Sophia Hutchins is a Pepperdine University graduate, successful entrepreneur and an outspoken advocate for gender equality in the workplace. But still, the 23-year-old trans woman, who has been romantically linked to Caitlyn Jenner since 2017, says she had difficulty finding investors when it came to funding her own company because of what she looked like and how she was portrayed online.
In an interview with Yahoo Lifestyle on the BUILD series stage, Hutchins opened up about the struggles that she faced when funding her upcoming venture, LumaSol — the biggest of which happened to be her reputation on the internet.
“There’s all these rumors online that I’m a model and so they had that misconception in their head. And it just kind of proved to be really challenging,” Hutchins said. “Getting primarily old white men to believe that this 23-year-old that looks like that can run a company and would give them a good return on their investment and has an idea that’s worth looking at and has the ability to surround herself with people that are smart and can execute this with her was really a huge hurdle for me to overcome.”
The Washington state-native, who currently holds the title of executive director of the Caitlyn Jenner Foundation, went on to provide an example of a pitch that she did at a reputable firm where she was told that investors were worried about investing in her.
“I had the partner at the firm say to me, ‘I understand that you have this great idea and it’s a great idea. But it’s you I’m worried about,’” she recalled. “But unfortunately, men can go out at 22 years old — and we’ve seen them drop out of college and do it even younger — and go get a lot of capital to fund their ventures and nobody’s saying, ‘Well, I’m not sure cause you look like that.’”
Still, after overcoming the stereotypes that she faced, Hutchins believes that part of her responsibility is to show people that women can be silly, have fun and be smart in business — which is something that she recently displayed on social media.
“I was dancing, kind of being foolish, having fun. And so I was like, guys, should I post this video of me dancing? And they’re like, no don’t do it, you’re a CEO, you’re a founder, you can’t show that side of yourself. It’s like, why not? Yes I can,” she explained of her recent Instagram post.
The video, which shows Hutchins poolside with a drink in hand, ended up receiving a ton of positive attention from her tens of thousands of followers, including her inspiration Lisa Rinna. However, Hutchins explained that life is all about balance and making sure that you can work hard and play hard.
“I’m a human. I have fun, we all do I hope,” she said. “Yea, you can be drunk by the pool dancing, and you can also run a company.”
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