As a baby, Josephine Fairley loved to create her own natural, home-made skincare; as an adult, she would go on to have a stellar career as a beauty editor in a world of high-tech beauty. But what if these polar opposites could meet?Read more
Natalie Massenet, Diane von Furstenberg, Sylvie Chantecaille, Bobbi Brown, Anita Roddick, Emily Weiss, Donna Karan, Charlotte Tilbury, Huda Kattan, Pat McGrath… these are just a few of the inspiring women in the worlds of fashion and beauty who in my lifetime have paved the way for many others to start up new business ventures. And yet, despite the growing number of women at the helm of successful international brands, it’s still far from being an even playing field. I was shocked to read in the Financial Times recently that female-founded companies get less than 1 per cent of total UK venture capital when starting up, compared with the 89 per cent going to male-founded companies.
All of which led us to devote this issue of The Wildsmith Papers to patting those gutsy women who did on the back. Our female founders issue has a particular focus on green issues, because that’s where our heart lies. As someone who grew up seeing “green” makeup brands tucked away with the brown rice and lentils at the back of the wholefoods store, it’s exciting to see an increasing number of cosmetics brands adopting the new technology that enables vegan ingredients and cruelty-free ethics competing with more established, better-funded, non-vegan brands – as Danielle Fox found out.
Looking at sustainability from a 360-degree point of view was the premise for Cassie Steer’s interviews with three green “girl” bosses (I’m loath to use this term which strikes me as mildly pejorative – after all, where are the “boy” bosses? – but am yet to find anything quite as alliteratively satisfying) from very different fields. While it fell to (lucky) me to select our interviewee for the Wildsmith questionnaire, an old friend and the founder of Soaper Duper (among several other beauty brands), the incredible Marcia Kilgore.
What do all these clever, gutsy, fearless women have in common? (Besides being “clever, gutsy and fearless”?) They’re full of surprises – as Julie Hoegh’s excellent selection of books written by or about female founders reveals. They’re also not perfect. But from Peggy Guggenheim’s admission to having had a thousand lovers to Tamara Mellon’s struggles with addiction, their determination, imagination and sheer bloody-mindedness is what shines through. And if you read their stories and want to set the world alight with your own great idea for a new startup, we say, why not? Hope to be writing about you soon.