We sat down with our very own Managing Director to discuss her AMAZING achievement - meet one of the LDC's Top 50 Most Ambitious Business Leaders, Rachel!
Hey Rachel! Please introduce yourself and your role to date at Curvy Kate
I joined Curvy Kate in 2012 as Head of Sales, having had 20 years in sales. Head of Sales led to the role of General Manager and in August 2020 I proudly became the Managing Director.
I left school with A levels and went to work at Beatties Department Store in Worcester as a Management Trainee. I worked on many of the departments including stationary, menswear and toys but found my home on the lingerie department. I later worked for Playtex/Wonderbra and Zoggs in Sales positions.
Looking back, why did you enter the lingerie industry? What inspired you?
I was inspired by the women that worked on the lingerie department. They taught me fitting room etiquette, visual assessment, and the importance of quality product and fit. The satisfaction of bra fitting a customer, and the ability to make the customer feel great always felt like a joint win. Working with inspiring people has made me curious and challenged me to always be better.
"Working with inspiring people has made me curious and challenged me to always be better."
What would you tell your younger self at the beginning of your career?
I recently read a quote by Michelle Obama that relates to me- “whether you come from a council estate or a country estate your success will be determined by your own confidence and fortitude.”
I would tell my younger self that having a career plan at 18 or going to university, isn’t always necessary and to find a role that makes you feel happy is much more important. I wasn’t clear what I wanted to do, I only knew that I wanted to do a job that I enjoyed. I have worked hard and enjoyed every role that I have completed in my career which I think is the key to personal success.
"I have worked hard and enjoyed every role that I have completed in my career which I think is the key to personal success."
How did you feel when you found out you made the Top 50 Ambitious Business Leaders 2021?
Initially I was in denial and had imposter syndrome. I even responded to the organisers of the award to advise them that I was not the business owner and perhaps they had selected the wrong person. Ambitious is not a word that I have generally associated with myself. I reflected and realised that those around me see me as ambitious. My ambition has grown organically through a desire to deliver for the people I work with and if that makes me ambitious then I am proud. Its OK to say that I am an ambitious woman. I am embracing it.
As a woman, being recognised as a Business Leader must feel like a great achievement and a step towards change. What’s your message to every female aspiring leader?
25 years ago the lingerie industry was male dominant in all senior roles. Times have changed and there is a greater balance of gender at all levels in the industry with more female role models for women to work with and for. Representation brings about change. I believe that there are 11 women that have made the 2021 Top 50 list so there is still opportunity to improve. I believe that being a woman is a superpower not a limitation.
"I believe that being a woman is a superpower not a limitation."
My message to every aspiring leader, regardless of gender, is to do more of what makes you happy and surround yourself with inspiring people in your personal and professional life that make you strive to be better every day.
After reaching this milestone, what would be your goal for the future of your career?
My goal remains the same as it was at the start of my career and that is to enjoy what I do, job titles are secondary, my actions are more valuable. I want to continue to deliver our founder Steve’s vision, enabling everyone to feel happy, challenged and winning in their roles in a business that is successful and can support them in their career aspirations. That to me would be winning!
What’s your advice to someone experiencing challenges in their career?
Firstly, identify the real issue causing the challenge. You may need headspace to identify what you find challenging as frustration can mask what is really happening. Once you have clarity you will be able to articulate it to those that should listen and then you will be heard.
Challenges can be positive experiences with meaningful outcomes. A career without challenges would be a life without learning for me. I learn new things all the time.
What would you say was the biggest challenge you experienced at CK during the pandemic and how did you overcome this?
Forecasting was an impossible challenge. There were no precedents, facts or statistics that could have navigated us for what was to come.
Forecasting what our customers would buy and forecasting how much product to produce whilst ensuring that the business was secure for the people that worked within it was the greatest challenge. Communication was key. The team pulled together under challenging circumstances, and we made fast decisions based on what we were seeing every day. Everyone in the business had a critical role to play and everyone stepped up to ensure that our customers were delivered the best service we could provide. In fact, the team is stronger than ever and more dynamic.
Lastly, what do you think are the next milestones for Curvy Kate?
The future is exciting, but I can’t give too many company secrets away.
There is innovative product on the horizon, and we are working to make our pink brand green through a sustainability plan. At the heart of everything we do is to make women feel fabulous about their curves. We will do more of what makes us and our customers happy. We will reach more people, through our Bra Whisperer and Virtual Bra fitters and ensure that our customers get the immersive Curvy Kate experience.
We hope you felt as inspired as us by the lovely Rachel and got some cool insight into what the future holds for Curvy Kate with such a boss babe leading the company!