Nancy Cruickshank is the original female internet entrepreneur. Alongside her many senior digital roles for companies such as Hearst Corporation, Conde Nast and the Telegraph, she founded, and later sold, Handbag.com, at the time the number one site for women. And now she is helping others follow her lead. Her latest pioneering beauty site, MyShowcase is a new distribution channel for innovative beauty brands allowing a growing base of female Stylists to blend style, sales and flexibility to create a career and business that works for them.
The internet. How has it shaped your career? The internet has been a hugely influential factor in shaping my career. My first job was on Vogue magazine in 1993. By 1995, I was invited to launch Vogue, GQ and other Conde Nast titles online and hence, I became addicted to how technology can enable a business and change consumer behaviour very early on in my career. Since then, I have built 3 tech-enabled businesses myself, one in property (smove.com) and two in fashion and beauty (Handbag.comand MyShowcase.com). Plus, I have led 'digital' in many corporate environments including the Telegraph, Hearst Corporation and Conde Nast. The internet enabled me to become an expert in a niche field (in the nineties), which has since become mainstream and central to every business.
My Showcase empowers women to craft a business that fits in with the rest of their life. How important is flexibility today? Freedom and flexibility are highly valued, perhaps more so today than ever before. Technology has enabled us to work flexibly, although for many of us that can veer into 24/7 availability which can be hugely helpful - working from wherever you are - but also tricky to juggle alongside other priorities. Think mindfulness and the momentum that this has gained in recent years, think millenials and how they prize flexibility and balance at work, think women who want to juggle a career and have a central role in their children's lives. Whilst Sheryl Sandberg tells us girls to 'lean in', Arianna Huffington writes about how we might 'Thrive' with a more balanced approach.
And how important has flexibility been for you? Women want and need flexibility in their business lives and there are many shades of grey in between leaning firmly in or out of the career paradigm. I was and continue to be a 'lean in' to my career kind of girl. I adore my children and want to have a meaningful role in their lives. No, I don't make it to every hockey match and I don't bake for the school cake sale, but I am lucky enough to run my own business and utilise technology to create my own flexibility. I therefore work the hours that I need to make family & work mainly happy bedfellows. My view is that corporate life is still too black & white and lacks the flexibility that many of my girlfriends require or desire. Similarly, striking out alone to build a business can feel too lonely, all encompassing and risky for many. MyShowcase is on a mission to offer an opportunity to build your own highly successful beauty business that genuinely flexes to suit your lifestyle and needs. It's a collaboration where our Stylists combine their talent and energy with our mentoring, training, world-class technology in payments and logistics, as well as big doses of inspiration, recognition and reward.
How can more women be successful as entrepreneurs? Gender aside, I believe that there are a few 'factors' that significantly enhance anyone's chances of success in building a business. Firstly, do something that you are passionate about. Building a business has its tougher moments. If you don't love your theme and feel passionate about it, you are simply more likely to give up. Secondly, be prepared to work hard. It takes time and relentless determination to build a business of real value, so keep this in mind at the outset.Third, consider 'why' your business exists, as well as 'what' you do and 'how' you will be successful. A business on a mission has the potential to share vision and values more clearly across the business. It also keeps you focused on your raison d'être. Finally, enjoy it and try to work with people who you like and value. Appreciate what you gain from each day and milestone rather than purely yearning for future success, rewards, fame or fortune! It does not mean that if you do these things, you will be successful. But if you do not have these things, I think chance of failure is quite high.
Makeup. An essential part of a woman's work wardrobe? Absolutely. It makes the biggest difference not to how we look, but how we feel. It's about confidence, whether I am dropping the girls at school or attending a board meeting. That's not to say that I am always polished on the make up front and immaculately groomed like Meryl Streep in the Devil wears Prada! I choose the makeup that delivers the impact and feeling that I desire for each and every circumstance. Whatever I choose, it never fails to gift me an inner confidence and feeling that I am putting forward the best version of me for that situation.