Name: Jacqueline Gold
Business: Gold is the CEO of lingerie and adult sex toy chain Ann Summers; a global company which she has grown to estimated revenues of over £140m.
Why you should know about her: Recently awarded a CBE in the 2016 New Years Honours List for her services to entrepreneurship, women in business and social enterprise, if you haven’t heard of Jacqueline Gold then you should.
The daughter of famous businessman David Gold, Gold initially joined Ann Summers as an intern but managed to launch her underwear and sex toy party concept shortly after in 1981, and in 1987 took over the reigns as chief executive.
The female entrepreneur is an inspiration to anyone looking to start a business which is why we’ve compiled five facts to help you get to know her better…
1. She’s passionate about supporting women in business
As a successful female entrepreneur, Gold has endeavored to help support other women in business and to get them relevant exposure. Every Wednesday, she runs the WoW (Women on Wednesday) Twitter campaign which sees her share the top three female business stories sent to her on the day. At the end of the year, she picks the top three stories overall and these businesses are then invited to a mentoring lunch with Gold and to the Ann Summers headquarters to benefit from advice and mentoring. Gold has previously commented that there are “too many mixed messages out there that to be successful in business you either need to be a man or you need to be aggressive, this needs to be changed.”
Gold has previously commented that there are “too many mixed messages out there that to be successful in business you either need to be a man or you need to be aggressive, this needs to be changed.”
2. She’s had to overcome criticism and negative feedback
Gold was met with hostility when, as a “naive 21-year-old”, she attempted to introduce her lingerie and sex party idea to the Ann Summers board. She previously told Startups that a member of the board said the idea “wouldn’t work because women aren’t even interested in sex” and she had to fight to get the concept recognised. Now, Gold’s idea – combined with over 140 UK stores – has put 300,000 women in work and contributed over £1.2bn to the economy.
And that’s not all. There was a series of scathing comments made by the media recently on Gold being awarded a CBE, with critics stating that she was awarded the title on the back of ‘political cronyism’ and some stated she was a ‘Sex Shop Queen’. Gold immediately hit back at critics and dismissed their claims: “This is an opportunity to celebrate people’s success. I feel like I fully deserve what I’ve achieved […] I’ve given employment to thousands and thousands of people and financial independence to 350,000 women during my career.”
3. She’s familiar with start-up failure
Gold previously launched women’s magazine Bite but had to close the business after 12 months; losing £1m investment in the process. Speaking to Startups.co.uk, Gold said the venture failed as “retailers were confused where to place it” but said she didn’t regret starting the business as it was a “great experience”.
Her advice to entrepreneurs working on a start-up business that isn’t working out? “When we start new projects, we’re so passionate about it that you end up spending more and more time focusing on it and often you need to take a step back […] know what you’re good at.”
4. She’s faced a number of challenges throughout her career
It’s never easy for entrepreneurs to achieve work/life balance but Gold has had to deal with more personal challenges than most. In 2010, her son died aged just eight months old and in 2011 her former nanny, Allison Cox, was jailed for having attempted to poison the lingerie boss by putting screenwash in her food.
5. She’s now entering the app market
In December 2015, Gold revealed that Ann Summers was to launch a dating app this year which will compliment the Ann Summers brand. Named Rabbit, little is known about the app but it’s likely to target those aged 18 to 44 following research by the company which found that more than half of those aged 18 to 34 use dating apps, while 70% of those aged 35 to 44 also use them.
To find out more about Jacqueline Gold and her business tips, read our interview here.
You can get the lowdown on other influential entrepreneurs in this series, such as:
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- Lastminute.com co-founder, digital champion and peer Martha Lane Fox
- and Tech City driver Rohan Silva