Penelope Gazin and Kate Dwyer faced the typical onslaught of sexist doubt and criticism when the Los Angeles-based duo set out to launch their own digital marketplace for quirky art. They were often viewed as hobbyists instead of entrepreneurs, even though their business model improved on some of the standards already established by tech industry giants like Etsy.

Etsy bans witch’s spells and other controversial products, so Gazin and Dwyer were able to tap into an underserved market for edgy art with their new platform Witchsy.

"Penelope had been selling her art and pins on Etsy for six years and had regular problems with their censorship," Dwyer told Vice. Gazin added that her shop was routinely shut down. "We thought it would be cool to have a site without censorship, where all the artists are handpicked by us so you don't have to trudge through a ton of crap," Gazin told Vice.

The only problem? They usually got disrespectful dismissals from male developers and designers.

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So Gavin and Dwyer created a fake male business director named Keith Mann for email correspondence. “It was like night and day,” Dwyer told Fast Company. “It would take me days to get a response, but Keith could not only get a response and a status update, but also be asked if he wanted anything else or if there was anything else that Keith needed help with.”

They weren’t the first tech professionals to notice the disparity. Last year, a man named Martin Schneider swapped email signatures with a female coworker and immediately noticed the patronizing she dealt with, even though the same ideas received praised when attributed to a man.

Academic research supports these anecdotal findings, proving businesswomen are often prodded with more critical questions than male peers. The tech industry’s infamously toxic “bro culture” hounds women all the way to the top. In her upcoming book, former Reddit CEO Ellen Pao recounts how her suggestion to add then-Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer to the all-male board of directors was shot down because Mayer was deemed “hot” but “too controversial.” This bias makes it much harder for female entrepreneurs to access funding.

Sexism keeps some investors from recognizing a great opportunity.

Fast Company reported Witchsy sold about $200,000 worth of art in its first year. It even turned a small profit even after paying artists 80 percent of each transaction. Since then, Rick and Morty co-creator Justin Roiland joined the ranks of Witchsy investors and started collaborating with the team to create some exclusive merchandise. These creative entrepreneurs are just getting started. The duo told Vice they're exploring opportunities for a Witchsy nail polish set and more exlusive collaborations with avant-garde artists.