Giselle Rufer

President & CEO Delance Swiss Watches for Women


What inspired you to start your business?

Finally, at the age of 50, after a long journey, I did it.

Sometimes it takes external forces to activate the latent entrepreneurial spirit; for many women, this moment of inertia occurs when they reach the glass ceiling in their jobs. In my case, the desire to create a special watch for women is the inertia that pushed me forward. This desire became a mission. The mission is to tell women how marvelous they are, the mission is to encourage women to be all that they can be.

What challenges have you faced as a woman entrepreneur and how did you overcome them?

The first challenge was to decide to create my company. When the decision was taken I spent six months at university in order to study an entrepreneurship course. I had to refresh and update my knowledge. I made the business plan, the strategy and made a list of all that I had to do for the creation of the company and the product. The management was not a problem, I was already a good manager. All my creativity was dedicated to find the name of my company and to develop the design and the concept of the watch. Then I had to find the financing. As I could not find suitable financing, I decided to go one step after the other in auto financing.

What advice would you give to other women entrepreneurs?

To launch a company, you have to do your homework and to know what you want and where you want to go. If you want to go global you have to decide it from the very beginning. This decision will oblige you to choose the right name, the right product and the right strategy.

What women inspire you?

Since my childhood I have been a great reader. First, I have read the lives of the saints, women saints are proper heroes and the life of queens, many of whom had very impressive lives, then women artists or scientists, politicians, Marie Curie, Hillary Clinton, Christine Lagarde. But my mother is probably the most important woman in my life.

What three traits define you?

Passionate, persevering, visionary. I was born to be happy and I have the chance to be able to be happy or to find happiness whatever the situation. It is perhaps because I love life, I love the people, children, and nature. I had to learn to persevere, to be patient. I suppose that my vision is helping me to continue to the direction I have chosen.

How has being a Certified WBE helped your business?

I am a new comer in WBENC and I already feel the importance to be active in this network. I have to explore all the opportunities and I know that the empowerment of another woman is a reciprocal gift. So I am ready to ask for help and I am also ready to help as much as I can.

What do you see as the coolest or most important trend in your industry?

In the watchmaking industry, Swiss watches have a very unique position. We are the best and we have to be the best. The evolution is important and nowadays with everybody having a cellphone, it is not really necessary to wear a watch. The watch is a sign of recognition between peers. The traditional watchmaking did not give attention to women and that is why I have decided to create a unique watch for women.

As a business owner, what keeps you up at night?

Preparing the next day or next event, filling this paper or writing my next speech or article. I know that I have to do that and I do it with pleasure. In the evening I can work without being disturbed by the phone or by people.

What are the biggest obstacles you see for young female entrepreneurs?

Finding the financing is difficult for all entrepreneurs, but being a woman is a real handicap. In order to overcome this handicap women must be well prepared and persistent. You can also go step by step and grow thoroughly.

What do you love about being a business owner?

I love the freedom to work when I want, 7 days a week and 10-12 hours a day. But I can take time off if I really need and want it. I can decide what I think I have to do without having to convince five old men without imagination.

What’s the hardest part about being a business owner?

Sometimes I feel some loneliness. You cannot bother your family with your problem. You have to choose the right people and share with them. I really recommend having a good mentor with whom you can touch on everything.

How do you define success?

In our society, money is equal to success. Money is perhaps not any more the proof of success. It is rather about the quality of your life, the sensation that you have realised your potential, developed your talents, contributed to your society, that you are satisfied with your life.

What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?

Just do it: and this encouragement came many times in my life from my husband. It was not an advice in the air, it was made after having listened to my project or to my desire. It is what I try to give back to my family, friends, and employees.

What’s your favorite career moment?

It is difficult to find a unique moment in such a long life. But I have to admit that the publication of my story was a great event. Published by an African editor to inspire women entrepreneurs, you can find it on Amazon under the title of “Butterfly in a Storm.”

If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?

I would prefer to sleep.

What are you reading or listening to now?

I used to read three books at a time, from spirituality, cooking, art (one on the living table, one in my handbag and a pile on my nightstand.) I cannot live without reading. I like to read short novels because when I begin I have to finish it and I don’t sleep!

What’s the best way to start your day?

I like to wake up early. I drink some water, go on my balcony, admire the landscape and make a few yoga exercises, then I take a small breakfast looking at the news on the TV and posting photos on Instagram. Then I have to rush because I want to enjoy life and time is passing very quickly.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

An artist and a doctor. I had so many dreams but I always knew that I had to have a job involving creation, beauty, people, travelling, discovering…

How do you unwind after a long workday?

With a walk, with a bath, with yoga exercises, meditation depending on the time and the degree of fatigue.

What do you like about your workspace?

Just come and see it… from my balcony I can see all of Switzerland with the Alps in the distance (when the weather is clear).

Fill in the blank:

When I face a challenge, I... examine it thoroughly then I take a decision.

If I could go back in time, I would tell myself… walk in beauty you can do it.

The one thing I couldn’t live without is… food and water.

To get my creative juices flowing, I… go for a walk in the nature.

By this time next year, I will be… speaking at TED.

The best thing that happened to me last week was… realising that I have very good friends.

Delance Swiss Watches for Women

After 23 years of existence and having created hundreds of personalized watches, DELANCE has gained the reputation of an exclusive watch brand listening to its clients and meeting their highest expectations.

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