2013 October

Secrets of my Success: Dressipi

10 31 2013

Picture this: you’re trailing the high street for an outfit, the outfit for that big occasion on the horizon.  You start out enthusiastic, excited to find the perfect little number to show you off but, after the umpteenth fitting room disappointment, you start to give up hope.  Nothing looks right…  My guests today have the answer.  You need to know your Fashion Fingerprint®, your unique style DNA.  As super-busy women, Sarah and Donna got their heads together to create a free fashion advice and recommendation service for women who have little time to shop but want to look knock-out.. and Dressipi was born.  Today they share the story of their success…


Hello!  Please introduce yourself to The Glitterati Girls:

We’re Donna Kelly and Sarah McVittie, co-CEO’s of Dressipi


What has been the ‘defining moment’ that set you on the path you’re on today?  How did you get to where you are now?

Donna: The realisation that technology was an enabler for creativity. I was a journalist/producer at the time and started to use technology to create non-linear story telling. From there I got frustrated by the limitations and so got involved with building the tools and software. ..it became a passion.

Sarah: Leaving my first graduate job at USB as a Corporate Finance analyst to start my first business.  I have made many mistakes and learnt many lessons but have enjoyed it immensely and never looked back. 

With Dressipi specifically, back in 2009 Donna and I had been talking about doing something together and this was something we both thought was interesting. Donna had been working on a project with a fashion media business which formed the crumbs of an idea around helping women shop better.  I was out in New York at the time working for the company that bought my first business.  I remember going into a really trendy boutique in the West Village.  The sales assistant looked at me in horror and quickly banished me to the changing rooms. He then brought me five outfits, none of which I would have picked myself but all of which looked amazing.  I promptly bought all five and loved wearing them!  This guy didn’t even know me, yet could take one look at me and know what would look great.  It made me realise that there might just be a science to sexy and that technology was now at a point that it was likely to be good enough to deliver a really good service for our customers.  So I resigned and came back to work with Donna on Dressipi.


DressipiTell me about your vision/goals for your future.

Sarah & Donna: Our vision for Dressipi is to build a service that gives every woman confidence in what they wear and how they look. That all females carry their own unique Fashion Fingerprint® everywhere with them, on their phone or at home, which offers them personal advice and guidance putting outfits together whether they are dressing or shopping.    


What has been most effective for you in your achievements so far, in turning your goals/visions into reality?  Where do you start?

Sarah & Donna: We have both built and sold businesses before so know the hard work and pressures that are involved but we also know the fulfilment and satisfaction that comes from building something that you are passionate about! 

Although it is never easy, the most effective way to turn your vision into a reality is to have the discipline and focus to deliver on your plan and knowing each day where to put the effort of your team and yourself. Your plan obviously changes as your business and market develops so being flexible to evolution and change is important.

And one of the most critical things is to build the right team.  Accept that you cannot do everything and are probably only really good at a couple of things, then make sure you have a great team of people who share your vision and bring the appropriate skills to ensure the success of your business.  We are very lucky with our team at Dressipi.


How do you stay motivated and inspired?

Sarah & Donna:  Every day is a huge and challenging day in a growing business. It’s inspiring to work alongside a team of people who share your vision. It’s exciting to see the product evolve from nothing to something that people want and love and businesses use.  And nothing beats receiving emails from our members where we have truly transformed their low self-esteem into confidence.

Dressipi is an exciting business and we are starting to get really good traction and results. That coupled with the vision we are starting to see play out provides plenty of motivation and inspiration for the next few years.

[Tweet “”It’s exciting to see the product evolve from nothing to something that people want and love and businesses use” @Dressipi via @EmmaGwillim”] 

What has been your biggest lesson learned?

Sarah & Donna:

Starting a business is hard work, there are so many obstacles, and we have made plenty of mistakes and therefore learned many lessons. There is no overriding lesson learned but the key point is that you tend to learn from those mistakes and in doing so get better at building your business. Raising money is hard work but when you believe in something enough you learn that tenacity and passion are two of your greatest assets. We are passionate about technology, data, solving real customer problems and, as women, we also want to look lovely so, for us, it really is the perfect job!

Understanding how to work best together as founders to achieve the perfect partnership is also something worth working hard at. We have different but complementary skills and we are both driven and passionate which means there have been the occasional fireworks! But it is always with the best interests of our business at heart.


What have been (or still are) your biggest fears and challenges, and how do you overcome them?

Sarah & Donna: We have no real fears but plenty of challenges.  We are working in a fairly new space defining a new segment within fashion retail.  Bricks and mortar retailers are relatively new to technology and data and are themselves working out how best to fit them in their business structures. So one of our challenges has definitely been how best to structure our partnerships so they quickly deliver results that are in a language that is meaningful to our retail partners right now.

A couple of our challenges include convincing the retailers to work with us and to try something new for their customer base and getting the customer to create a Fashion Fingerprint to get the benefits of the service.  In both cases, these challenges are overcome by keeping the product as simple as possible and ensuring that results are visible quickly.


What do you believe is the secret of your success?

Sarah: Hard work, tenacity and building a strong network

Donna:  On a personal level, a passion for looking at problems in a new way, the persistence and adaptability to see them through and a belief in the possible. And behind every success has been a team of great, talented people.  

[Tweet “”Behind every success has been a team of great, talented people” @Dressipi via @EmmaGwillim”]

What 3 tips would you offer ambitious women reading this?


1. Do the thing that you are truly excited and passionate about – it will give you the best chance of success
2. Do your homework on the market, talk to people who will help inform your view then, regardless of what anyone says, if it feels right go ahead and do it
3. Be excellent, be adaptable and be authentic

[Tweet “”Be excellent, be adaptable and be authentic” @Dressipi via @EmmaGwillim”]


1. Make sure you are solving a real problem.

2. Make sure you believe in and are passionate about what you are doing.

3. Go for it!


What book has most inspired you?

Donna: So many, I am a reading fanatic…. Most recently The Team of Rivals, an absorbing study of how to form and manage a team of rivals for a greater good

Sarah: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

To find out more about Donna and Sarah’s business, you can check out their website or say hello on Facebook or Twitter

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Secrets of my Success: "Best Wedding Cake Designer" Rosalind Miller

10 17 2013

If you’re in the market for a wedding or celebration cake, prepare to fall in love with the prestigious Rosalind Miller Cakes.  Simply put, Rosalind Miller is the creator of edible art.  Rosalind’s background as an artist and designer, and former Graphic Designer at the feted Central St Martin’s College of Art & Design, is celebrated in each of her gorgeous designs.  Gracing the pages of leading glossy magazines and popular blogs, and a recommended supplier to Blenheim Palace, The Waldorf Hilton, The Dorchester and The Four Seasons Park Lane, Rosalind’s award-winning success is unquestioned.  I’m delighted to share Rosalind’s secrets of success…


What has been the ‘defining moment’ that set you on the path you’re on today?  How did you get to where you are now?

The first time I really thought about making cakes for a living was when I went to New York and visited Magnolia Bakery. The cupcake trend was just taking off and I noticed that whilst the cupcakes tasted great, they weren’t particularly adventurous with the decoration. That inspired me to start being creative with cupcakes and that then set me on the path to making wedding cakes.  Probably the defining moment in my wedding cake business was when I won the Wedding Industry Award for national ‘Best Wedding Cake Designer’ in 2012. This helped me gain more recognition for what I do and, since winning it again the following year, has really propelled the business forward. I think now I am where I am because I have been recognised for my own style of cake design.

Tell me about your vision/goals for your future.

We are moving to new premises very soon and hope that with the move we will be able to expand our offering, especially the Masterclass side of the business. I’d like to continue being able to design unique wedding cakes and not have to dilute the brand. However, saying that, I’d also like to be able to have my weekends back at some point in the future!

Cakes1What has been most effective for you in your achievements so far, in turning your goals/visions into reality?  Where do you start?

The most effective thing has really been sticking to what I’m good at.  I haven’t tried to replicate styles that I don’t like in order to appeal to a wider audience. This has enabled me to become better at what I do and allowed others to recognise my style. The wedding industry – the suppliers, organisations, and media – is a really supportive industry, and forging good relationships within it has also really helped. From the awards, to recommendations from other suppliers, to press contacts and coverage, the good relationships really give you the support to build your brand.

[Tweet “”I haven’t tried to replicate styles that I don’t like in order to appeal to a wider audience” @RosalindMCakes via @EmmaGwillim”]

How do you stay motivated and inspired?

I love designing something new and when I’m thrilled with a finished design it really keeps me motivated. I also love exciting projects to add variety to what we do. We recently had to design ‘the most expensive cupcake in the world’ for a Food Network event and coming up with something completely different to what we normally do was really enjoyable.

What has been your biggest lesson learned?

Always rely on your gut instinct. If something doesn’t feel right it’s probably for a good reason.

[Tweet “”Always rely on your gut instinct. If something doesn’t feel right it’s probably for a good reason” @RosalindMCakes via @EmmaGwillim”]

What have been (or still are) your biggest fears and challenges, and how do you overcome them?

My biggest challenge is to keep coming up with new designs. It’s a challenge I love but some days the inspiration just doesn’t come to you! If I’m having one of those days I have to take a break or sit and discuss it over a cup of tea with my daughter. She always tells me if she does or doesn’t like an idea and we usually come up with something good in the end!

What do you believe is the secret of your success?

Probably my background in art and design has been one of the  most important factors in helping me get to where I am today. I’m a trained designer and so this obviously really helps when designing cakes as the principle is the same. I have also tried my hand at a lot of different things, from teaching to running my own web design business, which has given me a broad perspective. I haven’t achieved everything that I want to achieve yet by a long stretch, but I know that I have the patience and resilience which I think is vital for growing your business long term.

Cakes2What 3 tips would you offer ambitious women reading this?

–       Being in business can be lonely – don’t feel that you have to do it all by yourself. There is no shame in enlisting as much help as possible from professionals and family and friends.

–       Stop thinking that everyone else is doing more/better than you. This can stifle you and prevent you from achieving your best and thinking of new ideas. A lot of people who have started businesses did so because they were good at what they do, not because they are business geniuses.

–       Never underestimate the value of good personal relationships within your industry.

[Tweet “”Being in business can be lonely – don’t feel that you have to do it all by yourself” @RosalindMCakes via @EmmaGwillim”]

What book has most inspired you?

It was Mildred Pierce by James M. Cain. I found it a really inspiring story and it gave me that extra bit of confidence to just take the plunge and go for it.

If you want to find out more about Rosalind’s business, visit her website or connect on Facebook or Twitter

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Secrets of my Success: Image-maker Sarah Ancalmo of Public Persona

10 03 2013

Earning her stripes presenting to fashion and beauty industry bigwigs. directing major commercial shoots and building websites for rockstars like Madonna, Sarah Ancalmo’s career got off to an envious start.  The inside story was a little different: Sarah quietly doubted herself and her place in her glamorous environment, and her confidence took a knock.  With a little soul-searching and drawing on her creative flair, Sarah took on a new design project: herself. With a new, authentic image, a new confidence was born… and with it a business idea.  Sarah now utilises her brand and design expertise alongside her knowledge of fashion and style as the founder of Public Persona, working with women entrepreneurs, in-person and internationally via Skype, to help them discover their unique, iconic brand style and image.  I’m so excited that Sarah is today sharing the secrets of her success…


Hi Sarah… Please will you introduce yourself to The Glitterati girls:

I’m Creative Director, stylist, designer and entrepreneur at Public Persona


What has been the ‘defining moment’ that set you on the path you’re on today?  How did you get to where you are now?

I’ve been a Designer and Creative Director in NYC for the entertainment, advertising and beauty industries for about 13 years.  For the first few years, while I felt confident and comfortable behind the computer, I felt incredibly vulnerable whenever I stepped out in front of it and represented myself, my work and the boutique design group I was working for at the time.  I was under the intense scrutiny of high-end, multi-million-dollar paying clients and I felt I looked like a kid with a baby-face.  Imagine how I felt pitching a video at VOGUE headquarters. It was a bit like a scene from The Devil Wears Prada and I was Andy, pre-makeover. 

I remember the sensation of being looked over, from head to toe. My heart would sink and the confidence would slowly drain out of my body. I felt like an imposter, and I was convinced my clients thought so as well.  I realised there was a very real disconnect between my high-level skills, my physical appearance and my confidence levels.  Whenever I felt judged, self-conscious, or uncomfortable about my appearance, I projected that: “Hi, I’m Sarah. I might have knowledge, experience, and talent, but I’m totally lacking in confidence so don’t listen to a word I say.”  I was self-sabotaging myself. 

I finally grasped that I needed to feel confident about what I was putting out there first, before other people could have confidence in me.  Not the other way around. I did some soul-searching to determine who I was and applied my intuitive knack for creative design to redesigning me—from my clothes, to my hair, to my makeup, to my body language and, in turn, my confidence grew.  The results I experienced from that point forward were AM-A-ZING.  It was my ‘aha’ moment, my experience, and embracing my own identity that led to me formally studying fashion and style and weaving that together with my creative direction and design experience to create Public Persona.  My business helps successful entrepreneurs to curate what’s incredible about their personality and business, and turn it into a noticeable, unforgettable, consistent image; one that shines through both their business brand and their personal style.

[Tweet “”I finally grasped that I needed to feel confident about what I was putting out there first, before other people could have confidence in me” @PublicPersona via @EmmaGwillim”]

Tell me about your vision/goals for your future.

If the sky’s the limit: I’d LOVE a private jet and a walk-in closet the size of Texas filled with all the latest-and-greatest. But seriously…  I’d absolutely love to be able to offer an online course that teaches women (and men) how to brand and style themselves in such a way that it’ll magnetise their ideal clients. I’d love to begin a video series of interviews and style tips.  I’d even love to teach live workshops. Secretly though, I’m extra-nervous about speaking in public so to conquer that fear while helping others look and feel amazing both on and offline would be a winning combo for me in the next year or so. 


What has been most effective for you in your achievements so far, in turning your goals/visions into reality?  Where do you start?

Three things: 

Good old fashioned brainstorming whether it be alone, with a friend, or a committee… the momentum from that always gets me revved up for a new project.  

My instincts. I’ve found that the best idea is typically the first idea.   

Not waiting until I’m ready, just jumping in.  Going in head-first always yields the best results in any creative endeavor. I think we always underestimate our ability to figure out the strokes as we go along. 


How do you stay motivated and inspired?

I thrive on experiencing and seeing new things. That’s perhaps why I’m so addicted to Pinterest. Seriously addicted.  Here’s my board.  I feel like I’m always on a quest to create something new or different, that’s what keeps me motivated more than anything.  I find that everything from modern home interiors to film noir stills to an architectural stiletto inspires me to look at and approach things in a different way.  And to mix two totally unexpected things? The unique juxtaposition is heaven for me.  If I’m really hard up for motivation and inspiration, I tend to take a field trip to an international newsstand and Toys R’ Us in Times Square. Without fail, something about looking beyond the walls of my comfort zone and then revisiting my childhood helps to reignite my creativity. 


What has been your biggest lesson learned?

Be yourself.  I LOVE what Judy Garland so wisely said: “Be a first rate version of yourself, not a second rate version of someone else.”  I think I spent way too much of my life and career thinking that I had to be everything to everyone.  I found myself a watered-down version of what everyone else wanted me to be/look/sound like. Finding and owning my own identity and embracing my own tastes, thoughts, ideas and uniqueness not only set me free but I’ve also found that it encourages others to do the same.


What have been (or still are) your biggest fears and challenges, and how do you overcome them? 

Aside from public speaking nothing gives me a racing heartbeat and sweaty palms more than the thought of losing momentum!  I have a tendency to try to get too far ahead too fast.  Sometimes I feel like starting and growing your own business is a lot like running an ultra-marathon with a moveable finish line.  It’s as though I keep meeting the milestones but then fifty new ones pop up ahead. It can be so challenging but, just like the tortoise and the hare, I’m learning that sticking to the old adage of “slow and steady wins the race” is the best way to go.

[Tweet “”Starting & growing your own business is a lot like running an ultra-marathon with a moveable finish line” @PublicPersona via @EmmaGwillim”] 

What do you believe is the secret of your success?

I don’t think I’ve truly achieved success yet but I think I owe my progress to three words: vision, strategy and drive.  The quote “vision without action is merely a dream” comes to mind as I say this.  Throughout my commercial career, I’ve pretty much reinvented myself from being a print designer to a web designer, to a motion graphics designer and fashion blogger, to a Creative Director and stylist for beauty and lifestyle brands, and now to working with amazing individuals.  When I think about what led to each of those shifts, the seed was a vision… you know, that BIG dream of where it is that you want to go. I could see it, I could feel it, I could taste it.  I would daydream about it. It felt real.  Then came a pretty clear strategy on how to get there and, of course, then the consistent drive to constantly take me one step closer.  Funnily enough, I do realise that I’ve often been described as a dog that won’t let go of a bone no matter what when it comes to achieving my goals.  I guess my mandibular death-grip pays off.  That said, I think success is not really a destination but rather a pitstop on a journey.  It seems as though each time I make it to my goal, another goal appears down the road. I think this will probably continue infinitum for me as, good or bad, I’m never totally satisfied. 


What 3 tips would you offer ambitious women reading this?

  • Keep things fresh…nothing kills inspiration like stagnation. Try to do something each and every day that pushes the boundaries of your comfort zone. 
  • Jump in, you’ll figure it out.  
  • Always, always, always be yourself.  Be Y-O-U-nique. 

[Tweet “”Always, always, always be yourself. Be Y-O-U-nique” @PublicPersona via @EmmaGwillim”] 

What book has most inspired you?

So many! I think Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach might be my all-time-inspirational fave.  It’s a great quick read about stopping living on autopilot and moving to self acceptance, inner strength, and happiness: “you have the freedom to be yourself, your true self, here and now, and nothing can stand in your way“.  This has always resonated with me which I now see has a clear correlation with what I do with women: helping them to feel great about themselves and confident, by bring their inside to the outside so that everyone can see them like they want to be seen.  Isn’t it funny how we tend to teach the things we need to learn ourselves? 

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The Wealth Files: How to spend wisely

10 02 2013

I have a to-do list as long as my arm.  Projects to do on the house.  Things I want to do for fun.  Courses I want to take to better myself.  Things I want to do to create happy memories for my family.  They all cost money.  

With funds, let’s say, finite and with aspirations high, where should you be spending your hard-earned?

1. Put a value on it: Know what’s important to you.  What’s going to get you closer to your big goals and dreams?  With a little extra cash in your pocket, what would you bring you most happiness: a family holiday to share some precious quality time OR finally giving your living room a facelift so your can make the most of your down-time together?  In your career, is your priority getting that qualification that you know would up your professional value OR do you need to extend your network and mix with mentors at more industry events so you can build your reputation.  If you can’t have it all, work out where your heart lies, which route is the best next step towards your goals, and invest there.

2. The long-haul:  Ask yourself “is it going to change my life?” when you think of your wish-list.  Is it really an investment into your happiness in the here and now, something that will get you closer to your dreamed reality in the future, OR is it a flash-in-the-pan you’re lusting after?  If it’s going to make a difference now or in the future it may well be a wise investment.  If not, it could just be a shiny penny you’re chasing: give yourself some breathing space, a self-imposed cooling off period and see if you still want/need it quite so much in the cool light of day.

3. Save, save, save: Remember – if you want to get rich, live below your means.  Think of/take a look at your spending wish-list and see it as money that you wont have made available for yourself in the future.  With a little patience, and the beauty that is compound interest, saving now could create lots more opportunities for investing in your tomorrow.

What’s on your wish-list?  Is there a big expense you know will get you closer to your goal?  Is there things on there you know, in truth, are just a fad? I’d love to hear from you in the Comments below…

Image: {1}

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