The Ultimate Women’s App: Restless
THe Ultimate Women’s App To Download: Restless
A safe space for women online. The Restless App is your safe space to heal, grow and find community. Download to discover loads of exclusive video series, podcasts, helpful resources and online events! Join the community, ask for advice and put the world to rights in a safe space, full of women who really get it. Modeliste sat down with Founder & CEO of Restless Network, Olivia DeRamus and this is what we learned.
What was your inspiration for Restless? Has your vision changed over time?
Restless came out of a pretty dark time in my life. When I was a freshman in college, I was sexually assaulted. And because I reported him to my university, and though I was found in the right by the university tribunal, he sued me for defamation – to the tune of millions of dollars. That lawsuit lasted for the majority of my adult life (I’m 26 now). During that time, I was isolated from my friends and family, and I couldn’t tell anyone what was happening to me, not even my doctor. As for things like writing in a journal? That was out too, as I would have had to hand it over to the court. I was forcibly put on mute. Eventually, I had to realize that the court was never going to protect me. At first I felt hopeless, I didn’t know how to find help. At some point though, I started to try to think of a way I could get some sense of empowerment back. I thought that maybe if I could facilitate the stories and experiences of other women, that I could speak indirectly through that, and that maybe that would be enough.
So Restless was never this big business plan, it was initially just an experiment in trying to feel ok again amid a situation that I couldn’t control. Very happily, it did give me a sense of empowerment again, and people started to notice the website and articles I was putting out. We started to grow really quickly, and eventually the legal battle ended. That was when I had the chance to think about Restless as a real business, and focus on what we could be. For me, it came down to the fact that I wanted to create something that could help other women in my position. That ended up being an app where women could make meaningful connections, ask for help + give advice, and access resources in a safe space.
It’s been a crazy metamorphosis since 2019! Now, we’re focused on being a social network you can turn to as a better alternative to platforms like Facebook and Twitter, who generally don’t prioritize the wellbeing of women.
What were the unexpected challenges you faced when starting Restless and how did you tackle those?
I’ve always been a people person, but I had never managed people before. So when I found myself in charge of a ton of different people pretty much over night, I was definitely overwhelmed and had to do a lot of learning really quickly. For me it really came down to leading with empathy while also remembering that there’s a difference between being someone’s friend and someone’s boss.
I think the other main challenge was that a lot of people don’t think that #MeToo issues are relevant anymore. There are a lot of individuals who think that the movement fixed everything and that it’s something they can close the book on. Of course, any woman can tell you that’s absolutely not the case, but it’s hard building a business that talks about these issues when you have to constantly justify your reason for being to people who don’t get it. Plus, then there was the idea that if you talk about the more intense issues, you can’t talk about the more fun stuff like dating or side hustles.
What really changed things for me was when I realized that the people who don’t get why #MeToo issues are still important and are not the people I’m here to serve anyways. By embracing our core demographic that already cared, I started to show up for them better, and I think we’ve grown stronger as a trusted resource because of it. This same thinking helped me with the other issue, the people who don’t understand that women are multifaceted are ultimately not our audience or would get our community. By ignoring the people who don’t get it, and focusing on the people who do, and actually need us, we’re thriving a lot more than we would if we tried to appeal to everyone.
What were your early success tactics? How did you build awareness/spread the word? How were you able to attract your first users?
In the early days we were just a website with an Instagram. A lot of people say that to grow your audience you have to be on all the platforms. I didn’t have the ability to do that (Instagram is a lot in itself, am I right??) But we grew really quickly and I think it’s because I focused on consistency and being as helpful and engaging as I could be on one platform, as opposed to being more irregular across a bunch. When we launched the app, we were lucky in that we had already built a community of like minded women who were naturally interested in what we were doing next. A lot of what I’ve learned about successful launches has come from just doing it. If you can identify what platform your ultimate target demographic uses the most, that will help you invest your time the most effectively. I was lucky in that my first inclination was that platform for my core audience.
As a female-founded company, what are your core values, and how has that come through and changed as the company has grown?
Our core values I would say are empathy, optimism, and facts. We want to be a place you can go to take a breath and find something genuinely helpful, we’re not here to post triggering content or stress you out. Our commitment to this approach is seen in how we’ve structured the app (it’s divided into topic sections so you don’t have to engage in something that might trigger you) as well as our original approach to producing articles and other forms of resources. Our ultimate question will always be: is this piece of content, feature of the app, or new project going to make someone’s life better? If the answer is no, we don’t do it. We have a lot of big things coming up. An updated version of the app, new products… My biggest nightmare would be if we weren’t producing things that are genuinely helpful and reliable. I’m aware there’s a lot of pink washing happening with brands right now, so I’m always trying to provide as much value to our community as possible.
What is exciting to you about the potential to use Restless as a platform to drive social change?
I’m really excited about the idea of creating a better internet for women. All of the social networking apps we use right now were created by men. Facebook in particular, to rate the hotness of the founder’s female classmates. The platforms serve important functions in society, but they have also caused serious societal problems too. Too often they are vehicles for hate speech, harassment, trolling, bullying, and extremism. And then there’s the other side of things, where social media can so often make you feel bad about yourself, and distort reality. 64.5% of our users don’t feel comfortable being honest about how they really feel on mainstream social media platforms. (Happily though, 93.5% of users feel more comfortable talking about how they feel on Restless than on any other platform) I’m really proud of that stat!
I really believe that the Restless Network can address these issues by doing things differently from the start – and providing a safe space you can go to ask for help if you need it. My ultimate goal is that a woman could be crying on the bathroom floor, and no matter where she is, she could take out the app and find support. Whether it’s from the other app users or the resources we provide. So we have big goals in both how we affect individual people and society as a whole. We’re not trying to get into debates, we’re trying to better the lives of the women who need us.
What is it about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
There’s a lot to be honest! We’re definitely challenging the boys club of big tech. And honestly, sometimes I do get nervous about it. Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter hide behind certain laws that say they aren’t liable for what people post on their platforms. And yes, as someone with her own social media app, there’s an aspect of those laws that make sense. However, it doesn’t give any business an excuse to ignore harassment and hate speech, and in some cases, fostering it. We’re not doing any of that. We have a zero tolerance policy towards unsupportive behavior. And I know it sounds simple, but in reality, it’s a huge break from how social media platforms operate. Tech companies have the power to kick off users who spread misinformation or do harm to other users. But they don’t, and they won’t. We do.
Your community is growing every day, what makes you most proud?
When I see the women on the app helping each other. And I see it every day. From day one, they’ve been giving the most thoughtful and meaningful supportive comments to each other. I’m talking paragraphs long responses. It’s that interaction that Restless is here to facilitate. When I got the first message from a user telling me that we had helped her recover from her #MeToo experience, I really felt that I had accomplished what I had set out to do. That if we fail in the future, we’d have already succeeded in the ways that matter most.
What does a typical day in the life look like for you? How do you deal with work stress and any self-care tips?
I tend to work late as opposed to early mornings. You don’t need to force yourself to work like everyone else if you are lucky enough to have the flexibility to do so. We have a small core team, so I’m involved in all aspects of the business. One day it’s marketing/editing content/finance and another it’s app development/brand strategy/management tasks. I’m not going to lie to you, it can be a lot. I live on ice oat milk lattes. I stay sane by always making time to do long walks in the park with my dog and committing to a workout routine. I’m really into kickboxing. It makes me feel in control of my body and my life, it’s really good as a grounding strategy. Also, at home dance parties accompanied by at home margaritas!
Who are the leaders/CEOs that inspire you?
Definitely AOC and Whitney Wolfe Herd. I think AOC does such an amazing job at being a transparent and authentic leader. I always look at how she handles situations and try to emulate that when I come up against challenges. I also am really appreciative of Whitney proving that businesses with a social mission can achieve just as much mainstream success, if not more, than a business without a cause. I’ve seen a lot of my own community members have really quick and thoughtful responses from Bumble when they’ve dealt with harassment or worse, and that wouldn’t be the case if she didn’t make women’s wellbeing a priority. You can be successful and also care about other people.
How are you thinking about the future of the company? Where do you see the brand going?
I definitely have big ambitions for the Restless Network! I believe that there is a huge need for what we’re providing, and I want to provide it for as many women as possible. I think that we could definitely scale to the size of a platform like Reddit for example. I want to bring these often traditionally “taboo” conversations we’re having on the app – whether that’s topics like #MeToo, Mental Health, or Work & Money – into the mainstream.