As golden leaves begin to fall over the Italian cosmopolitan streets of Milan, the country’s infamous and iconic fashion houses close the doors on fashion week for another season. Characteristically, Milan Fashion Week SS17 exuded drama, sass and bravura. With the Hadid sisters at the forefront of the catwalk lenses, Milan once again paved the direction for next summer’s macro trends. It seems that sportswear will stick around, boho will get innovative and shapes will be cinched with a drawstring detail. Oh, and ruffles are here to stay. Read on to discover our round up of the big players from Milan Fashion Week SS17.by
How would you define a successful business woman – Mother Figure? Highbrow Multi-tasker? Ice Queen? We look past the stereotypes to discover how business women in 2016 really tick.
The 21st century has come a long way since the suffragettes and the fifties housewife. Businesswomen aren’t necessarily sat behind desks tapping away on a keyboard in a pencil skirt any longer, either. They’re studying for their PHD’s, they’re developing charities to help vulnerable women, and they’re drinking Prosecco on a Friday night with their feet up after a hard week at work – just like you. Like the Medusas, the Boudicas and the Joan of Arcs before them, the modern day business woman exudes an inner strength to battle through the doubt, the setbacks and the fear.
In a world where gender inequality arguably still exists, Business Women’s Day is an important date in the Maxwell Scott Bags calendar. To highlight this event, we interviewed a variety of inspirational business women from a wide scope of different industries and professions to discuss their day-to-day work life, their coping mechanisms during tough times and how they define a successful business woman.
Dr Stephanie Eltz, Co Founder of Doctify
In a nutshell, tell us about your business. Doctify is the fastest and easiest way for UK patients to search, compare and book a specialist online. We provide step-by-step guidance, reviews and information to patients before, during and after treatment.
What does your typical day at work look like? I’m still a practising surgeon, so I split my time between running Doctify and fulfilling my NHS duties. I typically get up around 6am and have a healthy breakfast to start the day. I’ll then drive to the hospital and spend the morning there fully focussed on my patients. After my theatre list or clinic I head over to Doctify and begin to focus my mind on what needs to be achieved that day. The minute I leave the hospital I’m constantly on the phone and all my attention is on the business. We’re based near Camden, so I usually grab something to eat from the food market nearby before heading into the office. Communication is key to make sure everyone is aligned, so the first thing I do when I get in is catch up with the team. I often get together with my cofounders and senior employees to discuss plans / exchange ideas in the evening, meaning I’ll regularly leave for home after 9pm.
How would you describe the ‘business woman’ side of you in three words? Intuitive, enthusiastic and relentless.
How would you describe your style at work? I like to encourage people, but not control them. I’m very motivated and surround myself with people who share the same enthusiasm and energy as I do for the task in hand.
In your opinion, what makes a successful business woman? Women make fantastic business leaders; with an incredible ability to create, protect and grow organisations. I believe a successful business woman is confident yet insightful. She should support those around her and back her intuitive decisions with hard facts. She makes everyone in the team feel valued.
When business is tough, what keeps you going? First of all, it’s important to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Then I believe it’s all about how you view facing tough periods in life. I like thinking of a rope that has been cut. When you manage to tie the rope back together it’ll be much stronger. I try to see challenges as opportunities to grow. Daniel (Doctify’s co-founder) once said that we at Doctify are like an amoeba, we just become larger when bad things happen. We’re a very strong team at Doctify, when things get tough, I know I can turn to my cofounders and we’ll give each other the strength to push forward.
Who are your female role models in business? I’ve encountered several women who have deeply inspired me. I respect individuals who are honest with the struggles they’ve faced, yet have never given up and remain positive and enthusiastic. My role models are equally female and male.
Do you think business women are treated fairly in your industry? There have been occasions where I haven’t been taken seriously, but this could be related to the fact that I’m a doctor turned entrepreneur. There are differences, but overall the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.
What advice would you give to female entrepreneurs starting out on their business journey? Be confident and surround yourself with people you can trust and compensate your weaknesses. Failure is part of every road to success and a good team is key not only for the success of your venture but also your own sanity.
Julia Mitchell, Founder of Toast PR
In a nutshell, tell us about your business. I run Toast PR – essentially we make people, products and brands famous nationally, regionally and with both consumers or business audiences. We employ a variety of skills to do this which include amongst other things media relations, events, social media campaigns, endorsements and content management. No day is the same and the work is fabulously engrossing and all consuming, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.
What does your typical day at work look like? Up and at ‘em first thing with a strong cup of coffee and the news headlines, followed by the school run and a train ride into Manchester to the office when I catch up on emails. Meetings with the team, clients (old and new) and then I try and sneak off somewhere (more coffee) to get some actual work done. I’m pretty useless as working in open plan offices and find it quite distracting especially if I have some writing or calls to journalists to make so I tend to secret squirrel myself away in the afternoons in one of Manchester’s finest coffee shops. I finish around 5/6pm on a good day and catch up on emails later after my little girl’s gone to bed. Later in the week, I’m often out at networking events (or running them) in the evenings which can mean late nights and last trains home.
How would you describe the ‘business woman’ side of you in three words? Driven, creative and honest.
How would you describe your style at work? Ladylike. I’m fond of a frock or a pleated mid skirt and heels and you’re seldom see me without two bags (one for work essentials and one for life stuff!)
In your opinion, what makes a successful business woman? Someone who can survive the knocks and get up and keep going. It’s not easy being in business (or PR for that matter). For every lovely lunch or successful client win, there’s a tricky conversation or difficult decision to make. You have to be tough when it counts.
When business is tough, what keeps you going? This will be my 12th year running my own business and my business just keeps growing. On bad days, I just tell myself I’ve had bad days before and that they’ll pass. It’s all about looking at the bigger picture and the overall journey and progression over time.
Who are your female role models in business? Arianna Huffington, I recently read her book Thrive and was blown away. Every female in business should read that. Her third metric of success being health and happiness really resonated with me. I also started the early part of my career at Boots The Chemist’s head office and my real life female role models were some of the women in senior roles there who I looked up to and respected.
Do you think business women are treated fairly in your industry? PR is probably one of the industries that treats women pretty fairly overall as it tends to be quite female dominated. I think we’re lucky in that respect but I know it isn’t typical of other sectors. We recently ran a few events for our clients in technology and innovation looking at the value of women in business and the statistics in those industries of women in senior roles was quite shocking.
What advice would you give to female entrepreneurs starting out on their business journey? Be yourself, trust your instincts, stay strong, treat people well and never let your business be the detriment of your health and happiness – find your own balance!
Anne Davies, Founder of Room to Grow
In a nutshell, tell us about your business. Room to Grow is an on-line children’s bedroom retailer.
What does your typical day at work look like? There is no typical day! Every day brings it’s rewards and challenges from
working with the marketing team on new campaigns, updates from the customer
service team on our overall service and what our customer’s are saying to
working with manufacturers to develop new products.
How would you describe the ‘business woman’ side of you in three words? Passionate, disciplined, risk taker.
How would you describe your style at work? Open and approachable, I will always make time for any of the team.
In your opinion, what makes a successful business woman? Someone who is driven, who believes in their product/service, will step
outside their comfort zone and will look to different avenues if a venture doesn’t work out.
When business is tough, what keeps you going? Wine! ……and my family. They are the reason I am doing this.
Who are your female role models in business? Anita Roddick (The Body Shop) and Chrissie Rucker (The White Company).
Do you think business women are treated fairly in your industry? The furniture industry is still very male dominated and it has taken some years to be taken seriously, but I am getting there and just keep my head down. The results speak for themselves.
What advice would you give to female entrepreneurs starting out on their business journey? Believe in yourself, focus on the bigger picture and work hard on the detail. Listen to advice others have to give but ultimately you know your business best and where you want to take it. Use experts on areas you are not so strong, it will save time and money in the long run. Learn from your mistakes, it will make you stronger.
Nancy Dell’Olio , Founder of Limonbello
In a nutshell, tell us about your business. I have recently launched a brand new premium drink, Limonbello. Limonbello is a new take on the classic Italian liqueur, limoncello. Growing up in Italy, limoncello has always been very present in my life – my grandmother and mother would make their own limoncello when I was younger, and serve it after dinner parties! It was from this recipe that I created Limonbello. It is different from other drinks on the market, as it is completely sugar-free and sweetened only with natural agave syrup. It’s also completely alkaline, making it an excellent base for a variety of cocktails.
What does your typical day at work look like? I can’t say that I have a typical routine! I very rarely keep a strict schedule – variety is the spice of life! If I have meetings planned, I try to schedule them for early in the day. It’s nice to have a meeting over breakfast, and I tend to be more productive for the rest of the day. If I don’t have any meetings scheduled, I’ll spend the morning taking phone calls and replying to emails. I also like to take advantage of as many networking opportunities as I can.
How would you describe the ‘business woman’ side of you in three words? Strong, passionate and focused.
How would you describe your style at work? Very creative, and always glamourous. Glamour is much more than what you wear; it’s a state of mind. Again, this is very much dependent on what I have lined up for the day – if I have meetings scheduled I will elect for something more formal – for example, a nice tailored suit with heels. If I’m working from home, I’m far more likely to be casual, but still wearing some makeup and nice jewellery.
In your opinion, what makes a successful business woman? Passion, passion, passion! Women are so quick, and so clever. We have an innate sense of intuition that makes us much more emotionally intelligent, and this can have real benefits in business. Whether it’s knowing how to negotiate a business deal, or how to relate to your employees, there are many aspects of business that require an inherent level of common sense – which I believe business women have in spades.
When business is tough, what keeps you going? I do my best to maintain a positive mental attitude at all times, but business is tough every single day – I find even the best days can have small, but tough moments. The best thing for me is to stay cool and remember that every problem has a solution. Very few issues are insurmountable.
Who are your female role models in business? There have been many inspiring business women that I have looked up to throughout my lifetime, and it is incredible to see women breaking new boundaries every single day. Someone whom I really admire is Arianna Huffington – she has many strings to her bow, and has cultivated one of the most popular media sites in the world. I also very much admire Coco Chanel – she is possibly the epitome of female entrepreneurship and completely changed the face of fashion. Her unmitigated passion for her work was truly inspirational.
Do you think business women are treated fairly in your industry? Whilst I think things are improving, I would say we still have a long way to go before we achieve true gender equality. I feel that things are still harder for women. Many industries have become heavily male-dominated and it can be difficult for women to be taken seriously. Plus, women have to negotiate much more of a personal balancing act – particularly when it comes to having a family.
What advice would you give to female entrepreneurs starting out on their business journey? Stay true to yourself and stick with your ideas. There will always be people who will doubt you, and your abilities. But remain strong and make your dreams happen!
Sarah Barraclough, Sales Director at Skipton Properties
In a nutshell, tell us about the business you work for. Skipton Properties is a family business that builds new homes for families in Yorkshire and Lancashire.
What does your typical day at work look like? What I love about my role is how varied it is. There isn’t really ever a typical day. I can be visiting a potential development, reviewing house styles with our Creative Director or meeting with my team to discuss the build of our homes.
How would you describe the ‘business woman’ side of you in three words? Passionate, Assertive and Empathetic… but I have to add a fourth… which would be ambitious!
How would you describe your style at work? Collaborative.
In your opinion, what makes a successful business woman? Managing work and life successfully and having a husband by my side who takes on just as much as I do at home. The sharing of responsibilities enables you to focus on the tasks at hand at work without any worry of what you might have missed at home. I love what I do but I also love my two children too.
When business is tough, what keeps you going? Passion and people. Passion for what we do and the supportive team I have around me.
Who are your female role models in business? A well-known role model, but I would say Sheryl Sandberg. Her book Lean In is an inspiration for any woman in business.
Do you think business women are treated fairly in your industry? As you might imagine, women are scarce in the construction industry, so my experience of this is limited. However speaking from my own experience, the only challenge for me has been proving myself as a member of the family. My gender has not come into the equation.
What advice would you give to female entrepreneurs starting out on their business journey? Start with why you believe what you believe. I’d recommend reading Simon Sinek’s book ‘Start with Why’ and Warren Berger’s ‘A More Beautiful Question’ to really get your creative juices flowing. Once you have an idea that you can really get behind and have a set of values, which form the core of your business, you should have a recipe for success.
Amanda Dicker, Co-Founder of The Chapel
In a nutshell, tell us about your business. The Chapel is a group of hair salons that was born from a ‘eureka’ moment I had nearly 20 years ago. I felt that the environment and experience in a hair salon could drastically change how people felt about their hair, in some cases it becomes an emotional anchor. Hairdressing isn’t just down to the skill of the cut, I therefore wanted to change the predisposition that people have about getting their hair done; I wanted to remove the pressure felt by clients to know exactly what they wanted. By creating relaxing, spacious and luxurious environments and putting listening before “trend-following”, we’ve been creating timeless styles which are the visual expression of each guest’s true personality. These are some of the factors that make a visit to The Chapel not only special, but very unique.
What does your typical day at work look like? Since opening, The Chapel salons have never slumped into a predictable, comfortable routine and begun to sit still, which has been a conscious precaution and a big part of what I do. I liken The Chapel to the 007 movies, we keep that loved formula but always adapt, stay fresh and move with the times. I travel between all of the salons, a lot of the time listening to guests, salon directors, our stylists and Guest Relations team to find out what’s working best and how we can bring something new to the table. It can be anywhere from redesigning interiors, public speaking through to developing new products.
How would you describe the ‘business woman’ side of you in three words? Open, genuine, inventive.
How would you describe your style at work? My mantra would be to never have to tell people what to do, but to inspire and encourage them to be their best. I try to ensure that there’s no disparity between my role and our teams, and I’m not an authoritative boss figure but kind and approachable. I want everyone to be human-beings and not just ‘humans doing’.
In your opinion, what makes a successful business woman? A genuine desire to improve or innovate something is where the largest successes stem from. Going into business because you have a vision of how something can be improved by doing it differently is incredibly important, you have to do something you are passionate about. Everyone thought I was mad when I dismantled the traditional salon way, but I did it anyway. I never saw The Chapel as a market opportunity I just really wanted to give people a better salon experience.
When business is tough, what keeps you going? Knowing that from experience the industry is able to genuinely change lives and really make people feel amazing about themselves makes it worth pulling my own hair out at times! Luckily, I’ve been blessed by an amazing team who have never created unnecessary problems and our loyal guests understand what we do and why we do it. Things are never going to go completely to plan when you run your own business, but instead of looking at problems as something which holds you back, I try and look at everything like a valuable learning experience.
Who are your female role models in business? I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about role models in business specifically but the women who inspire me are the ones who are true to themselves. People who don’t try to be all things to all people but know their strengths but also limitations. I see the most strength in women who are willing to be vulnerable and open to discuss it. True empowerment comes from knowing yourself, forgiving your failings and accepting that you are who you are.
Do you think business women are treated fairly in your industry? I feel that I can say the hairdressing industry isn’t especially gender-led; the types of people who have made it far and ‘represent’ the industry are usually creative, artistic types that have had to work extremely hard to get where they are. In most cases these salons are driven by passionate hairstylists; not the ‘fat cat’ businessmen of yesteryear, so I’d say generally, yes, women are treated fairly. I also don’t think we should compete and compare so much. Women are built as women and men are built as men, we should be accepting of each other and encouraging of each other’s business strengths regardless of gender.
What advice would you give to female entrepreneurs starting out on their business journey? Please, firstly look after yourself and make sure you have a healthy work and life balance, it’s hard when you have the exciting and determined business drive to take your eyes off the road, but you need to live in the now and enjoy your own life too. Make sure your business is being born from experience and a hungry, natural passion – not just money-making ideas. Identify your values and what you’d like your customers to say positively about you one day – then always keep to them! Where you can, surround yourself with like-minded people and finally, it’s cliché for a reason; always see it from the customer’s point of view.
Dr Joanna Martin, Founder of One of Many and Empress
In a nutshell, tell us about your business. For some crazy reason I can’t quite put my finger on, I have two of them! And I love them – both. The first is One of Many- the fastest growing women’s leadership community in the UK. Through our trainings, coaching and amazing community, we support successful professional women to keep the every day handled so they can flourish and make the impact they feel called to make. The second is Empress- the global collective for entrepreneurial women. Our members are successful business women who are looking for a small but committed support network in which to grow their businesses, to play and to contribute. We provide business mentoring, coaching and luxury 5-star retreats for our members every year. Think high end adventure club for entrepreneurial women.
What does your typical day at work look like? It doesn’t feel very typical at present, being 16 weeks pregnant with number two – but here’s how I’m rolling at the moment. Being a speaker I have two modes: “event-mode” and “home office mode”. If it’s a home office day I’m woken by my 3 year old son for cuddles and “Mummy is it breakfast time?” I shake off my pregnancy-fueled fatigue and do the usual morning routine. Usually get into my studio by 9:30 or 10 for a half hour of morning writing and then 15 minutes planning to start every day (I have a bunch of little rituals like this that keep me sane). Then I’m creating content, meetings, working with high end clients or leading the team in some way shape or form. Generally making lots of decisions. With lots of breaks to eat & lie on my lawn since my energy is all being sapped growing a little person. I try to be done by 4:30 to spend some time with James before evening routine kicks in. And I’m collapsing into bed at 8:30pm just now!
In contrast, an event day looks quite different. I usually wake up in a hotel room somewhere. Have a room service breakfast in bed, then slowly get ready for the training ahead. I’ve recently started having a blow-dry person come to my hotel room and I LOVE the extra 30 minutes to go over notes or the presentation for the day. I arrive at the venue for a meeting with my crew then my event manager works her magic with the crew and delegates while I do my thing on stage. I usually try and have a meal with the crew afterwards (energy permitting), and then early to bed again. I’d love to be one of those 5:30am wake up and run 10 miles people, but I’m not. My exercise routine went out the window with the pregnancy! But I’m trying to be compassionate to myself.
How would you describe the ‘business woman’ side of you in three words? Committed. Loving. Visionary.
How would you describe your style at work? By nature I’m a really hard worker when it’s something I believe in. I didn’t work too hard at my medical degree- but now I’m so aligned with my purpose it’s hard not to pour everything into work. But I’ve also nearly burned out in the past. So I try to really replenish my own energy as a priority and I’m conscious of my team’s energy too. I’m generally approachable and very transparent, and once I trust someone there’s not much about me they don’t know. I tend to inspire great loyalty in my team, which is brilliant because we are deeply committed to making a global impact with our work, and that takes something.
In terms of visual style, fashion is not something I was ever particularly conscious of growing up. My Mum always said “the great thing about you Jo is you’ll leave the house wearing anything, and forget about it once you’re out.” Having said that, as a speaker, especially a woman – I’m on stage all the time and whether I like it or not being critiqued for my appearance. So- not being a natural, I’ve always sought the help of stylists over the years. I don’t much like shopping really either- so my ideal is hitting the shops for a day with someone who knows what they are doing. I am getting better as the years go by though. I think I’ve found my own unique relaxed, elegant style finally.
In your opinion, what makes a successful business woman? A woman who is clear on WHY she is in business. She is clear on HER CRITERIA for what makes her a success. She is measuring herself by her own standards and no-one else’s. She is hitting her own milestones in her own time frames. She enjoys the journey along the way.
When business is tough, what keeps you going? Having been in business for over 13 years now, I’ve had a bit of that over the years. For me what is central is my clarity of purpose. I run very mission-based companies that do something meaningful. So when the going gets tough I just remind myself WHY what we are doing is so important. The work we do not only reduces stress, it keeps women healthy, it saves marriages, it ignites social enterprise, it has a huge ripple effect. For example, as a result of participating in our Lead the Change program, one of our clients, Melanie Street-Bailey started a project to create safe homes for vulnerable adults. She has renovated and set up 14 homes (and growing) for women, and men, from refuge. Like Melanie, every woman that finds her power, is bringing hundreds of men and women along with her. Also, we have a profound partnership with The Hunger Project. So when we make a profit- we are training women in leadership skills in the developing world. These women are transforming their communities. If an illiterate woman in India can overcome social prejudices to bring water and electricity to her village, I can show up and battle legal annoyances, cashflow management and the other parts of business that I don’t love. That’s what keeps me going.
Who are your female role models in business? One is Cathy Burke. She is the Global Partnerships director for The Hunger Project. She’s just as comfortable networking with business super-heavyweights, as she is connecting deeply with villagers in Ghana. She is gifted at rapport and just being with people. Another is a woman I met on a Hunger Project trip to Bangladesh. Her name was Taslima. She was a graduate of the Hunger Project’s Women’s Leadership training. She started a self-help group in her community, and as a result over 20 women had become financially secure with small poultry businesses, or sewing businesses. My role models are the unsung superstars. The women that are quietly doing their thing to change their corner of the world. They inspire me.
Do you think business women are treated fairly in your industry? I wouldn’t say women are treated unfairly per se. But there is a dearth of powerful, well-known women speakers, and indeed leaders compared to our male counterparts. Perhaps there are some people out there who think we can’t do it as well. But I’m not sure that’s important. What is crucial is that things are changing. We are hearing a calling from the corporate world, government, across the board “we need more women here.” And this is why I believe that women supporting women is a crucial step in the journey to equal opportunity.
What advice would you give to female entrepreneurs starting out on their business journey?
- Get really clear on what YOU want. We all have a tendency to go after the goals of our mentors, our parents, our spouses. When you are crystal clear on what success looks like to YOU, then you won’t compromise. And you won’t compare yourself to others.
- Collaborate. We all need the support of others to make things happen. Whether that’s someone to help with the ironing, or someone to review the merger contracts.
- And remember, every woman who looks like she’s made it, is looking at some other woman wondering how she makes it look so easy when her life feels like chaos! You may be finding the cure for cancer, or launching your company in two new countries- but the electricity still needs paying, toddlers still wipe blackberry juice on the sofa, and drains still get blocked in every household in the world. You’re not alone. You’re One of many! Together we can change the world.
Helen Venables, MD of House of Colour
In a nutshell, tell us about your business. House of Colour is a franchise organisation that’s been offering the best personal colour analysis and personal styling services for over 30 years. It’s all about unlocking the potential of human confidence so it’s also really fun! We recruit, train and support our stylists and have the joy of seeing them grow.
What does your typical day at work look like? BUSY! I do spend a lot of time behind the computer screen but my days are usually very varied. More and more I am talking to different publications and external bodies about what we do. I also see clients – I like to be a hands-on MD and still deliver our services when I can to people. Of course I also have lots of contact with our wonderful passionate franchisees offering guidance and a listening ear.
How would you describe the ‘business woman’ side of you in three words? Energetic, Insightful and Determined.
How would you describe your style at work? I hold the big picture and collaborate with others for the detail! It’s all about having the right team. I’m not afraid to lead from the front and make courageous decisions but I always listen to opinions first.
In your opinion, what makes a successful business woman? A sense of humour and a deep passion and belief in your product or company
When business is tough, what keeps you going? I know that the House of Colour offering can be transformational and I want that for everyone. I have a personal mission to change the image of our industry and that won’t happen by staying in bed!
Who are your female role models in business? Jo Malone and Karren Brady – it’s the dedication.
Do you think business women are treated fairly in your industry? In ours yes, the image industry is dominated by women and we understand each other well because of the personality analysis we do with our clients. My regret is that currently we only have one male stylist in the company!
What advice would you give to female entrepreneurs starting out on their business journey? Believe in yourself, take every opportunity and be passionate about your product.
As you walk through the doors of our head office in York, your senses are instantly awoken by the smell of leather. This rich and earthy aroma usually lingers in the morning until the coffee machine is brought to life. Then, the wafts of leather are replaced by an equally heavenly scent: fresh coffee beans.by
As the blogosphere reaches ten years old, it’s inevitable that some of the blogger community were going to grow up and get hitched. This new generation of wife bloggers are hugely ambitious and hard-working. Although it may appear rather glamorous on the outside, juggling everyday life with a successful blog to maintain, sometimes with a day job or children to look after, is tough – not to mention the hours of editing images, late nights writing content and an endlessly full inbox…by
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