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Female Founders: Crystal Etienne of Ruby Love On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Crystal Etienne.

Crystal Etienne is the Founder + CEO of Ruby Love — a Period Swimwear and Underwear company. In 2016 she created Ruby Love (previously known as Panty Prop) from her own frustration with a sanitary pad, and was able to bootstrap the business within 2 years to over $10M. In 2021 the company became a $50M+ brand under her direction, and no-one in the tech industry knew or cared that a Black woman built a big brand, in a new category, with very little funding or help.

She felt “cajed” many times, but overcame every obstacle and was inspired to launch a new-to-market investment company CaJE, aimed at supporting early stage, women-led businesses. CaJE is on a mission to create a new category of capital called, “Soil.” Whether bootstrapping, qualifying for pre-seed, or seed-level financing from venture capital funds, CaJE is designed to build and create generational wealth through idea and market for Black women.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

I have always been an entrepreneur since I can remember. Solving problems fascinates me in the most weird way. Basic, everyday life issues all have solutions and I just happen to be one of the people solving it through my brand Ruby Love. I am a Black woman and have witnessed first-hand the brutal disservice that the tech industry and venture capital world do to women of color.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

In September, alongside my husband and business partner, we launched a new era venture capital brand, CaJE to support Black women founders and provide the financial support they need to build scalable businesses. My most memorable moment in launching CaJE was the amount of feedback and interest we received. We were expecting only a handful of submissions to pitch to us and within one week we received over 380 submissions, having to rearrange our calendars almost immediately. Because of this, we have had to rearrange and regroup almost immediately to support the cause that we are doing.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Yes, my husband Jean. My husband operated his own logistics delivery company and it took 2 years of begging him to come onboard to help launch CaJE. My convincing paid off. Since that day, he has helped me make sound decisions and we have put together an amazing operation.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience what is currently holding back women from founding companies?

Nothing is holding women back from starting companies besides equal opportunity, and chance for Black women to have the same means, mentorship, and money to grow a company.

Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government, to help overcome those obstacles?

It’s pretty simple, but mass society just won’t let it happen. The easy solution would be to give opportunity to the best candidate, not based on introductions and favoritism.

This might be intuitive to you as a woman founder but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?

Becoming a founder creates wealth and wisdom.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder? Can you explain what you mean?

Founders never sleep.

Founders all work from their basements.

Is everyone cut out to be a founder? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder and what type of person should perhaps seek a “regular job” as an employee? Can you explain what you mean?

Entrepreneurs and regular job workers have different mindsets. Entrepreneurs think big visions all day beyond a paycheck and take a lose-it-all risk. Regular job seekers think first about security in life.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your opinion and experience, What are the “Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder?” (Please share a story or example for each.)

  • You must be able to say NO.
  • You must be able to set boundaries and stick to them.
  • You need to not care about what others think.
  • You need to stay focused.
  • You need to be able to think big.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

With CaJE, I intend to create a solid starting point for Black women that normally would not exist for them.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I want to live in a world where money does not exist, where value is based purely on good souls and who is truly the best.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

Absolutely — Oprah! Oprah seems to genuinely give from the heart to others and that reminds me of myself. I would love to just invite her over one day on my patio and talk about helping the underprivileged.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.



In-depth Interviews with Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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Candice Georgiadis

Candice Georgiadis is an active mother of three as well as a designer, founder, social media expert, and philanthropist.