This Is What Empowerment Looks Like

Women supporting women supporting women

Susie Kahlich
7 min readFeb 13, 2022


Photo by Luwadlin Bosman on Unsplash

When I moved to Berlin in 2016, I was not aware of the start up scene here. I wasn’t in the technology world or the start-up world, and I was not aware that most start ups followed a specific formula when they launched a new product or business. I ended up following that same formula, although purely intuitively, as it simply seemed like the best way to find out if I had a viable business idea.

The idea was this: get more women to learn self defense by making it easy, accessible and fun.

In the start-up world, you’re supposed to start by stating the problem you’re trying to solve. But the problem of violence against women is one that is such an ingrained part of every woman’s existence, learning self defense seems obvious.

Violence against women has been a problem for over 2000 years. That’s actually not the problem I was trying to solve. I was trying to solve the problem of women waiting until after they experience violence to learn self defense, which bears the additional risk of carrying trauma that affects every aspect of life, and is often passed on to next generations.

My first goal with Pretty Deadly was to test the structure and content of the self-defense course itself, get feedback, revise and reiterate where necessary, and measure potential effects and results. Because of the nature of learning self-defense for women, those results could take a longer time to manifest, so I had scheduled 18 months for this phase of product development in order to be sure I had a good product-market fit.

By 2018, I was ready for the next stage: I had to make sure the product (in this case teaching the self-defense course) was replicable. My first step was to identify a potential trainer, someone who had taken the program and showed a consistent interest not only in our message and mission, but also in sharing that message and mission with others. I invited a young woman whose enthusiasm for the program was unmatched, and trained her to teach the program.

Her first outing was to take over some of my classes when I had to travel for other teaching or promotional opportunities. To my delight, I learned from my course participants that our new trainer…



Susie Kahlich

CEO of SINGE | Founder of Pretty Deadly Self Defense @ | Former producer of art podcast Artipoeus: art you can hear @