I did a number of Saturday jobs which really helped build my confidence and seemed to be the one thing my mum was happy for me to do was actually to go out to work but that’s really I guess what started it all.
I’ve always, always been hard working and always been quietly ambitious but I guess it was just not knowing where my life was going to go or what I wanted I wanted to do. I was actually quite a creative person and as you probably know I then went to work for Ann Summers as work experience. Forty five pounds a week, that is correct, I was earning less than the tea lady.
I remember going to this party of women all giggling, crammed together on sofas and these women all knew that I worked for Ann Summers and of course then said to me ‘you know we’d like to be able to buy sexy underwear’. You know I’m talking thirty three years ago now you could not buy sexy underwear on the high street like you can today and they wanted to buy sex toys to spice up their relationships and I thought you know I think this is a good idea. I didn’t really realise the strength of that immediately but as I started to pursue my idea I realised actually this was really empowering for women.
Ann Summers has played a huge part in the whole sexual revolution. I remember going to the board meeting which was all men, talking about my idea. I made a decision right from the beginning I wanted this to be for women only which was probably one of the best decisions I ever made but it was incredible because at this meeting I remember one board member actually standing up and saying ‘look, you know, this isn’t going to work, women aren’t even interested in sex’ and I remember thinking ‘my God this is definitely more about his sex life than it is about my idea’ but obviously I wasn’t going to say that because I needed investment.
There were some really difficult setbacks, I’ve been arrested, I’ve had a bullet through the post, I’ve taken the Government to Court, all of these things most business people wouldn’t have had to endure and why, all because really all I ever wanted to do was empower women in the bedroom. When I set out with the whole idea of party plan I never could have imagined it would be as successful as it has been.
I am ambitious; I’m passionate about what I am doing. I am always looking for synergies with my existing business and my own skill set and it’s important to be opportunistic if you are in business. I’ve definitely empowered women in the bedroom; I’d like to empower women in the boardroom next.