Windsor Hanger Western is the Co-Founder, President and Publisher of Her Campus Media; leading all business development, marketing and sales. She co-founded Her Campus Media while an undergrad at Harvard.
Windsor and co-founders Annie Wang and Stephanie Kaplan Lewis met while running Harvard College’s lifestyle and fashion magazine. Through their work on this student publication, they saw the potential for something even bigger and better and spent spring 2009 developing the business plan for Her Campus. After countless nights working in Harvard’s Quincy House dining hall until 3AM (or later!), they pitched and won the Harvard College business plan competition.
Windsor and her two co-founders spent the summer of 2009 living together in a super tiny apartment in New York City working as interns while preparing Her Campus for its launch in September 2009.
Her Campus is an online magazine and college marketing firm aimed at providing news and resources to its predominantly college-aged female crowd — topics like style, health, career and dorm life.
Windsor has spoken at a wide range of conferences and events — passionate about giving back and encouraging young women to follow their dreams and achieve their goals.
The team behind the feature documentary film, Pioneers in Skirts, is excited to feature this monthly honor program to highlight women who have taken enormous steps to take charge of their future.
Called Future Friday Honorees, these women are true role models for our next generation of working women. Be sure to follow along to meet these women at the beginning of each month, and then again in social media every Friday to learn more!!
When Jenna Abdou and Chase Jennings of 33 Voices interviewed Windsor, she shared what it took to build Her Campus Media, and what she’s doing now to continue its extraordinary growth.
Windsor makes fitness a priority and encourages a healthy culture at work by establishing #WorkoutWednesday in place of casual Friday, when employees are encouraged to wear their workout clothes to work. Along with working out, she enjoys practicing yoga, reading (her current must-read is Anne-Marie Slaughter’s Unfinished Business), meeting new people, cooking with her husband Alex, and traveling with her daughter Eleanor.
Connect with Windsor here!
Connect with HerCampus Magazine here!
A ROLE MODEL FOR THE NEXT GENERATION OF GIRLS WHO DREAM BIG
Check out Windsor’s interview and find out how she knew she wanted to be an entrepreneur, and how she is rocking it in her career — and how you can too!
Q: Knowing what you know now, what would you say to your 14 year old self to help your path be less stressful and/or more successful?
Well when I was 14, I thought that I wanted to be a pediatric surgeon. I went to Harvard on a full-blown pre-med path and finished almost all of my pre-med requirements before realizing that my passion was actually for business and female empowerment. As such, I could have saved myself a lot of stress by choosing not to take Organic Chemistry, etc… during my first 3 years of college! That being said, my main advice I’d give to my 14-year-old self would be to know that it’s okay to take the road less traveled. I’d tell myself to spend time reflecting on what really drives me rather than what society expects me to do and then pursue my true passions wholeheartedly.
Q: Who was your role model/mentor growing up, and how did that relationship help you become the professional you are today?
I’ve been lucky to have many role models and mentors in my life but growing up, I’d have to say that my dad was one of my main role models. He is a big proponent of single gender education and when I was getting ready to start middle school, he founded a school for girls because one didn’t exist in my hometown. The school, Hanger Hall, which is now the top private middle school in Western North Carolina, was an amazing experience and taught me a lot about independence and finding my own voice. Watching him take his vision for a school and turn it into a reality was really inspiring to me during those formative years and helped me feel empowered to bring my vision for Her Campus to life.
Q: If you could have coffee with anyone living or dead, who would it be and what would you ask them? What is that one lesson you’d like to learn?
Thomas Edison. I’d ask him how he found the drive to keep trying to invent the light bulb when he failed over, and over, and over again. I’d like to learn his secret to persistence!
Q: What do you think of when you hear “pioneering your career”?
Charting new territory!
Q: When you were a young girl, what was the one thing that you feel helped to shape your pioneering attitude towards your career?
I was always coming up with business ideas when I was little complete with pricing strategies and marketing materials. My favorite was “Windsor’s Hair Festival” where I’d do your hair for a nickel or you could buy 6 hair styles for a quarter. My parents always encouraged me in this type of creative play and helped me feel like I could start something new and create my own career path.
Q: What is the greatest professional obstacle you have had to overcome, and what would you recommend other women do in order to overcome it?
There are enormous risks associated with starting a business and there are enormous rewards as well. The most challenging part for me has been dealing with the emotional roller coaster of entrepreneurship. The highs are very high – meeting Michelle Obama – but the lows are very low – not having enough cash in the bank and having to go months without paying yourself as we did in our very early days. There’s a certain stick-to-it-ness that has helped me bounce back from those moments of doubt where you question why you’re doing what you’re doing and if it wouldn’t be easier to just get a “’normal job.” The main lesson is that every career has good times and tough times and that it’s important to always believe in yourself and push through the tough times and know that if you keep working hard and working smart, good times will always come again.
Here’s to hard work and good times, Windsor. YOU are a Pioneer!
YOU can Nominate a #FutureFriday Candidate
Are you impressed with what a colleague or friend is doing in her career? Is she an inspirational example of success? Do you know a woman who has shown “what’s possible” to the women around them? Have they overcome gender barriers or figured out how to change the game of career advancement? Well then — nominate her by contacting our producers!