In conversation with Tamara Gillan

Tamara Gillan is the founder and CEO of Cherry London - a marketing and brand relationship building agency, and co-Founder of the WealthiHer Network

Tamara Gillan PortraitWhy did you decide to become an entrepreneur and how did you start? 

Everyone’s ambitions and life journeys have a foundation. Mine has two halves. My father comes from the East End of London. He was the entrepreneur who left school at 15, so his younger brother could stay in school. He was the big thinker who taught me if you believe in your worth and your vision you can forge any path. And he did, successfully building a winery, hotel, and property business. I worked in the family business on my weekends and school holidays, so I had a first-hand experience of how to run a business from the ground up. This forged my belief I would follow in my father’s entrepreneurial footsteps.

I started my first business at aged 30, a marketing company creating partnership programmes for leading clients including O2, Visa, Jaguar Land Rover, Pernod Ricard and De Beers. However, it was my mother’s influence that led me to launching my third company WealthiHer 15 years later.  My mum comes from a strong line of women, 6 daughters of my grandmother Eve, many story tellers, teachers, and several writers.  All well-educated champions of women who ensured that female empowerment sat in my DNA and future.  

WealthiHer is on a mission to transform female financial futures by empowering, educating and financially advancing women, and transforming the financial and professional services industries to better understand and serve women. We arm and equip women with the knowledge, tools and connections needed to prosper, so we can close the economic gaps women face.

How have your views about your own wealth changed through your journey? 

I know from my research that a woman’s relationship with wealth is firmly linked to her life journey. I have seen that keenly in action from a personal perspective. Like any entrepreneur worth their salt, I have always had a high propensity to put my personal wealth on the line to achieve my entrepreneurial ambitions. However, when I became a mum and even more so a single mum, my appetite for risk shifted. And this is not surprising as for 60% of women the purpose of their wealth to secure the freedom, comfort and security for themselves and their loved ones.  

My father was also a big spender. His famous motto was ‘do not spend less, earn more’ and to put all his eggs in his entrepreneurial basket. However, as my father has become wiser, he has urged me to invest more and diversify my interests. This is a key focus for WealthiHer in getting women to invest for the long-term, which women do to a lesser extent than men. We typically start later and invest less because a woman will prioritise other things that matter. For example, a mother will choose to invest in her child’s education over her pension. I certainly find myself making this choice.  

What does private wealth mean to you now? 

Health, wealth and happiness for myself and those dearest to me. Freedom to live how and where I want, and the ability to invest for the future and in causes that matter to me.   

What challenges do you expect for female entrepreneurs in your position going into 2024? 

Women are stretched and two thirds are more stressed than they were a year ago. This is certainly true of female entrepreneurs, who often must fulfil multiple roles, while navigating a tough economic backdrop. Categories where women predominate from retail to hospitality have also been harder hit through the impact of the pandemic and economic downturn.    

During these tougher times, female entrepreneurs must look after themselves and find ways to recharge and remain resilient. As my chairman recently said to me, ‘If you go down, the whole ship goes down for the business, the people who rely on you, and your family.’ We often choose to look after everybody and everything else first, and this needs to be rebalanced.  As an entrepreneur and leader, you need to realise that your role is to support and motivate the team, find solutions to complex problems, and invent new ideas and this cannot be done unless your nurture yourself first.  

Building a resilient and adaptive team and culture, is important when navigating difficult and changing times.  It takes time to build this type of teams and requires relentless focus on where attention is needed to build capabilities and camaraderie, reward successes but also to be honest when things aren’t working.   

Access to funding remains a challenge, although this is changing there is still a huge funding gap where female founders get 2p in every £1 of funding in the UK. We with our partners are working to change this, by matching female entrepreneurs with investors, and building multidimensional support programmes. Together, we are stronger.  

Do you have one top tip you could give a woman who is thinking of launching a business in the next year? 

As Anya Hindmarch said to me ‘You are better than you think you are, and you are so worth it.’  

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