Starting a company in an industry in which you have no previous experience and going up against established industry giants like Chanel, Estée Lauder and Lancéme could make you look tired, old and, well, ugly. Not so with Pflueger, founder of Irvine, California, cosmetics company English Ideas Ltd. After all, she's in the business of helping women just like her-busy women who may only have a few minutes a day to make themselves beautiful.
So what does this British expatriate feel is the sexiest thing about her? "My accent. I stand out a little bit more here." Her accent isn't the only thing that makes Pflueger stand out. She received her bachelor's degree at age 20, the first woman at Southampton University in Southampton, England, to become an electronics engineer. And she stands out as an entrepreneur, too. English Ideas, which Pflueger founded with her husband, Russell, in 1993, is expected to reach retail sales of $15 million this year.
Pflueger's line of "practical cosmetics" has created a cult following among working women who appreciate its long-lasting qualities. As an entrepreneur, she's been able to approach the industry with an eye for innovation, incorporating ingredients like alpha hydroxy from the medical world to solve "unsolved cosmetic problems." But her achievements don't end there. Apart from being a smart, sexy, successful entrepreneur, Pflueger is also a philanthropist, and she regularly donates her products to the "Look Better, Feel Better" campaign for women who are undergoing chemotherapy.
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And has being beautiful proved to be a liability as a businesswoman? "It is perceived a lot of times when I go to a meeting, say, with my COO, that I work for him," she says. "But I'm not concerned about that. I am very confident." Her plans for the future include keeping her privately held company profitable and continuing to do what she does best: providing quality products and solving women's cosmetic problems.