On a regular basis, the Chic Geek has committed to featuring some of our community’s fearless female founders. We not only want to highlight their success, but also dig a little deeper beyond their businesses and careers: We wanted to know what challenges they currently face as female entrepreneurs, who their heroes are and what we can do to promote entrepreneurship in our community. And of course, share how they “geek out” in their spare time.
To kick things off, we interviewed BeautyGram founder and COO, Jennifer Ruparell. Jennifer admits it was challenging to launch her business, because there were a lot of technical aspects to e-commerce that she was unfamiliar with, but it was worth the journey.
Note: interview has been edited for length
Why did you start BeautyGram?
I had a burning desire to change careers and shake up the aesthetics world that I was so familiar with for over a decade… I couldn’t resist the joy my services brought to my clients. However, I realized that joy was not so much the beauty service I was providing, but it was how I made them feel. My “Aha moment” slapped my cheeks like a hot pink blush. BeautyGram was created to provide a beautiful, personal and unique experience that would truly make someone’s day – an exquisitely packaged gift with a meaningful message.
A BeautyGram is a collection of a thoughtful message and luxurious beauty and lifestyle products, all neatly packaged within one of our signature hot pink boxes. Each BeautyGram is carefully crafted by our beauty experts to create a personal and fabulous feel-good experience.
What’s the biggest challenge you face as a female entrepreneur?
I think the biggest challenge for myself as a female entrepreneur is that I am not particularly tech savvy. Entering a tech space was much harder than just putting up a website and hoping for the best. I was taken advantage of a lot and I had to learn a lot of expensive mistakes that cost myself and my family a lot of time and money. But it has all been worth the journey.
What can be done to promote and support female entrepreneurship in Calgary?
I really believe that it is the desire and passion you have within, whether you are female or male, to go out there and make a business your own. There are numerous successful women entrepreneurs in Calgary eager to help fellow entrepreneurs and I think you just have to ask for the help and mentorship. I really love the fact that the Chic Geek is a community for women to feel comfortable and safe in learning the ins and outs of the tech world.
“It’s not always easy to ask for help but it truly is necessary.”
What is being done in the Calgary community that you like presently?
I like Startup Weekend and Startup Calgary as they present guest speakers and the opportunity to learn from those who have had success or at least some knowledge in building a business.
I also really love the Design4Change organization that is located at Mount Royal University. It enables students and new grads to apply their skills, grow, and learn in their field. It’s beneficial for small businesses, like myself, who get to work with a broader team to learn the ins and outs of different aspects of marketing.
Do you have a hero and if so, who is it?
A have a few, and some consist of men, but one woman who I think really changed the world and has always been someone I aspire to be like, is Oprah. I can’t help it. I think she has overcome every obstacle and had enough drive in her to make her life the best she can.
How do you like to ‘geek out’?
I “geek out” by reading tech blogs. I like to see what is going on in the world because I cannot keep up and this info helps me fake it till I make it!
Stay tuned for our next fearless founder – we’ve got a great lineup planned! And if you know any fearless female founders that we should profile, please email them to Kylie Toh.
Written by Jenn Egroff
Jenn planned our Special Events including Speak Geek and Geeky Dinner. She led every effort from partnership development to attendee experience, and now she helps Chic Geek in an advisory role.