Meet Joanne Wilson, angel investor, blogger, and mother. Wilson has found success from a young age. She is a woman of many talents and has numerous passions. Born in California, Wilson’s parents divorced when she was only fifteen. This had a very significant impact on her childhood. Her family went from being financially stable, a two-income household to quite unstable. Wilson’s mother was an entrepreneur and raised Joanne to be very independent. Because of this, Joanne knew the importance of being able to take care of herself. She always had at least three jobs starting at the age of fifteen in order to provide for herself. Wilson never wanted to worry about someone else taking care of her. She wanted to always be in command of her own life.
At the age of 20, Wilson began her career in the retail world. She gained valuable skills regarding how to run a business during this time. At the age of 22, she became responsible for Macy’s second largest cosmetics department, overseeing 100 employees. She was the youngest product manager by an extraordinary 20 years. Wilson moved on to running her own company in the rag trade and then began to spearhead sales for a startup magazine called Silicon Alley Reporter. During her career, she has been involved in many real-estate transactions and investments. She chaired a non-profit focused on technology in inner city schools called MOUSE (Making Opportunities in Upgrading Schools in Education). She has additionally sat on the board of numerous other non-profit organizations such as Hot Bread Kitchen, a non-profit committed to increasing access to culinary industry for women and minority entrepreneurs as well as the famous New York City Highline’s board. She also is the co-chair of Path Forward, an organization dedicated to helping people re-enter the workforce after taking time off to care for a loved one. In addition to all of these endeavors, Wilson is the co-founder of the Women Entrepreneurs Festival.
Much of Wilson’s career in investing has been centered around women entrepreneurs. Of her 90 investments, 75% of the startups have been created by women. This is intentional. Even when Joanne worked at Macy’s, she noticed gender inequality and sexual harassment in the workplace. Not only did men act inappropriately towards women, but women were unsupportive of each other as well. Wilson stated that one of her female bosses was incredibly cruel to her. Wilson believes it is important for women to be more supportive of one another so that they can be taken more seriously in the workplace. Wilson is now an angel investor with a portfolio of over 90 companies including Food52, Catchafire, Vengo, Nestio, Captureproof, Maker’s Row, and Le Tote. She has met many women since becoming an angel investor. It has become apparent that many of these women were having issues with people understanding their businesses. She has found that women are more open to listening and that they are more invested in the long run nature of their businesses. They are passionate about both their companies and as well as the people they are working with. Many of these women create a better environment for those involved and a better chance of success. Traditionally women entrepreneurs are stuck in the vertical of in e-commerce and fashion businesses. Wilson has enjoyed seeing many women branch out and enter other verticals besides these ones.
Wilson has since decided to stay home to raise her family. Torn between family and professional success, she realized that she wanted to be as present in her children’s lives as possible. She began work as a stay-at-home mom, a career change she does not regret. However, she did begin to struggle with this new occupation and decided to take up blogging as a creative outlet. Her blog, Gotham Gal, was a way for her to maintain contact with the professional world she left behind. Wilson has maintained her blog for thirteen years. She writes posts on everything from food to travel to family to books and even to her investments, women, and non-profits. She has also recently begun a podcasting series called positively Gotham Gal.
Wilson is a prolific angel investor who bets on women entrepreneurs. She hopes that in the future we will reach an equal relationship between men and women in regards to raising families and having jobs. She hopes at some point men will be the ones deciding to stay home and raise their families. She is a powerful woman who is passionate about entrepreneurship, women in tech, angel investing, non-profits, books, world travel and food. She is a quintessential example of a modern woman who is not afraid to call the shots. Through all of her very successful endeavors, she has found the most success in being married to her best friend and raising their three kids. We look forward to hearing a woman of so many talents speak more about her accomplishments at NYC’s Ascent Conference October 3-4! Her talk title: Translating Personal Investment Into Founder Success
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