When it comes to #CareerGoals, Alexandra Wilkis Wilson has them pretty much covered.
Alexandra knows a thing or two about launching bad*** companies. She co-founded legendary flash-sale e-commerce site Gilt before she branched off to take on the role of CEO at GLAMSQUAD, a mobile app available in some U.S. cities that allows you to order in-home hair and makeup services with a few taps on your phone. Alexandra also works closely with other startups as an advisor, mentor and angel investor, including Birchbox, Rent the Runway and Carbon 38.
Last week, Alexandra hosted a fireside chat as part of Techweek New York 2015. In honor of the occasion, we were lucky enough to chat with her about following your dreams and how girls can transform the tech industry.
CAMBIO: What passion fueled you to create GLAMSQUAD?
ALEXANDRA WILKIS WILSON: In early 2014, I reconnected with two of GLAMSQUAD's co-founders and former college classmates, Jason Perri and David Goldweitz, at a Harvard undergrad tech event. We started talking and they told me that they had just launched a mobile beauty services app called GLAMSQUAD. It was a lightbulb moment because we're living in a mobile world and at the time, you could get everything – food, clothes, car services, etc. – delivered to your door...except beauty services. I became obsessed with this innovative concept and immediately began using GLAMSQUAD as a client and also became an advisor to the company. I began to have so many ideas for GLAMSQUAD and truly fell in love with the business. I knew that GLAMSQUAD had the potential to change women's lives by making the process of getting ready a whole lot easier. We have modernized the process of delivering high-quality, professional and affordable beauty services including hair, makeup and nails services to the comfort of your home, office, hotel, or wherever is most convenient for you.
What does #BUILTBYGIRLS mean to you?
#BUILTBYGIRLS is meaningful to me because it exemplifies strength, power and potential. There are so many exceptional female leaders in the world and by putting them on display, #BUILTBYGIRLS shows young girls through real examples that they can be and do anything. #BUILTBYGIRLS is the present and the future; it emphasizes that women will continue to be pioneers in the business world and the glass ceiling could ultimately become shattered for the young women of today.
What are a few of your fave #BUILTBYGIRLS tech/entrepreneurial projects?
I love and use so many, it is hard to pick only a few. I have to say that I will always be partial to Gilt as a co-founder, but I recognize that I am incredibly biased! I'm also a huge fan of Rent the Runway, Birchbox, Zady, Learnvest, Paperless Post and Carbon 38 because each one is groundbreaking in its own right.
Why is tech an industry that girls should pursue?
Having more women in the tech industry would result in fresh and unique ideas that could lead to the creation of new products and offerings that benefit a wider audience. I think it is important for new generations to have powerful female role models for inspiration. The more women we see in strong leadership roles, the more it will leave a positive and lasting impression on generations to come and show young girls through real examples that they can truly be anything when they grow up.
What advice would you give a college-age girl to become a leader in tech?
The best advice I can give is to take every opportunity you can to learn and grow. There is no such thing as failure because you absorb knowledge from every obstacle and fork-in-the-road moment. As the saying goes, life is a journey and not a destination. I believe the same can be said for your career, so take advantage of all opportunities. Figure out what you are good at, what you are passionate about, and build your network.