Gracia is Chair of private equity backed Pet Mate and non-executive director of Stitched. She also advises private equity businesses in their digital strategy for portfolio companies. Gracia has nearly two decades of ecommerce and digital experience up to C-suite level. Her knowledge was gained working for global multi-channel retailers and entrepreneurial pure players. She was part of the first wave of e-commerce start-ups back in 2000, securing venture capital investment for her own dotcom company. Since then she has been on the board of Hobbs as ecommerce Director, headed up Topman’s ecommerce department and set up the online marketing strategy at Burberry. She held the position of CEO at PetsPyjamas. She is also a mentor to senior ecommerce executives and an ambassador in the Retail Week Be Inspired Campaign for young female entrepreneurs.
Amongst collecting a multitude of industry awards she was in 2015 and 2016 recognised as one of the top 50 most powerful people in online retail with her entry in the top 50 Retail Week Power List. She often speaks about ecommerce, multi-channel retail and international fast business growth at conferences and contributes to industry insights for national media and think tanks.
Gracia has a Master’s Degree in Sinology and Business studies from the Leiden University in the Netherlands.
1. Best piece of advice you’ve been given
My father to me: No need to use a shot gun to kill a mosquito
I used to be quite combative when trying to put my point across. I have learned over time that it is more effective to use less but well chosen words. In addition, timing and being empathetic to the audience is what helps winning people over.
2. Worst piece of advice you’ve been given
I was adviced to downgrade education – after one semester at secondary school
I chose to go to a Gymnasium in the Netherlands which was a rather academic and exclusive secondary school. From an intellectual perspective it was the most ambitious choice one could take. I was one of the youngest in my class and an avid tennis player. In the first half of the year i spent more time on the tennis court than behind my books. To be clear, i actually had no understanding of what doing homework really entailed. On my half term rapport, which was pretty bad, i was advised to change school (i.e go to an easier school) Thankfully my parents convinced the school it was way too early to make that call. I buckled up, learned how to study (the hard way sometimes), was forbidden from the tennis courts and kept away from the boys (or so they thought). I ended up really enjoying my time at school and when i graduated the headmaster apologized for the early advice.
3. What would you tell your younger self?
Don’t worry so much – do your best and it will all be fine
To trust that everything will fall into place when you do your best is a hard call to make when you are young. But it did happen and therefore a little less angst and it bit more fun would have been possible at times.
4. What excites you most about the future of your industry?
The digital industry is alive with so many new opportunities all the time. The challenge is to stay up to speed. I find myself walking on my toes a lot! AI is such an interesting concept and application of the human mind. Its use is so welcome in so many ways and i am excited about that.
5. Who or what is your biggest inspiration?
It has to be my Italian aunt, Liliana. She quit a good job in Rome to start her own company with her partner. It was a gutsy thing to do way back in the 50s in Italy. She really made it and by doing so lived a great live (albeit too short). Her success brought her freedom and she enjoyed the finer things in life gratefully. She very much looked at life in a philosophical and conscious way and taught me a lot of insights. She has always been my example.