Miranda Gillespie is the CEO and Founder of sustainable “re-commerce” platform, Luxe.It.Fwd, the ultimate online destination for buying and selling pre-owned luxury handbags, watches and jewellery at up to 60% off the RRP new.
With many price savvy consumers eager to buy luxury pre-owned but wary of doing so through online marketplaces due to the risk of buying replicas, Luxe.It.Fwd provides consumers with a trusted alternative. With every item on its platform having been authenticated by specialist authenticators prior to listing, Luxe.It.Fwd’s authenticity guarantee together together with its luxury shopping experience gives consumers full peace-of-mind shopping, while providing a more affordable entry point to purchase their dream luxury item.
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Table of Contents
Let’s start with a brief introduction first. Introduce yourself to our readers.
Miranda Gillespie: I’m Miranda Gillespie, the CEO and Founder of Luxe.It.Fwd. I’m a former commercial lawyer turned eCommerce entrepreneur who has spent the last few years building the luxury resale eCommerce platform, Luxe.It.Fwd.
Our audience is interested to know about how you got started in the first place. Did you always want to become a CEO or was it something you were led to? Our readers would love to know your story!
Miranda Gillespie: Before launching Luxe.It.Fwd I had built an established law career and had worked my way up to partner in a mid-tier law firm. Despite my success, I just didn’t have the passion for it and wanted a career that I could get excited about. I have always loved designer handbags as well as online shopping, and one day I was trying to buy a second-hand designer bag online and found there were limited options online at the time, which sparked the idea to create Luxe.It.Fwd. I was confident that the skills I had would transfer well into running my own business and I have never looked back!
“Selfmade” is a myth. We all received help, no doubt you love to show appreciation to those who supported you when the going got tough, who has been your most important professional inspiration?
Miranda Gillespie: During my law career I had a particular mentor and supervisor that really helped to set me up with certain skills and knowledge that were invaluable when it came to starting my own business. I was also able to develop a belief in myself and my abilities under their mentoring that gave me the confidence to go out on my own. I would absolutely recommend that everyone have a mentor who can be their guide and their champion – because we absolutely can’t do and know everything ourselves.
How did your journey lead you to become a CEO? What difficulties did you face along the way and what did you learn from them?
Miranda Gillespie: With funding being so difficult to obtain for new start-ups, I started Luxe.It.Fwd while continuing to also work full-time as a lawyer so that I could fund the business. I worked crazy hours between working in a demanding legal career while building Luxe.It.Fwd in every spare moment, and at the same time battling constant nausea from my then pregnancy.
I was burned out and exhausted but was able to grow Luxe.It.Fwd to a point where I was able to start hiring staff and delegating responsibilities. I was already determined but I learned how to become much more resilient and to take each setback on the chin in order to be able to move forward.
Tell us about your company. What does your business do and what are your responsibilities as a CEO?
Miranda Gillespie: Luxe.It.Fwd is a luxury e-tailer specialising in buying and selling authentic pre-loved luxury handbags, jewellery and watches. Comprising the top luxury brands such as Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Gucci just to name a few and with every item we sell guaranteed authentic, we’re here to make the process of buying and selling luxury pre-loved items a hassle-free and enjoyable experience.
My responsibilities as CEO are to oversee every aspect of Luxe.It.Fwd and effectively being ultimately responsible for every issue we have, which is the less glamorous side. My role includes analysing sales and incoming stock data, guiding the team in overcoming day-to-day business problems (of which there are inevitably many in business!), boring admin, and most critically, strategic forward planning and implementation of new initiatives.
What does CEO stand for? Beyond the dictionary definition, how would you define it?
Miranda Gillespie: The role of a CEO in my view is to focus on the bigger picture and to drive the business forward. With so much going on it’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day work of the business, but as CEO I need to ensure that I delegate that work to my team as much as possible to ensure that I can keep my attention on high level issues and forward-planning initiatives for the future.
When you first became a CEO, how was it different from what you expected? What surprised you?
Miranda Gillespie: Yes it was certainly different to what I expected! I was fortunate enough to have developed leadership experience in my previous legal career where I managed a team of lawyers and support staff and I thought being a CEO would be somewhat similar in terms of managing that team, however I found that being a CEO was completely different to that of managing a department.
As a CEO you are responsible for every achievement and every issue in the entire business, and at times that is certainly a heavy weight to bear. I have developed so much resilience and a problem-solving mindset, which I’ve found are critical skillsets to be a CEO.
There are many schools of thought as to what a CEO’s core roles and responsibilities are. Based on your experience, what are the main things a CEO should focus on? Explain and please share examples or stories to illustrate your vision.
Miranda Gillespie: There are so many things that need attention in any business and first and foremost in my experience the CEO needs to be able to delegate those responsibilities to the right team members. This can be tricky to do at times and is also dependant on having a great team around you who is willing to take on these responsibilities and gets things done autonomously.
Delegating is critical to ensure the CEO has the available time, energy and headspace to focus on what in my opinion is the critical role of the CEO, which is the higher level analysis of the business as well as strategic planning and implementation of large-scale initiatives. This is something that in the past I did not do well at at Luxe.It.Fwd. When the business first started I found I was involved in so much of the day-to-day work and at times it affected and slowed down the progress of Luxe.It.Fwd as a whole because I was too focused on ‘today’ rather than ‘tomorrow’. But once I hired additional staff to clear that work off my plate, Luxe.It.Fwd’s growth became so much stronger because I had the ability to focus all of my energy on moving the business forward.
Share with us one of the most difficult decisions you had to make for your company that benefited your employees or customers. What made this decision so difficult and what were the positive impacts?
Miranda Gillespie: Definitely the most difficult decision I have had to make is to leave my legal career to pursue a new business from scratch in a field that I had absolutely no experience in. While I wasn’t enjoying my legal career, it was a very ‘safe’ career path and it was quite scary to consider effectively throwing that away for such a risky and unknown career path.
I balanced that risk to some degree by initially starting Luxe.It.Fwd while continuing to work in my legal career, and this allowed me to confirm that the business concept could be a real success and therefore made the decision of leaving my legal career much easier. Since doing this I’ve been able to focus exclusively on growing Luxe.It.Fwd which has allowed us to substantially grow our team and reach so many new customers.
How would you define success? Does it mean generating a certain amount of wealth, gaining a certain level of popularity, or helping a certain number of people?
Miranda Gillespie: Success to me is having autonomy to determine your own path and that includes being in a career that you are really passionate about. We spend so much of our time at work and in my previous legal career I went to work every day not enjoying it, and that’s really not a way to live. Whereas now being able to wake up and go to work in a business and in a role that I’m really passionate in is what success is for me.
Some leadership skills are innate while others can be learned. What leadership skills do you possess innately and what skills have you cultivated over the years as a CEO?
Miranda Gillespie: In my previous legal career I observed the various leaders of the organisation to learn and model their leadership qualities, but also to learn what not do from others! My personality is that I’m a learner and I soak in what’s around me, and I think that nearly all of my leadership skills are cultivated rather than innate.
A leadership skill that I consider particularly important and which I continue to hone is to lead by example and be mindful of the way I carry myself. If I’m demonstrating stress or anxiousness regarding an issue, the team absorbs and models that same behaviour which if left uncorrected over time will lead to a really poor working environment. Yet when I display a positive, solution-orientated mindset that then echoes through the team and when issues arise, as they do, we are able to deal with them confidently and efficiently.
How did your role as a CEO help your business overcome challenges caused by the pandemic? Explain with practical examples.
Miranda Gillespie: The pandemic has created ongoing uncertainty for business and it is incredibly difficult not knowing when the end is. It can be very stressful at times not knowing where the pandemic is heading or what will happen, and instead the most important thing I can do as CEO is be highly responsive to new setbacks that arise and to forward plan solutions for the various possible scenarios.
As an example, as a ecommerce business the roles of our team members are very physical in terms of processing stock and orders, which work cannot be done remotely. A real risk and challenge for our business was if a positive COVID case caused the entire office to isolate in which case our entire business might largely grind to a halt as tasks like packing orders cannot be done remotely. We accordingly spent considerable time in developing a very detailed action plan with contingencies for how we would be able to continue to operate the business and get by during any potential isolation events. That is, we focused on what we could control to try to reduce the uncertainty from what we can’t control.
Do you have any advice for aspiring CEOs and future leaders? What advice would you give a CEO that is just starting out on their journey?
Miranda Gillespie: The advice I would give new and aspiring CEOs is that it will always be a lot harder than you think it will be, but that’s okay and simply know to expect that. In that regard, I’ve found it’s critical to develop resilience to the issues that inevitably constantly arise in business and to know that those knocks are part of the journey and not to let those get you down and lead you to a negative mindset. Because on the other side of those knocks is a truly wonderful journey that is all worth it.
Thank you for sharing some of your knowledge with our readers! They would also like to know, what is one skill that you’ve always wanted to acquire but never really could?
Miranda Gillespie: Cooking! I have never really learned to cook when I was younger and I struggle to find the time but luckily my husband is a great cook and has the incredible skill to make the most wonderful flavours and make it seem effortless in doing so.
Before we finish things off, we have one final question for you. If you wrote a book about your life today, what would the title be?
Miranda Gillespie: “Always moving forward” which basically sums up my quest for learning and always wanting to be better and do more in work and in life.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Miranda Gillespie for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Miranda Gillespie or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
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