Interviews

The Interview — Bianca Gates, CEO and Co-Founder of Birdies

CEO and Co-Founder of Birdies

Bianca Gates is the slipper obsessed CEO and Co-Founder of Birdies, the company that is disrupting the slipper market and creating a new category of footwear. Prior to Birdies, Bianca was a Sales Executive at Facebook/Instagram leading retail partnerships. During her time at Facebook, Bianca launched the first Lean In Circle with Sheryl Sandberg and is passionate about bringing women together to support each other's dreams. Bianca is a graduate from the University of California at Irvine and lives in San Francisco with her husband and two kids.

Keep up with Bianca on her personal Instagram and get all the latest Birdies updates via their Instagram and website

April 8, 2019

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R&S

What inspired the idea behind Birdies:

Bianca

The inspiration came from my own frustration! I spent my 20’s living in Manhattan during the “Sex and the City” era where I’d never leave my apartment without a great pair of heels. But when I’d come home, or go to someone else’s apartment, I would remove my dirty shoes without something comfortable and equally as fashionable to wear around the entertaining space of the home (living room, dining room, kitchen). My only options were to go barefoot, wear socks or worse—ugly frumpy slippers that were meant for pajamas and not my stylish outfit. After years of looking for a solution, my husband challenged me to solve this problem once and for all. But with a full-time job, a 3-hour a day commute and two little kids, I knew I couldn’t do this alone. So I reached out to my good friend Marisa Sharkey about this idea and she was immediately on board—sharing in the same frustration! Together, we hatched Birdies in 2015!

R&S

What do you love most about your work:

Bianca

What I love most about my work is the people I get to work with every day and knowing that we are bringing people so much joy through the products we make.

View Bianca's Essentials

R&S

Best career advice you’ve ever received:

Bianca

Lean In. This advice was indirectly given to me while reading Sheryl Sandberg’s commencement speech at Barnard College in the Spring of 2011. At the time, I had a young daughter and an unfulfilling job which made me re-think the future of my career. When I read those two simple words it inspired me to take action and find work that I was passionate about. Six months later I landed a job at Facebook and have been leaning in ever since!

R&S

Walk us through a typical work day:

Bianca

Agh! Every day is so different! Generally speaking, I wake up by 6:30 every morning and get myself ready before waking up my kids for school. I drop them both off at school by 8:15 (something I LOVE doing) and am in the office by 8:30. Every day is totally different which makes my days so exciting! We are growing so fast that these days I’m spending a lot of my time interviewing candidates for various roles at Birdies. I really try to prioritize family dinners so I like to be home by 6:30 unless I have a business dinner or need to squeeze in a late night in the office to catch-up a bit. My husband and I put the kids to bed around 8:30 and then I catch-up on work a little more before going to bed around 11 p.m. I try to sneak in a workout at least a couple times a week and on Saturdays and Sundays. My workouts keep me energized and help me get a better night’s sleep!

R&S

Who has had the biggest impact on your career:

Bianca

My mother is my biggest inspiration. She immigrated to the US from Bolivia and while she didn’t work outside the home, I’ve never met anyone who worked harder and attacked life with such a loving intensity. She made me and my 3 siblings feel like we could do anything we put our mind to. 

R&S

One thing you wish you knew before launching Birdies:

Bianca

I’m glad I didn’t know anything about the fashion business because most of the people in that world told us it’s a terrible business to be in. They were wrong! The fashion world is so much fun and consumers are looking for new brands that inspire them. This is a great time to be in fashion.  

R&S

Share your biggest guilty pleasure:

Bianca

OMG this is sort of embarrassing but I’m obsessed with foot reflexology! I’ve always known that if my feet are comfortable, I am comfortable. If my feet are cold, I am cold, etc. So when I’m feeling stressed, I get my feet worked on and it immediately relaxes my entire body. An added bonus is that I’m able to work on my laptop while my feet get worked on so it’s quite efficient too!

R&S

What’s a trend you predict will catch on this year:

Bianca

More women speaking up, taking action and lifting up other women! 

R&S

What apps and gadgets can’t you live without:

Bianca

Slack, Instagram, Shopify and Sonos for music in the house and the office. I can’t work in silence. I need a little music and action around me. 

R&S

What does the future hold for Birdies:

Bianca

The future is very bright for Birdies. Beyond scaling the business 5x this year, we are working hard at creating a community of women lifting up other women.

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