Jessica Robertson & Jeff Berman at the 2022 MAKERS Conference.
- Please welcome Jessica Robertson and Jeff Berman.
JEFF BERMAN: I don't know how we're following Marley. I mean, oh my God. She's-- can we get just another-- I mean-- I'm 51. I don't have half of that. It's incredible.
JESSICA ROBERTSON: I was working at hot topic at 17. I don't even--
JEFF BERMAN: It's a whole other deal. Anthony, can I get the clicker? Sorry. We got slides.
JESSICA ROBERTSON: How are we feeling?
JEFF BERMAN: Thank you.
JESSICA ROBERTSON: We're good?
JEFF BERMAN: Should we start?
JESSICA ROBERTSON: We should start. Sports are a prism for culture. Sports are an accelerant of culture. Sports are culture. Athletes increasingly drive fashion, music, social norms, politics, and so much more.
JEFF BERMAN: But if 18 months ago, you'd mapped brands on axes of men's sport and culture and women's sport and culture, acknowledging that gender is not binary, but for the purpose of this exercise, you'd have seen a whole big cluster of brands at the intersection of sport and culture for men right there.
JESSICA ROBERTSON: And a total lack of brands sitting at the equivalent intersection for women, brands that recognize that women's sports move culture forward, that women athletes are incredible multihyphenates who influence the very culture we participate in and consume every single day. Enter Together.
JEFF BERMAN: Founded by four of the greatest athletes alive.
JESSICA ROBERTSON: And we don't have to qualify that by saying women athletes alive, four of the greatest athletes alive. Together is a media and commerce company that honors, celebrates, amplifies, and shines a spotlight on the extraordinary women who redefine what it means to be an athlete and cultural powerhouse in the modern era.
JEFF BERMAN: And it's not just our four avengers. There are thousands upon thousands upon thousands of women alongside them. It's Chantal Navarro, a teenage phenom who comes from a long line of champion male boxers, and who wants to fulfill her family legacy of an Olympic gold medal.
JESSICA ROBERTSON: It's a collective of badass teenagers from the North Shore of Oahu who are pushing the boundaries for women in surf, and who starred in a YouTube series that we created, a YouTube series that Hello Sunshine has partnered with us to adapt. That adaptation will be coming to a subscription service you all subscribe to next year.
JEFF BERMAN: It's also all 144 women of the WNBA who took on one of their owners--
One of their owners who happened to be a United States Senator, and in the process changed the direction of American democracy.
- My dad was like, you think four gold medals was badass? You just helped flip a Senate seat.
- Black parade.
JEFF BERMAN: They're featured in a documentary co-produced with Tracee Ellis Ross and WNBA players Sue Bird and Nneka Ogwumike, which will also be coming to a streaming service next year.
JESSICA ROBERTSON: Historically, interest in women's sports has been cyclical. We see interest rise every few years with each Olympics. That meant a new star like Chloe Kim, or with every World Cup that captivates, in particular, America. Then that interest wanes. It isn't sustained as it should be, as it deserves to be, but more importantly as it must be. 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
JEFF BERMAN: We've seen investors--
JESSICA ROBERTSON: Mostly white male investors--
JEFF BERMAN: Mostly white male investors take an interest in women's sport as a charitable endeavor, or simply because they're checking a box.
JESSICA ROBERTSON: Together as part of the vanguard of new companies, new leaders, new investors who are treating women's sports for what it actually is.
JEFF BERMAN: It's a growth category. It's a growth category in an era of massive fragmentation. And it's an ecosystem of not just businesses, but big businesses, to build.
JESSICA ROBERTSON: It's an opportunity to change the world not just for these world class athletes who deserve equal pay, equal recognition, and an equal playing field.
JEFF BERMAN: It's an opportunity to change the world for our children, all of our children. The world our children will inherit needs to be a place where women's sports is not a charity, where it is not a cause. It is here. It is now. And it is very much the future. Yeah.
JESSICA ROBERTSON: When Jeff was recruiting me to join the company, he asked me two very big questions.
JEFF BERMAN: Will you move to LA?
JESSICA ROBERTSON: No, but fine. I did.
JEFF BERMAN: And second, what scares you the most about doing this?
JESSICA ROBERTSON: I'm always embarrassed to say this answer, and I feel especially vulnerable saying this answer in this room. I was worried that it wouldn't work, that no one would care. I was afraid we'd be a part of another boom bust cycle that we see happening in women's sports. And as embarrassed as I am to say that on this stage, I'm also proud to say that I was radically wrong.
JESSICA ROBERTSON: As a journalist, as a storyteller, my instinct and my training is to go where the silence is. And that's where great stories lurk. So we went after the silence. And we've been making a lot of noise in that silence. At Together, we make content which attracts an audience, an incredibly large audience.
JEFF BERMAN: For a sense of scale, we're two million followers on TikTok in 18 months, making us one of the fastest growing consumer brands on that platform in that time frame. And we have an engagement rate on Instagram that's the envy of the industry, about five times higher than the brands we measure against.
JESSICA ROBERTSON: At the center of that audience is our community. And at the center of that community are our most avid fans, a group of people who share our values, who amplify and market us, and who have helped tell us what our brand really is, and also what our brand should be. When we launched Together-- I'm laughing about this because I remember this conversation. We said jokingly that we would know that we've broken through as a brand when we got our first tattoo. We set what we thought was an ambitious goal of seeing that happen--
JEFF BERMAN: From someone who doesn't work at our company.
JESSICA ROBERTSON: Yeah. I have seven tattoos and regret six of them. So it wasn't going to be me. But six months after we launched, this slid into our DMs. I would have got it a little smaller. But this to us was a symbol that we have built something that resonated, so much so that someone used this as an expression of their own identity because finally they felt seen and a part of a bigger community.
JEFF BERMAN: As a former boss of mine is fond of saying, it's easier to catch a wave than to create a wave.
JESSICA ROBERTSON: Together exists to do both.
JESSICA ROBERTSON: We're riding the wave that generations, I mean, literally generations of women before us, initiated. And we're accelerating that wave with the stories that we're telling and the spotlights that we're shining.
JEFF BERMAN: We have already doubled revenue year over year. And we have a plan to beat that again next year. Brands such as Buick, Google, and Nike are coming to us because they're buying into the vision, the community, and our relentless focus on mission.
JESSICA ROBERTSON: There is no more neutral.
JEFF BERMAN: And we would argue there never was.
JESSICA ROBERTSON: Together isn't here to play it safe. We owe it to the women that we feature, their families, their communities, our community, to tell it like it is, and to show, literally show and make visible, the power of what's possible.
JEFF BERMAN: As we build our community, as we create more shows, as we sell more projects, you'll see us expanding into new businesses, new categories, and potentially new universes.
JESSICA ROBERTSON: For now, all we ask is that you Like, Subscribe, follow, shout from the rooftops that we're not just coming, we're already here. And we are just the tip of a very mighty spear. It's-- I say this often. So Jeff has heard me say this for about three years now. It's not that women athletes and women's sports have been behind. It's that culture is finally catching up. And Together is pouring fuel on that fire.
JEFF BERMAN: We fundamentally believe that the old aphorism, if you want to go fast, go alone. And if you want to go long, go together is wrong. We believe in going fast and long together.
JESSICA ROBERTSON: We're thrilled to be on this journey. And we invite all of you guys to join us in that journey. Thank you.
JEFF BERMAN: Thank you.
- Whoo. We're going to steal 30 extra seconds because of some news from this morning.
JESSICA ROBERTSON: Given what we stand for, and who we represent, and our collective community, and I don't just mean those who love our brand, I mean the athletes that we also represent, we'd be remiss if we didn't say something on behalf of Brittney Griner given the news that came out this morning who's been wrongfully detained, and it was ruled this morning will spend nine years in a Russian prison. We send our love and support to her family, her friends, her teammates. Most of all, BG. We will not stop working until she is home safe. And we ask you guys to join us in that fight.
JEFF BERMAN: And we have a specific call to action. So when we break for lunch, here's the ask. 202-224-3121. 202-224-3121. That is the number for the capital operator. They will route you to either your senators, ideally both of your senators, and your representative. And it's a simple message. If Brittney were an equivalent athlete on the men's side, she would be home already. It is time to put more and more pressure on the White House and the State Department to bring Brittney home now.
- Say the number one more time.
JEFF BERMAN: 202-224-3121. I have it programmed in my favorites. I call every day about something. I encourage you do the same. But today, this is today's call to action. So we thank you for your support and your help. And thank you for coming on this journey with us.
JESSICA ROBERTSON: Thank you, guys. OK.