Written by Wendy Mak
Jac Bowie’s journey has been one filled with twists, turns and downright determination. As a single mother of two young children, her deep desire is to empower women to feel fabulous and confident enough to follow their dreams. This is the reason behind her latest venture, Business in Heels.
Founded in early 2013 by Jac Bowie, Business in Heels helps women connect and support each other – in business, health, relationships and every other aspect of their lives.
What started as a Sydney-only community has grown rapidly into a franchise model that now spans 33 Branches across Australia, USA, UAE, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand and South Africa, with Branch applications coming in thick and fast from every corner of the globe.
Before embarking on her journey as an entrepreneur, Jac was director of the The Bijou Group, appointed to the advisory team for Sydney Mardi Gras and Producer of Short+Sweet festivals (the biggest little play festival in the world) in Sydney & Canberra.
In the knowledge that she had more to offer, a personal career talk with Sir Richard Branson in 2005 prompted her to utilise her skills and start a business around her early passion of Burlesque.
Jac went on to successfully build an empire around the old-fashioned art form of burlesque striptease and performance, producing a number of high profile events around the world, including Miss Burlesque International, The Burlesque Ball, The Ruby Revue and also bespoke events and entertainment for high-end clients.
Passionate about giving back, Jac is also Ambassador for the Sanfilippo Children’s Foundation a new organisation established to help those who suffer from an extremely rare disease that affects one child in every 70,000. The disease does not yet have a cure and only limited palliative treatment currently exists.
I have had the pleasure of getting to know Jac over the last few months, having been invited to speak at several of the Business In Heels events in Sydney. Despite only meeting briefly at at these events, we just clicked and she has become a fast friend – which is just one of the reasons why I love these events.
Jac, you’ve had a pretty incredible career so far! Can you briefly take us through some of the highlights?
Of course, the Internet will tell you I’m all about Burlesque, but Business in Heels is easily my biggest professional accomplishment. I get to help / inspire / motivate amazing women daily. It’s a dream come true.
As someone who is heavily motivated by giving back, my other highlights would include my relationships with Sanfilippo Children’s Foundation, Mardi Gras, Refugee Week and NAIDOC week.
What were the key qualities or traits that helped you succeed?
I genuinely wanted to help women succeed in life. I’ve become better at business by making mistakes earlier in my business career. I surround myself with people that are positive and inspire me. I have mentors & advisors that help me make good decisions and a fantastic team around me.
Were there any lessons along the way?
I’ve been completely self-taught and have made a few big mistakes along the way, some of them very costly and stressful. I think now looking back, it’s created a very resilient side to me which now helps me plan, and execute things well.
Another goodie was when the venue for The Burlesque Ball in Melbourne 2010 cancelled with 12 hours notice. My former PA (Zoe) and I managed to find a new venue and move 900 guests with only their email addresses.
What are you up to now career wise?
100% of my time and focus is on Business in Heels.
I have a new business partner who is managing the legal, procedures, admin and systems side of the business, and an AMAZING personal assistant who keeps me sane.
This allows me to really focus on inspiring, motivating all of our branches and just being present and consistent for them. I also focus on building BIH as a brand, and on branch level with marketing, publicity, advertising and promotions.
More and more as we continue to expand I will be physically present at our events around the world and will have the opportunity to connect with our members in the flesh – and that really excites me!
There are many events out there for women, what makes Business In Heels different?
We are the “sex and the city” of the networking world. No big membership fees required. No boring venues, speakers and badges.
Our ladies care what heels you are wearing, what bubbles we are drinking and want to connect on a personal level first.
It’s all about hitting it off and then leveraging off that to make business.
Look at you and I, we hit it off over champers and here I am writing on your blog. It’s THAT simple.
What do you love best about Business In Heels?
It’s the first industry I have ever worked in that is not competitive.
There’s a real sisterhood here of support, love and help for each other.
I’ve come from some of the most bitchy female industries there are, and this has been such an amazing change. You can’t help but feel positive and motivated, and I get to many many events, not just my local branch, so it’s a constant buzz for me!
Let’s talk fashion for a minute – how would you describe your style and what inspires your fashion choices?
I don’t follow fashion in terms of current trends, I never have. The word “boho” and I together would be a terrifying thought.
I have a gazillion 40’s pencil dresses (borderline obsession). I LOVE Stop Staring, Wheels & Dollbaby, but also find great cuts from CUE. I never go above the knee and if you can’t wear a push up bra with it I don’t buy it!
I use the one same bag, and my shoes are only ever black, nude, red or sparkly and stockings must only be cubans.
I only wear red lipstick (current obsessions are Shien Lee’s complete range of carmine free lush lippies) and MAC’s Lady Danger. I’m naturally curly, but straighten and curl.
Finally – please complete this sentence. “A stylish & successful woman should…..”
Own it. Breathe it, believe it and walk out there and OWN IT!
To find out more about Business In Heels, visit www.businessinheels.com
Photo credits: Brent Leideritz (photographer), Jac Bowie (hair + make up)