Sharmadean Reid's career advice for female founders

·5-min read
Photo credit: Courtesy
Photo credit: Courtesy

Last week, Harper's Bazaar, in partnership with Veuve Clicquot, hosted an intimate gathering at central London’s Mortimer House. The event was held ahead of the luxury champagne brand’s annual Bold Women Awards, honouring inspiring entrepreneurial leaders.

The Veuve Clicquot Bold Women Awards have been running since 1972; the first and longest-running international accolade for female business figureheads. Today, the awards continue to take inspiration from Madame Clicquot, a woman whose tenacity and creativity led to great entrepreneurial success. Over the last 50 years, Veuve Clicquot has awarded more than 350 female entrepreneurs across 28 countries, all of whom have been recognised for redefining success on their own terms and boldly pushing boundaries for the better of other women in the industry.

One such nominee is Sharmadean Reid MBE, founder and CEO of Beautystack. Reid was formerly a brand consultant and stylist before launching her own hugely successful nail bar, WAH London. In 2018 she founded Beautystack, a unique beauty marketplace which uses social networking to generate bookings for independent business owners. In 2020, this evolved into The Stack, an intelligent, female-focused online media outlet and membership platform which effortlessly pairs innovative journalism with Reid’s signature community spirit.

Reid shared her peerless advice and inspiring words of wisdom on everything from funding to finding time for yourself.

Photo credit: Courtesy
Photo credit: Courtesy

Challenging sexism is a reality

“I was raised in such a matriarchal family that I literally didn’t think there was anything I couldn’t do as a woman. I think that helped, the fact I came to London and was shocked by the sexism I experienced. It made me want to do something about it, because I came at it from the perspective of, 'I can do anything, why is this stopping me?' It’s why gender has always been a focus for me, even over race. Because women across the world, from all walks of life, still need empowerment.”

Brand evolution is natural

“Don’t feel guilty about changing your mind. You are a work in progress! I have evolved so much over time – from WAH as a magazine to a nail salon, to moving into tech and then The Stack – that I started to think; ‘Am I a starter and not a finisher?’ But you can’t think like that. It’s good to work things out and success can, and should, come at any point in life. My vision has never changed – I have always been about giving women power, it is just the execution which has shifted. I may start a bank next! Whatever it takes…”

Struggle isn’t a prerequisite for success

“I think women in particular think that if we haven’t struggled for something, it’s not worth it. I am guilty of this, too. I like putting myself in difficult situations, and often think success isn’t earned if it wasn’t difficult to achieve. But what I have learnt over time is that it is OK to get paid for things that come easily to you. Not everything has to be hard.”

Networking is crucial for investment

“Whether you get investment of £100,000 or £4 million, raising funds is hard. You only need one yes to make it work, and sometimes you will just get lucky. The person who eventually gives you that cheque, will be someone you know really well, so networking is crucial. You need to speak to as many people as possible to find the investor who is right for you.”

Don’t do everything

“I find when it comes to female founders, we are expected to do everything; from branding to finance to being the actual face of the brand. Male founders are never expected to do this. You should make sure you hire the best team around you, because you should be allowed to get on with your job – being a leader – and not spread that thin.”

Photo credit: Courtesy
Photo credit: Courtesy

Equity starts at home

“The main thing holding women back is not having enough equity in the home when it comes to raising a family. The energy you bring at home or at work will define the way you are treated, so a huge mindset needs to change, for women as much as men. I am lucky to have a rigorous 50/50 split in parenting responsibilities with my son’s father, but it takes a long time to get there. We have a lot of catching up to do on this, as a society.”

Learn what your priorities are

“I have realised, over the years, that I will make decisions based on the good of the team or the community, even when it may not make the best economic sense. That’s because I know community is a huge priority for me. I have always wanted to create spaces for people; digitally, between the pages of a publication, in real life events. You will learn what your business is from what people do in the space you create.”

Carve out time for yourself

“To avoid burnout I always make sure I take an hour for lunch every day. It is carved out in my diary. I use that time to read, walk, eat, listen to a podcast. I have a list of the things that make me happy, and I make sure I refer to this whenever I am stressed or feeling pressured. It really works. If you take just one piece of advice from me, let it be: make this list for yourself.”

You Might Also Like

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting