Eva Pascoe | Digital Retailer

Imagine a world without women. It would be a world without Adele, Billie Eilish or Lady Gaga. There would be no Grandma to make your favourite cake, no sister to advise you on your sartorial style and no girlfriend to snuggle up on a cold night. Music industry would collapse and Hollywood moguls would be finished without Margot Robbie or Angelina Jolie.

But it would also be a world without female scientists (like Jen Doudna who invented tools to edit your DNA). The world would be very different place without female politicians like Angela Merkel of Jacinda Ardern. 

It also would be a world without formidable digital fashion entrepreneurs, a world without killer heels, stunning dresses or intricately manicured nails. Men mostly likely would just wear the same, boring grey tracksuits, grey t-shirt or black turtleneck day in and day out, with no hope of ever switching up their style. 

As we celebrate International Women’s Day 2023, we have rounded a list of digital leaders, women in fashion-tech that make this world a more colourful but also more sustainable and collaborative place. Female CEO’s in digital fashion have been on the rise since 2012 and there are getting their voices heard. 

One example of a woman in ecommerce making significant contribution to the industry is Polly McMaster, founder and CEO of TheFoldLondon.com. Her elegant, luxury workwear fashion for City women has innovated on products with more eco-friendly washing solutions. Polly pioneered water washable fashion with cool handwash setting, massively better for the planet.  Who knew that your crispy-white office top can be washed successfully in cold water? 

Founder and CEO of Bluebella.com, Emily Bendell is another colourful personality who leads a fun lingerie brand that pioneered body inclusivity for underwear models, making sure that every body shape and shade is celebrated equally and enthusiastically. She is also innovating  in process for recycling, unique in this notoriously challenging category.

We also couldn’t have a world without the energy of Vanissa Antonious, CEO of Neous.co.uk. Her brand creates real objects of art (high heels to you and me) with hyper minimalist, futurist look but using traditional artisans, with craftsman’s pedigree going back to XIX century. Her ‘slow fashion’ approach brings us footwear that we can wear, repair and wear again ‘di nuovo’. When it is time to retire your favourite pair, leather top and soles make it easily biodegradable. 

There are also amazing women from the younger generation, coming up through the ranks of ecommerce leaders. Amy Hargreaves , Digital Manager from SummerillAndBishop.com has helped to grow an exciting tablewear brand that produces completely biodegradable paper and napkin table clothes, both can be composted at home and have FSC certificate. Their linen tablecloth collection is made of 100% natural fibres, sourced from France and Italy, with 50% of water from production being re-filtered and reused.

In the world without women, I doubt if anyone would have struggled as hard as CEO Nicky Felix, founder and fashion guru at Box2.co.uk to drive sustainable fashion fabrics. Nickiy pioneered sustainable fashion fabrics from Livaeco by Birla and EcoVero, fibre with very low environmental impact, using renewable wood only from certified sources. Nicky is also supporting Help for Heroes and local charities with clothes donations from unsold stock so the clothes can have a longer life.

We also couldn’t have the world without Luisa Caccioppo-Smallwood, ecommerce champion from PolarnoPyret.co.uk, kids’ brand with Scandi origins but based in UK. Luisa helped to create Free Repair Service to fix zips, replace broken poppers, extending the life of clothes for little people, a real moneysaver for active kids’s outerwear. Polarno’s  waterproof coats are made from recycled bottles and are unisex,  super easy to pass the clothes from first to second or third child, boy or girl. Forget the pinks and blues,  this colour division is old fashion and more importantly, just not eco-friendly.

In the world without women, retailers would struggle to make our Shopify front stores looking beautiful while being easy-breezy to use and efficient. Shopify agencies that are led and managed by women create sexy, stunning stores that sell. My go-to is the amazing Brittany Green, COO of JunoEcommerce.com who joined the ecom revolution practically as a baby and grew up with clients’ brands, helping to scale them, staying agile, nimble but exciting.

Without women, nobody would care about developing stylish body jewellery that has also strong functional use. Sylvia Smit is the founder and CEO of mymonX.com, brand that created a new smartwatch that looks beautiful and can also read your blood pressure and monitor sugar level without invasive action. Improve your chance of avoiding diabetics and look good with a stunning watch on your hand stuffed with health sensors.  Check out mymonX – women are finally entering wearable sector, leveraging the latest scientific and technology progress for health.  Sylvia also invests in eco-friendly tools like CoinGeek.com, a tool for surveys where you are paid for completion with tree planting in areas at risk of de-forestration. 

Finally, in the world without women we wouldn’t have Gene Teare, my wonderful co-founder of world’s first Internet Café back in the 90ties. She helped to pioneer the concept of remote work, showing people that you can work from a Café and still be in touch with your boss. That has led to companies moving to Saas solutions, which in turn allowed people to work from home, cutting their stressful and eco-unfriendly, polluting commute.

There are no short-term, magic answers to changing fashion to eco-friendly industry. But without women CEOs who prioritise sustainability,  clubbing with other brands to buy better fabrics, components and packaging we simply are not going to make any progress in our current climate battle. Thank you to all female leaders!

Wishing our top women success in their endeavours in business, sustainability and creating more collaborative ecosystem in 2023. Happy Women’s Day!

Contact me with your own nominations for female digital leaders before 17th March, still time to make it to UK Women in Ecommerce Hall of Fame

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