I can't keep up at this point with so many people reaching out and just saying how important it was for them to see this story," Griffiths told CTV News. "Those unspoken rules... that you can't fundraise pregnant, you can't switch jobs while pregnant, you can't get a promotion while pregnant, don't have to apply, and they shouldn't apply."

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Shanda Lynn Poitra was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. She lived there until she was 24 years old when she left for college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Unfortunately," she says, "I took my bad relationship with me. At the time, I didn't realize it was so bad, much less, abusive. Seeing and hearing about abusive relationships while growing up gave me the mentality that it was just a normal way of life."

Those college years away from home were difficult for a lot of reasons. She had three small children — two in diapers, one in elementary school — as well as a full-time University class schedule and a part-time job as a housekeeper.

"I wore many masks back then and clothing that would cover the bruises," she remembers. "Despite the darkness that I was living in, I was a great student; I knew that no matter what, I HAD to succeed. I knew there was more to my future than what I was living, so I kept working hard."

While searching for an elective class during this time, she came across a one-credit, 20-hour IMPACT self-defense class that could be done over a weekend. That single credit changed her life forever. It helped give her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship and inspired her to bring IMPACT classes to other Native women in her community.

I walked into class on a Friday thinking that I would simply learn how to handle a person trying to rob me, and I walked out on a Sunday evening with a voice so powerful that I could handle the most passive attacks to my being, along with physical attacks."

It didn't take long for her to notice the difference the class was making in her life.

"I was setting boundaries and people were either respecting them or not, but I was able to acknowledge who was worth keeping in my life and who wasn't," she says.

Following the class, she also joined a roller derby league where she met many other powerful women who inspired her — and during that summer, she found the courage to leave her abuser.

"As afraid as I was, I finally had the courage to report the abuse to legal authorities, and I had the support of friends and family who provided comfort for my children and I during this time," she says.

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Often, parents of children with special needs struggle to find Halloween costumes that will accommodate medical equipment or provide a proper fit. And figuring out how to make one? Yikes.

There's good news; shopDisney has added new ensembles to their already impressive line of adaptive play costumes. And from 8/30 - 9/26, there's a 20% off sale for all costume and costume accessory orders of $75+ with code Spooky.

When looking for the right costume, kids with unique needs have a lot of extra factors to consider: wheelchair wheels get tangled up in too-long material, feeding tubes could get twisted the wrong way, and children with sensory processing disorders struggle with the wrong kind of fabric, seams, or tags. There are a lot of different obstacles that can come between a kid and the ability to wear the costume of their choice, which is why it's so awesome that more and more companies are recognizing the need for inclusive creations that make it easy for everyone to enjoy the magic of make-believe.

Created with inclusivity in mind, the adaptive line is designed to discreetly accommodate tubes or wires from the front or the back, with lots of stretch, extra length and roomier cut, and self-stick fabric closures to make getting dressed hassle-free. The online shop provides details on sizing and breaks down the magical elements of each outfit and accessory, taking the guesswork out of selecting the perfect costume for the whole family.

Your child will be able to defeat Emperor Zurg in comfort with the Buzz Lightyear costume featuring a discreet flap opening at the front for easy tube access, with self-stick fabric closure. There is also an opening at the rear for wheelchair-friendly wear, and longer-length inseams to accommodate seated guests. To infinity and beyond!

An added bonus: many of the costumes offer a coordinating wheelchair cover set to add a major boost of fun. Kids can give their ride a total makeover—all covers are made to fit standard size chairs with 24" wheels—to transform it into anything from The Mandalorian's Razor Crest ship to Cinderella's Coach. Some options even come equipped with sounds and lights!

From babies to adults and adaptive to the group, shopDisney's expansive variety of Halloween costumes and accessories are inclusive of all.

Don't forget about your furry companions! Everyone loves to see a costumed pet trotting around, regardless of the occasion. You can literally dress your four-legged friend to look like Sven from Frozen, which might not sound like something you need in your life but...you totally do. CUTENESS OVERLOAD.

This year has been tough for everyone, so when a child gets that look of unfettered joy that comes from finally getting to wear the costume of their dreams, it's extra rewarding. Don't wait until the last minute to start looking for the right ensemble!


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