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Strong Yet Feminine Profile: Emaese Jegede of MSA Be Inspired

Posted by Sally Lane on

Strong Yet Feminine Profiles are a series of interviews, showcasing ambitious women who are striving to follow their passion. Many are working full time and pursuing their dream on the side, some have already taken the leap, and share their experiences (the good and the bad!).

Any career decision is difficult, but making a leap into a different field, in order to pursue a true passion, has to be one of the most inspiring stories. I know, for me, hearing stories like these were crucial to bolstering my confidence when considering my own change in direction.

Sally Lane Jewellery is designed for exactly such Strong Yet Feminine women…the fierceness of the edgy triangle jewellery is the perfect accessory to these confident, go get ‘em ladies...all power to you!

Emaese

Emaese Jegede, Owner of the MSA Be Inspired blog tells us how she manages her GP work part-time so that she has time to pursue her creative passions.

Is that an Aussie accent I detect?

Well done, people don’t often detect that! I was born in Nigeria but I grew up in Australia until my first year of University, then I moved to Canada to finish my first degree in biology. I was there for 4 years and then got into med school and moved to the UK. I’ve been here for 14 years now, I didn’t think I’d stay this long. So yes, my accent is a bit mixed!

So you are a doctor?!!

Yes, I’m a GP but not full time anymore. I qualified as a GP in 2012 and after that I locumed for a while. Then I got a job as a salaried GP in a GP surgery and I hated it, I lasted 7 weeks. It wasn’t a great surgery to be fair and I was finding significant clinical mistakes every day; it was one of those GP surgeries that might end up on the news for medical malpractice! After that I decided, “You know what, I’m going to take some time out and think about what I really want.” I wanted a career that was tailor made to fit my interest in medicine and my creative interests as well.

When I left GP training, I thought I was on my way to becoming a GP partner, working full time, specialising in women’s health and lots of other things. But I realised that once you get locked into that rat race mentality of what “success” looks like it’s very difficult to get out of it, and there is no energy left to be creative at the end of a week. I didn’t want to go through my life with any regrets.

So I did an Interior design diploma and a sewing course, which I loved. Then I was asked to help with make-up for my sister’s wedding; I did my best, but I knew it wasn’t great. When I got home after the wedding I started watching YouTube videos and just fell in love with make-up! From there I did a photography course, so that I could capture all the things that I created by myself. The final assignment for my photography course, involved presenting a photo essay to the rest of the class. I decided to photograph all my loves (medicine, food, arts & crafts, and make-up), and that assignment gave me the idea for my blog (www.msabeinspired.com)! I wanted to bring it all together and inspire others to be creative. I also went on to complete a formal makeup course.

I’m doing GP work 75% of my week and then I have fun being creative the rest of the week!

What inspired your interviews?

I love Oprah, she’s one of my role models and she really inspires me. She created a programme called ‘Masterclass’ where she interviewed famous people about their lives and I gained so much from watching it.  I decided that I wanted to learn from the journeys of other entrepreneurs, so I started interviewing the founders of small creative businesses and it went from there.

Were you creative when you were younger?

I think creativity was always in me, I did art up to year 10 before I went into the sciences. All throughout medical school, I would paint or draw in my spare time and that was probably the extent of it. After finishing my degree I had more time on my hands, so I started exploring and have been able to develop my creativity further. I believe that creativity resides within everyone, but you have to take steps to nurture and develop it.

So it was never a consideration to follow a more creative career?

Studying medicine was my choice and I don’t regret it, but I did come from a very academic family and I think my Dad would have freaked out if I’d said I was going become a make-up artist after I finished high school. But now that I’ve got a medical degree behind me, it feels like a luxury to choose a creative career at I’m passionate about.

What hours do you work?

I work mostly evenings and some daytime shifts. It’s nice to have the day free; you can wake up a little later or meet a friend for lunch. Life feels so much more relaxed and I feel really lucky to have that versus a 14 hour work day.

What’s next?

At the moment I’m developing a Bridal makeup look book, as this is something I really want to get into.

The blog is ticking along and I’m also working on creating YouTube videos which has been a challenge but I’m loving doing that. I want to create ‘how to’ videos (for example, how to embellish a top) and also eventually publish some of the interviews that I have conducted with creative entrepreneurs.

Medically, I’m still figuring it out. I’m not sure that I’ve quite found my home yet within medicine. General Practice is obviously broad and you can specialise in pretty much anything. I’ve always loved minor surgery, so I think that is the route I might take next. I guess it’s the more creative side of medicine!

What does that entail? Sounds intense!

You can do a diploma, which is the longer route, or you can do a short course over a few days and then work with a mentor to develop your skills before practicing independently. I’ve done it before as a trainee; it involves removing things like sebaceous cysts or ingrowing toenails, and it’s really good fun!

I’ll take your word for that!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Strong Yet Feminine Profile: Fleur Christacos of Fleur of England

Posted by Sally Lane on

Strong Yet Feminine Profiles are a series of interviews, showcasing ambitious women who are striving to follow their passion. Many are working full time and pursuing their dream on the side, some have already taken the leap, and share their experiences (the good and the bad!).

Any career decision is difficult, but making a leap into a different field, in order to pursue a true passion, has to be one of the most inspiring stories. I know, for me, hearing stories like these were crucial to bolstering my confidence when considering my own change in direction.

Sally Lane Jewellery is designed for exactly such Strong Yet Feminine women…the fierceness of the edgy triangle jewellery is the perfect accessory to these confident, go get ‘em ladies...all power to you!

 Strong Yet Feminine Fleur Christacos

Fleur Christacos, Owner of Fleur of England, shares how she followed her passion from a young age to create the business she has today, how she cut up her mum's clothes to create her first designs for Cindy (does Cindy actually help create Entrepreneurs?!) and how finances are the most important first step.

It looks like you went straight from Uni to starting Fleur of England – what gave you the drive to start your own business at such a young age?

For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to run my own business. I come from a family of entrepreneurs so that’s what we do! Designing lingerie has always been a passion of mine so creating my own business was always my end goal.

When did you first have the idea for a lingerie business and where did that come from?

At age 9 I told my parents I wanted to be a corset designer, I used to cut up my mum’s clothes to make Cindy dresses. Even back then I would always choose the light weight fabrics. Obviously, she didn’t like me doing this so we started visiting local jumble sales together so I could choose items and fabrics myself.

My nick name was Flirty Fleur so lingerie was an obvious choice!

What were your first steps, 16 years ago?

The first step was finance, and then once that had been sorted out the next step was working out how to manufacture my designs. I studied fashion marketing at university so the marketing and design is natural for me.

Female empowerment is key to your brand, tell us about your experience in business as a woman...who have been your female role models?

The lingerie industry is a wonderful industry, it is very intimate and friendly, but as with any business, you’ve still got to be tough to survive. You need to be able to communicate effectively with strength passion and compassion. I surround myself with good people who are highly skilled. My female role models would be Stella McCartney and Helen Mirren.

Both strongly feminine.

Did you ever feel like giving up and if so what spurred you on?

Yes, a few times, especially when I had the babies and I was so sleep deprived. I went back to work when my first son was 3 weeks old, very tough. My mother helped me so much; she is a strong woman who always taught me to be independent but caring. I have an amazing husband who is the best chef in the world. Having a great support network behind me really spurred me on to continue growing my business.

What has been the biggest surprise over the years?

I should trust myself over anything, my instinct is strong.

What has been your favourite moment in business?

My favourite moment to date has to be when I introduced my mother to Princess Ann when I won ‘New UK Exporter of the Year’.

What is the piece of advice you would give to anyone starting their own business?

Sort your finances out and invest in good people.

Can you nominate another inspirational woman in your network who should have their own Strong Yet Feminine profile?

Yes, Lucy Ann, she is my number 2, and my technical and production executive - I couldn’t do it without her. She is a mum too and is such an incredible person.

 

TO WIN A THE BOUDOIR SET OF FLEUR OF ENGLAND LINGERIE, A SALLY LANE JEWELLERY BEAUTY WITHIN PENDANT, AND A COPY OF "HOW TO RAISE A FEMINIST: BRINGING UP CONFIDENT KIDS WHO COULD CHANGE THE WORLD" BY ALLISON VALE AND VICTORIA RALFS, CLICK HERE

 

 

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International Women's Day - Tag your Strong Yet Feminine Inspiration to Win!

Posted by Sally Lane on

Celebrate International Women's Day by sharing your Strong Yet Feminine Inspiration!
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Strong Yet Feminine Profile: Caroline Henne, CMO of Wolf & Badger

Posted by Sally Lane on

Caroline Henne, CMO of Wolf and Badger (for 3 days a week), shares how her decision to leave a major corporate and become self-employed in order to explore multiple passions, has made her the richest she has ever been, despite earning less!

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Strong Yet Feminine Profile: Rachel Richards of The Wearer

Posted by Sally Lane on

Strong Yet Feminine Profiles are a series of interviews, showcasing ambitious women who are striving to follow their passion. Many are working full time and pursuing their dream on the side, some have already taken the leap, and share their experiences (the good and the bad!).

Any career decision is difficult, but making a leap into a different field, in order to pursue a true passion, has to be one of the most inspiring stories. I know, for me, hearing stories like these were crucial to bolstering my confidence when considering my own change in direction.

Sally Lane Jewellery is designed for exactly such Strong Yet Feminine women…the fierceness of the edgy triangle jewellery is the perfect accessory to these confident, go get ‘em ladies...all power to you!

Rachel Richards the Wearer

Rachel Richards, Director of The Wearer Ltdshares her story of how walking past a tiny jewellery shop with a ‘for lease’ sign was the spark that ignited the fire, building inside, to finally launch her own business. Plus, we talk candidly about imposter syndrome!

Sally: Tell us a bit about your career history and what lead you to this point

Rachel: I used to be a buyer for the high street for accessories and footwear. I got made redundant, two years ago, and took another role for a large retailer quite quickly and unfortunately didn’t love it. It was very corporate, with so much office politics…so intense and not a great environment. I ended up leaving without anything to go to. I’d always wanted to design my own stuff but didn’t feel I could do that immediately without anything to fall back on.

I started doing some consultancy around the corner [in Islington] for a fashion company and when I was doing that I started working on a concept for an online, London based, independent jewellery store. Then one day I was walking past at lunchtime, and saw this little jewellery shop. It was a total mess. It looked about half the size of what it does now because it was so stacked with stuff, and it had a little card in the window saying it needed someone to take on the rent. I started to think to myself: ‘Okay…I can see the potential here…nice area, already a bit of a jewellery destination, OKAY’. After thinking about it a bit further I just took the plunge and used all my redundancy money to open it which, as you can imagine, is a pretty huge step!

By that point I had already been building the concept, brand and designers for the online version, so it was just a case of putting it into the physical space. I just thought there’s not actually many jewellery shops in London that do this premium fashion jewellery. There’s a lot that do fine jewellery, a lot of the more high-street ones like Monica Vinader and Pandora, but on this level, there’s not much.

Sally: Have your friends and family been supportive?

Rachel: Everyone says: ‘Wow, you’re so brave doing this’. I don’t feel brave, I feel mad sometimes. I’m amazed at how many people think this is so impressive but to me this is not particularly impressive. It’s a tiny little shop but has the potential to be a better business and I have a long way to go.

Sally: Well I do think it is impressive. It is a very scary thing to opt out of a monthly salary and risk failure. Why don’t you give yourself more credit?

Rachel: I find I get imposter syndrome; when you just think: ‘This is rubbish, I’m not good enough to do this, this isn’t going to work’. Like when people asked me what I was going to do after I left my last job, and I’d say: ‘I’m going to open my own business’ [said pulling a very strange face and in a weird voice like she was embarrassed]. I just felt like I didn’t believe I was really going to. Like it was something I couldn’t do, but I’m here doing it. It’s so weird to have that feeling hanging over us.

Sally: Yes, that well documented female thing. I’ve only just become comfortable with answering the: ‘What do you do?’ question with: ‘I’m a Jewellery Designer’. Somewhere inside there is a voice saying: ‘No you’re not’. Why do we do that? Well at least we recognise it and continue despite it!

Rachel: I really don’t know. When I went to all these start-up events, you find all these people that are so confident in their ideas, and it puts doubt in my mind about my ideas because I struggle with confidence.

Sally: We are really very hard on ourselves, but I do think everyone is like that. It’s all a front…no one is ever as confident as they appear. The most confident appearing are usually the least! I do find myself coming back to the cliché ‘fake it until you make it’. But I apply it to my confidence, rather than my skills. Because I’m not faking it, I’m really doing it!

Apart from in real conversations like these which are helpful to others in similar situations, I try and remember that I need to emanate success always from a sales perspective. No one wants to hear that it is difficult or that you haven’t had as many sales as you had hoped.

However, it is so important that we share these emotions with other people in this start-up situation, particularly women, because everyone imagines that you go from nothing to something, and that anything in between is a failure. But the journey is the most rewarding part, and I would want to encourage anyone to take on the challenge, and know that ‘hard’ is completely normal!

Sally: Is there some one you have taken inspiration from, when things get ‘hard’?

Rachel: It’s interesting actually: I’ve made new contacts from doing this, even though I’m in the shop alone, much of the time. I’ve been trying to take advantage of free start up events and been working at Google Campus when I’m not in the shop. I met a reasonably new friend this way who’s just sold her business, doing something totally different from me(it’s a techy business). Her first business totally failed, but she’s just sold her second business which she started at 42 for a lot of money. It just goes to show that just because you fail at something, doesn’t mean that’s the end. Just keep going. She’s been really inspiring to hear from. She’s very experienced and she can say ‘I f**ked up but it’s still okay to keep going’ so knowing her is a good confidence builder.

Sally: I’m so happy you said that. I find it so often that it takes these stories to give us courage, and that is very much the point of this blog.

Sally: How has it been moving from an office to a shop?

Rachel: There are some days quieter than others and that is good because I need to get work done on my computer, but I have found being in here seven days a week, within these four walls, that my focus and drive started to wane.

I worked with a few big retailers, so I have always worked in large teams and buzzy offices. I thought working on my own and being my own boss would be amazing, a revelation, but I actually find it very difficult not having someone to share thoughts with and just bounce ideas off. Which is why Google Campus is great as you get to be around other startups.

There are days when I have had to close to go to trade fairs or to see suppliers but generally I’m just in the shop, so it has been so great to finally be able to hire another sales person to give me the flexibility to be in a work environment to focus on the business properly, especially at the weekends.

Sally: How did you find them?

Rachel: He’s a friend of a friend and he’s amazing at selling, which is a massive help. He started doing two days a week and now he’ll be doing five days a week.

Sally: Did you find you weren’t as good at selling as you imagined? Obviously, it is a very difficult skill to buying!

Rachel: The problem I have is I’m not very pushy. For me, if I’m shopping I want to be left alone because I know what I like, and I want to browse in quiet. Therefore, it doesn’t come naturally to me to tell people coming into the shop what to buy. However, I worked in retail for many years and I know that most people like to be told what suits them and what they should purchase, so he is just better at that, but it’s starting to come more naturally to me as I watch him in action with the customers.

Sally: It’s good to have someone to learn from. I am very conscious of being overly pushy with my customers, but I know that I should be more salesy than I am, sometimes. I hate to think of myself as annoying people when they are just wanting a browse!

Sally: So now you have someone on board, what is your next step?

Rachel: I’d like to focus on producing content for the website to drive SEO. I am very pleased with the look of it considering I’m not at all techy and have built it myself, but I know content is important as well as products on offer.

I’m also possibly thinking about another shop…maybe! I’d like to widen the range to other accessories, since my background is accessories. You can see I’ve snuck in some sunglasses and handbags so it’s not strictly jewellery here, but I’d love to expand that more.

Sally: That’s very cool that you’re thinking about expanding the business!

Rachel: Thinking yes…thinking.

Sally: Thinking is the first step!

Rachel: I’d also love to design my own collection one day…so much to do!

 

 

 

 

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