Rachel Lowe has had a rollercoaster of a career journey. While studying for a law degree and working as a taxi driver on the side, Rachel decided to go on BBC’s Dragon’s Den with her business idea. The dragons tore her down and she left the den empty-handed. Rachel then went on to launch Destination London in Hamleys and it became the store’s top-selling game. Outselling Monopoly and Twister, Rachel well and truly proved the dragons wrong.
But six years later Rachel’s business went into administration. Then there was another twist in Rachel’s story. Three years later she regained her board game business and launched a new one – fashion brand She Who Dares. She was also awarded an MBE for services to business.
We chatted to Rachel about how to be a success, why never taking no for an answer is vital and how female intuition is an incredible skill to have.
1. Talk me through your career journey so far
My first ever business was Destination Board Games that I still run now, alongside She Who Dares. I came up with the idea for Destination when I worked as a taxi driver, whilst I was at university. I did nothing with the idea until an Enterprise Challenge at university happened, which I went on to win. From the research I had to do for the competition, I realised I had a viable business idea and went on to set up my own company and have prototypes made of the game. I was in the first ever series of Dragons Den in 2005, but walked away empty handed. I didn’t give up and secured a launch in Hamleys Toy Store. Destination London went on to be their best selling product that Christmas. I had a blip in the 2008 economic downturn due to a product launch delay that was out of my control, which caused my business to go into administration but that was never going to get me down for too long and after long negotiations with administration, the Destination brand was back and I also launched She Who Dares, which was inspired by my experience.
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2. What are the toughest challenges you have faced in your career so far?
Having the guts to bounce back when it hasn’t gone the right way, was a challenge. It takes a lot of courage to overcome adversity so it’s something I’m proud of. Also, when you are an entrepreneur in the beginning you are excited and fearless. It is harder doing it the second time round because you become more cautious.
3. Tell me about your business
She Who Dares is a unique and inspiring fragrance brand which was created to evoke inspiration and motivation in women. My ethos has always been “nothing is impossible” and I wanted to share this with women. After I received my MBE for contributions to business, I wanted every woman to feel as I did on that day. She Who Dares incorporates two beautiful scents with complimentary bath and body products which I’ve worked for a long time to perfect. This is a gift for kick-ass women. Women who inspire you. Women who are great. Women who don’t give up. We wear perfume to help us feel great and powerful so these products sitting on your dressing table will be a reminder that every day you can achieve something amazing. Alongside these we have introduced a community of inspirational women to the brand. Combining retail with networking, the She Who Dares brand is breaking boundaries and encouraging women to dare to believe that nothing is impossible.
4. What would your advice be to determined young entrepreneurs?
I would say, don’t take no for an answer, believe in yourself and accept that it is ok to fail. So many successful business people have and each experience is a learning curve. I would also say, trust your intuition. If in doubt leave it out, but if it feels right and you’re still not quite sure why, just go for it. It’s also key to find the right balance between intuition and taking guidance from your peers.
5. Would you recommend going on Dragon’s Den to young entrepreneurs?
Absolutely yes – you have nothing to lose and any exposure you get is priceless PR for your brand. Even if you get slated like I did, it doesn’t matter! There are a fair few of us who didn’t get the Dragon’s support but have all become successful in our own rights.
6. Have you ever experienced sexism? How did you overcome it?