WanderLuxxe on being Women Entrepreneurs
1. How and why did you become an entrepreneur? Was it something you always imagined for yourself?
Marti: My father is an entrepreneur and I think that I always knew that I would follow that path. My first entrepreneurial venture was co-owning a cute dress boutique in Georgetown, I knew then that having something of mine own was very important to me.
Lola: I never imagined becoming an entrepreneur. In my career I felt more comfortable with a corporate job with a salary and benefits. Even when I imagined a work-life balance with family, I always envisioned myself taking the given maternity leave and going back to work while my baby stayed home with a nanny or at daycare. I appreciate structure and the idea of carving out a career for myself and keeping my family in mind seemed daunting. When I left my job in Washington to move to Los Angeles with my husband I didn’t plan on working until my son was older and in preschool. When I was home with my son, my husband encouraged me to start my own business but every conversation we had left me asking myself “what kind of business?”. I didn’t want to start a business just for the sake of starting a business even though I was home with my son and had the time and flexibility to do so. We started talking about WanderLuxxe and I had to change my thought process about what “work” would look like. WanderLuxxe is an investment that my family has taken on with long term goals so thinking about work hours, work-life balance, salary and benefits is something I am thinking about for the first time and from a lot of different perspectives. It is a challenging learning experience but it is rewarding to watch how much WanderLuxxe has grown in such a quick time period.
2. What made you come up with the idea of WanderLuxxe?
Marti: Lola and I had just returned from Cannes a couple of years ago and Lola had the idea after talking to one of our friends that people might want to experience these festivals and that we should look into how to provide that access. Thus, WanderLuxxe was born!
3. What are the challenges faced with being a female entrepreneur?
Marti: Most would consider any given field to be male-dominated. It's even more of a challenge when you're coming in as a female, earning respect has been a struggle. Working with the high level of talent that we work with, we are usually the only women in the room when speaking with their teams. We are often not taken seriously and have to push back hard to try and even get close to kind of terms that one would expect to be given in what would be considered a normal negotiation.
4. Why was it important to partner with another woman?
Lola: It is difficult to navigate the landscape of many fields as women because traditionally all of the positions of power were, and still are, held by men and entertainment is no different. It is generally complicated trying to enter into this business but as women it is even more so because men often don’t respect women in the workplace. Working alongside another woman makes men who otherwise would not take us seriously, pay attention. There is no man in the room to defer to, to get approval from.
5. What's your biggest piece of advice for aspiring female entrepreneurs?
Lola: Take the time to build a strong team. It is important to trust that your associates are representing your brand as you would. Also, a strong team allows you to focus on the big picture - your business model, your partners, short and long term goals - while your team can manage some of the details that need day to day attention. Part of building a strong teams is recognizing your own strengths and weaknesses. Marti and I are very aware of not only our own strengths and weaknesses but also those of each other. It helps us as we are delegating tasks but also has fostered trust in each other because knowing our own and each other's capabilities gives us each the time and space to make the most impact on on work.
6. What three tools would you recommend to anyone trying to start her own business?
Lola: 1. Be self aware about strengths and weaknesses. 2. Build a strong team of talented people with a wide range of abilities. 3. Know how to delegate tasks so you are able to look at the big picture for your business.
7. How do you achieve work-life balance? Do you think this is more challenging to achieve as a woman?
Marti: Finding a work life balance is something I am still mastering! The needs for a startup are neverending so it’s hard to decide when to close the computer and walk away. It is so important to make finding this balance a priority, your business needs you to be your best self and the only way to ensure that is to focus on self care. Unplug for a weekend, take a trip with your loved ones, try to keep yourself on a schedule.
Lola: As a wife and mother to a toddler with a baby on the way, I haven’t had to work hard to achieve work-life balance. The demands of family life don’t allow for me to focus solely on my career. I was fortunate to be able to stay home with my son until he started preschool at 18 months. It was clear that he benefited from that time when he started school so I was glad that I was able to focus my energy at that time into his development. He started school around the same time that we started WanderLuxxe so his school schedule became my work schedule. As I prepare for a new baby, I am thinking about how to make sure to continue to give my son the one-on-one time he needs as well as giving the baby as much time as I can knowing that with his older brother as well as WanderLuxxe, he will not have the same one-on-one that my now-toddler had when he was a baby. So right now its all about putting the puzzle pieces together so my husband, both of my children and my business all have the time and attention needed. Ask me again in a year how I am managing my work-life balance. Right now, I am counting the hours in the day and wondering how I can fit everything into the day!
8. How did you get where you are today, and who/what helped you along the way?
Marti: My family has been such an incredible support system. My mom and grandmother are the best cheerleaders anyone could have, my father is my closest advisor and confidant, having a younger sister has kept me focused and committed to setting the right example for her.