Inspirational Woman: Nancy Cruickshank | Founder of MyShowcase

Nancy CruickshankNancy is a passionate entrepreneur & Beauty junkie, so the launch of MyShowcase in June 2012 was a labour of nothing less than love for Nancy & her co-Founding colleagues, Kate Shapland, Rodrigo Dauster & Olivier Beau de Lomenie. MyShowcase is a brand new concept in Beauty retail – more than 30 inspiring brands sold via the MyShowcase Stylist network in homes & offices across the UK. The business strives to deliver to its customers a personal service, a fun and social shopping experience…and above anything….it offers its Stylists & Brand partners the opportunity to establish & develop a vibrant, flexible & rewarding independent business.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and what you do currently

I am the CEO and founder of MyShowcase. I have worked in fashion, beauty and technology for 20 years, since the Internet was first discussed in the UK in the mid-90’s in any significant way. I am a serial entrepreneur (MyShowcase is my 3rd company) but I have also enjoyed working for some amazing corporations too. I have two daughters (aged 10 & 11), two dogs (a Jack Russell & miniature Schnauzer) and I am married to Jim, who I met at university in Leeds, aged 19! We live in London and Devon.

MyShowcase sells 30+ different beauty brands via our network of female Stylists. These brands are not widely available on the UK high street but each has an amazing story to tell. Some of them are a little better known than others – Balance Me, James Read Tan, Nicky Clarke, Neom and others are lesser known today – Beatitude, Ruth Mastenbroek and Antonia Burrell – to name just a few. Our Stylists are women (most of them have no background whatsoever in Beauty) who want to work, but flexibly. They organise showcases (largely in homes, but occasionally in offices too) where they showcase our brands. Customers can buy at our events and also via our website – www.myshowcase.com.

I enjoy creating things from scratch, which is vital as an entrepreneur. I am also genuinely interested in business and the beauty industry, which helps to fuel my passion to succeed.

Why did you start your business?

In 2000, I founded a business called Handbag.com. It became the no.1 Fashion & Beauty site in the UK in the noughties. 1.5m women visited the site every month and 400k of these chatted in our discussion areas – about all sorts of things. I discovered that women between the ages of 25 and 55 talked regularly about a desire to launch their own business and find a flexible way to work whilst bringing up a family or fulfilling other life goals. Yet there seemed to be many barriers to making this possible and not enough great opportunities to succeed in a supported manner. At the same time, I sat on the Beauty industry trade board, Cosmetic Executive Women. I saw so much innovation, passion and great products from new beauty brands, yet they often found it challenging to build distribution in the traditional department stores up against larger global beauty players. These two fascinating conundrums brewed in my mind over the years and in 2011, I conceived the idea for MyShowcase, and I began to discuss it with my long-time industry friends, Rodrigo Dauster (ex-Visual DNA, Gekko, Imagini), Kate Shapland (Telegraph Beauty Editor) and Olivier Beau de Lomenie (who built the technology platform at Ocado). They loved the idea and joined me as co-Founders in MyShowcase. The make-up of our team is vital to enabling us to build a world-class technology platform and innovative retail concept to serve our customers, brand partners and Stylist network.

Kate and I had specifically worked together at the Telegraph, where I was Digital CEO but we knew each other before that via the industry.

What appealed to you about setting up your own business?

I enjoy creating things from scratch, which is vital as an entrepreneur. I am also genuinely interested in business and the beauty industry, which helps to fuel my passion to succeed. I feel very strongly about supporting other female entrepreneurs and I want MyShowcase to help empower many more women to start their own flexible businesses.

Launching a business can definitely be challenging. This is a fundamental part of what inspired me to launch MyShowcase. There are so many incredibly talented women who would like to launch their own business, but just can’t make the juggling act work alongside family commitments. MyShowcase takes away the administrative part of setting-up a business away from women who want to launch their own MyShowcase business and allows them to focus on building the business and seeing it thrive. We also place enormous emphasis on training and mentoring with our Stylist community, providing our Stylists with the tools that they require to succeed, as well as being members of a thriving community of like-minded female entrepreneurs.

What has been your biggest challenge?

My biggest challenge is juggling family and work effectively, so that neither one feels like it is being short-changed. Inevitably, I don’t always get it right but these are my two great passions and hence, my biggest ongoing challenge.

What’s been your greatest achievement personally?

The highlight of my career to date was the launch of MyShowcase in May 2012. It was the culmination of many months of hard work with some of the most talented and creative people that I have ever had the pleasure to work with. That includes my amazing business partners, our Stylists and Brand partners. Our entire community is entrepreneurial at the core. Nothing is too difficult to attempt to achieve, people are passionate about their businesses and the whole environment feels exciting, innovative and mutually supportive.

I feel very strongly about supporting other female entrepreneurs and I want MyShowcase to help empower many more women to start their own flexible businesses.

If you weren’t doing what you do, what would you be doing?

I can’t imagine doing anything else. I become immersed in each & every business that I have launched and developed, so I don’t spend too much time thinking of what next? Of course, if I could carry a tune I might be a pop sensation…!

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

My Dad worked in the Beauty industry, for Revlon, Max Factor, Giorgio Beverly Hills and Halston Borghese. The beauty industry was always part of our family life, taking us to live in Hong Kong & New York. These are the cities where I grew up from age 7. I was always fascinated by what Dad did. Having a Dad who sold lipsticks was something that a little girl could get excited about! My father is a great example of a working class boy who left school at 14 and transformed his life. He enjoyed lots of success in the beauty industry and it was probably what he achieved via sheer hard work and determination, as much as the innovative and glamorous industry that he worked in, that captured my attention and admiration over the years.

My biggest challenge is juggling family and work effectively, so that neither one feels like it is being short-changed. Inevitably, I don’t always get it right but these are my two great passions and hence, my biggest ongoing challenge.

What does the future hold for you?

I want to see MyShowcase fulfil its potential in the UK and other markets around the world. We have some stylists in Spain and France, and are testing our international capabilities and we hope to offer a great service here and then to extend into larger international markets next year!

MyShowCase-Logo

www.myshowcase.com

www.facebook.com/myshowcasenews

https://twitter.com/myshowcase

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