We talk to Emma Sayle and find out what inspired her to start her female empowerment brand and what advice she would give to anyone wanting to follow in her footsteps
What do you currently do
I am the CEO of Killing Kittens. Killing Kittens is the ultimate female empowerment brand, promoting positivity for women of all ages, shapes, race and sizes. It was founded in 2005 in order to create a female-led future both online and offline. It was the first mover in the millennial females in control movement, which has since been followed by an onslaught of similar movements across social media and popular culture.
What was the inspiration behind your business
I created the concept when I realised that there was nowhere for women to go to feel in control and empowered to explore their sexuality without being judged. It was spoken about in society and whilst the US show, sex in the city was bringing this to the forefront of the media, in reality there was still a real imbalance.
My background is PR; I began in financial PR and then followed up with entertainment PR, during which I witnessed a very male-dominated adult industry offering nowhere for women to go to explore their sexuality and feel in control within a safe environment – I felt passionately that something had to change.
We started as a few parties, years before social media, female focused apps and female led campaigns like #Metoo and we’ve now grown into a global movement that empowers both women and men online and offline. I couldn’t have foreseen just how current the business model would be in 2018, as an established brand in the sex and sextech sector, it’s so interesting right now.
What we’ve seen coming out of the #MeToo movement is the real need for an attitude shift, one that is so positive for women, as behaviours are changing to accommodate female thinking like never before in business and my goal is to provide the world’s biggest female empowerment brand both on and offline that brings the sexual liberation of women to the mainstream…the modernisation of womanhood.
What defines your way of doing business
I grew up playing a lot of sports and being the captain of most of the teams I was in and also head of house at school and these roles prove invaluable even today. Key to any business looking to scale and move forward, is a captain. Without one, the team is rudderless and without direction.
I try to lead with passion and ambition, particularly as the industry is attempting to break perception, opinion and judgment. It’s crucial therefore that I lay out a clear vision for the brand, a common ethos in what we are trying to achieve, a sense of achievement and pride in what we have achieved already.
I know my strengths and more importantly my weaknesses, so when I began building the Killing Kittens team I was sure to find people who are better than me at the work that needed doing and still, I consciously stand back and trust them get on with it. I am pretty direct with all those I work with and I leave the minute detail to members of the KK team to discuss whilst I focus on the bigger picture.
The most important thing in my business is that we work together as a team and utilise everyone’s strengths, ensuring the best is brought out in all and that everyone is allowed to be an entrepreneur.
Who do you admire
I most admire a trailblazer, someone that has stood for something and wanted to make the world a better place. Those that have a passion and an all-consuming drive which those around them find exhausting, for example, Steve Jobs and Joe Gebbia. Then there are the females who have had the added gender fight to sit at the entrepreneurs table, Reese Witherspoon for example, Anita Roddick and my all-time She’ro Dolly Parton!
Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently
Yes, I’d have sought a decent accountant sooner! Apart from that, there isn’t anything specific I can pinpoint as I firmly believe that we don’t learn unless we try and fail or experience knockbacks.
I don’t consider a knockback to be negative. To me, it is how you handle said knock backs that really matter…I urge everyone to just get back up faster than you did getting knocked down!
What advice would you give to someone starting out
– Seek out a mentor, a mentor is invaluable and someone you can trust to bounce ideas off. Find some who has been in your shoes and launched their own business, ideally.
– Compare what life would have been like in the 9-5 rat-race and never lose sight of that. Imagine the worst-case scenario, having to go back to that 9-5 or losing your investment for example, and if you can cope with the thought then you believe that this is something worth going for!
– Don’t lose sight of why you started the business in the first place, the mission and ethos is what it’s all about and ensure that is kept simple. If you suddenly start seeing pound signs and focusing on the money then it’s easy to lose real direction and focus.
– No matter who is pushing or pulling you in different directions, or advising you on what you should be doing, just don’t lose sight of you and your mission. Do not be afraid to disagree and own your conviction, your business is yours.