It’s International Women’s Day. Here’s What it Means to CAKE

CAKE Asheville Internatial Women's Day

The talented women of CAKE!
Left to right: Aimee, Kit, Joy, Jessica, Katie, Meghan, Amelia (not pictured: Gwen, Thais & Neeley)

This International Women’s Day, the motto is #beboldforchange—and women everywhere are doing their part to help create a better, more inclusive, and gender-equal world. As a woman-founded, woman co-owned company with 67% female staff, we thought, what better way to start than by celebrating the amazing achievements of women in business?

“I love this year’s International Women’s Day theme of ‘be bold for change’; it is so true that we all need to be bold on some level to enact change. If one is not bold, others around you will be—and you’ll be forced into their paths, not your own. That’s not to say only women with bold personalities will succeed. I’m shy, so boldness for me has meant not doing what was expected of me, and persisting (and persisting some more!) in my own quiet ways.” —Aimee Ellingsen, Founder, Creative Director, & Co-Owner of CAKE

The numbers don’t lie: women are underrepresented in business—but things are changing

Fact: women business owners and employees are a minority in most areas of industry. This is an unarguable truth, but things are improving. Typical male-dominated fields, such as technology and marketing, are seeing more and more women innovators and those in positions of leadership.

One in five million-dollar businesses are now owned by women, and women-owned companies make up around 31% of all privately-held firms. According to the 2014 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, 29.2% of firms in the professional and technical services sector in the United States are women-owned.

Our fellow North Carolinians should be proud: the number of women-owned firms in NC has increased by 91% over the past 17 years—and CAKE is proud to be part of that statistic!

CAKE Websites is proud to to work with women

CAKE was founded in 2001 by Aimee Ellingsen, a Cooper Union graduate with an eye for design and a knack for website programming. She began designing and coding websites in 1996 for family and friends, and her desire to operate outside of the restrictions of working for others naturally led to expanding her services and opening her own business.

I had an infant and wanted to be able to both work and spend time with Marcel. It was quite a different time from today; back in the late 90s and early 00s, there were far fewer internet-related companies and little flexibility for working moms. My choices were to take on a strict 9 to 5 job or start my own business. Starting my own business allowed me to work while Marcel slept and even breastfeed and code at the same time. —Aimee Ellingsen

Like most women in business, Aimee experienced ups and downs. From prioritizing her instincts over the expectations of others to understanding when she needed help, the path to creating and growing a successful business wasn’t without hiccups.

Getting into marketing, especially in cosmetic medicine, was a step out of what was expected for me. Some of my friends thought it was pretty strange that the woman who revived the on-campus feminist alliance would end up having a clientele including so many plastic surgeons. So I got over the opinions of others. And really, marketing for plastic surgeons is only contradictory with my feminism if I accept other people’s rules and thoughts on the matter. Women should be free to love their bodies in any way they wish: whether that means changing your shape, getting tattoos and piercings, or never touching a razor and being au natural, I love and celebrate it all. I feel like we bring a special joie de vivre to marketing for women because of that.—Aimee Ellingsen

Since 2001, CAKE has grown substantially, serving 200+ happy clients with cutting-edge print & web design, custom programming, and smart SEO marketing—all with the help of a majority-female staff.

Read all about Aimee’s experience founding and running a tech business as a woman here »

What working in a majority-female company means to CAKE employees

Of CAKE’s 15 full-time staff members, two thirds are women from varied backgrounds and with a variety of skillsets, including design, programming, project management, videography, writing, social media, outreach, and public relations.

But what does that mean to the guys and gals who work together every day doing great things at CAKE? Here’s what a few of our awesome staff members have to say:

“It’s extremely important to me, particularly given the fact that the stats for women in the tech industry are so abysmal due to widespread hiring bias. I’m glad to work for a company where the gender makeup is the opposite of the trend. Since we are creating and marketing content that targets women the majority of the time, I’m also happy we aren’t just a bunch of dudes telling women what they should like or spend money on.” —James, SEO Analyst

“It feels unfamiliar. Most of my career prior to working at CAKE Websites has been in construction accounting, and therefore in male-dominant circumstances. At the same time, I’m grateful to live in a time when women finally can and do routinely achieve on a level with men.” —Gwen Herndon, Financial Manager

“I believe in equal rights for everyone, and I’m proud to work for a company owned by a woman and with a team of women. CAKE’s an example of how much women have fought for equal rights and how dumb gender barriers really are. We’re really good at what we do; I don’t see gender, only good, honest people working their butts off!” —Shawn Hiatt, Designer & Email Marketing Specialist

“I appreciate the opportunities for collaborative approaches to projects that it offers.” —Joy Neaves, Project Manager

“If I wasn’t before, I became a feminist the moment my daughter was born.” —Clark Mackey, Director of Online Marketing & Co-Owner

“With a background working in technology or adjacent fields, being in an office with mostly women was absolutely a break from my norm. It’s amazing to feel so supported, valued, and safe to be bold.” —Jessica Stouder, Head Copywriter

“We build up inhibitions about what we can achieve as women, and working around so many talented individuals who encourage and support your place in a company dissolves those falsehoods.” —Katie Murray, Social Media Coordinator

“I know what it’s like to have a customer ask if there’s anyone else available to help them (meaning a man). I don’t get that at CAKE. Everyone here is driven to do outstanding work, but we feed off that drive and as a result, we elevate our potential as individuals and as a team.”—Kit Hayes, Copywriter

More posts by CAKE Websites »