12 years ago, I was working as Marketing Manager for one of the first Colombian eCommerce startups. Our communications and digital strategies were inspired by some of the biggest eCommerce companies in the world, like RueLaLa and Gilt Groupe.
That’s how one day I ran into Forbes’s article about the release of the book “By Invitation Only: How we built Gilt and changed the way millions shop”. It included a quote by its author, Alexandra Wilkis Wilson: “-(one of the goals of the book) is to inspire entrepreneurship– especially among women. We want to help increase their chances of success with more startups. It’s really hard to start a company because most fail by a long shot”.
I had heard a little about Alexandra. I knew she was the Co-Founder of the U.S. startup, and that she was one of the few female entrepreneurs of the moment. I had closely followed the Gilt Groupe, their investments rounds, their user base growth, their partnerships with brands to position themselves on social media and many other things, but the moment I read the book I didn’t hesitate in looking at her as someone who could inspire my life.
Alexandra started a career in finance. She had some work experience in the fashion business when, in 2007, she decided to start a startup inspired in French RueLaLa. As soon as the company started to grow, she started to talk about the importance of data for an eCommerce. She firmly believed that the most valuable asset that the company had was the user’s data that was recollected through their digital channels, such as demographics, interests, clicks behaviors and reasons for abandoned shopping carts. For example, the daily newsletter that Gilt sent to their subscribers at noon was based on the analysis of data. She once mentioned, “If you’re a woman who typically browses and shops on Gilt Women, buys on Gilt Kids, but usually does not pay much attention to Gilt men– we’re going to take that behavior into account”.
During my work in Geelbe.com I had the opportunity to put into practice many of the things Alexandra advocated for, helping us to position the company as one of the most important startups eCommerce at the moment in Colombia.
I keep following Alexandra’s work and teachings. In September 2014 she started another startup and became the CEO of GlamSquad, a mobile styling company where clients can use an app to book hair and makeup artists for house calls. The company had $8 million in sales in the first year, and by 2017 had raised $24 million in funding, operations in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, and Washington DC. In March 2017 she started another startup called Fitz, a service that offers an in-person wardrobe consultation and follow-up advice on shopping.
To me, Alexandra Wilkis Willson is a visionary that has no barriers, knows where she is going and shows passion in everything she does. She advocates for the female empowerment and the cooperation between women, and that’s why she inspires me the most.
“Women need more role models. Women lack confidence. Women need to get more comfortable asking others for favors.” —Alexandra Wilson Wilkis.