Why collective ownership is key to women's empowerment, says Sharmadean Reid

Although she owns three highly successful businesses, Sharmadean Reid doesn't consider herself an entrepreneur. “I think I’m a very good founder,” the 37-year-old told me via Zoom. “I’m really good at building cool stuff that people really enjoy hanging out with.”

Most recently, Reed founded The Stack World, a women-focused business publication that launched in March 2021 to provide in-depth feature coverage and financially empower female entrepreneurs. The platform covers everything from beauty and health to business and culture, and offers tiered memberships between £1 and £9.99, which provide access to weekly emails and virtual events. Since its launch, the platform has amassed nearly 1,000 paid members and is on track to reach 10,000 next year.

In 2009, Reid founded nail salon chain WAH Nails London, which she ran for 10 years before ceasing operations to focus on BeautyStack, which she launched in 2017. BeautyStack's booking platform connects 2,000 beauty professionals with more than 20,000 customers. Reid raised nearly £4 million in a funding round to launch the project, making her one of 10 black female entrepreneurs to raise this level of venture capital. She is clearly a force to be reckoned with and works tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure women reach their full potential.

In honor of International Women's Day, Reid discusses her philosophy on money, her resting habits and everything in between.

Samadian Reed

Why is it so important to create a safe space like The Stack World for women to connect, collaborate, and build their businesses?

I wouldn’t call it a safe space. I just discovered that my personal brand, my type of woman, and my interests were not represented on the internet. When I started WAH Nails London it was because I didn't see women like me getting their nails done all the time. The salon we went to didn't play the music I listened to, didn't have the magazines I liked to read, and didn't have the style I wanted for the interior. If I spend a lot of time in these spaces (which I do), don't you think that should impact me a little? I just want to see a world that better reflects what interests me and what I think is important.

Is it one of your goals to give black women like you the opportunity to build their own businesses?

I think now I definitely have a grand vision and mission, but when I started I didn’t. I just followed my feeling and intuition and I opened WAH Nails very naively. It started out just for me and my friends to hang out with. But the more time I spent closely interacting with thousands of women in salons, the more I understood their needs.

What were you missing when you first started?

I had no idea what I wanted to do after college. I mean, I did it because I'm a Gemini, but after I left Wolverhampton and went to London, I wanted to be a fashion stylist. Before I went to college, I interned with a very famous fashion stylist and worked for him while in college. So when I graduated, I immediately started working in styling. So I never thought, "Oh, I don't have X, Y, Z opportunity," because I had that opportunity four years ago. I believe in planning and creating opportunities.

Samadian Reed

What does “sisterhood” mean to you?

Collective ownership. Talk is good, but action brings change. So while sisterhood is supportive, collective ownership and collective action is where my strength lies. For example, Colombia decriminalized abortion, which was a collective action.

But you know what would be awesome? Women would be considered wealthy if they owned buildings, art, and just those things. I really like women taking ownership. Stack members can invest in The Stack because I feel like I can't really talk about female economic empowerment without giving women the opportunity to own the community that they contribute to.

How many women have invested?

Currently we have about 20 investing members, some of whom write large checks, but what's exciting is that now it has the potential to allow for collective ownership. We have some really exciting projects going on which means our members can earn rewards.

What lessons did you learn about financial literacy growing up? How does it impact your current money mindset?

I grew up in a fairly poor environment, which was both a blessing and a curse. I'm black and Jamaican, and there's always been a lot of pride in our family, so I don't feel like I'm poor, you know? My house was nice, but we had no money. My mom never saved anything, so if I wanted something I had to work, which meant I started working when I was 14. But that also means I don’t place a high value on material possessions.

Now I'm obsessed with buying my first home because I feel like the investment will pay off for me and also give me a sense of security. But it would be very difficult without the help of my parents, and London is very expensive.

What advice would you give to young women feeling trapped after lockdown?

I think the easiest way to get new ideas is to talk to people who have lots of new ideas. Go for dinner, coffee, ask people what they are doing and see what resonates with you and see if you want to join them or start something of your own. I am happiest when I feel understood by like-minded people. When I talk to my friends, they're excited, I'm excited, we're excited together, like we're living off each other's vibes. That's what I love. I think the more people you can find who give you that "you know me, you see me" feeling, the better.

Samadian Reed

What do you do when you need downtime?

The spa is my spiritual home. I go as often as I can, really. While I love beauty treatments and get regular body massages and facials, not for the treatments but to spend time in the steam room. I just love lying down and letting people touch my face.

What beauty product can’t you live without?

coconut oil. I can live without anything else but I can't live with dry skin!

How about your go-to perfume?

I love the jasmine scent. I'm wearing Frederic Malle Carnal Flower. This is very exciting and tempting.

What are your goals for the next five years? Where do you think The Stack World will go?

I hope to somehow increase the GDP of the female economy by women making more money and sharing resources. Just 30 years ago, the idea that women would be denied credit cards and bank accounts without their husbands present or permission was crazy. So I care about women owning their own money, borrowing money, and lending money to each other.

Maybe launch The Stack Bank?

perhaps. Watch this space.