‘You can’t get gender equality in business by throwing cash at it’

Reid equally reaped rewards for her hard work during the pandemic. Increased time at home and a need for digital connectivity accelerated the launch of The Stack World, which combines her previous work and lifelong love for media. With more time to work on the business, Reid built a media platform that aims to take things one step further and forge a valuable space for women to learn about business and self-optimisation by way of hundreds of articles and more than 120 on-demand videos. The app also aims to introduce inspirational women to each other through virtual conversations or real-life events, and providing them with a “first come, first served” co-working space for up to 20 members from Tuesday to Thursday at The Stack HQ, in the heart of Clerkenwell.

It is quite clear that Reid is intent on building a legacy. Economically empowering women is “my life’s work more than anything else I’ve ever done,” she says. She is currently focusing on female entrepreneurs across various industries, not just in beauty, and uses technology to challenge the insecurities and obstacles women grapple with when it comes to building their own business. As part of that mission, she has contributed to The Telegraph’s Women Mean Business campaign as a speaker, sharing her expertise on how women can better navigate their entrepreneurship journey. 

Launched in March 2018 with the signing of an open letter from 200 female founders and inspirational leaders sent to the Government to address the lack of funding given to female founders, the campaign is fighting staggering numbers. Only 2.3 per cent of women-led startups received venture capital funding in 2020; a decline from the previous year. And over the last decade, only 10 black female entrepreneurs – including Reid, who raised nearly £4 million ($5.5 million) in a funding round in 2019, led by Index Ventures for BeautyStack – have been backed, according to Extend Ventures.

It’s why gender has always been the primary focus for Reid, even over race: she believes women across the world, from all walks of life, still need support and encouragement. “Levelling the playing field and getting gender equity in business is a really complex multi-pronged approach,” she says. “You can’t solve it by throwing cash at it, it needs to be a cultural and ideological change. It’s not something that’s going to happen unless men become allies and are involved in the change.”

Her biggest lesson is this: “My business journey has been more about learning how to be a good manager, as opposed to just [being] a good leader,” Reid says. “The internet has shrunk the world, so ideas start and die really quickly. It’s important to keep evolving if you want to stay ahead, because by the time you’ve gotten your idea off the ground, somebody else would have done it, built it – and possibly better than you.”

She doesn’t believe that struggle needs to be part of a woman’s success though, at one point in her career, she did wonder if she was a starter and not a finisher. “It’s only a failure if you haven’t learnt from it. I like to see everything as an experiment,” she says. “Learn from the bad, think about how you can improve, and make things better.”

Has her entrepreneurial journey changed her idea of success? “I just want to wake up in the morning, be excited and happy about the work that I’m doing. That’s my idea of success,” she says. “It’s always been this way.” And, for Reid, there’s no stopping. “I need to learn how to take something not just from zero to 10 – which I think I’m really good at – but from 10 to 100. But it is a process that can sometimes be painful.”

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