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Model turned CEO Caprice Bourret believes business is still a “man’s world”, but it is getting better

Written by Latifa Yedroudj on Monday, 02 December 2019. Posted in Scaling up, Interviews

From gracing the cover of Vogue to kickstarting a successful multi-national business, Caprice Bourret has done it all.

Model turned CEO Caprice Bourret believes business is still a “man’s world”, but it is getting better

From gracing the cover of Vogue to kickstarting a successful multi-national business, Caprice Bourret has done it all. Coming from humble beginnings in Southern California, the former model left the glitz and glam of Hollywood for a new life across the pond to further pursue her modelling career, but things to a turn when she decided to start her very own company from scratch. Through her life experiences, Caprice believes more needs to be done to empower women in business and as a female entrepreneur herself, it is a cause she feels she has to fight for.

“Well like I said it is still a man’s world out there,” Caprice told me. “It is getting better but there is still a long way to go.  Not enough women have CEO positions.”

Caprice was one of the key note speakers at this year’s Women in Business Conference, using her own success and life lessons to help empower women in business, giving them the advice and tips on how to achieve success in what she believes is a male-dominated sector.

“Navigating your career around starting a family is also a huge challenge, she added. “That is why we are seeing these movements where moms are launching businesses from their kitchen tables while juggling family responsibilities. I am glad to see networks and support groups for women in business, they are really needed.  We need to keep talking about it and pushing for equality to make change.”

Born in Southern California, Caprice was raised by a single mother and lived with her one sister. Caprice had watched her mother’s sheer determination and drive into building her own successful interior design business – and that was when she became inspired to do the same.

“I was raised by my mom,” Caprice said. “I was really close to my sister when growing up and still are. My mom was a successful interior designer and she did well to provide us with a good life which I am very grateful for. I learned a lot about business from her. I remember her always being so glamourous, and I loved helping her choose an outfit to wear to work.”

With an ambitious mindset, Caprice flew to London at the age of 20 to take her modelling internationally. She ended up on the cover of Vogue, GQ, Esquire, Maxim, FHM, Sports Illustrated and was even named the sexiest woman by the News of the World, GQ's Woman of the Year, and Maxim's International Woman of the Year for three years in a row.

“I think I was about 20 when I moved to the UK,” Caprice said. “I was staying in NYC at the time and living off cream cheese bagels. I had moderate success in the USA and doing quite well but my agent said if I really wanted to make money I needed to go to Europe.  So, with the blessing from my family I made the decision to move to London.”

I fell in love with the UK almost immediately,” she added. “Ok everything apart from the weather!  I loved that you could be in Paris, Spain, Italy (or wherever) in no time at all. It was perfect for both work and pleasure.”

Caprice’s modelling career soon began to soar, appearing in more than 350 magazine covers all over the world and even earned her first million at 21 – but her goals didn’t stop there.

“The move worked out as my modelling career took off to new heights and I was soon travelling all over the world on photo-shoots,” she said. “I was very blessed. I have read that people can do really well in business by moving to another country and it was so true for me, I mean, I made my first million at 21.  I have lived in London now for over 20 years, holly smokes time does fly!“

Spending over 10 years in the modelling industry, Caprice decided it was time to make a move into business. Having witnessed her mother’s own company flourish, Caprice had a business mindset from a young age and was determined to do the same.

“Even in my modelling days I have always seen my career as a business,” Caprice said. “I would do deals with a few photographers and we would sell the photos all over the world.”

In 2006, business savvy Caprice created her own bespoke lingerie line in partnership with Debenhams before pulling out to launch her very own brand, “By Caprice”.

“When I turned 30 I knew the modelling wouldn’t last forever so put in motion plan B - I convinced the CEO of Debenhams (at the time) to invest in a lingerie licensing deal,” she said. “Back then no one was doing celebrity licensing deals but they took the risk.  The line did really well and eventually I bought back the licence and I used the money from my modelling days as capital to launch my own brand.”

Caprice believed her brand filled a gap in the market. She soon ventured out into homeware with “By Caprice Home”, selling glamorous bedding, curtains and duvets. In 2019, she launched By Caprice Home to American merchandise chain Bath and Beyond.

“I saw a gap in the market and went for it.  I had all of the systems in place and contacts already. Launching a new brand is never easy but it helps when you have the contacts and the operational side in place already.”

Caprice owes her success to believing in herself and not being afraid of failure. In order to achieve commercial success, Caprice said it is important business owners share their concepts with people around them for second opinions. Entrepreneurs can create a “focus group” that way without the extra cost.

“Don’t keep your idea to yourself and be secretive about your business / product or concept. Use the people around you as a sort of ‘focus group’,” she said. “The feedback will be invaluable and will help guide your decision-making. The worst thing any budding entrepreneur can do is keep their idea private and spend lots of money to then realise you have wasted an awful amount of time, effort and savings on something that is not commercially viable. In business it is also important to have thick skin as you will get knocked down time and time again.  You need to have the motivation to get back up and keep going.”

Despite achieving great success at a young age, Caprice has been no stranger to learning from failure. The former model almost lost her business after the 2008 recession, but said it was her determination to keep going that allowed her to move forward.

“Making my first million and also landing my first front cover felt hugely rewarding,” Caprice told me.  “Just being in a position where I am now able to pick and choose what I do is the dream.  I always believe the harder you work, the luckier you get’. When the recession hit, I lost £1.6 million overnight because of the exchange rate. It was a hard lesson to learn but I never made that mistake again! I educated myself on hedging currency exchange so in the event of changes in the stock market I would not get stung in the future.  I almost lost my business but I came out of that period and kept going.”

In a final word advice to budding entrepreneurs out there, Caprice said: “Be smart, work hard, be tenacious, adapt to the market, be confident, have a support network around you, have loyalty and above all have integrity.”

About the Author

Latifa Yedroudj

Latifa Yedroudj

Latifa Yedroudj has joined the Elite team to fully immerse herself in the business side of journalism, a strong passion of hers cultivated from young having co-run her mother's start up business since she was 18. Her interests lie in a wide range of subjects, including start ups, business, travel, and anything entrepreneurial she can get her hands on. She has worked for some of the biggest names in journalism including The Guardian and The Mirror. Follow her on @latifayed on Twitter for her latest journo rants.

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