In celebration of International Women’s Month, here is the third instalment of our special blog series, The Powerful Women Project. This week we are speaking to Emma Watkinson, the inspiring founder and CEO of retail startup and independent fashion platform SilkFred.com. SilkFred showcases Britain’s independent and emerging fashion labels, selling affordable, original and cool clothing styles to online shoppers in one central location.
Fashion-focused Emma established SilkFred in 2011, at the age of just 24, together with two co-founders. From fundraising of seed money to developing their own in-house proprietary tech platform, Emma is a perfect example of a powerful woman in the 21st century hi-tech sphere. Apart from her business ventures, she is also an advocate for female entrepreneurship, and a mentor and Inspirational Speaker at the London School of Fashion.
From fashion to family, choices to challenges, let’s find out how Emma is faring on her amazing entrepreneurial journey:
Powerful Woman #3: Emma Watkinson, Founder and CEO, SilkFred.com
Every woman has different commitments and schedules in and out of the office. How do you manage your work/life balance?
I don’t believe you can find the perfect equilibrium every day. There’s a cost to everything you do in either your personal or professional life, and at different points depending on what you’re trying to get done, something has to give. Whatever I’m doing, whether I’m putting my twin baby girls to bed or I’m working with my team on a new initiative, my goal is to be fully present no matter where I am and not feel guilty about it!
What’s been your greatest challenge and your greatest reward in your professional career?
Starting and running a business comes with many challenges; some big, some ok and some hueg ones! It doesn’t really get harder or easier, it’s just different. As soon as you solve one “greatest challenge”, there’s another around the corner. A few years back it was how do we find customers to sell to, how do we raise investment to grow the business; now it’s how do we ensure our customer proposition is as compelling as it can be, how do we build out our team and keep our entrepreneurial culture. My greatest reward is seeing the ecosystem we envisioned back in 2011 come to life! We’ve helped brands grow from market stalls to seven-figure businesses. I’ve loved seeing our team reach new heights and handle each new challenge with grace and grit. Whenever I see a customer on the street wearing a dress she bought from us, and looking amazing!
What are the unique qualities or characteristics that you have brought to your career and workplace?
Not giving up when most people might have (and did!) has gotten us quite far. I think resilience and staying power are incredibly valuable characteristics in our industry. I believe in continuous growth and development; we’re always trying to learn new things, improve ourselves. I also think it’s important not to underestimate the element of luck. Luck has a part to play too!
What’s the one piece of advice you would give to a young woman just starting out in her career?
Seek out mentors who you admire (you will be surprised at how helpful a lot of successful people want to be), and build out a network of people you can call on for advice, help or a drink when things get tough!