From teaching herself to code as a teen to offering tech support to bloggers, Chloé Watts’ expertise has grown into her very own successful business: chloédigital
Founded in 2014, chloédigital is now a leading technology membership for creators looking to grow and scale their businesses. Offering training and strategy, chloédigital provides all the tools necessary to enhance business potential and increase influence. “My ultimate passion is to empower women to live the best life possible with technology,” says Chloé.
“Chloédigital is a growth strategy, and business development platform for creatives. We help women to grow and scale their businesses.” And it’s proving successful for Chloé. Her company has assisted multiple women in a range of sectors – fashion, beauty, lifestyle and travel – to build six- to seven-figure businesses. How does she do it? Let’s find out…
Photography: Noor and Zee
What inspired your business?
I’d like to think that chloédigital was destined and planned, but it really wasn’t. When I was 15, I taught myself how to code, and I was very much in love with computers. This was in the Myspace era when young people were first discovering HTML coding, and there was a huge scene blossoming called blogging. I had many friends in that scene, especially women who were fashion bloggers, and whenever someone had a problem with their blog, they’d come to me. I could explain the technology to them in a way that they’d understand.
So I started going to events where I would meet more people in real life and get better involved in the blogging community. Soon, I was coined as the geek girl that could help you with your blog. It spread through word of mouth; people would say: “You need to meet this girl called Chloé. I’m sure she could help you.” So people would share my contact details and I would spend my time helping other women fix tech problems.
When did you realise it was a business?
Looking back, I’m so proud that from such a young age, I was able to find something that I was really passionate about. I knew I wanted to pursue it in some way, but at the time, I didn’t know how. I had no business acumen; I didn’t know how I could make money from it. It was in 2014, when I had this epiphany that I could turn the odd jobs I was doing for people’s blogs into a paid service. My idea was for an unlimited tech fix subscription service that bloggers could sign up to, to receive help on their blogs. With my own business up and running, I was able to turn what I had been doing for free, into a profession.
Photography: Noor and Zee
And where did you get the name?
My name is Chloé and I love all things digital. So I put the two words together – chloédigital – and formed my business from there.
It all sounds very pioneering.
Yes, I’d definitely call myself a pioneer. When I started in the industry, there were no women in tech; it wasn’t really a talked-about thing. I love the fact that I am not only a woman in tech, but I’m a successful black woman in tech. I think that is quite pioneering.
What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?
The bravest thing I’ve ever done is running a business and being able to turn what I was doing for free into something profitable! I’m now eight years into my business, and having a team of tens of people, having clients in hundreds of people, and overcoming challenges is all part of it. I feel that just getting up every day to run this business is the bravest thing I’ve ever done.
Did the global pandemic make things difficult for you?
Throughout the Covid period, we were in a really fortunate position, because we had already adopted a remote working culture before the pandemic. In terms of efficiency, and keeping the team motivated, we already had the relevant systems in place. In terms of mental health on our team, we had to work hard to ensure our team got through the worrying and stressful experience, whilst still enjoying their job. We also had to be mindful of our clients during this time, too.
In the beginning, nobody knew what the future held, so our clients were really affected. Mostly because a lot of their revenue comes from brand partnerships and marketing budgets were slashed at the time. So for us, it was a big objective to ensure our clients still viewed us as an essential business need. I’m pleased to say that we had high retention during the pandemic; our clients needed our support and because we are based around the globe – chloédigital comprises 17 incredibly talented people, all remote in different countries – we were able to help our clients navigate through the challenging times.
Photography: Noor and Zee
What advice would you give to anyone looking to start their own business?
The advice I’d give is to first think about why you’re doing it. Think about what drives you and what makes you passionate. We all have a passion in life, I just think it takes certain people different amounts of time to discover theirs. But, we all have one, it’s just about finding it. The great thing about chloédigital is that our clients span all different ages; we work with women who are 21 years old, right up to 70. And all of these women have found their passions at different times of their life, but it doesn’t mean they’re not rocking it now.
So, in short, I’d say that passion comes first, and then second is to never have limited beliefs about your potential. You are good enough to succeed, so put yourself out there and show the world who you are. Thirdly, you need to accept being vulnerable. I think people find it very challenging to be vulnerable and open. But being authentic in who you are when you’re putting your messages out there, is key for success. As for me, the best advice I ever received myself was to “feel the fear and do it anyway.”
I used to think that one day I would get to the point in my journey where I would no longer feel afraid, but that does not happen; we will never not be fearful. I feel fearful all the time, but what I’m able to do is channel that fear into excitement and push past it, because I have now realised that on the other side of fear is success.
What is your superpower?
I would say that my superpower is the ability to see what people are good at. When I meet new people and they talk to me about what they love to do, they don’t always realise they are talking about their passions. They’re talking about what they’d really like to do in life, without realising. I spent so much time helping people cultivate their passions and turn them into businesses that whenever I speak to anybody – a new friend or an old friend – I always hear between the lines of what they’re saying. It’s what they truly want to be doing in life. I think there’s something very special about being able to listen to somebody speak and hear what their passions are, and to help them grow them into a successful business.
Photography: Noor and Zee
It sounds so rewarding. How do you celebrate the successes?
I celebrate success in everyday moments. Running a business is a marathon, so you need to be able to celebrate very small wins in everyday life. Having a good hair day, receiving a nice email, or someone sending a cute message. Whatever it is, I celebrate those small wins – all my wins – because I know there have been challenges. It’s those small, in-between wins, that keep me going.
What will you never compromise on in business?
I would absolutely never compromise on our mission: to empower women to live the life of their dreams through technology. I could never compromise on that; everything we do in the company focuses on that mission. I’ve had lots of limiting beliefs over the years, but I’ve overcome them and I will do the same for my clients. It’s really special for me, to help other women to debunk their limiting beliefs. I feel so proud when I see my clients do something they were fearful of once.
Discover more business tips and advice at marieclaire.co.uk/passionpioneers