Inspirational Women Campaign

Has for purpose uniting women and making their voices heard.


We are delighted to share with you our interview with “Questions & Answers” with Medina WILLIAMSON, Founder of KLM Events.

Carla MARTIN: Please introduce yourself for those who do not know you yet. Kindly tell us about your background and your business? How you decided to create your business?

Medina WILLIAMSON: I’m Medina Williamson, I started my career in London in the hospitality Industry mainly working with the food and beverage sector, I built up my experience with that and then transitioned into the sales and marketing sector which led me to securing the Director of events role with five star luxury hotels. It’s here where I discovered my talent and the vision to create successful and memorable events, I realised that my passion and talents were invaluable so I decided to step out of my comfort zone and created my event management Company.

CM: What was your path to the role you have now?

MW: My path began at senior high school, I really enjoyed Home Economics, (cookery  lessons) it was here I realised that I enjoyed working with people the most  and I started to explore a career within the hospitality industry,  I pursued hospitality at catering College this allowed me the foundation to become a successful person within the hospitality industry.

CM: What does a typical working day look like for you?

MW: My day begins with setting my mindset, this often includes watching Tony Robbins clips or listening to podcasts, this allows me to clear my mind and focus on my goals, I then break down my day into how best to achieve those goals followed by my daily briefings with the team in which I ensure everyone has the right tools and information to succeed and proposals are all ready to go. Meetings with clients take a big part of a day as building and creating new relationships is key.

CM: Tell us what is your success mindset?

MW: It’s really important to me that I remind myself of my worth, I think so many women in business convince themselves that they’re not worthy of the success without sacrifice and so I consistently remind myself that the decisions I make and the goals I achieve are well deserved. I also choose wisely, this means I am selective in the people I spend my time with, the places I go, the media outlets I listen to, I see my mind as a separate entity, if I feed it rubbish it will become sick, if it becomes sick it won’t work well and I can no longer expect to achieve or be successful.

I tell myself three things; I am worthy; I am determined; and I am highly driven. When I remind myself of these things I know that I can push through any adversity.

CM: What was your biggest challenge on the personal side also business side?

MW: My biggest challenge on both the personal front and the business side was trying to be in two places at once, when I became a mother I attempted to continue as if nothing had changed in my career, I was juggling between home and business  and it was a struggle, as I never wanted to let anyone down whether client or colleague, I found myself compromising myself, my family and my work ethic, it took me a long time to learn that hard work doesn’t necessarily mean late hours at the office and that my priorities needed shifting occasionally, right now I feel that I’ve got the balance but it does take constant maintenance, I have to be mindful of the needs of both my career and family, as well as self-care, which I think is very important for balance.

CM: I would like to know what is the best advice in business you have been given? May I ask who gave it to you?

MW: I was told that I must always remember who I am, people spend decades telling you what you should do and what you should be, however on you know what you want, what is right for you and how it will work for you.  Eradicate fear and believe in yourself and most importantly, ensure you have multiple sources of income. Mr Kevin Rochay, Group Chairman of Rochay Elite taught me those.

CM: For a young entrepreneur, what advice would you give?

MW: Your business has your DNA, it should reflect your values and beliefs and know your worth! I would also say you should aligned yourself with businesses and colleagues who have the same values as your brand. Never give up even when you feel that you are in your darkest hour stand firm and keep going. Don’t beat yourself up over your mistakes, remember “to err is to be human” if you fall remember only you can define you and to learn from those mistakes and move on, swiftly with passion or drive.

CM: With everything you have achieved, what you would say your greatest achievement is?

MW: Really tough question, becoming a highly successful Director within the luxury sector of the hospitality industry is a major achievement and I am very proud of that however I must go on.

I would also add that I feel proud that I was part of history with organizing the only official Innagural ball for Barrack Obama Democratic Party in London for over two thousands guests.

CM: Who inspires you today?

MW: I am inspired by extraordinary people like JK Rowling, Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Kevin Rochay, Baroness Doreen Lawrence Helene, Darroze  Zoe Jenkins. Their professionalism drive for excellence, sense of compassion humidity with great  success , for never giving up and still find the time to give back to society.

CM: Do you have a secret talent?

MW: Well, I’ve been told my secret talent is to know who’s in the room, friends and colleagues alike jest that I am always watching who comes through the door but in my opinion my secret talent is that I can bake a cake using my hand and not a mixer, I learned this skill at college and I am very proud of it.

CM: You found your passion, in your opinion how does everyone find their own passion?

MW: Your passion is what makes you most happy, it’s a sense of achievement that comes from within that makes you feel good and hungry for more, sometimes it’s not just a calling, sometimes you have to follow that feeling and then you happen upon your calling. I truly believe you can only follow your passion not find it.

CM: If you had the power to change just one thing in the world what would it be?

MW: Poverty, I would create a mandate that all conglomerate businesses and banks had to donate a substantial % of their profits to ensure that there was never a place in the world where a child went hungry or a person had no place to call home. to say my daughter far exceeds that achievement, I soon come to realise that my vision and value in life and what it all has to offer is made clear with her, my purpose in succeeding and to carry on is ultimately to teach my daughter  then if she wants something, determination and tenacity will get her there.

CM: What was the most challenging moment in your life? And how did you manage to overcome it?

MW: The hospitality sector has a lot of routines or practices from a world we no longer live in, a lot has changed in the past 20 years and yet sometimes it feels as though Hospitality has not, as an example, when I felt my voice was no longer being heard by senior management I began to stand out because I thought differently, however it was like a square peg being forced into a round hole, I felt it was a compromise of my passion and ultimately my purpose got lost. I overcame this by reminding myself of what I have achieved both financially and in recognition through being awarded the best Banqueting team in 2012 and working in the number one hotel at the time, at the time it was a difficult decision to create my own business but it was also a testament of overcoming a challenge and realising that I have so much more to offer.

CM: From your entire professional experience, what was your most exciting project up to now?

MW: I do have so many but one that still make me smile was creating a fashion show for Emeila Wickstead at a Luxury hotel. the hotel was transformed into a runway against all odds of being constantly told this’ll not work it was a major success , I was proud because Anna Wintour attended and had a private viewing and it was shown on TV the next day. I was elated that my vision and determination was a complete success and viewed by tens of thousands around the world.

CM: What is your business current focus?

MW: My Business focus has changed, as I am sure it has for so many in these trying times, right now maintaining relationships is a very important role, and ensuring what we have to offer clients, is not only covid proof but that it empowers change to the environment and the industry.

CM: What charity do you support?

MW: Charities I Support are Sepsis UK & Prostate Cancer, this is due to the personal impacts I have had, such as the time…  my husband fell critically  ill with sepsis and this  became life changing  experience for my family .

CM: Thank you so much Medina for your time and kindness to answer my questions.


We are delighted to share with you our interview “Questions and Answers » with Mika LEAH founder and CEO of Goomi Group.

Carla MARTIN: Please introduce yourself for those who do not know you yet. Kindly tell us about your background and your business?

Mika LEAH: My name is Mika Leah and I am the Founder and CEO of two companies, the first is Goomi Group and the second is Buxxomly. I had career in advertising and marketing, with experience in event marketing and sales. My company Goomi Group provides corporate onsite & virtual wellness programs to clients nationwide in the US, and globally in Europe, Asia and Canada. Buxxomly is a radical reimagining of womens undergarments called Liftwearä Lingerie.

CM: What was your path to the role you have now?
ML: Three weeks after my 33rd birthday I was rushed into emergency heart surgery, and that was the moment that changed my life. Four procedures and five heart stents later, I call this my bonus life. Knowing life is a gift, I took a risk to start Goomi Group to give me the time with my family. It also gave me the courage to take a chance of Buxxomly and just go for it. Life is about the journey, not the destination.

CM: What does a typical working day look like for you?

ML: My day starts with 30 minute walk in my neighborhood with a friend, followed by sit ups and 15 minutes of meditation. My husband makes coffee & breakfast and we sit together sipping talking about what we want to accomplish that day. I then check emails and have a status call with my Director of Operations. After that, my day takes on a life of its own, working on both companies and getting what needs to get done, done. Work ends between 5pm/6pm to make dinner for my family. The family eats together every night and then we either watch one of our favorite tv shows or play cards & board games. My husband and I then put the kids to bed, and then we crawl into bed and talk about our successes and failures before going to sleep.

CM: Tell us what is your success mindset?

ML: I repeat positive affirmations each morning to myself for about 5-8 minutes. When things get rough, I take a 5-minute meditation break. I work hard to trust my intuition and constantly remind myself that I can do to hard things.

CM: What are the three things to take to a desert island?

ML: Other than my family (husband & two kids), I would take music, a comfortable hooded zip up sweatshirt, and my phone.

CM: What was your biggest challenge on the personal side also business side?

ML: My biggest challenge on the personal side is making my family the priority, and remembering that they need my time more than my business. On the business side, it is trusting my instincts and then listening to act on it.

CM: I would like to know what is the best advice in business you have been given? may I ask who gave it to you ?

ML: My mom asked me, “what would you do if money was no option?” And I know someone once said, Do what you love and love what you do. That is the advice I always follow.

CM: Please tell us how do you motivate yourself?

ML: I have started the practice of morning affirmations. Most of the time though, it is just telling myself to keep going, put one foot in front of the other. Then reminding myself that it is ok to take a break when I need.

CM: What is your life motto?

ML: Life is short, spend it with people you love – doing what you love, and always be grateful for what you have.

CM: What was the most challenging moment in your life? And how did you manage to overcome it?

ML: There have been so many, and I overcame them all by learning from them and changing myself to be better as a result.

CM: Who inspires you today?

ML: I find inspiration from everyone I meet, and from those I read about. People who inspire me: my grandparents, my parents, my husband, and Brene Brown, Michelle Obama, Kamala Harris, Glennon Doyle, Abby Wambach, Rachel Hollis, Kelly Clarkson, Gabby Bernstein, and the rest of the Rebel Girls from history.

CM: Do you have a secret talent?

ML: I can sail 18’ Catamarans.

CM: If you had the power to change just one thing in the world what would it be?

ML: I would have a hard time deciding between saving the environment, ending world hunger, and world peace.


CM: Thank you so much Mika for your time and kindness to answer my questions.


We are delighted to share with you our interview “Questions and Answers with Marin MINAMIYA, who scaled Everest at 19 years old”

Carla MARTIN: Please introduce yourself for those who do not know you yet. Kindly tell us about your background?

Marin MINAMIYA: Hello I am Marin Minamiya. Carla, thank you very much for featuring my story.

I am currently a university student from Tokyo. I have lived abroad due to my father’s job since I was 18 months old. While studying at my university I have become the youngest person in the world to complete The Explorer’s Grand Slam (to climb all the highest peaks in each continent and reach both the North and South poles). Currently, I am back at university studying political science and economics.

CM: What was your path to the role you have now?

MM: Growing up abroad, I yearned for a stronger grasp over my own identity. After my parent’s divorce, I decided that I was going to steer the course of my own life. At 17 years old, I wanted to overcome my own internal mountain as well as encourage more people to pursue their dreams, so I launched a project to climb Mt. Everest (as the youngest person in Japan). My dream expanded from climbing Mt. Everest to the 7 Summits and then to The Explorer’s Grand Slam. I am eternally grateful to those that dreamt this dream with me.

Once I had completed the project, I thought of what to do next. Adventure-wise, I plan to sail around the world one day. My name is Marin, so I inevitably feel destined to be at sea. Initially, I felt rushed to do this within a couple of years, but I have come to realize that there’s timing to everything and that joy/bliss is in the process, not the destination. To add a little more story and background… when I was younger, I had a conversation with my father about where we’d go after death, and in that conversation my father mentioned to me that he’d like to have his bones dispersed in the 7 seas rather than be buried. I always remembered this – I don’t see myself sailing just yet!

As a student, I feel as if I am in a long (and well needed) transit right now. Next, onto the chapter of entrepreneurship!

CM: Tell us what is your success mindset?

MM: Being goal orientated, focused, and excited. Pulling the strings of adventure and stability in harmony.

Success holds different meaning for each person. I believe, with all the varieties of experiences that life can bring – being excited now and staying excited for what lies ahead is what fuels motivation for achieving more, ultimately leading to success. Excitement isn’t a state that comes along without doing anything, but it’s a state which you actively create for yourself.

CM: What was your biggest challenge you faced until now?

MM: Creating positively affirming habits.

There have been times in the past where I could only see the chaos of this world instead of abundance and beauty. When you step into a path that leads you deeper into a worrisome mindset, it can get challenging to get out of it. Seeing yourself from a different perspective and consciously putting yourself in a positively affirming mindset/environment requires deep understanding of where you are at ‘now’. Travelling out of your comfort zone and exploring different worlds through literature are both great ways to see the world from a different point of view.

At the end of the day, there is no one else that has lived the same exact life as you, so you have to decide and create what is best for yourself in hopes that it will also bring good to others. Deciding on where the goal is and going for it requires courage.

CM: I would like to know what is the best advice you have been given? May I ask who gave it to you?

MM: Lots of great advices out there. It’s important to keep refreshing your memory on those great advices so they can quickly jump to the surface when you need them. The best way to keep them fresh is through action. As soon as you receive a good advice, make it a habit to immediately implement it to your life! That’s an advice for all advices.

CM:  With everything you have achieved, what would you say your greatest achievement is?

MM: Yet to come! Loading…

CM: What was the most challenging moment in your life? And how did you manage to overcome it?

MM: To the question asked before, ‘What was your biggest challenge you faced until now?’ – My answer was, breaking the habit of non-affirmative thinking.

I have noticed that unpleasant challenging moments arise when I give an ambiguous yes. Having a deep yes towards a goal is one thing but being committed and sharply focused is another! Being able to say no to occasions that don’t align with your goals is essential. When I spend too much time doing what doesn’t bring out joy in the long term, that eventually becomes my reality, and my mind starts producing unpleasant thoughts and visit dark places. I have had low lows and I thought I might never come out of it. It was a dark, scary, lonely place.

When you visit that dark place, every day becomes miserable. Even food stops possessing the energy to fuel your desire to live another day. At my lowest, I was going to sleep hoping there’s no tomorrow, and waking up wishing I hadn’t woken up. It was horrible. I’d lie in bed crying, thinking how this could come to an end.

This moment developed ultra-strong perseverance in me and taught me about constantly aligning my decisions with my deeper ‘yes’. Looking back, the challenging moments have broadened my capability to experience a whole new level of gratitude and joy! Getting out required consistent action to climb out of the pit, along with a clear plan and direction.

CM: From your entire professional experience, what was your most exciting project up to now?

MM: Right now! I am excited about a couple of projects which I am working on.

CM: Who inspires you today?

MM: The story makers. My role models, despite setbacks in their life, have time and again stood up to pursue their great inner calling. I am inspired by those who weave a beautiful story using time.

CM: Do you have a secret talent?

MM: Oh yes. I believe we can be talented at almost anything! Focus, practice, vision are key.

My own favorite secret talent is baking, particularly pies. Chocolate pies!

CM: You found your passion, in your opinion how does everyone find their own passion?

MM: Almost anything can become your passion, to pursue it or not, is up to you. Whether your passion blossoms into success depends on numerous factors. Timing certainly plays a big role. The people around you can influence your life in ways which you have never imagined. The main factor, is how much you can believe and create stronger ‘reasons’.

CM: If you had the power to change just one thing in the world what would it be?

MM: I am changing!

CM: Thank you so much Marin for your time and kindness to answer my questions.


We are delighted to share with you our interview “Questions and Answers with Mirjana PERKOVIC founder and CEO of LookStyler”.


Carla MARTIN: Please introduce yourself for those who do not know you yet. Kindly tell us about your background and your business? How you decided to create your business?

Mirjana PERKOVIC: I am the founder and CEO of LookStyler, a global marketplace for fashion tourism. We organize shopping and styling tours in over 70 cities worldwide. I decided to create this business after having traveled to over 100 countries and because I always loved fashion and travel. LookStyler bridges the gap by introducing high potential luxury shoppers to local luxury fashion businesses with a shopping experience designed just for them.


CM: What was your path to the role you have now?

MP: This is my second startup. I used to run a platform for customized luxury clothing.


CM: What does a typical working day look like for you?

MP: I am either traveling or I am in New York or Belgium. I love starting my day with exercise or yoga and I like to work late. I would usually spend every day of the week working on LookStyler.


CM: Tell us what is your success mindset?

MP: I believe you can achieve anything you set your mind to in life.


CM: What was your biggest challenge on the personal side also business side? 

MP: Building a successful business is a marathon not a sprint. It takes grit and survival skills to make your business work.


CM: I would like to know what is the best advice in business you have been given? May I ask who gave it to you? 

MP: I follow many successful people. I like the saying “to fail fast and not to be afraid of failure”.


CM: For a young entrepreneur, what advice would you give? 

MP: I would tell young entrepreneurs to follow their dreams and just go for it.


CM: With everything you have achieved, what you would say your greatest achievement is? 

MP: I think I have always been brave enough to flow my dreams even if all odds are against me. Being brave creates power.


CM: What was the most challenging moment in your life? And how did you manage to overcome it? 

MP: Building this business has been the most challenging and I just keep going and keep learning something new every day.


CM: From your entire professional experience, what was your most exciting project up to now? 

MP: I would definitely say LookStyler.


CM: What is your business current focus? 

MP: LookStyler. Scaling this business.


CM: What charity do you support? 

MP: I am strongly passionate about helping female entrepreneurs. I also support charities related to children or animals in need.


CM: Who inspires you today? 

MP: All successful female entrepreneurs I look up to, especially the self-made ones like Sara Blakely or Oprah.


CM: Do you have a secret talent? 

MP: I am very intuitive and I can read people well which helps in business.


CM: You found your passion, in your opinion how does everyone find their own passion? 

MP: You need to ask yourself what makes you the happiest and what sets your soul on fire.


CM: If you had the power to change just one thing in the world what would it be? 

MP: I would distribute wealth more equally.


CM: Thank you so much Mirjana for your time and kindness to answer my questions.

Sarah Anne STEWART

We are delighted to share with you our interview “Questions and Answers with Sarah Anne Stewart, founder of Awesome Inside Out Movement”.

Carla MARTIN: Please introduce yourself for those who do not know you yet. Kindly tell us about your background and your business? How did you decide to create your business?

Sarah Anne STEWART: I realized that, like myself, people don’t always need more information about what to eat or what not to eat; we are inundated with so much nutrition content, yet most people are still struggling with how they feel. I started because I saw the need for a program that focused on the mind-body connection, self-love, self-esteem, and self-confidence.

As an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach (AADP), I am trained in both diet and lifestyle changes to help improve one’s health and overall well-being. It is a collaborative experience. Together, we look at different elements beyond food that might be impacting one’s health, and their relationship with their body, and find ways to bring those areas back into balance using holistic tools and practices, like meditation, journaling, breath-work, and movement.

CM: What was your path to the role you have now?

SAS: My passion for health started as a young teen. I witnessed my father cure cancer with alternative medicine and healing foods. At 15, however, I embarked on an almost ten-year journey in the modeling industry where eating disorders consumed my life. After leaving the industry and recovering my health, I set out to heal my relationship with food and my body. After experiencing success with the mindfulness tools and practices that I had discovered, it was only a matter of time before a good friend, who was a swimsuit model, asked me to help her. From there, my practice grew mainly from referrals, and then I was able to grow my coaching practice online.

CM: What does a typical working day look like for you?

SAS: I start my day with a workout or a morning meditation. Then my team and I debrief on priorities and projects for the day. The majority of my focus is on delivering content that will educate and inspire women to shift their relationship with food into an empowering one. In between, I work with clients, and I’m also preparing to launch my new podcast, Awesome Inside Out!

CM: Tell us what your success mindset is?

SAS: One of my husband’s business mantras is “fail fast.” Most people shy away from trying new things or up-leveling their careers because they’re afraid to fail, but failing is a part of the growth process! The point is to fail fast and learn so that you understand what works and what doesn’t.

I’ve realized that failing is not a stopping point; it’s a pivot point. If you can shift your attention to what is working and what you learned, then you can use your experience to propel you forward.

CM: What was your biggest challenge on the personal side also the business side?

SAS: I think the biggest challenge for any business, and what determines your success is consistency. I have learned that consistent effort is the only way to be successful as an entrepreneur. Consistently engage in activities that will generate visibility for you, spread your message, and share endless value with others. For me, this means showing up every day to do interviews, speaking engagements, podcasts, blog writing, social media posts, etc.

CM: For a young entrepreneur, what advice would you give?

SAS: Be willing to pivot! In my first attempts at creating a business, my services were primarily preventative; I helped women with the nutritional aspect of preventing chronic illness. I learned the hard way that prevention is not what most people are seeking. People didn’t need (and still don’t need) more nutritional advice. What people need help with is how to make these lifestyle changes stick and improve the way they feel!

So I made a pivot by doing some research. I created social media posts asking women who had recovered from eating disorders to share their stories with me. I wanted to know how it was that they healed their relationship with food, what was the missing link for them, and what they wished someone would help them with. The overwhelming amount of responses that I received helped me create a much-needed service around the emotional and spiritual aspect of weight loss, which is missing from most diet programs.

CM: With everything you have achieved, what would you say is your most significant achievement?

SAS: I’m just wrapping up editing for my first upcoming book! It will be published next fall by Hay House. Writing this was quite a journey, but I’m excited to leave my mark on the world of health and body positivity.

CM: What is your current business focus?

SAS: I’m getting ready to relaunch my new and improved eight-week course, Fire Your Diet, as well as my brand new 21-day meditation program for women who are prepared to upgrade their health: body, mind, and spirit.

CM: What Charity do you support? 

SAS: I support Charity: Water, which is a nonprofit organization that brings clean and safe drinking water to people in developing countries.

CM: Who inspires you today?

SAS: I’m surrounded by an inspirational group of women in business who I’m grateful to call my friends- Ashley Stahl, Libby Crow, Layla Martin, Alyssas Nobriga, Alexi Panos, Sahara Rose! They continuously inspire me to stretch beyond my limits and continue showing up in more significant ways.

CM: Do you have a secret talent?

SAS: I don’t know if this counts as a hidden talent, but I’m secretly a research nerd! I’m always keeping up to date with the latest in health and wellness.

CM: If you had the power to change just one thing in the world, what would it be?

SAS: When I look at the ocean of posts, advice on body image, and food, I wish I could wave a magic wand and get rid of the diet culture. I wish I could remind everyone that we all desire the same thing: love. Love for ourselves and love for each other.

Two out of three women struggle with their relationship with food and with their bodies. That’s a staggering percentage! As a workshop leader, I’ve asked attendees to close their eyes and raise their hands if they’ve ever had unhealthy and uncomfortable thoughts about food and their bodies… and I’ve seen every single hand go up. I have met women who claim they rarely ever think about their weight, and then, all of a sudden, their wedding rolls around and “wedding detoxes” and “bridal boot camps” take over. I strongly believe this impacts all women at some point in our lives.

If you’re navigating through your health journey and struggle with body image, remember that you are not alone. Struggles with body image and eating disorders do not discriminate. No matter our story, background, profession, education, socioeconomic status, or ethnicity, we face internal struggles, and we’re all striving to love others and ourselves.

CM: Thank you so much Sarah for your time and kindness to answer my questions.


We are delighted to share with you our interview “Questions and Answers with Nathalie SEILER-HAYEZ” General Manager of BEAU-RIVAGE PALACE Lausanne.

Carla MARTIN: Please introduce yourself for those who do not know you yet. Kindly tell us about your background and your business?

Nathalie SEILER-HAYEZ: I have been working and managing luxury hotels since 1995 from Hong Kong and New York to Paris and London and now Switzerland.

Currently I am the General Manager of the Beau-Rivage Palace in Lausanne, an amazing property with 400 employees, 4 restaurants, 168 rooms, a beautiful spa.

CM: What was your path to the role you have now?

NSH: I used to work in sales and marketing, which helped me to better understand the needs of our guests and where our revenue is coming from. Then, I realized how much I enjoyed being part of a team and managing, developing people.

CM: What does a typical working day look like for you?

NSH: In hotel business you never know… but I usually start my working day at 7h45. I often run before work for 45mn…then I have lots of different reports to read as our hotel is open 24/7 so you need to understand what has happened the evening/night before. Then I have lots of different meetings with staff, guests, suppliers etc… you have to work on your strategy and at the same time you have to make sure your operation is going on well. You deal with revenue management, PR, sales, Marketing, Finance, technical issues, lots of HR…, interior design projects, food concept, sustainability, wellness concept, restaurant/bar innovation etc… There is no routine… it’s very intense but fabulous if you are passionate.

CM: Tell us what is your success mindset?

NSH: I am always very positive and focused on objectives.

CM: What was your biggest challenge on the personal side also business side?

NSH: Finding the right balance between your job and your professional life is essential. My biggest challenge is to find time for myself which is key if you want to be able to give.

CM: For a young entrepreneur, what advice would you give?

NSH: Believe in yourself, work hard and build your network.

CM: With everything you have achieved, what would say your greatest achievement is?

NSH: “Being happy” … and also finishing the NYC marathon!

CM: What was the most challenging moment in your life? And how did you manage to overcome it?

NSH: September 11 2001 while I was living in Manhattan, I saw the plane crash from my office window then the first building collapsed.

I understood that we should cherish every moment of our life

CM: From your entire professional experience, what was your most exciting project up to now?

NSH: Opening a hotel in Bordeaux was an amazing experience.

CM: What charity do you support?
Make a Wish and Planete Enfants Malades, both dedicated to children.

CM: Who inspires you today?

NSH: So many people…

CM: If you had the power to change just one thing in the world what would it be?

NSH: No more unfairness.

CM: Thank you so much Nathalie for your time and kindness to answer my questions.


We are delighted to share with you our interview “Questions and Answers” with Fiona GRAYSON founder of She can. She did.

Carla MARTIN: Please introduce yourself for those who do not know you yet. Kindly tell us about your background and your business? How you decided to create your business?

Fiona GRAYSON: I’m Fi and I’m the Founder of She can. She did. which is a platform that I launched in August 2017, that puts the spotlight on women in their teens, twenties and thirties who’ve dared to go solo and launch their own businesses and asks them to open up about absolutely everything they’ve been through behind the scenes to get to where they are with their businesses today. My lightbulb moment for She can. She did. came on April 26th 2017 when I was out in Boston with my old job – I used to produce large finance conference around the world and had done so since I graduated from uni in 2013. I woke up in my hotel room the day after the conference, checked my emails first thing as you tend to do and read a work email that made me realise that I was officially ready to leave (I am so grateful for my old job and loved it for the first couple of years as it gave me so many incredible opportunities but the day-to-day reality of the job wore off after a while and I knew that I didn’t want to stay there forever). I remember screenshotting the email and sending it to my big sister back home saying something along the lines of, ‘I don’t know if I can do this anymore!’ (terribly dramatic, I know..!) and she replied straight away saying, ‘do you know what Fi? You’ve been saying this for a while, just quit. I know you, you’ll figure it out’ and I realized in that moment that she was right. I’ve always worked hard – through school, uni and in my career – and it just became more and more apparent that I hadn’t worked as hard as I had to end up in a job that I was no longer happy in so I decided then and there that when I got back to London, I’d hand my notice in. I then had a whole day to kill in Boston so decided to visit the Harvard University Campus (being the hardcore Legally Blonde fan that I am..!). It was a two hour walk from my hotel and I remember the whole way there, just trying to figure out what I was going to do if I quit my job.

I’d started to notice that there were more and more young women launching their own businesses in the odd article that I’d read/ seen a few pop up on Instagram and had always seen myself running a business one day but had always presumed that I’d do it later down the line. However, I remember stopping for coffee on the way to Harvard and Googled ‘women under the age of 30 who have launched their own business in the UK’. Long story short, various articles popped up with glamorous titles like ’23 women under the age of 30 bossing life’ but all these articles offered me was a list of incredible women with big glossy photos and maybe a paragraph or two highlighting everything they’ve achieved. If I was going to quit my job and look to launch a business, I wanted to know everything these women had pushed through behind the scenes and sacrificed en route to get to where they were today. My parents had both launched their own businesses when I was around ten, so I’d grown up in a household where I witnessed first-hand how much goes into launching your own company so knew it wasn’t as easy as some of the articles I’d found and some Instagram feeds where making it out to be. By the time I eventually got to Harvard therefore, I just decided that I was going to treat She can. She did. like a project initially, reach out to the women that I’d stumbled across and ask them if they’d be willing to open up about every single thing they’d had to face both in-front of and behind the scenes to get to where they were today and I’d then share their more realistic stories online, for young women, like me, who wanted to launch their own company but had no idea where to start. With that, I went back to London, handed my notice in, worked my three months notice of course, and started She can. She did. on August 7th 2017!

CM: What was your path to the role you have now?

FG: She can. She did. started by me reaching out to young, female business owners that I admired, filling them in on what I was trying to achieve with She can. She did. and asking them if they’d be interested in me interviewing them in detail about everything they’ve had to face since day one of their business. Fortunately they said “yes”, and so it very much started with me driving around the UK to meet them, I’d put my phone on record and record our whole chat and I then typed up the interviews pretty much word for word so that they were as down to earth and conversational as possible, before sharing them on She can. She did. each week. After about a month, women started reaching out with their stories and gradually it just grew from there… About ten months in, I bought my events background in by introducing The Midweek Mingles which are really down to earth networking events for female business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs that started in London and now take place in multiple cities around the UK (and feature a whole lot of amazing women, gin and a whole lot of goodies!) Then about a year ago, an idea popped into my head that will form the long-term business idea for She can. She did. which is based on recurring challenges that I saw pop up in every interview along with my own experiences as a female business owner, so for the past year, behind the scenes I’ve been researching that in more detail and am looking to get the bigger-picture plan for She can. She did. off the ground in the coming months…

CM: What does a typical working day look like for you?

FG: Typically, I wake up at 6.30am and exercise straight away to set me up for the day – be it a run around the local nature reserve or a HIIT/Pilates work out, exercise is something that I swear by for my own mental and physical wellbeing! I then head to my parents each day to escape my flat, make myself a giant coffee and sit down at my laptop for the rest of the day! Usually, I’ve answered most emails by 10am and then spend the rest of the day either editing podcast interviews, planning The Midweek Mingles or working on the long-term business plan. I’m also in London most weeks interviewing for the podcast/ meeting up with female business owners/brands that have reached out to go for coffee which is always nice! Then of course, if it’s an event day, I usually spend it packing my Mum’s car with all of the goody bag items and event signage, road tripping to whichever city we’re hosting it in, setting up with my amazing team of volunteers before spending the night hosting each event and mingling away throughout the night (with a giant G&T in hand of course!)

CM: Tell us what is your success mindset?

FG: For me it boils down to reminding myself that anything is possible if you work hard enough and believe in yourself enough to achieve whatever goal you’ve set your sights on achieving. Ever since I was little, my parents have always told me that I can achieve whatever I set my mind too if I put the work in so for me, it’s just a case of reminding myself of that. No one that I admire got to where they are today without putting the work in and pushing through when they experienced setbacks so for me, success is a game of resilience, grit and determination.

CM: What was your biggest challenge on the personal side also business side?

FG: On the business side, it’s been cash flow or a lack of at some points which can always prove challenging so learning to juggle that has been testing at times. On the personal side, there have been so many challenges! Walking away from my old salary was incredibly tough to begin with. I’m used to it now but my whole lifestyle changed drastically when I launched She can. She did. and everything from eating out, my social life, shopping, buying daily coffees etc… all stopped over night because I didn’t earn anything from She can. She did. for ten months and my savings went solely on my mortgage and bills and putting petrol in my car so that I could travel to interview each Founder. I also went through a really tough time in my personal life earlier this year where ordinarily, I would have loved to have taken a good few weeks off but that’s not always possible when you run a business so putting on a professional hat on and trying to focus and push through during that time was really hard too. I always think challenges like that make you stronger in the long run though and I can look back now and feel so proud of myself for everything that I achieved during that time (even if it did feel completely shit at the time!)

CM: I would like to know what is the best advice in business you have been given? May I ask who gave it to you ?

FG: There’s so much amazing advice I’ve been given by the women that I’ve interviewed so it’s hard to pick just one so instead I’ll offer a quote from Michelle Obama: “when they go low, go high!” I swear by it and think it’s so empowering for day-to-day life in general but especially when it comes to some of the challenges that running a business can throw your way.

CM: For a young entrepreneur, what advice would you give?

FG: There’s so much advice I’d try and offer (I’ve written down a lot of lessons that I’ve learned en route down on the website) but in general, I’d say start sharing your idea with people you trust, start with little baby steps (whilst keeping your ‘why’ in mind) and you’ll be surprised by how quickly things can snowball. One person might know another person or suggest an idea that sparks another idea and before you know it, your idea suddenly has legs – even if they’re little legs to begin with! I’d also reiterate the fact that those people you trust become your safety blanket and they’re invaluable as your business grows so look after them because they’ll be looking after you. At the beginning, you’ll have so many people that are willing to support you and cheer you on but I wouldn’t be surprised if there are also a few people that respond to your ideas with a lack of enthusiasm or doubt you/respond with cynical remarks. To that I say, just keep reminding yourself of why you’re doing this and take those comments with a pinch of salt. So long as you are sure of your idea and know that you have a few people that you love and trust that you can turn to when you face any setbacks, you stand in good stead to succeed if you’re willing to put the work in.

CM: With everything you have achieved, what you would say your greatest achievement is?

FG: I’m really proud of the community that She can. She did. has attracted and created. From the women that reach out and message when the podcast episodes go live each week, to the women that turn up to support and network at each of The Midweek Mingles, I’m often sent messages about how inspiring and lovely the women that I feature are or how inspiring and lovely the women at each of the Mingles are and I’m really proud that She can. She did. has created a space for those women to come together and share their stories.

CM: What was the most challenging moment in your life? And how did you manage to overcome it?

FG: I’m still going through it right now I think! I went through a really painful break up at the start of 2019 that really threw me off course emotionally this year so learning to stand on my own two feet again and run and grow this business into the business that I believe it can be without my ex by my side has been really tough. We ended on good terms but he was there from day one of She can. She did. so learning to do this all without his support and when I don’t feel 100% myself has been really hard. In terms of how did I overcome it, I’d definitely say it’s a work in progress! For me, just taking each day as it comes and trying to remember that I achieved a whole lot on my own once upon a time before I met him is my current plan! I’ll keep you posted..!

CM: From your entire professional experience, what was your most exciting project up to now?

FG: For me, it’s working on the long-term plan for She can. She did. It’s currently all happening behind the scenes (I’m hoping to be able to reveal it all soon) but working on that idea and seeing it develop day by day is so exciting as I genuinely believe that it will transform She can. She did. into the business that I think it has the potential to be and provide so many female business owners with a  whole lot more than I’m currently offering them! It’s teaching me things and challenging me on a daily basis but I’m so passionate about it that it’s all just proving to be really exciting!

CM: What is your business current focus?

FG: Getting said business idea for She can. She did. off the ground and getting to work on the September Midweek Mingle roadshow!

CM: Who inspires you today?

FG: I’m inspired by all of the women that I’ve interviewed so far because not one of them has had an easy ride to get to where they are today. They’ve all had to grit their teeth and overcome or in some cases, continue to battle through a number of challenges to achieve their goals and anyone that is willing to work hard for what they want is worthy of respect in my opinion (so long as they’re nice with it!). I’m also inspired by women like Michelle Obama – especially after reading ‘Becoming’ – Whitney Wolfe, Sophia Bush etc… So many women!! I could list them for hours!

CM: Do you have a secret talent?

FG: I’d like to think I’m a half-decent cook when I want to be! Cooking is one of my ultimate switch offs because I can get creative and don’t feel like I need to think all that much when I’m cooking something up! My friends and family will also tell you that I’ve got a secret talent for how much I can eat… my appetite is abnormally large! It’s quite impressive if I do say so myself!

CM: You found your passion, in your opinion how does everyone find their own passion?

FG: Work out what you love doing – be it talking to people, being on your own locked away, drawing, cooking, looking after animals etc…. write a big list down and get creative with it. If it doesn’t lend itself naturally to an obvious career, create your own career from it yourself!

CM: If you had the power to change just one thing in the world what would it be?

FG: I’d stop animal cruelty – from poaching, deforestation to general neglect and everything else in between, cruelty to animals makes me so angry so I’d 100% put a stop to that outright if I was given a magic wand today.

CM: Thank you so much Fiona for your time and kindness to answer my questions.

Instagram: @shecanshedid

Twitter: @shecanshedid


We are delighted to share with you our interview “Questions and Answers with Daisy KNATCHBULL”, founder of The DECK London.

Carla MARTIN: Please introduce yourself for those who do not know you yet. Kindly tell us about your background and your business? How you decided to create your business? And what was your path to the role you have now?

Daisy KNATCHBULL: I have always had an interest in fashion, and from a young age worked within different roles in the industry, whether that was fashion journalism, styling or PR. I worked for the Fashion Director of the Sunday Times Style before moving to Huntsman for just over 3 years and becoming their Communications Director. I was lucky enough to be the first women to wear top hat and tails at Royal Ascot in 2016 whilst working for Huntsman and it was the reaction of the women and the press that made me realise there was a serious demand for women that wasn’t necessarily being met in the same way it was for men. It has never been a better time to be a women and things needed to change and so The Deck began – a business for women that understands the needs and wants of today’s females and empowers them through one of the greatest forms of expressionism – the way one dresses.

Sitting between the contemporary and the classic, the Deck provides today’s women with an unparalleled experience of craftsmanship, quality and fit whilst embracing modern femininity. The Deck’s ethos lies in the belief that no two women are the same and the made-to-measure offering embraces that. Providing uniquely tailored pieces with hundreds of cloth, lining, button, and monogramming choices, to satisfy any whim, for any women. Our made-to-measure offering starts at £2000 and includes two fittings (conducted in store) to create one’s unique suit or separates. Although based in London and offering an in-store experience, The Deck will be carrying out trunk shows to the US towards the end of this year to visit the many clients overseas.

CM: What does a typical working day look like for you?

DK: We have a lovely atelier amongst the hustle and bustle of the Kings’ Road below the wonderful Baar and Bass at 336 Kings Road. Our shop opens at 10am and closes at 7pm and can be open on weekends or later should a client wish. We also have the ability to see clients in their homes and offices. A typical day involves fitting with clients, meetings with press, editors, potential clients, potential partners. We have been so busy for which I am so grateful and I have a fantastic team that supports me on the journey of building the business and ensuring we reach as many amazing people as possible. My day always begins and ends with meditation which I think is an essential addition to my life and being able to build and run the business in the way I do.

CM: Tell us what is your success mindset?

DK: Don’t let fear of failure hold you back, always listen to your consumers’ needs and shape the business alongside that, and always try to get a good work/life balance.

CM: What was your biggest challenge on the personal side also business side?

DK: Starting your own business, particularly without a co-founder can be an incredibly lonely experience and a side that isn’t talked about enough. It can definitely come as a surprise when you realise its not always as glamorous as its cracked up to be. I think also ensuring your business doesn’t completely control your life and still managing to keep up with your friends and family and make enough time for them is a challenge but an important thing to stay on top of!

CM: I would like to know what is the best advice in business you have been given? May I ask who gave it to you?

DK: Hiring your team is one of the most important decisions you will ever make so do it right and always delegate where you are weak.

CM: For a young entrepreneur, what advice would you give?

DK: You can’t please everyone! I think this is such an important thing to realise not just for friends and family but suppliers, colleagues and clients!  Also starting your own business will always come with its challenges. The highs are really high and the lows, very low. But it’s all apart of the process and thats what makes it so exciting.

CM: With everything you have achieved, what you would say your greatest achievement is?

DK: Leaving the security of a great job and salary to pursue my dream is the hardest but best decision I ever made.

CM: From your entire professional experience, what was your most exciting project up to now?

DK: Building this business of course! It is the most fantastic feeling when you are so passionate about something and then have the privilege of being able to actually do it and make it happen.

CM: What is your business current focus?

DK: To get as many wonderful women as possible in my suits and feeling stronger, more confident and happier for it! Lots of exciting things to come though so keep an eye out.

CM: What charity do you support?

DK: There are a few causes close to my heart – particularly those surrounding mental health, cancer in children and young people and gynaecological cancers in women. CLIC Sargent, James’s Place and Lady Garden are my go to.

CM: Who inspires you today?

DK: Lots of amazing people from Tory Burch to Ralph Lauren, Jo Malone, Mo Gawdat, Lauren Hutton and many more!

CM: Do you have a secret talent?

DK: I have an amazing memory for retaining random information (and a sort of short term photographic memory) for things such as the states of America in alphabetical order, the Kings and Queens of England in order of reign, every capital of the world (at one point), and many other random facts.

CM: You found your passion, in your opinion how does everyone find their own passion?

DK: I think it’s important to always have a dream. Wether thats small or big – something you can chase and to know that if you truly believe in something and want to make it happen, anything is possible. Dont be scared to leave your comfort zone and ask yourself everyday ‘what would you attempt to do if you couldn’t fail’. It changes your whole perspective on things. Fear stops us form doing so much.

CM: If you had the power to change just one thing in the world what would it be?

DK: Resolve all mental health issues – something that affects 1 in 3 people globally.

CM: Thank you so much Daisy for your time and kindness to answer my questions.


We are delighted to share with you our interview “Questions and Answers with Ana Paula TEDIOSI, founder of Birdhause”.

Carla MARTIN: Please introduce yourself for those who do not know you yet.

Ana Paula TEDIOSI: I was born in Brazil and grew up in Bellinzona, Switzerland. I studied Pharmacology at the University of Geneva between 2003 and 2008 and then moved to Zurich for work shortly after completing my studies. After a few years working in pharmacies, I began my career in the pharmaceutical industry, a sector where I still work to this day.

As an active member of Zurich’s Professional Women’s Community, I am part of the feminist NGO Professional Women’s Group of Zurich. I was elected to the executive committee in 2014 and have been the organization’s President since 2018. Recently I became the owner of the first women Club and workspace in Zurich, BIRDHAUS.

CM: What was your path to the role you have now?

APT: Volunteering for 5 years in a female NGO focused on professional networking, has make me understand that my mission is to help women develop their professional life. In a NGO we work for the cause therefore the gratifications come out of the results. For me there is nothing more rewarding then to see woman moving forward with their professional life thanks to the effort of the organization I’m leading.

CM: What does a typical working day look like for you?

APT: Difficult to say. Currently I have 2 jobs. I work for a pharmaceutical company, where I have a very corporate career which I really enjoy; then I work two days for Birdhaus Social, which I consider my mission. My days are busy with meetings, interesting discussion, family activities to take care of; so every day is totally different, I love it!

CM: Tell us what is your success mindset?

APT: Everyone knows that mindset is key. I strongly believe that a positive and uncomplicated approach to life is the best. I do not duel too much on problems and I focus on solutions and I always find a way to laugh in every situation.

CM: What was your biggest challenge on the personal side also business side?

APT: From a personal point of view, the challenge is to dedicate enough time to me and to my family. I want to spend quality time with my kids and my husband and therefore I have to cut down time from work. From business prospects, in this moment I jungle between two jobs. I have two completely different roles, which is tough but I really enjoy it; the challenge is to remain focused on my projects and provide quality work to both companies.

CM: I would like to know what is the best advice in business you have been given?

APT: Being very new in the entrepreneurial life, I receive advice from everyone I’m interacting with. Most of the people tell me to take it slowly and move forward step by step. I have to remind me this tantrum every day.  We always want to achieve more, therefore we need to work harder every day and this can lead to unnecessary pressure and stress.

CM: For a young entrepreneur, what advice would you give?

APT: To anyone who starts a project, whatever this could be, a new business or a NGO, I always recommend to firstly take good care of yourself. Your body and mind are crucial for the success of your projects and no one other then you will take care of yourself. Healthy lifestyle, enough sleeping hours and positive mindset are the fundamental components of success.

CM: What was the most challenging moment in your life? And how did you manage to overcome it?

APT: I think I’m in the middle of it. Two jobs, family, private life to enjoy, this is the most challenging time of my life so far. I take every task as it comes, and if I don’t have time to do it now, it will wait. The challenge is to be ok even if there are thousands things to do’s waiting for me.

CM: What is your business current focus?

APT: Birdhaus Social is not just a co-working space, is a lifestyle.

Birdhaus is a beautiful and smart space where women can grow professionally, take care of themselves and take care of their tribe while having sustainable behaviors.

Women who join Birdhaus look for a place where they can be their true self. In the Birdhaus tribe women feel empowered, productive, healthy, fulfilled and they support each other to succeed.

CM: What charity do you support?

APT: I support several charities who focus on supporting women and girls. One of them is Hemlata (, which support Indian girls coming from difficult situations to get high level education and raise from poverty. I also support a Swiss Organization OuverTür ( who helps refugees and immigrate to integrate in Switzerland.

CM: Who inspires you today?

APT: I don’t have one specific person in mind. Every person who works to making the world a better place is an inspiration for me. I like people who are driven from a good causes and work hard to achieve them.

CM: You found your passion, in your opinion how does everyone find their own passion?

APT: I’m convinced that everyone has his own passion, some people just don’t give it this name and they think they don’t have it. Everyone has something that motives them, something that makes them happy and fulfilled. It can be climbing mountains, helping Panda’s to survive or singing. I’m also convinced that not all us can live out of our passions. Sometime it has to remain a side hustle, or a hobby, and we have to accept it.

CM:  If you had the power to change just one thing in the world what would it be?

APT: Achieve genre equality, of course!

CM: Thank you so much Ana for your time and kindness to answer my questions.

Diana WANG

We are delighted to share with you our interview « Questions and Answers » with the Business Woman Diana WANG, CEO and Creative Director of Diana Wang Fashion Group.

Carla MARTIN: Please introduce yourself for those who do not know you yet. Kindly tell us about your background and your business? How you decided to create your business? 

Diana WANG: I’m Diana Wang, a couturier and also a girlboss. I was born in 1990, Shanghai, China, and educated in London and Beijing. The CEO and designer of Diana Wang Fashion Group, we developed from Couture women swear into shoes, accessories, bespoke menswear and Lifestyle products.

I started designing and tailoring from kindergarten, so to create my own fashion brand is almost like meant to be.

CM: What was your path to the role you have now? 

DW: Before I started my brand Diana Wang, my first career was a fashion and beauty TV show producer and chief editor, I created it when I was 20 years old, studied in The Central Academy of Drama, Beijing, China.(The school is the first theatre higher educational institution of the People’s Republic of China)So I am actually the youngest TV producer in China. I got experience about marketing and how to build up a team, and also how to manage my time between studying and running business.

I was invited by the British fashion Council to show my women swear collection during London fashion week in 2014, and I decided to start my brand in the same time. We started to cooperation with top brands like Chopard since 2016, we had fashion show and VIP events in shanghai, Hong Kong, Beijing, London…In 2018,my brand made agreement with the most famous department store Harrods, providing the most excellent design and service to our clients with their beyond team. I also cohosted their global events, luxury of rarity with their Manager Director Mr. Michael Ward.

CM: What does a typical working day look like for you?

DW: I’m an early bird, so normally I wake up at six, I go through with business numbers, both retail and online business, exchange ideas with my China and UK team, meeting with clients and press, working with my tailor team to ensure the flawless finishing for every order.

Before my fashion shows, you’ll only find me in my atelier , from 8 to 8,I personally involved in every process of design and production since day 1,I guide my tailor team on every detail, every look. I also have meetings with my marketing and PR team to ensure the highest VIP experience to all of my clients.

CM: Tell us what is your success mindset? 

DW: In short words, ‘LOVE’ and ‘Bravery’, which also my brand slogan. Have patience and do our best every day to be the best version of yourself.

CM: What was your biggest challenge on the personal side also business side?

DW: The personal side, is to balance my personal life and also taking care of my healthy, because I always traveling between EU and China. I decided to do a 12 weeks challenging, including work out at least 1 hour every day, and only eat healthy food, tomorrow is my 5th week, and I never feel better. I highly suggest everyone to put their soul and healthy first.

The business side is to be the designer and also the business manager, we haven’t took any investment yet, so I have to ensure my brand keep growing every day, especially in our key markets, which are London, Hong Kong, and Beijing. And also a clear luxury brand image.

CM: I would like to know what is the best advice in business you have been given? 

may I ask who gave it to you? 

DW: A number of outstanding businessman and professors!

In pursuit of a success business, we have to keep our feet on the ground and play your strengths.

CM: For a young entrepreneur, what advice would you give?

DW: Life is a long journey so never ever let the past limited you or define who you are, the failure only valid if you stop trying,learn from all the experience and keep trying until you make it happen.

CM: With everything you have achieved, what you would say your greatest achievement is?

DW: I always feel grateful that I can explore my 20s on the world stage, my brands had lots of highlight moments like had fashion shows with Chopard high Jewellery all over the world, A-list celebrities wearing my design, win 30 under 30s entrepreneurs, but so far I would say is appointing by Harrods beyond team, Harrods had been my favourite department store since 12 years old.

CM: What was the most challenging moment in your life? And how did you manage to overcome it? 

DW: I would say to build up a high-end luxury brand in another country, had no network or other support back to that time.

I believe I can make my dreams come true, I am a very determined and diligent person since young, but I have to say, without people who love and believe in me, my brand won’t grow so fast. Love always is the answer.

CM: From your entire professional experience, what was your most exciting project up to now?

DW: It’s my next collection inspired by Dali’s art work—Lady Godiva, and we will have a pop-up in Hong Kong this coming November.

CM: What is your business current focus?

DW: I’m focusing on the next collection, and continue to secure our luxury retailers in key markets like UK and China and also developing out DW lifestyle products online.

CM: What charity do you support?

DW: Me and my family have supported a number of charities over the years, I’m in the community of Caudwell Children, the float with butterfly charity ball. I personally very passionate about education charities, I joined in teach for China and went to one of the poorest area in China to teach English in primary school when I graduated from university, ‘teach for China’ is a program to help poor children to get proper education, I truly believe education is one of the most important thing in our life, especially in our early years, it is the key to change people’s life.

CM: Who inspires you today?

DW: Those outstanding women like Amal Alamuddin Clooney,Victoria Beckham,their fashion attitude and professionalism always inspires me.

CM: Do you have a secret talent?

DW: I have many, haha, but if I tell you that won’t be my secret anymore.

CM: You found your passion, in your opinion how does everyone find their own passion? 

DW: Keep looking until you find it, practice until you are good at it.

CM: If you had the power to change just one thing in the world what would it be?

DW: I’m someone believe in the world has its own system, but if I can change one thing in my life, I would like to see my Grampa for the last time, he had cancer two years ago and passed away on my way back visiting him, I wish I could hold his hand and say how much I love him and how much I appreciate that I born in this amazing caring family. I want him to know that I never will stop pursuing my dream and I will take care of my Parents and Grandma.


Irene FORTE 

We are delighted to share with you our interview “Questions and Answers with Irene FORTE, founder of Forte Skincare and Wellness Director of Rocco Forte Hotels”.

Carla MARTIN: Please introduce yourself for those who do not know you yet. Kindly tell us about your background and your business? How you decided to create your business?

Irene FORTE: I’m Wellness Director for Rocco Forte Hotels and founder of Irene Forte Skincare. Rocco Forte Hotels is a family-run five star luxury hotel chain. Irene Forte Skincare is a considered, multi-benefit and sustainable skincare line, inspired by Sicily and formulated in Italy.

CM: What was your path to the role you have now?

IF: I spent my school holidays and gap year working in hotels, and a year abroad as Communications Manager at Verdura Resort. After graduating from Oxford University, I enrolled on a 4-month fast-track development programme at Brown’s Hotel. I joined the Rocco Forte Hotels central team in January 2013 as Quality Standards Executive. By the end of 2014, I started to take on work outside of Learning & Development, and particularly in spa and wellness where I launched a new spa concept. In 2018, my role changed to Wellness Director, giving me time to fully focus on this great passion of mine. In December 2018, I launched my own company and skincare line- Irene Forte Skincare. The line was debuted for Rocco Forte Spas as Forte Organics in 2015. After seeing the immediate positive reception to Forte Organics, I wanted to learn more, create more and launch an even bigger line. So you can say that it was 3 years in the making.

CM:  What does a typical working day look like for you?

IF: It really depends. I tend to travel every week to one of the Rocco Forte properties. I often travel to Verdura Resort in Sicily, where I grow many of the ingredients for Irene Forte Skincare and where we have a 4000 square metre spa. We have also just opened two new hotels with spas (Hotel de la Ville in Rome and Torre Maizza in Puglia) so I have been spending a lot of time in these to properties. I also go to my lab for Irene Forte Skincare in Trento, Italy at least once every two months.With all the travel, my days can be very varied!

CM:  Tell us what is your success mindset?

IF: Working hard. Without giving things your all, they will never work.

CM: What was your biggest challenge on the personal side also business side?

IF: On a personal side, balance; I find it challenging to have work-life balance.

On a business side, there is challenges every day, especially with a start-up. I think it is about persevering and never giving up.

CM: I would like to know what is the best advice in business you have been given? May I ask who gave it to you?

IF:  I have had so much amazing advice from a number of people. My father has always taught me that the business world is tough and without working hard and giving it your all, you will never succeed.

CM:  For a young entrepreneur, what advice would you give?

IF: Try and connect and meet with as many experienced people in the industry you are involved in; get as much advice from these individuals as possible.

Surround yourself with the right support network.

Have a team that you can rely on, trust, and that complements your own skill set.

Learn to take criticism and adapt things following feedback.

Things will always go wrong and you just need to be strong enough to keep persevering.

CM: With everything you have achieved, what you would say your greatest achievement is?

IF:  It is always difficult to find your thing, especially when working in a family business. I have found something that I am incredibly passionate about, and that is still complementary to the family business that I love.

CM:  From your entire professional experience, what was your most exciting project up to now?

IF: Definitely launching my eponymous skincare line.

CM: What is your business current focus?

IF: Ensuring the success of our two newest spa openings, which are Irene Forte Skincare-only spas: Torre Maizza Spa in Puglia and De La Ville Spa in Rome. Working on opening two new spas: Rocco Forte Spa in Shanghai and Villa Igea Spa in Palmero. And generally, growing a very strong and successful Irene Forte Skincare-inspired spa brand. My goal is also to continue to secure luxury retailers in key markets (Europe, US and Hong Kong) for Irene Forte Skincare, as well as day spas and clinics.

CM:  What charity do you support?

IF: I have supported a number of charities over the years. Right now, my family and I are supporting Depaul Internaional. Depaul’s work ranges from providing safe shelter, accommodation, food and health services to helping people affected by homelessness receive education, employment and social services.

CM: Who inspires you today?

IF: A number of people! There is a number of amazing individuals in the ‘wellness’ space that I find very inspirational, such as Sue Hamsworth that founded ESPA and Susie Ellis that founded the Global Wellness Summit.

My aunt, Olga Polizzi, is also an inspiration. She has always been my father’s right hand at Rocco Forte Hotels, as well as overseeing all interior design for the hotels. She also has two beautiful hotels of her own (Hotel Endsleigh in Devon and Hotel Tresanton in Cornwall). She is an amazing wife, mother and grandmother, as well as being involved in a number of amazing charities.

My father, Rocco Forte, is also someone that I find very inspirational. After losing his father’s hotel chain with a hostile takeover battle at the age of 52, he decided to set up his own hotel chain the very next day. He is so passionate and dedicated about what he does, and is someone that never gives up even when times might be difficult.

CM: Do you have a secret talent?

IF: I’m still trying to discover my hidden talent.

CM: You found your passion, in your opinion how does everyone find their own passion?

IF: I’m very lucky that I have found my passion, as I know that it is not easy. I would just say, keep searching until you find it, as you will eventually find it.

CM: If you had the power to change just one thing in the world what would it be?

IF: I would reverse the damage that we have already done to our environment.

Thank you so much Irene for your time and kindness to answer my questions.


We are delighted to share with you our interview « Questions and Answers » with the Business Woman, CEO and Founder of Amber Lounge.

Carla MARTIN: Please introduce yourself for those who do not know you yet. Kindly tell us about your background and your business? How you decided to create your business?

Sonia IRVINE: I’m Sonia Irvine, originally from Northern Ireland, and I am the Founder and CEO of Amber Lounge – the ultimate VIP F1 after parties. I started in Formula 1 as my brother’s (Eddie Irvine) physio, then as Ferrari’s team physio. I was constantly socialising with other F1 drivers, team principals and team sponsors. We all worked so hard during a Grand Prix weekend we wanted to celebrate and let our hair down at the end of it, but there never seemed to be one communal place where everyone could enjoy themselves. The idea of setting-up a classy, fun place to party and celebrate the races all together came to me. It was important to me that the party was a media-free zone so everyone could really relax. I decided to give the concept a try in Monaco 2003, and it was a huge success. So, Amber Lounge was born and we’ve been entertaining an incredible range of guests for over 15 years. From the very start the demand was there from the F1 fraternity and celebrities, so our parties continued, becoming world-famous. Amber Lounge has travelled the globe with Formula 1 and become a haven for drivers, celebrities and royalty to experience an unforgettable night. Our unique, exclusive VIP atmosphere, incredible entertainment and being the original F1 party, hosting around 1000 guests per night, is what has made our parties legendary.

CM: What does a typical working day look like for you?
I try to balance my personal life and my work life. In the morning I take my youngest daughter to school then I head to the office. My aim is to firstly get on top of my emails as much as I can because the daily workload is huge. My team needs me as I am working very close with all departments throughout the day on multiple projects across all three events. Then I head to pick up my daughter and do her homework with her. At home it’s all about family time for me.

CM: Tell us what is your success mindset?
Never doubt your abilities and keep going. In order to be successful, you need to have a target and picture yourself achieving that beforehand. It then allows you to push harder in order to achieve your goals. You also need to surround yourself with creative and ambitious people.

CM: What was your biggest challenge on the personal side also business side?
Perhaps the most challenging aspect of being a business woman is to be able to combine the life of being a mother and running a successful company. I think that’s what makes things harder being a woman is that often you tend to feel more responsible on the family side of things. You’re trying to run your business at an extremely high level and then trying to be the best mum that you can be. I believe I’m a very stimulating mum for my kids and a very good role model.

CM: I would like to know what is the best advice in business you have been given? May I ask who gave it to you?
My dad always used to tell me that if you want something, never give up.

CM: For a young entrepreneur, what advice would you give?
SI: Believe in yourself! It’s a lot of hard work at times juggling family and work. So, work hard, it’s only you who can make things happen. The world is as exciting as you make it. We are only here once, so let’s make that once as amazing as it can be for ourselves and for everyone we encounter.

CM: With everything you have achieved, what you would say your greatest achievement is?
Definitely my two beautiful daughters. I love spending time with them as much as I can. Family is most important to me.

CM: What was the most challenging moment in your life? And how did you manage to overcome it?

SI: Being able to come up with fresh, new and exciting ideas every year as our business demands innovation and creativity due to its dynamic culture. As the F1 industry grows, and despite the competition, we are still regarded as the ultimate F1 after party. The F1 fraternity and guests love what we do and encourage us to continue.

CM: From your entire professional experience, what was your most exciting project up to now?
On the professional side, it has to be the Amber Lounge Charity Fashion Show. I am proud and honored to help amazing causes raising money for charity. I always try to help people in need and will continue to do so for as much as I can.

CM: What is your business current focus?
SI: Currently my focus is on Amber Lounge Singapore on September 20-21 and Abu Dhabi November 30 to December 1st, as those are our next destinations.

CM: What charity do you support?
For the last three years we have supported Sir Jackie Stewart’s charity called ‘Race Against Dementia’. We have raised more than USD 5 million dollars over the last 14 years since the start of the first charity fashion show. Other charities we have supported throughout the years include Elton John AIDS Foundation, the Special Olympics.

CM: Who inspires you today?
My family – my mum, father, brother and my children. They mean the world to me and they give me the inspiration, determination and desire to keep going and be the person I am.

CM: Do you have a secret talent?
Overcoming every obstacle that comes my way!

CM: You found your passion, in your opinion how does everyone find their own passion?
Look into yourself, follow your dreams and do not let others influence your decisions in life.

CM: If you had the power to change just one thing in the world what would it be?
To cure dementia.

CM: Much obliged Sonia for your time and kindness to answer my questions.


We are delighted to share with you our interview « Questions and Answers » with the CEO and Founder of Couture Fashion Hause Nina Naustdal.

Carla MARTIN: Please introduce yourself for those who do not know you yet. Kindly tell us about your background and your business? How did you decide to create your business?

Nina NAUSTDAL: I was born and raised in Norway. From age of 7-19 I was representing my country in track and field. I fell in love with fashion and design from an early age, inspired by my grandmother who was a seamstress by profession and I pursued my studies of fashion designing at Esmod.

After graduating from fashion school, I moved to London where I combined my love and passion for fashion designing and I launched my own eponymous brand in May 2011. I opened my first Boutique on Walton Street, and now I work by appointment only from my new showroom in Chelsea.

CM: What was your path to the role you have now?

NN: I started designing from a very young age with my Grandmother who owned her own fashion boutique. She taught me all about fashion and design and really inspired me to start up my own fashion line. I went on to study Fashion, and when I moved to London, I opened my first store and just two years later I was awarded London retailer of the year in 2013.

CM: What does a typical working day look like for you?

NN: Having a London based Atelier and showroom allows me to be personally involved in every process of design and production, guiding my design team on each step and ensure the highest quality and flawless finishing up to the standard of our customers. I also have my own in-house press and marketing team that I work with daily, focusing on my various personal appearances, TV and Red Carpet, as well as product and celebrity placements in the UK and internationally.

CM: Tell us what is your success mindset?

NN: I firmly believe that “Normal is boring”, thus all my pieces are handcrafted into masterpieces.

My premise is reflected in all my designs as I take inspiration from exquisite stones to create my designs that results into glamorous cocktail dresses and gowns in fluid, and jewel-toned Italian silks. Each of my signature pieces, created for brides or kids alike, bears the finesse and finish of a masterpiece. The attention to detail, the colour contrasting and the delicate and crystal embellishment remains a trademark that is never compromised.

CM: What was your biggest challenge on the personal side also business side?

NN: I am very passionate about my work, but I am also very passionate about my family as I have three young children. Juggling the two can be difficult, however, I find that my inspiration for designs can come from both work and personal outlets like travelling, so I try to take time for each in order to pursue my dreams and make sure both my family and business requirements are met day to day.

I also find that the main challenge within the world of fashion is competing with other brands. For my brand, I am constantly trying to reach more people and compete against the big brands internationally.

CM: I would like to know what is the best advice in business you have been given? may I ask who gave it to you?

NN: I learnt from fashion school that it is so important to know more than everybody else, to learn the industry inside out so that you are always prepared and better than your competitors. That is the inspiration for the next generation. Know your craft.

CM: For a young entrepreneur, what advice would you give?

NN: I always follow three simple rules:

  1. Create a great team around you.
  2. Don’t be scared of making mistakes and taking risks.
  3. Network and make contacts.

CM: With everything you have achieved, what you would say your greatest achievement is?

NN: On top of being an established business woman and an award-winning fashion designer, I was able to raise my three children during the growth of my successful brand. Over the past 8 years, my couture dresses can be seen in many different magazines and on A-list celebrities.

I also consistent TV presence starring in documentaries both in the UK and internationally.

CM: What was the most challenging moment in your life? And how did you manage to overcome it?

NN: I would say moving to a new country, getting settled and open my own business alone was one of the most challenging moments for me. However I have never been scared of taking risk and I always believe in myself, I believe if you work hard anything is possible.

CM: From your entire professional experience, what was your most exciting project up to now?

NN: Opening my store in London, was one of the most exciting projects so far.

CM: What is your business current focus?

NN: My focus is to give my clients the best customer experience by creating handmade and fitted clothes according to their dreams.

CM: What charity do you support?

NN: I support many different charities like Caudwell Children, Little Princess Trust, etc. I have helped and donated dresses to raise money for many charities around the world.

CM: Who inspires you today?

NN: I would say Karl Lagerfeld is a role model of mine. I admire how he created such a strong trademark, made himself into an icon and built an empire.

CM: Do you have a secret talent?

NN: I believe if you have a talent you need to use and show it to the world.

CM: You found your passion, in your opinion how does everyone find their own passion?

NN: In my opinion, the best way to find your passion is to believe in yourself. Don’t be scared to try new things and be yourself. Then you will find what you love.

CM: If you had the power to change just one thing in the world what would it be?

NN: If I had the power I would change the world where there is no sickness.

CM: Thank you very much Nina for your time and kindness to answer my questions.


We are delighted to share with you our interview Questions and Answers with Sony Award winning Presenter and Producer Kylie OLSSON.

Carla MARTIN: Please introduce yourself for those who do not know you yet. Kindly tell us about your background and your business? How you decided to create your business?

Kylie OLSSON: I’m a TV Presenter and producer, published author and Music Journalist specialising in rock music!  I’ve been doing this for over 10 years now and have worked for SKY Arts, MTV in the US, VH1, Universal and Warner Music and have also worked directly with bands such as The Rolling Stones, KISS and Def Leppard.  My two books are called The Art of Metal and Rock, A Life Story and I’ve written for Classic Rock Magazine and AOR Magazine.   As well as this I’ve done a bit of radio and was over at Planet Rock and Team Rock Radio for a while.   I decided to do what I do because I’m a failed musician so when I realised that I would never be good enough to play my Saxophone to a professional level I decided that I’d like to talk about music.   I’m also a nerd!

CM: What was your path to the role you have now?

KO: I studied film at university and then whilst I was still at University I started work experience at the BBC but I really started at the bottom making tea and then worked my way up.

CM: What does a typical working day look like for you ?

KO: No day is the same.  I could either be on a shoot interviewing a rock star or at home writing a feature or pitching documentary ideas.

CM: Tell us what is your success mindset?

KO: For me it’s not about how successful you are in monetary terms or if you’re the big boss but how happy you are and if you’ve achieved your own personal goals.   I’m not a house hold name and I don’t present the biggest rating show on TV but what I AM doing is the type of show I’ve always wanted to do in an area that interest me the most.

CM: What was your biggest challenge on the personal side also business side?

KO: On the personal side I suppose it was in the beginning of my career and dealing with rejection but I soon managed to have selective hearing and learnt how to pick myself up and move straight on to the next goal.   As I‘ve got older It was having children in an industry where I felt my career would be over if anyone knew so I hid my pregnancies from most of the people I’ve worked with as I didn’t want to be over looked just because I was having a child.   I work in a very male dominated industry and I think some of these guys have pre conceived ideas on motherhood is… which also leads me to my next challenge and that is not being taken seriously because I’m a woman I’ve really had to prove myself – which is a nut I feel like I’ve cracked.

CM: I would like to know what is the best advice in business you have been given? may I ask who gave it to you?

KO: Feel the fear and do it anyway.   It’s an old one but a goodie.   When I was about 15 my dad gave me that book to read and I’ve always lived my life by it.   I’ve never said no because I was too scared to do something and I’ve never taken no for an answer.  So thanks for that dad!

CM: For a young entrepreneur, what advice would you give?

KO: Feel the fear and do it anyway.  Hahaha.  No, I would say keep your eye on the prize and if there is somewhere you want to work or be then figure out a way to get there… sometimes you just have to go in the backdoor!

CM: With everything you have achieved, what you would say your greatest achievement is?

KO: I suppose it is that I have achieved everything I’ve set out to so far.  I was particularly proud of working on a documentary for the BBC about Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, making a doc with Def Leppard in Nashville was also pretty cool and working with The Rolling Stones is up there too.

CM: From your entire professional experience, what was your most exciting project up to now?

KO: It was very exciting to go out to Nashville with Def Leppard and know that I set this whole deal up and then managed to deliver something that everyone was really pleased with.   I’m pretty proud of that.

CM: What is your business current focus?

KO: My next mission is to direct a music documentary so I’m talking to a few people about doing that.

CM: What charity do you support?

KO: I support a few. I think the biggest challenge we are facing is climate change and if we don’t act soon then our children will be left without a future.   I had a message from a 13 year old girl on Instagram last week saying that she had just chosen her GCSE’s and was really excited about this but then she started looking into what was happening with the planet and it left her feeling hopeless about her future – so I support a few charities that focus on this.   I also am involved with a charity called Secret Saris which helps women in India who have been forced into the Human trafficking.  And lets not forget, this isn’t just happening in India, this is a worldwide problem and Is happening under our nose.

CM: Who inspires you today?

KO: Greta Thunberg!

CM: Do you have a secret talent?

KO: Not really, I’m quite good at baking cakes!

CM: You found your passion, in your opinion how does everyone find their own passion?

KO: Seriously because I’m a woman I’ve really had to prove myself – which is a nut I feel like I’ve cracked.

CM: If you had the power to change just one thing in the world what would it be?

KO: Climate change!

CM: Thank you very much Kylie for your time and kindness to answer my questions.



We are delighted to share with you our interview Questions and Answers with the Business Woman Mrs Alice Jenkins, CEO of Harley Injectables.

CM: Please introduce yourself for those who do not know you yet ?

AJ: I am the medical director and owner of Harley Injectables. My passion is to de-stigmatise cosmetic injectables, to tackle misconceptions published by the media and to diversify the industry away from being dominated by predominantly male surgeons who can be intimidating to clients. Done safely with medically trained nurses and doctors with full knowledge and consent, my job has brought happiness to many clients. This I love.

CM: What was your path to the role you have now ?

AJ: Very long as it started on the other side of the world in New Zealand. I am a qualified nurse and it was this profession which brought me to the UK. From hospital nursing I moved to post operative cosmetic nursing in London. Working within clinics sparked my interest in injectables and I trained myself to administer and then went ion to do my masters here in London at South Bank university and became a nurse prescriber. Once sufficiently trained, qualified and confident enough, I took the leap to start my own business and open up my own clinic. I found it challenging being a woman in a male dominated industry but within which most clients are women which I feel is my unique selling point as I feel my clientele demo graphic can relate to me.

CM: What does a typical working day look like for you?

AJ: Conventional day is being at my desk by 10am seeing clients through to 7pm. But being the face of my business, I am constantly liaising with PR, checking emails, organising social media campaigns and attending training courses to maintain my skills. This can start at 6am and not finish till midnight. Self-control would be wonderful but as my job is my passion, it has a habit of taking over!

CM: Tell us what is your success mindset?

AJ: That is hard to answer. Clichéd but not getting disheartened by setbacks is one. Self-belief ties to this. If you believe that you are good at something (some feedback to confirm this is helpful) then exploring every opportunity to show off this skill will help success. This leads to calculated risk. If you can’t grow or establish due to reasons which aren’t to do with your own skill, then moving or partnering with new people can help. These might seem scary but if you trust in yourself and your skills, why wouldn’t it work and you can always end up where you are now.

CM: I would like to know what is the best advice in business you have been given?

AJ: You cannot and should not try to be everything to everyone. In a similar vein you cannot always put others first. I struggled and am guilty still of trying to fulfil too many different roles.

You need to step back, focus on what you are good at, delegate or pay another to complete those non-core tasks. Not only does this stop oneself becoming stretched too thinly and offering sub-standard service but also it allowed me to take some time for myself. Loving oneself is as important as loving one’s business and clients. They are mutually supportive.

CM: For a young entrepreneur, what advice would you give?

AJ: Take calculated risk. Nothing is easy in a competitive market. I worked full time and set up my business on the side. It was very hard to juggle two jobs but it gave me the confidence to do it alone. If you can judge your earnings over a period of time, then the decision can be made sensibly. Nothing is certain but no risk and no reward.

CM: With everything you have achieved, what you would say your greatest achievement is?

AJ: To say I have my own permanent clinic and business in the world famous Harley Street medical area of the global city of London with clients that fly in from around the world to see me is a huge achievement. Six years ago I was a cardiac nurse in a hospital in New Zealand, which whilst lovely is a small and isolated country. I have recently been nominated for aesthetic nurse of the year for the safety in beauty awards The awards are dedicated to recognising and paying special tribute to the many outstanding businesses, professionals, brands and service providers in the beauty and aesthetics industry. The awards highlight those going the extra mile in dedication and excellence and those in pursuit of the highest standards of safety in an industry frustratingly tainted by the rogue minority.

CM: From your entire professional experience, what was your most exciting project up to now?

AJ: I have recently moved to a new clinic on Upper Wimpole Street, W1. I needed to accommodate my growing business and from a single room previously I know have a suite of rooms with amazing new employees to help me. For a new company I now am the same size as many competitors who have been around more than a decade. Very exciting!

CM : What is your business current focus?

AJ: Reaching new clients. I understand there is competition to win and retain clients, often from other clinics. I think this is an unhealthy approach, even in the crowded market place, I believe if you satisfy your client’s realistic expectations then one shouldn’t worry about losing customers. That leaves the many millions of men and women who have yet to try cosmetic injectables or skin lasers. Greater education to dispel many myths and erroneous facts on the internet will see growth for all in my industry. Protecting the vulnerable from exploitation from unscrupulous doctors & nurses is important but so is correcting misinformation on the effects of botox or dermal filler which would scare off many would-be clients.

CM: Who inspires you today?

AJ:  Medical staff whether surgeons, doctors or nurses who devote their time to those in need. I saw this when volunteering in Uganda which inspired me to set up a non-profit campaign to help those who suffer from cleft lip scarring and victims of botched cosmetic procedures. When I have more time as the business matures I will take time to travel to countries which do not benefit from our fantastic NHS.

CM: You found your passion, in your opinion how does everyone find their own passion?

AJ: Trial and error, I suspect. My experience was that I had already started in the medical world and by rotating through different disciplines and seeing new areas I came to end up in cosmetics. By and large I believe we all know what type of job would suit our interests but it is not until you are within an industry, that one can know the sub practises and specialisations which will truly fire one’s passion.

CM: Much obliged Alice for your time and kindness to answer my questions.


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As an extension of our “International Woman Campaign”, we had a privileged conversation with a successful entrepreneur and investor; such a pleasure to share with you his insights from a different perspective.

Our founder Carla MARTIN had the honor to talk to Mr. Vin LEE, CEO of Grand Metropolitan.

Carla MARTIN: Please introduce yourself for those who do not know you yet. Kindly tell us about your background and your business?

Vin LEE: I am CEO of Beverly Hills based luxury goods conglomerate Grand Metropolitan.   While the holding company may not be readily familiar, our 130 brand portfolio contains some of the most iconic luxury names in North America for the last 200 years.  Finlay Enterprises is the largest privately-held jewelry group in America with 20 of the TOP 50 retail jewelers of the last century.  Heilig-Meyers Furniture was once the largest home furnishing retailers in the world that today includes Rhodes Furniture, Room Store, plus Sterchi Brothers and Wickes Furniture.  The later two were also world leaders in their respective markets before being acquired by Heilig-Meyers.  Those businesses have earned more than $100 Billion since their inception.

We also maintain dozens of local and regional brands in the world of luxury.  Pushkin Caviar is arguably our greatest success in this aspect having become a leading supplier to the VIP, event, and charity auction crowd.  The Beverly Hills Cigar Club has been awarded the honor of TOP 5 must have private memberships by Playboy Magazine as well as LOUIXS, our private label cigar as TOP 8 in the world.  Both LOUIXS and Pushkin are not available publicly.  In addition, Gallery Rodeo manages and maintains the Rodeo Collection, over 100 works of fine art as well as participates in auctions with Christies, Sotheby’s, and private estates.

CM: How you decided to create your business?

VL: I started my business in the late 1980s, at that time Bernard Arnault had just taken over LVMH merging Louis Vuitton with Moet Hennessey.  A year later François Pinault listed Pinault S.A. (Kering) on the Paris Stock Exchange.  These men were the original architects of the luxury goods conglomerates that today dominate the world.  The language needed to walk in that world is not readily accessible to everyone. Certainly not where I came from.  There is a saying “To dine with the classes, you must sell to the masses”.  Men like Arnault, Pinault, Oppenheimer, and Anton proved that theory wrong.

I grew up in what was considered the most affluent county in the United States at the time.  Yet, Tiffany, Cartier, Gucci had no retail presence in the entire state.  Ferrari didn’t have a dealership within hundreds of miles.  And even though General Motors, headquartered in the city, was owner of Lamborghini you were hard pressed to find a single Countach on display anywhere.  Fashion choices for us were effectively Levi or Lee, Nike or Reebok at a time when Marithé et François Girbaud were selling out across Europe.  It was a time when Bijan was lighting up Rodeo Drive, Versace was the toast of South Beach, and Morty Sills was dressing the CEOs of Wall Street.

Most people start their careers or businesses ambitious to ultimately live the lifestyle of wealth and privilege.  When I moved to South Florida, $3 million bought almost anything on the beach.  But it was only 1 years rent on Rodeo Drive.  I didn’t know what rich was until I moved to Beverly Hills, where $30 million helped you fit into the crowd.  But it wasn’t until I visited Moscow for the first time that I learned what true wealth was.  I have never been one that wanted to fit in.  I always wanted to own the club than to be a member.  I prefer providing those who have with what they want, to being the one always wanting.

CM: Tell us what is your success mindset ?

VL: Patience.  I am ultra-competitive.  I have been from a very young age.  The key is to make sure that you are able to compete in what you are doing.  You must have more than hope or will, but a point of differentiation that enables you to, at least in some way, beat your competitors.  Most people do not.   They have an idea for a product, service, or business that is marginally unique from a hundred others out there and they think they are going for it.  But they also want to have a steady income, happy marriage, children, and vacations every year.  Something will give, usually a little bit of everything is damaged by their enterprise.  I read a quote from Warren Buffett that stated “You can’t produce a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant”

I spent 2 years working with management to buy Samuel’s Jewelers from investors.  I failed, and they filed for bankruptcy a month later.  It took me 8 years to acquire the Finlay Fine Jewelers brand.  It has taken almost two decades for us to straighten out the fallout from Heilig-Meyers Furniture bankruptcy.

“What are you willing to do to get what you want?”  That’s the question everyone should ask themselves.  If you aren’t willing to go all-in, to make this your life, perhaps you should find a job in the industry you are passionate about rather than attempting to start a business.  This isn’t what I do, it is who I am.

 CM: What was your biggest challenge on the personal side, also on the business side?

VL: One of the most significant challenges for me was spending 15 years on a jet every two weeks flying between California and Florida and everywhere else to build this company.  It took a great toll upon me living out of a suitcase.  I missed out on years of time with family and friends.  But even earlier one the real challenge, I think for everyone, is to share your life with someone that has the same goals.  My business is very capital intensive especially since I do not assume any debt through our operations or acquisitions.   In this instance having a partner that respects that same position saves years of heartache.  If you choose to share your life with someone that wants to spend lavishly on lifestyle rather than reinvest your resources in your business, you will always be pulled in opposing directions.  Our culture has been supremely encouraging of living beyond ones means.  This is especially true of those who work for others.

CM: I would like to know what is the best advice in business you have been given? May I ask who gave it to you?

VL: I started out my career as a teenager.  If anything, I was encouraged not to pursue this path.

“That most people who started a business would fail.”

“Anything you can come up with, someone else has already thought of.”

“There will always be someone out there smarter than you, faster than you, and better looking than you.”

Sometimes negative reinforcement can be just as motivating as nurturing support.  Fortunately, I had some very modest success in overlapping projects that would drown out the “advice” that was tossed at me.  It created this self-confidence that I could indeed accomplish the outsized goals I had set for myself.  While I came from a very affluent community, it was not a place of entrepreneurs.  The Midwest in the 1980s was predominately a corporate culture of Fortune 500 firms.  Most of the successful icons of that time were part of the Mergers & Acquisitions community established in New York, Milken, Boesky, Icahn, KKR. Of course the explosive investment environment created by Silicon Valley had not been imagined yet.

CM: For a young entrepreneur, what advice would you give?

VL: “Don’t do it”.  I see this type of question all of the time.  And the most offered advice to young people or even older people who have dreams of starting their own business is to “Go For It”!  These people love to follow through with the “Fail Fast” slogan as if these people are throwing darts at a carnival board with free tokens.  It’s easy for people at the top of their game who have often borrowed their way from venture to venture until something finally stuck to toss out that flippant attitude.  I disagree.  It can be devastating personally and professionally to “fail fast” as an entrepreneur.   For many people, and their families and friends who financially supported their dream, most won’t recover.  Maxing out credit cards or borrowing against their houses or pensions to fund a business.

If you have an idea that you believe is marketable, that you believe the world cannot live without, take careful steps to proceed.  It will always take three times as long and twice as much as you calculate.  If you are doing this to become a “millionaire”, you probably won’t be successful.  If you are doing this because you are passionate about the product or service, it will help buoy you through the darkness.  Because this is not an easy journey for life.  It will strain all of your relationships.  It will destroy some if you ask them to underwrite your dream.  I have had hundreds of people in my personal life ask me to pay them to live their dream.  Requesting hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars so they can be a restauranteur, film maker, or run a charitable foundation.

So much of our society is instant gratification.  We all barter our time in nanoseconds.  As impatient as you are to be successful, the people around you will also bull dog you about progress, especially if they have invested in you.  I prefer to encourage people to follow their dreams, but the sobering truth is that it can be a very painful process.  Make sure that your brand has a significant point of differentiation.  But I still think you shouldn’t do it.  If you still believe in yourself after everyone else tells you NO, than maybe you’ll have a chance.

CM: With everything you have achieved, what you would say your greatest achievement is?

VL: That’s actually a very hard question to answer.  Professionally, I have done some things that warrant some merit.  I am proud of those things.   We still have so much more to do, I just hope there is enough time to make it.  I went to sleep and I was only 38, I woke up at 49 and so much time has passed by.  But this doesn’t really answer your question.  I realize I should be bragging about creating the largest this or the most successful that.  But it really has never been about money for me.

I have to say my greatest achievement to date is me.  Throughout a 30 year career with so many challenges and struggles peppered within the successes, I like who I am today.  People don’t often realize that behind the glitter and glamour of the luxury business, there is a lot of corruption and danger.  It is very seductive.  My faith in God has never been stronger.  My family is still there supporting, caring, and accepting of me, even with my decade’s long distraction with work.

CM: What was the most challenging moment in your life?  And how did you manage to overcome it?

VL: This interview would become far too long and depressing to outline the biggest challenges.  I think that most people have family and loved ones that will forgive and accept all kinds of behaviors.  No one will reject you for failing in your lifegoals.  Your parents or spouse recognizing your commitment and effort will always have a home for you to lay your head.  But absence both physically and emotionally while you are pursuing your ambitions is impossible to compete with.

I disappeared into this foreign world of luxury and its world-wide pursuit for decades starting from a very young age.  The people around the dinner table didn’t understand the language I was speaking.  For about 2 decades I was swimming alone through the complexities of finance and fashion most of which you cannot just “read up on” to be able to communicate with others.  There is no MBA program at the corner of Wall St. and Rodeo Drive.  As I have mentioned almost 15 years of my career was spent on a jet bouncing from coast to coast or country to country living out of a suitcase even with multiple homes.  You never really unpack and the clock is always ticking to the next flight or meeting.  The phone is under your pillow and doesn’t recognize the time zones during your sleep.  People in your life aren’t often easy to forgive the empty chair at birthdays and holidays.

If you are successful, and you can provide for your family, fear becomes a reality especially in jewelry.  People have a hard time grasping what the jewelry business really is.  It is the most valuable and liquid asset on the planet.  No one will rob a bookstore for that shipment of Harry Potters.  But as a jeweler and a cigar guy, you can secure as much as $5 million in stones in a cigar tube and get on a plane and disappear, achieving that same value in any city around the globe.  In a world where people will attack you just for wearing the wrong baseball hat, it’s very dangerous.

Security and privacy become far more paramount concerns over other trappings of wealth.  You begin to monitor your family and friends about casual Facebook posts or Tweets asking them not to give out your address to those requesting to send holiday cards.  That in fact turns everyone against you as they misinterpret your behavior as being pretentious or self-involved.  Your circle becomes much smaller.

CM: From your entire professional experience, what was your most exciting project up to now?

VL: That’s a great question!  I have been so fortunate to be involved in many interesting and exciting endeavors over my career.  Even if they didn’t produce a profit or even ultimately become a success.  When you’re young or new to business, everything is exciting, new products or deals.  I could probably tell more exciting stories about the projects that failed than the ones that completed.

The most exciting project is always the next one.  In this instance, I invented a very simple consumer product in the hygiene industry 30 years ago this year.  It is now time for me to release it, since no one else has come up with it.  It is completely out of the luxury realm, so we will see if we can make strides outside of our wheelhouse.

CM: Could you please tell us what is your business current focus?

VL: While we continue to grow our leadership position in North America, I have spent the last couple of years working and building our international presence.  Dalgety was a great step for us in this process which we folded our tobacco and caviar business into.  We began test marketing both Frechef Food Systems and Fruishi products.

We actually have a long term focus for growth in each division.  Most of the efforts the last two decades have been about acquisitions of both regional and national brands in our supply chain, jewelry, furniture, fashion etc.  These energies are all culminating in Lichtensteins.  Every product Grand Metropolitan produces under its entire brand portfolio will be available on our luxury digital platform.  This streamlines our online presence and keeps quality and customer service at a premium.

CM: Luxury definition has changed so much during the past years. What does luxury mean to you today and how do you think the notion of luxury could be updated for the modern days?

VL: Well so much of our society has shifted to “fast casual”.  We know longer dress for dinner, or even set a table for guests.  Crystal, china, and flatware are no longer cherished family heirlooms.  The great lost art of conversation has been replaced by texts and emoji.  People now do their shopping and travelling in their pajamas.  So it really is no surprise that the world of luxury, those coveted aspirational items, have to evolve or die.  I honestly believe that women have been better served by luxury items over the centuries.  Everything from health & beauty, jewelry & accessories, haute couture has always predominantly been focused towards the ladies.  Gentlemen have really been limited in the past, but it has picked up.

CM: From all the brands you represent and not only, if you had to choose one favorite piece (jewelry, watches etc) which would it be?

VL: I admit that is a complicated question to answer.  People often respond with, that would be like picking my favorite child.  And we have about 130.  It is honestly something that rotates on my plate daily.  Which brand we give more love or attention too.  With such a large portfolio and finite amount of financial resources we do pretty well.  Primarily we have about 100 brands broken down between jewelry, home furnishings, and tobacco.  So your efforts become focused on managing groups or market segments rather than specific brands or even products.

Obviously my patented marquees hold a special place in my heart.  It is the one creation that has been with me the longest, since my teen years, and produced the largest impact on the world.  I have seen these internally illuminated billboards all over the globe from Moscow to Milan and Miami to Madrid.  Originally created for Blockbuster Video, they have evolved to the sides of buildings, trucks and tuk-tuks all over the world creating a $6 billion/year industry.

Of course in a close second place would be my tennis earring.  When I was starting out in the jewelry industry I had outsized ambitions to have my name in rank with Harry Winston, Nicki Oppenheimer, or Laurence Graff.  So I set out to create a jewelry style that no one had ever seen before in the manner of David Yurman or Christian Louboutin, recognizable across a crowded room.  When we first launched after the millennium, Playboy Magazine claimed it was “too bling”.  Originally our market was identified as professional athletes and musicians.  It took almost 15 years to be mainstream.  Now you find smaller versions of our inline diamond earrings in mall jewelers around the world as well as online shops made with synthetic stones and set in alloy metals.  That’s quite a movement from the $300,000 custom set we showed at Prince’s Beverly Hills Estate or the $1 million suite worn by Frances first family member at the Cannes Film Festival.

In each of our businesses, we have introduced a product into the market place that has evolved into a leadership position in some manner.  I have, especially in the early years, had a lot of influence in the design and creation of these items.   It is very satisfying to sketch out a concept with paper and chalk and then see it become reality, especially when the consumer embraces it.  We see that happening every day at Finlay Fine Jewelers, Heilig-Meyers Furniture, Dalgety Foods, etc.

CM:  Who inspires you today?

VL: Boy that is a hard question to answer.   I have met some of my heroes in real life and they have fallen short of the hype.  So many of our leaders and leading industrialists have lost their luster in the last few years.  Everything is so politicized.  I do continue to be inspired by what Bernard Arnault has created.  How can you not?  That’s pretty easy.  I did recently identify Nova Scotian folk artist Maud Lewis as a personal hero of mine.  What she accomplished in her life is one of the most inspired stories I have ever heard.  As a French-Canadian, student of fine art, and resident of this planet she impressed upon me that anyone from anywhere can have a lasting positive effect on the Earth.  I think the film of her life has done as much as her talent as an artist ever did to make the world a better place.  It chokes me up every time I watch it.  I wish anything I ever did had that kind of impact on someone.

CM: Vin, do you have a secret talent?

VL: I am not sure how much of a secret it is, but I do love to cook.

CM: You found your passion, in your opinion how does everyone find their own passion?

VL: Unfortunately, I don’t believe everyone gets to find their passion.  I think they try and create passion in what their life leads them to, whether it is in family, work, or some hobby or outside interest.   I know a lot of people that haven’t lived up to their full potential for life.  It was too scary or too much work to reach out for something extraordinary.  I have seen this my whole life.  It is very difficult to break from the group, to step outside of the comfortable world of everyone else.  Basically because we are taught to try so hard to fit in and be like everyone else.  Today it is even worse with every child getting a participation trophy just for showing up.  We are literally breeding excellence out of our society.  Because if there are winners, there also have to be losers.  And unfortunately there are far fewer lions than there are penguins.

CM: If you had the power to change just one thing in the world what would it be?

VL: Well obviously, my answer would be very personal and I can’t divulge that secret.  It involves a Delorean and a flux capacitor.  But if I was to change something for the betterment of the world, I would stop people from looking on each other’s plates.  So much of the problems we have today in society are based on who has what and who doesn’t.  This is how social media platforms like Facebook have destroyed so much of the goodness in the world.  If you keep giving participation trophies to everyone whether they show up or not, you disincentivize people.  Those who are exceptional stop trying to strive for more.  Those who need improvement will never learn to handle adversity in their lives.  There is this political movement towards making everyone special so that no one is.   People go on Instagram and see that everyone else is richer, prettier, and far happier than you are in your sweat pants eating nachos and binge watching Netflix.  Twitter has become a sounding board for all of the unhappiness in the world focused towards whatever the topic of the post is.

If we stop worrying about what other people have and focus on appreciating what we have the world would be a much nicer place to live.

CM: Much obliged Vin for your time and kindness to answer my questions. Such a pleasure to hear your opinion on so many different topics.

Miranda ADEMAJ

We are delighted to introduce to you Miranda ADEMAJ, CEO of Skënderbeg Investment Management.

I was born in Kosovo during a time when an undeclared war ravaged the area. Since the situation in my home country deteriorated more and more, my parents decided in 1994 to flee with me and my two siblings to Germany. My parents did not take this decision lightly, because they had to leave everything behind and it was uncertain if we would even get into Germany because of our unclear refugee status. We did make it to Germany. But without a home and with no idea of what future might hold, the prospects were not really encouraging.

From a social and cultural point of view, Germany was very different from what I used to grow up with in Kosovo. As an adolescent woman I recognized particularly that women in Germany had more options and a higher social status than in Kosovo, but to assert similar rights for myself in my own social environment was a year-long up-hill struggle because, as an Albanian woman, you are expected to behave according to the norms of your own culture. This means living more conservative. At that time, my family tried to stick to those values and Albanian tradition in general. I think that for my parents I was sort of a difficult kid, because I was a person that enjoyed pushing the limits and transgress boundaries. My mom asked me again and again why I couldn’t be a normal girl like other Kosovar girls. Despite being left to my own devices in a way, I managed to graduate from Economics College. While studying, I also had to work part-time to support myself financially. So, I went through some hardship, but that turned me into a fighter.

In 2005, I realized that the economic situation in Germany would deteriorate because of the deeper integration into the European Union. The EU is comparable to the former Yugoslavia, not really a success story. I therefore deliberately looked for a country that is self-determined and liberal. That is why I moved to Switzerland because I saw Switzerland as a neutral country with more democracy, more freedom and a country that has learned the right lessons from wars dating back centuries. In Switzerland, I was confronted with, and had to learn to adapt to as a matter of fact, yet another culture, albeit a culture not so much different from Germany’s. But, ultimately, this country turned out to have a significant influence on my life. In Switzerland, there are almost half a million people of Balkan origin and, among the country’s total population of eight million, almost two million are not Swiss. Life has never been easy for young people uprooted from their homes by war, making their way into a new country, which, at times, may appear unwelcoming. For instance, when I arrived in Switzerland, a poster of a right-wing party against public funding of integration centers for immigrants from Kosovo could be seen everywhere. This was certainly not a comfortable sight for me. The omens seemed to be not favorable. But, the vast majority of the Swiss population is very welcoming and, « Where there is a will, there is a way ». I continued my studies in economics and, as a hobby, I did some modelling. I even had the opportunity to appear on television. I had achieved all my goals. Except one: the dream to become someday CEO of my own company. Since a very early stage, I have been fascinated by the intricacies of the financial markets. Hedge funds, in particular, attracted me due to their secrecy, their mysterious aura. Later on, probably partly due to my traditional upbringing, I wanted to see whether I could make a difference in this men-dominated world.

I started my career in a Swiss bank and came into contact with hedge funds relatively quickly. Despite their negative reputation, they immediately captivated me. Although frowned upon as highly speculative and unregulated investment vehicles, my enthusiasm for hedge funds did not diminish, quite the opposite. However, in this large bank I felt almost like a hamster in a wheel. Neither innovation nor creativity were required. One simply could not make a difference. As a freedom-loving and self-determined person, this environment was just not made for me.

I needed some time off, time to come to terms with what I wanted in life. So I went on a 1-year backpacking trip round Australia and South East Asia. I wanted to find out who I really was, whether I had unconsciously taken on the wrong role in this life in the past. But above all I wanted to get to know unlimited freedom in order to better understand the world I lived in. During my voyage around the world, I had neither safety nor comfort, but it turned out the best, most instructive and freest time of my life. The best education you will ever get is travelling. Nothing teaches you more than exploring the world and accumulating experiences. As a conclusion of my trip around the world, I recognized that I was following the right career, but on the wrong side.

Back in Europe I had to start again from scratch. I decided to go into the industry which still fascinated me most. Hedge Funds. But it was important for me to work in a small company because there was more freedom, responsibility and opportunities. As a consequence, I started to work for BrunnerInvest, a fund of hedge funds pioneer in Zurich. There I met some great people. People who understood my perspective in life, who were enthusiastic, intelligent and highly educated. One day, after having gained a lot more experience, my last unfulfilled dream resurrected, and I decided to create my own company, a quasi-spinoff of our employer. I partnered with two colleagues, and we created a company called Skënderbeg named after the medieval Albanian freedom fighter Gjergj Kastrioti Skënderbeg. Everyone thought we were insane to launch a fund of funds in a time when the reputation of hedge funds was at rock bottom. There were even some bets against us. But we believed in our conviction and set up clear goals. We founded our company, against the odds, at first without clients, but with a clear idea, drive, motivation and a good feeling, and, luckily, with some high-profile investors in the pipe-line. And our dream to launch our own fund of funds, which we initially thought virtually impossible, did come true. After only three months, we received a multi-million commitment from a seed investor that enabled the launch of the Skënderbeg Fund. It’s, by the way, very interesting that all countries that are dear to me are represented in our company. The chief investment officer is Swiss, the chief risk officer is German and I, as the CEO, come from Kosovo. Each nationality has its strengths and by combining those strengths, we have built a strong team.

As far as challenges are concerned, I think the biggest one is to change the perspective that, in the men-dominated hedge fund industry, women only have assisting roles, in particular if they are good-looking. Thus, it’s not surprising for me to hear the question: « What’s your role in the company, Miranda? » In meetings, I’m most often the only woman. That’s kind of a weird feeling, being the only woman in this environment, but actually, I don’t care, because I know my skills. At the end of the day, the fact that I’m a woman in the industry is in our favor and gives us a competitive advantage, because the way women approach investing works in their favor. Reasons for this conclusion have nothing to do at all with intelligence or education levels or years of experience. It all boils down to one biological differences: Women tend to be physically weaker. This disadvantage they have to compensate with prudence and a higher awareness of risk. In addition, men produce, on average, 15 times more testosterone than women. This has an impact on aggression, dominance, confidence, hostility and risk-taking. A study by BlackRock found, that there are two main ways in which women differ from men: Firstly, women tend to view their investing with longer-term goals in mind—namely, financial security, independence and quality of life. Secondly, they tend to take more time to research their investments and seek out the advice of others before taking the plunge. Men, on the other hand, tend to take decision-making into their own hands. They are also more likely to make impulsive decisions in response to the markets. For example, a study in support of this assertion proved that women were less likely than men to sell equities during the 2008 financial crisis. It turns out that being a thoughtful, patient investor pays off. Women simply perceive risk differently from men and tend to manage their portfolios accordingly. I also think that female intuition has its advantages. Their social and emotional skills are more developed than men’s. In general, women ask questions more quickly in case they think they don’t really understand an issue. They immediately want to get to the bottom of things. Men often wait for fear to be considered uninformed or unknowing.

To sum up, I think people who experienced uncertainty—and certainly war—have a very different understanding of and relationship with risk than people who come from a quiet academic background, free of fear and uncertainty. My dark years offer many relevant lessons—about life, politics, financial markets, wealth, and survival—that can help investors like us to deal with adversity and difficult times. For example: In war, there is often no second chance. This can be transferred to the investment strategy.

Jacqueline HARVEY

We are thrilled to introduce to you Jacqueline HARVEY, author and business woman.

« My name is Jacqueline Harvey. I am a company director, entrepreneur author and health and business consultant, with over 20 years experience in health and wellbeing. I am based in London, working predominately in Mayfair and Covent Garden, but have also worked on projects in Tuscany, the South of France and West Africa. My business career started at 19 years old, whilst studying philosophy and sociology at Goldsmiths University, when my then partner and I set up an annual jazz festival in Covent Garden. It became a huge success and I made a lot of money from it. From a very young age I had to be self sufficient, as my mother was a single mother of 8 and there wasn’t enough to go around. After graduation I worked at Deloitte as a trainee accountant, which put me in good stead for all my future business activities. There was no money to be made in philosophy. I also had an athletic and sport background from school and college, but my father said at that time there was no money to be made in sport. How wrong he was. I always felt passionate about helping women to achieve the best body shape they could with the aid of exercise and nutrition, giving them confidence and good health. To achieve this and find something that I could feel passionate about, accounting and the corporate world were not for me. Whilst still at Deloitte I decided to train and become qualified as a personal fitness trainer. I soon realised that I had a lot more to offer than just physical training. Through working on my own health issues and those of my clients, I discovered that fitness was only one part of a more complex route to being healthy – fitness is part of a holistic philosophy based on mind, body and spirit. I voraciously studied well being philosophies from around the world as well as, nutrition, meditation, and neurolinguistic programming. In 1996 I decided to pool all this knowledge into my first book Your Health is Your Wealth, which was rejected many times before being published by Hay House in 2008. The book was well received but didn’t make me a lot of money. However I became the first person in my family, not only to graduate from university, but to have a book published. In 2006 I set up Crystal Clear Health Ltd which put my ideas from the book into practice, bringing together health programmes for lifestyle generated illnesses. In 2013 the business won The ERB award for best health care and well being business in the UK. Although I loved personal training and working with my clients in every way, the income stream was unstable and seasonal, and ultimately not enough to enable me to buy my own home, so I had to employ other skills that I had including, modeling, journalism and temping in order to pay the bills. I was inspired to write two further books, Boost you’re energy in Four weeks, which was sponsored by Essentials magazine and serialised in The Daily Express, followed by Body Cycles which came out last year. Having worked as a consultant for many years for other lifestyle businesses and luxury brands, I was asked to help set up a contemporary art gallery in Mayfair. Art had always been a love of mine and I had the opportunity to support a woman in starting her own business with the local knowledge and contacts to increase the potential for the gallery to succeed. The gallery has grown to the extent that we are now in the process of staring a women’s art fair for 2019, My next health project is very exciting and could change the way we access and experience natural healthcare care on the UK. What are the causes you support (your commitment/ charity)? Foremost, I support my family and friends and neighbours in the local community. Charity begins at home for me. I volunteer my time to a local housing association helping vulnerable individuals to be heard and cared for. I also support a charity organization in Africa called The Earth Centre, which develops safe drinking water facilities and farming programmes to create environmentally friendly self-sufficiency. I strongly believe from my life experience that women still don’t have the opportunities, treatment and pay that men have and I try and help motivate, support and inspire the women I meet to grab the best in life. If you have a message to pass, what it would be? » In my experience to be successful you really need to persevere, tenacious and be ready to fight for what you want – nothing will come easily. »

Twitter: @jkh_health

Karima Mariama-Arthur

We are thrilled to introduce to you Karima Mariama-Arthur, Esq, attorney and CEO.

« My name is Karima Mariama-Arthur. I am a corporate attorney and CEO of WordSmithRapport (,  a boutique consulting firm specializing in leadership development and organizational performance management. I’m also the author of ‘Poised For Excellence: Fundamental Principles of Effective Leadership in the Boardroom and Beyond’(Palgrave Macmillan), which launched at the United States Military Academy at West Point earlier this year.

I’ve always had an “entrepreneurial itch,” but never gave it serious consideration until after the birth of my son, Khalil. He inspired me to ‘eliminate  the box.’  Interestingly enough, I approached my journey by suspending the idea that only law could be a career option. As an important detour of sorts, I began to delve deeply into the wine industry—exclusively—for several years before realizing that expanding the notion of “career possibilities “ was necessary. During this time, I worked as a Wine Educator for Paradise Springs Winery, wrote for Zane Lamprey and earned several professional certifications from the Court of Master Sommeliers and the Wine and Spirits Educational Trust (WSET).

Eventually, though, I began to examine the universe of possibilities by closely dialing into the diversity of my knowledge , skills and experience,  noticing any areas that conjured up genuine excitement.  While I knew that the mastery of wine would still represent an incredibly important aspect of my professional wheelhouse,  I also realized that leveraging my legal, academic and business acumen could prove to be a powerful foundation for establishing a successful professional development and advisory firm. After pinpointing my focus and mustering the courage to move forward, WordSmithRapport was born.

After I gave life to my idea, however, there was still more work to do. A ton more work. I had to develop a credible, compelling and competitive brand. That brand also needed to be highly visible. Part of that work had everything to do with PR and marketing. The rest of the process had everything to do with showcasing my expertise, which meant years of writing endless expert articles, securing media interviews, speaking nationally and internally, engaging in high-touch networking and facilitating measurable results that made the firm’s expertise sought after. I also had to obtain clients. Paying clients. Repeat paying clients. New clients. I had to stop and re-consider whether this was really what I wanted.

I quickly learned that working for myself wasn’t easy: It was time-consuming, labor-intensive and stressful. Even with the enormous amount of work that I was putting in, I often felt I was doing so in vain.  Successes were trickling  in…but success was taking too long. Even still, I  refused to let quitting become an option. My self-talk confirmed that I’d worked too hard to give up so easily. I also knew that I was probably on the cusp of something pretty great—any day. Against the backdrop of a waxing and waning ego, I decided to shift my mindset and dig deep for the long haul. Choosing to bet on myself was a critical turning point in my journey that helped me to see myself and my contributions differently.  Coincidentally, it was also buttressed by the phenomenal  support of a core group of business women and friends who helped me find the strength, courage and resources to push forward relentlessly.

One of the charitable causes that I am entirely committed to is empowering young people to believe in themselves and develop the skill sets (both technical and soft) that ensure immeasurable success in every single aspect of their lives. I had a great deal of community support when I was growing up, and it’s had a profound impact on my life. I think it’s important to do the same for others.

What’s a compelling message that resonates strongly and that I’d like to share with others?: “Life is so precious, but it’s also incredibly short. Don’t get bogged down in the muck and mire of endless striving, perfectionism and other people’s opinions. Pause often. Do what you love to make a profound difference in the lives of others. Love yourself (and others) in earnest, travel with wild abandon and try your level best to enjoy every damn minute you’ve been  gifted. You’ll not get any back.”


We are thrilled to introduce to you Angela TUNNER: Director, Founding Editor-in-Chief, Publisher and luxury curator.

« The entrepreneurial path is never a straight line. In most cases, it takes a zig zag trajectory seemingly leading the ambitious person on a wild and incomprehensible ride. That is the case with Angela Tunner, whose background and experiences seemed at the time to be aimless and without focus but in the end, was the ideal recipe that made her uniquely qualified to create her international brand. She also faced a great many challenges and obstacles, some of them life threatening, that stood in her way. Following the advise of a favored quote attributed to Winston Churchill  » When you find yourself in hell, keep going. » Keep going she did, with faith, grit, an open heart and determination, overcoming her incredible odds, and going on to inspire others.

This wide variety of fields and disciplines lead Angela to become accomplished in business and creative arts. Her list of skills and achievements is varied – a few that speak to her diversity and character are: She’s a publisher and an award winning cookbook author and former restaurateur, serving as sous chef, co-owner and manager of a Toronto based, Wine Spectator award-winning French bistro; a brand developer and an award winning entrepreneur with a nomination for the RBC Women’s Entrepreneurs award and winner of the Women of Excellence Award, ‘Woman of Vision’. She also has an eclectic background in clerical and business administration in the fields of advertising, marketing, fine art, fashion merchandising, radio and television, and in management, as an ISO9000 certified quality control manager for a manufacturer of atmospheric diving systems, working in a pilot project with the US Navy. Stemming from her time in admin, has over 25 years experience with computers ranging from office through design software.

Creatively, worked as a fashion merchandiser for a national women’s clothing chain, a fine artist who painted, exhibited and sold her works, and worked in various position in communications including advertising for financial firms, on the communications team for the application for a television license and attended CRTC hearings, and held an executive board position with a lobby group for status of the artist.

Over twenty five years ago Angela began an independent and passionate study of communications and luxury and all that encompasses it including branding and aesthetics, becoming familiar with brands and people, immersing herself to gain a better understanding and formulating her own views on the industry, the definition of luxury and its evolution as the world continued to evolve.

She is the founder of an international media company, her publication, EAT LOVE SAVOR®, named on a list of the Top 5 Luxury Magazines (Notable Consideration) a list that includes Bloomberg and listed in the Top 10 Best Sites for Luxury, a list that includes Louis Vuitton and Dolce and Gabbana.

While developing the EAT LOVE SAVOR® brand, which is now a registered trademark, she created a formula for giving a brand a voice, all important in this digital and social media driven world. She calls the formula DynamicBrand, that has been made into a workbook, which is available as an eBook for purchase online.

Tunner’s media company, Tunner Media is progressive in its culture and in how it functions. It is truly modern in that the operations are virtual, and there is no staff. Instead, the company works with contractors and contributors remotely, forgoing costly overhead and confining cubicle culture allowing for a better work and life balance that is liberating for all. The culture also includes peer to peer mentorship and mentorship of young people studying and preparing for a career in communications and media in group and one-on-one sessions. Angela has also shared her story and insights to high school and elementary classes on communications, arts and media acting as a positive role model and provide inspiration.

Tunner says « I believe that media could take on a role to be a positive influence on its readers and has a tremendous opportunity to be much more than a conduit to consumerism or sensationalism for the purposes of higher ratings. It can be, as we are, designed to be a force for positivity, beauty, goodness, intelligence and ‘edutainment’ as I call it – a means of entertaining education and in our case, free from ads and outside influence. Where my platform and magazine EAT LOVE SAVOR® is concerned, we are aimed at three tiers of wealth, primarily focused on the gentler side of luxury, looking at life and luxury through a feminine lens offering our readers an oasis free from negativity, superficiality and pressure to purchase. The print magazine is distributed via our international distributor, digitally to 4 and 5 star hotels around the world, airlines and airport lounges. Our print issues are printed and purchased on demand rather than mass distribution and shipped worldwide, to those that are truly interested in it versus a mass market approach. Its not about the maximum number of eyes, but rather the right ones. »

Magazine site :

DynamicBrand book :

Social media:



We are thrilled to introduce to you Tessy ANTONY – Business Woman, Philanthropist and UNAides Ambassador.

« My name is Tessy and I am a single mum of two incredible boys. Originally from LUXEMBOURG I lived in 5 different countries and worked with thousands of people. The work I do I inspired by the thousand of men, women and children I have meet on my path to happiness and success.

Success for me has always been measured with the impact my work has brought to thousand of peoples lives all around the world.

Everything I do reflects my passions and I only engage with projects that inspire me and bring value to other people.

I believe in teamwork, togetherness and diversity. Only by combining all of these three incredients is change possible.

Change is possible but not inevitable. Hence, why I accepted my mandate at UNAids as global advocate for young women and Adolescents girls.

Moreover, I co founded Professors Without Borders which has brought hope, change and skills to hundreds of young and engaged individuals all around the globe.

As every single one of us, I did and constantly encounter difficult situations. That’s life and as wierd as it sounds, it is needed in order to enable personal growth, resilience and learning what ever the lesson might be.

For me, of course my divorce was definitely one of the most difficult situations I have ever faced. I experienced the same feelings and emotions when I miscarried my third child.

I cried for years over these two situations. Yet, I always sourced strength from my two healthy and happy boys who mean the world to me.

My mindset was and remains always very clear: focus on the positivity around me, especially my two sons, and keep moving forward no matter how hard it is.

Failure is natural. It all depends what you make out of it. There is always a way to turn things around to become positive and constructive for yourself, your family and people around you.

Self care and resilience are key to get you through everything.

Of course family and friends are crucial. However, if you’re not well from the inside out, you can’t make anyone happy around you.

Therefore, invest in yourself- especially when times are though.

Moreover, I think, with difficult situations, often other people’s judgements is an additional burden. Therefore, I strongly believe in the phrase “treat other people as you would like to be treated yourself” and don’t judge. It’s not necessary and does not help anyone.

Therefore, speak up and empower if it does enhances someone else’s standard of living and wellbeing, and be quite and listen when it’s not. There is a time for each of them in all of our lives.

My message to all is “sourround yourself with people that inspire you, value your own time as the most valuable good you will ever possess and support people around you that need your skills and energy to grow. Never feel to important for the simplest tasks and stay happy with what you do or change if you’re not”

We need to support each other to enervate prosperity and change. Hence, I always welcome your generous help.

Much love to all and stay happy. »


We are thrilled to introduce to you Elena Shchukina – Gallery owner and art curator.

« From the days she chose to study law in Russia, to today, with her gallery Elena Shchukina has always been a champion of the underdog. The raison d’etre of Gallery Elena Shchukina today is to make art more accessible to a wider audience and create a venue that supports some of the most exciting emerging international contemporary artists who have never before exhibited in the UK.

After qualifying as a lawyer, she decided against a career in the courtroom, choosing instead to take a leap of faith and pursue her passion for art. She went back to school and studied at the Moscow Design Academy before moving to Milan and London, where she enrolled in various art business courses through the Christie’s and Sotheby’s auction houses.

« I studied law because my parents advised me to do so, and while I chose not to pursue as a career, it was a great decision. Law is a vary multilateral subject. which has provided me with valuable skills and knowledge that I found useful for establishing an art business as well. I made the move into art so that I could focus my passion and creativity into something that I could produce. » She says.

Growing up in Siberia presents challenges of its own; it is a brutal landscape, forcing one to build a thick skin. This most definitely prepared Elena for a career in the arts; a historically male dominated elite world, where women, to this day continue to be under-represented. Her ultimate dream was always to open an art gallery in London, undoubtedly the global hub of the international art world. However, this came with its own challenges, the first of which was establishing herself in an already crowded art scene. To get a head start, she curated three exhibitions in other locations before ever opening the doors to Gallery Elena Shchukina in 2013.

Success hasn’t been guaranteed for Elena, and she made the decision to close another of her galleries, in London’s Knightsbridge district. However, she made the most of this situation, her Mayfair gallery was selected to headline Russian Art Week in November 2014.

Today, the Gallery frequently participates in a number of international art fairs, including the London Art Fair, Masterpiece, START and Art Bahrain. Her vision for the gallery combines a love of the technique of creation coupled with a passionate interest in colour and texture and as well as conventional art, she regularly hosts exhibition evenings, displaying the latest masterpieces from the world of fashion and jewellery.

Outside of her gallery work, Elena is a member of AWAD; the Association of Women Art Dealers and a Patron of both the Royal Academy of Arts and Victoria & Albert Museum. Through these associations, her position and influence within the art world has continued to grow and she has established a network and profile that has gone a long way to raise the profile of previously under-represented or under-appreciated artists.

A young mother with two children, she has a passion for philanthropy and especially believes in the importance of providing underprivileged children with the opportunity to access art and art education, partnering with Action for Children to host several charity events at the gallery. »


We are delighted to introduce to you Polly Alexandre, an international Success Coach for Women Entrepreneurs.

« With a background in fashion, advertising & photography before becoming a coach and healer, I am a serial entrepreneur and leading money block coach. I mentors & coach ambitious, creative women to overcome their past and the blocks & fears holding them back, so they can truly fulfill all their potential in life and business.

I help women overcome their negative money beliefs & write a new money story so they can create the money to live the life of their dreams, and in the process become more empowered, more confident, more peaceful, free and happy.

My vision is true abundance for everyone!

I didn’t always think like this however! Like many people, I grew up with the message that you work hard and life is a struggle & you should be grateful for what you have. There was never enough money and that’s just how it was. Like many women of our generation my parents grew up during & in the aftermath of the second world war and were the products of a generation that knew scarcity, struggle and lack & fear first hand.

It wasn’t until decades later that I realized these experiences were the foundations of my own belief system, and that we inherit our programming about how the world works largely from our parents, but also from the generations before us. It’s literally in our DNA.

At 19, I was called to go on my first silent meditation retreat & it blew my mind. I remember even the traffic lights looked brighter on the way home. Life seemed richer, more vibrant & I felt more peaceful and in the flow. The power we have through our own minds over how we experience life was set in my mind right then.

I went on to do a Psychology degree (although I really wanted to go to art school) and then studied Fashion Promotion and began my working career.

The world of advertising agencies was exciting, it was the dot-com boom; money was flying around and the parties were fun and exciting – but my role as a planner wasn’t. I was in the wrong department, not playing to my strengths, and I became disillusioned and longed to break free.

I remember taking my one and only sick day off work, and drawing out a future vision for my life, one where I lived on a sunny island by the beach & where I did something I really loved for a living.

I knew deep down anything was possible, and at 28, I bravely made the leap from corporate to being a creative, and running my own business based on my passion for photography. It was a steep learning curve and the start of me truly claiming my freedom about how I choose to work & live.

In the new era of digital photography & everyone switching over, I stayed true to my heart and make a decision to shoot film. This proved to be core to my success – and I quickly became very successful as my work stood out from the crowd. I was featured heavily in magazines and online, and secured amazing weddings all over the world.

It was time to realize the dream of that magical life in the sun…… fiercely determined, I didn’t take No for an answer when my financial advisor said to come back in a couple of years time. It was 2008 & the banks were going bust & the world was in financial crisis – but I knew it was my time. I just had to push through, get creative and figure out a way to make it happen.

I stopped engaging in any conversations about the poor state of the economy, stepped away from negative people, and turned odd the TV & radio. Every night I immersed myself in books about Ibiza and imagined myself there.

With a mortgage offer valid for just 30 days, I set out manifest my dream home on the beautiful island of Ibiza. 6 weeks later I was the proud owner of a lovely home walking distance from the beach with magical sunset views.

In December 2010 we packed everything up in the 4 wheel drive, and with the cat on the dashboard set off for the epic drive down to Ibiza.

Could life get any better? As I sat watching the sunset over Es Vedra, a giant rock off the coast of Ibiza & one of the most magnetic places on Earth, I felt truly blessed. I remember saying to my partner, “I just don’t want anything to change”.

Less than 2 years later, I would have lost almost everything in my life. First my Mum passed away suddenly and unexpectedly, my father got cancer, and then my new husband walked out in my first year of marriage, and then went on to almost die. More losses followed, including eventually, my beloved island home.

I learned to survive when the worst that could happen is happening. I learned what it is to go to the very depths of despair, and what it is to handle grief, loss, pain, heartbreak.

Like a phoenix from the ashes, I learned to rise again, I become very strong, I dug deep inside myself to survive and figure out my next steps.

It was time to start a new dream.

I followed the calling on a new path, took on a high level mentor, trained as a coach, and I created a new 6 figure business in just 13 months. Within 2 years, I had a multiple 6 figure creative and coaching business. I was travelling the world and rediscovering my power and my joy.

I learned the power of transforming my beliefs, especially around money, and my photography career soared too – I fulfilled a long held dream of shooting for Martha Stewart Weddings and even having my own cover.

But still something was missing.

At the end of 2016, I serendipitously came across a modality called Theta Healing, and it opened up a whole new level of transformation. Women (and men) have such deep inner wisdom yet we’re disconnected from that most of the time. Through wonderful spiritual teachers I learned how to identify and clear the deep subconscious programming that holds us back.

My intuitive abilities grew tremendously. My toolkit was stronger than ever and I saw the transformation in my own clients when I supported them with the combination of coaching & deep inner healing.

When we clear a lifetime of limiting beliefs, and create a new vision for the future, magic happens.

Creating becomes more effortless, we feel more empowered, and the outer world begins to reflect our new inner world. More money, more opportunities, more peace of mind, more self love, more time and location freedom….

I help women make more money, through the deep inner transformation and clearing of all the negative beliefs that have built up over a lifetime. I help them get back in their power and let go of the old stuff that’s holding them back.

Quite simply, I support women to fulfill their potential.

One of the greatest & deepest fears we hold is not fulfilling our potential in life.

I believe are all like diamonds, that just lost their shine over time. I help women rediscover that diamond, clean it up and polish it, so they can be all they came here to be in this lifetime. I help them move past abuse, trauma, low self worth, lack of confidence and into claiming their gifts, their potential and all the abundance that’s waiting for them.

Through my business, I support women one on one in high level Private Coaching, and through my Group Coaching Programme, Money Beautifully, an online Group Coaching Programme to transform your Money Story and Clear your Money Blocks. My heart lights up every day when I see the transformation happening with the women I work with,.

I work with a variety of clients from the UK, US, Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, the Middle East & Europe, which includes coaches starting their coaching business or looking to go the next level, to women seeking their purpose and passion & who are ready to make the leap from corporate to entrepreneurship, and women seeking to go to the next level in their life and business.

This lifetime has been one huge journey and I’m only half way through. I’ve learned that whilst we are the Creator of our own lives, we are also spiritual souls having a human journey and there are many things we will be called to surrender to and experience that we do not choose on a conscious level.

It’s part of our path to discover the learnings, surrender to the journey and seek the magic.

The message I would share with women reading this is that you have the power to write a new dream at any time. You have everything you need inside you, don’t be scared to get support, and the best money you ever invest will be the money you invest in yourself.

Uncover and transform your relationship with money – it’s one of the biggest relationships in your life, and one that you have the power to write a new story around.

Be open to new ways of seeing the world, follow your intuition – it’s one of your greatest gifts & it will never lead you wrong – and know that you have the power inside you to overcome your fears and manifest all of your dreams and desires.

Never accept something as ‘just how it is’. Everything is a metaphor & you are a spiritual being having a human journey.

Take risks, be brave, know you stronger than you realise, follow your desires, listen to your soul, share love & be kind. »

Samanah DURAN

We are delighted to introduce to you Samanah DuranCEO and CD of Critics Clothing.

« I am the Founder, CEO and Creative Director of Critics Clothing and most recently listed Forbes 30 under 30 Europe. In a just a few short years I built my business on my own with a few favours I managed to pull in here and there. I didn’t have a large amount of personal finance to invest in my start-up or a prestigious Bachelors degree in business management, but what I did and still do have are my faculties and a garnered degree of experience whilst building Critics Clothing.

Critics Clothing is a retail start-up just short of 5 years old is a luxury streetwear brand developed and designed by myself back in 2012. Critics Clothing accurately conveys a powerful message to take pride in your identity, demonstrated through an intricate blend of simplistic and traditional but assertive styles.

Building on that inspiration as an extension of Critics Clothing, I have now successfully launched BEYOUROWN, which is a digital media & news company dedicated to inspiring young women in business.

During my creative process, I found that I was often overcome by the same challenge throughout the first few years of growing Critics Clothing. I found myself hesitating to turn Critics Clothing into a mainstream fast fashion brand to generate more profit. It was a question of whether I wanted to do more wholesale and dilute the exclusivity or to continue maintaining full control over our own online space. This common factor of self doubt always circulated around the same spot on the drawing board.

However, I was also extremely reluctant to do so as I was so keen to keep the elusive, exclusive touch to the brand and I felt that turning Critics Clothing into a brand that just churned out t-shirts and sweaters without any real creativity or thought would take away the real core essence and passion I felt for the brand as a whole.

I know my audience better than anyone and I have always wanted to feel competent when releasing designs and collections online. I had to measure my audience and my demographics constantly to know what the best pricing structure would be, and make sure the brand’s DNA and ethos really matched my intentions for Critics Clothing. It was a case of measuring and testing the market over and over again. Changing the prices, altering the quantity of how much was produced in certain styles etc. It really was down to trial and error.

BEYOUROWN’s rapid growth & evolution is down to continuously delivering a fresh perspective from a wide community of the most affluential, influential and entrepreneurial game changing women of today. BEYOUROWN help empower and support young women that are passionate about changing lives.

Worldwide leading ladies use the BEYOUROWN platform to tell their stories, offer advice and share their knowledge, covering topics such as Business, Music & Media, Science, Tech & Art and Sports.

I am passionate about building strong foundations that resonate with both my self as the founder and my audiences as I believe that authenticity and transparency is the key to success. I love the concept of taking what I have learnt whilst building Critics Clothing and being able to share that on my platform BEYOUROWN- so that other women out that can hopefully take away some tips and advice and apply them to what ever they are doing whilst navigating their way through their own business journey.

If I had absolutely one message to say to share then it would be to « BE YOUR OWN » Be you, be real and don’t be afraid to whole you really want to be. You have one life, and its far too short to live it whilst pretending to another version of yourself. »


We are delighted to introduce to you  Ava ST.Pierre – author.

« Author of After The Storm- Breaking The Cycle of Abuse with Conviction, Connection and Compassion – survivor of a mother with debilitating mental illness and a product of both mental and physical child abuse. Sadly, Ava’s greatest loss as a child was losing her baby brother to abuse.

ST.Pierre is a multi-title pageant holder and has learned to achieve her best on stage with focus, vigor, poise and exquisite beauty. As a star athlete at age eleven, she learned how to optimize the power of physical strength and mental endurance. But for this gifted woman, life was rarely easy; for most of her childhood, she lived out a secret nightmare.

Ava is a mother of two, a grandmere` of four and is married to her high school sweetheart of thirty-nine years. She owns and operates two family owned-businesses- Rooster’s Outdoor Adventures, LLC and Queen Be Productions, LLC. “Own Your Kingdom”. She lives nestled in the majestic Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

Ava recently released her inspirational memoir- After The Storm, which has received rave reviews for her honesty and inspiring story of overcoming a challenging childhood with triumph over adversity; how she chose to end the cycle of abuse in her family by showing love, grace and compassion to all; how to turn negatives into positive energy in order to make the world a better, more loving place. After The Storm is currently working on two projects in turning Ava’s autobiography into film. One is a short film with world renown artist, fashion photographer and Florence, Italy based director – Rossano B. Maniscalchi and team. As well as a documentary for ‘International Women’s Day’ with Magnascope Media LLC. Led by CEO and Executive Producer Angela “Ella” Kastman Corr. In sharing Ava’s true life story on a bigger platform, she hopes to continue to give back through her message(s).

About the Book:

Ava ST.Pierre has never played the victim; through faith and courage, she found a better tomorrow. Her true-life story will inspire you to never give up hope. As a young girl, oftentimes, Ava knew her saving grace was to hide quietly behind the living room couch and wait for the whirlwind of her mother’s rage to pass.

Throughout her teen and young adult years, Ava had to learn how to break the effects of debilitating mental illness that her mother suffered from and effectuated in violence toward her and six siblings. Even as Ava witnessed her mother’s steady decline, she chose to follow her father’s lead- to live a life of genuine, empathetic compassion and enlightenment, helping others survive after their own storm and speaking up for the helpless and haunted. As memories of abuse impress upon the psyche, a heart of love and forgiveness will always pave the way to rise above such chaos. With assistance from her daughter and co-author, Sheree’ Cogburn, Ava ST.Pierre’s story is a perfect testimony to the power of love, faith and forgiveness. As expected from a beauty queen, After The Storm includes details and photos from the pageant arena, but the most surprising twist is the message that shines through about the beauty within.

Through wisdom of experience Ava inspires others to have courage to tell the grueling truths. She has learned it’s incredibly freeing to write and talk about her once hidden past and shed a positive light on how to break the cycles of abuse. Ava has learned through her life’s journey, there is brightness and goodness in the world. Darkness and storms, we all have faced, will show rainbows and light in the world God has planned for each of us.

Ava shows through actions to champion a voice of strength to not feel the guilt or shame of a secret past. Sharing her story across the globe in hopes of helping many families and children with similar life struggles and experiences. She became a beauty queen for the sole purpose of helping to make a difference and using the sash and crown in a deeper and more meaningful way. There is beauty within that exists in all of us. Ava continues to use the sash and crown as a tool and stepping stone to create greater awareness for those affected by mental illness, child abuse and life struggles. She is a positive role model for others and shows those she meets love and compassion. Ava’s goal even as a young teenage mother was to always strive to be the best mother she could because her mother didn’t have the chance to be present in her seven children’s lives. Ava treasures her children and grandchildren, in honor of her and the mother she would have been if not for her illness. Thank God for the small things, always carrying a positive attitude because she has seen heartbreak in her life and has come out the other side stronger and braver for the experiences. »

To order your copy of “After The Storm” please visit:… and


We are delighted to introduce to you Indre BUTKEVICIUTE – wealth coach.

« My name is Indre and my mission is to help women become more educated about the world of investing so they can become active participants when making decisions related to their or their families’ wealth.

My story started almost 12 years ago when I graduated from UCL with a BA in Economics and Business with Eastern European Studies and found myself one morning getting off the tube at Canary Wharf station and entering one of the office buildings housing Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management. It then was my home for the next 8 years. I remember very vividly when I was around 16 years old, visiting London for the first time, when I stepped outside Canary Wharf station I quietly said to myself ‘oh what a dream it would be to work here someday’. I am a huge believer that if you wish for something sooner or later it will come to you, so be very careful with your wishes.

I really enjoyed my years at Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management. I learnt a lot about the business, clients, how to approach certain things and 8 years later I felt it was time to move on and start building my own empire, Lily Advisory, completely oblivious to how hard it can actually be.

Quite often when we hear business success stories the long rocky road towards the success gets lost somewhere. When I started I was completely fuelled by excitement, adrenaline, curiosity and a sense of empowerment. For 12 months that kept me going full speed ahead. However that energy at some point runs out, especially when you are faced with challenges that take you 2 or 3 steps back, you then need to find the strength again to power through and keep going. The whole dynamic of running a business alone is very different from working in a company where you are surrounded by other people. I went from a large corporate world surrounded by a great team, management and infrastructure to going at it all alone. One of the biggest challenges I have faced in the last 4 years is self-doubt. Every idea that you have, you think it over and over and over again for a 100 times until the point that you start doubting about the whole business altogether. And I am sure all entrepreneurs have come to breaking points on numerous occasions where you just want to drop it all and walk away. In order to have the strength to power through these moments and just accept that building a business takes years, you need to surround yourself with strong mentors and motivators. These people are already around you and in your circle. It is people who you trust to give you their honest opinion, people who are not afraid to give you constructive criticism, challenge you and encourage you.

I get quite frustrated when people assume that if you run your own business you live a very flexible, carefree and fun lifestyle. Don’t get me wrong, it is a lot of fun at times to be your own boss, but it also means that you honestly never stop. Your work is your life and your life is your work, the concept of switching off disappears altogether at least for the first 4 years. We will see how it all pans out in the next 4 years. As an example, this summer when I was on my honeymoon I still spent quite a few hours working, because I had a new client and I knew I could not turn down the business just because I was on holiday.

Those who know me very well, will definitely say that the biggest challenge so far for me has been to stay level headed. 4 years down the line and I still go through a rollercoaster of emotions on a regular basis. I believe it is very normal to go from feeling very happy because you have some great projects going to feeling very frustrated and crying your eyes out because this month you did not get any new business. At times I find myself thinking: did I really make the right decision, am I approaching the business in the right way, do I have the right idea, and so on. Reality is, no matter how hard it can get at times, I wouldn’t change it for the world. Having my own business has allowed me to run it the way I feel fits best with my clients and me. I have the ability to be flexible and adapt to the requirements easily, I can make decisions fast and move at the same pace as the market does and I can put all my crazy ideas to the test and see if any of them work.

Coming from a financial background I always felt that women were certainly underrepresented in the financial industry, especially in the senior positions. My other observation was that women were also underrepresented on the investor side as well. Having done some research and reading a few interesting papers I realised that one of the biggest reasons for that was lack of financial education. That is why I founded Lily Advisory in the hope of solving exactly this problem.

The company aims to provide women with the tools required to lead a financially sound lifestyle. Every woman is different and has unique requirements and I want to make sure to offer help for each of the aspects. There are two main parts of the business: 1) wealth coaching for women; and 2) Financially Sound Woman Investment Club.

Wealth coaching provides advice to women who need help in understanding how to manage their finances more effectively and helping them gain the knowledge to allow them to tap into the world of investing. The Financially Sound Woman Investment Club is a platform for like-minded women to get together and learn about investing, share ideas and join forces when making financial decisions while at the same time having some fun together.

My biggest commitment with Lily Advisory is to educate as many women as I possibly can, get them interested in investing and show them the fun and accessible side of it. It is important to bridge the gap between female clients and providers (wealth managers, financial advisers, asset managers and others), because I see things going wrong too often purely due to lack of understanding one another. At times I also feel that when you lack certain knowledge you can be taken advantage of by someone who has the upper hand, and that applies not only in finance of course, but overall. My mission is to eliminate these issues as much as I can and give women the power to take control of their financial affairs so that if things go wrong they have the tools to cope with it.

I am a strong believer that us, women, should help each other advance. I quite often like to use the quote “One woman can make a difference but together we can rock the world” and I absolutely live by it every single day and I thank all the wonderful women around me with whom together we certainly are starting to rock the world slowly step by step. »


We are delighted to introduce to you Susan STEVENS – CEO of MadeWithRespect.

« I was born and grew up in New Zealand and continue to live there with my 3 children and husband who I met when I was 15. When I was 13 my parents took my brothers and I to the other side of the world where we lived for 3 months out of a campervan exploring the UK and parts of Europe. This opened my eyes to different cultures and ways of life. In my early 20’s I jumped back on a plane this time with my future husband in tow, we spent the next few years living in London and travelled around Europe and Africa. We eventually headed back to New Zealand to further our careers and start a family.

I’ve always been fiercely independent, never one to conform under pressure, I do what feels intuitively right.  When life has thrown me a curveball I navigate through as best I can, using the experience to grow and learn from.  I am driven by a desire to do my best, to be a great role model for my children and to live a full life with little regret.

I strive to live a meaningful life; one that not only I can be proud of but my children and husband can be proud of.  My focus is to achieve a balance that affords me the freedom and flexibility to enjoy life and appreciate time with my family; I don’t consider my work a job but rather a way of life.

For me, life is not just about surviving, it’s about feeling alive and embracing the challenges that come with it. Life is about being courageous, not being afraid to make mistakes and more importantly being open to learn and grow from them. Life is about living purposefully.Top of Form

After a successful career climbing the corporate ladder in the sales and media industry I slowly became disheartened with the corporate environment, I lost my passion and I lost my faith in big corporate companies, I became disillusioned with everything they stood for and everything they didn’t stand for.

I left it behind and started down a path less travelled but one that afforded me greater enablement, where I found greater freedom and flexibilty, where passion and purpose became my norm.

In November 2014, after 20 months of working late at night on a business idea while managing two daytime contracts and raising 3 children, I launched my own company.  I worked with boutique brands selling jewellery, bags and homeware through pop-up shops, select retail stores in New Zealand and Australia and through an e-commerce site. It became a two year project validating the market, understanding the opportunities and realising where my true passion lay.

In October 2016 I joined forces with Carolyn Managh, expert marketer and ex-Ebay UK Brand Director. We remodelled the business and relaunched Made With Respect as a global online e-department store that champions boutique brands Made With Respect, through virtual branches strategically located in key cities around the world.

Made With Respect brings together extraordinary boutique brands from all corners of the globe, made with respect to craftmanship, to people and to the environment, often with equally inspiring social mission stories.  We are vocal champions, the storyteller and a global voice for ethical practises, transparent supply-chains, small batch craftmanship, quality and sustainability. We celebrate everything inherently good about those we partner with.

 From a business perspective Made With Respect also represents not just the Founders of the company but all those connected to us who stay true to their values, who embrace life and who are committed to making a difference. Made With Respect empowers and enables.

Having experienced the crushing effect when someone in the workplace tried to disempower me by using their power and status, it stirred a passion within me to support and enable others in business.  Life is much more difficult and arduous when you feel alone and vulnerable, but when surrounded by like-minded people and equiped with resources and a healthy dose of encouragement, it creates a very dynamic environment to function in.

This was the basis of Made With Respect; to create an environment where we empower and enable others with a similar vision, who partner with us. We celebrate everyones uniqueness and champion everyones individual strengths because collectively we are far stronger than when we are a voice of one.

Life is for living, not surviving. It is almost guaranteed that through life you will face adversity, but rather than focusing your energy on being fearful of what might happen, learn to face it with courage and move forward being wiser because of it. Although things may happen to you that are out of your control, you can control the way you respond to it and ultimately influence the outcome. »


We are delighted to introduce to you Rene BYRD, singer and God brand ambassador.

« The latest artist to bring a fresh new take on the soul and pop genres is the talented singer and songwriter, Rene Byrd. A driven musician with a powerful voice, her heartfelt lyrics are set to touch listeners across the globe.

Rene Byrd’s passion for singing began from a very young age when she participated in numerous talent contests namely an inter-college competition based in London which nurtured stars like Daniel and Natasha Bedingfield. These successfully placed her as one of the top talents in the UK. At the age of 14, Rene joined a band as a backup vocalist, paving the way for her career in the music industry. A star was born.

Rene is third generation West Indian and she comes from a religious and musical background. Her father was a music producer and her uncle is a Gospel singer, now internationally known as ‘Bishop John Francis’, whose choir sang for HRH Majesty the Queen at the Royal Variety Show. John Francis also had a gospel TV show broadcasted on Channel 4, called ‘People Get Ready’. Rene recalls that it ‘was a regular occurrence to see my uncle on TV and he inspired me to sing. His voice is amazing!’

‘One of my most vivid memories as a child was being side stage at an open-air concert in London. I watched Sade, Sting and Tracey Chapman perform and it blew me away. Something inside made me run on to the stage and grab the mic and spoke to the crowd. Thankfully security just let me be then guided me back to my seat and from that day it was a clear sign that the stage was my home.’

Rene Byrd was born from a break up I remember the night like it was yesterday. My long time partner of over 8 years decided he wanted a break. We all know what a break means, I was devastated. We just grew apart I guess I lay on the floor of my studio apartment sobbing and felt like my life was over.

Melodramic you might say but as well as losing my boyfriend I also lost my best friend. I felt numb I really understood what it meant when they say my heart hurts physical pain. It was one of them sink or swim moments. I remember talking out loud to myself saying girl you better wipe those tears and channel this pain into something magical. I decided to put pen to paper and write songs to parts of my story, other peoples experiences it was truly therapeutic. I helped to heal the pain but equally when asked to perform at times brought it back but watching the audience and receiving the positive feedback about the songs the words made it all make sense.

The music industry is without question one of the most competitive and cut throat in business. You have to be thick skinned, resilient and steadfast. I have felt like giving up many times it can wear you down but every time I realise it’s what keeps my soul alive I kept pushing. I come from a musical family my father, brothers and my cousins so I am internally grateful for their continued support and believe. My brothers are my main producers so I have continued support when recording and performing.

The music landscape has changed so much, it much harder to earn money on I the music industry unless you are signed, or given the big break. The market is saturated with singers that been said I have been truly blessed to perform at some beautiful venues in the UK and internationally and work with the best producers and perform with the best musicians in town.

I decided to diversify my brand so have been building my presenting experience in the luxury industry. I have meet some amazing people on my journey and continue to connect with people that have help support and encourage me along the way.

I set myself realistic milestones, pushed myself outside my comfort zone, there is something special about being uncomfortable you learn so much about yourself. It encourages growth. Doubt is something in us all but the faith I hold helps be come to the realisation that all I can do is my very best I get comfort from that.

I don’t want to live a life of regret I have no idea how the story ends hoping it’s as blessed as it currently is.

Through my experiences and observation of others in love, sadness, hope and joy my first album was born. It’s really surreal being an artist. Not one day is the same and there is so much to consider writing good songs that connect with your audience, your image, and your performance… the list is endless. I believe in hard work and dedication and I’m involved in all aspects of my brand; from overseeing the final cut of my songs to the artwork on the CD.

Some of Rene’s past performances and guest appearances include a show at the world-famous Elstree Film Studios, the TG Foundation’s charity event featuring Lady Gaga’s designer Vera Thordardottir, Haute Couture Fashion Week in Paris and ’Live at Delancey Street, Performance for BET America with Traci Ellis Ross for her show ’Read Between the Lines.’ An electric night with Rene Byrd at Annabel’s Private Members club in Mayfair London. Her performance at the National Art Gallery for the Prime Minister of Lithuania accompanied with band members that work with George Michael and Emeli Sandé.

Roy Francis (Roy Francis Productions) will work to promote Rene in both the UK and American markets; they have been responsible for producing shows and appearances for acts such as Michelle Williams (Destiny Child), Mary Mary and Trey Songz. Tez-lee Rene’s younger brother, UK’s answer to Usher has also performed alongside Rene and produced numerous tracks for her album.

Rene has recently become involved in ‘Teens Unite’ the charity founded by Karen Millen OBE and is an ambassador for ‘The Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund.’ She recently got involved with Target Ovarian Cancer Charity to help to create awareness and aid fundraising. She works with Rochay Elite who provide intelligence and services to the Ultra High Net Worth and Super Rich consisting of the UK & Global Rich List in the Luxury Sector.

Rene Byrd has teamed up with numerous inspiring international businesses to help endorse their brands through her image. Among these brands are Fashion Fair Cosmetics part of Johnson Publishing USA; they publish ‘Ebony Magazine and Jet the most successful African American lifestyle magazines, Sonata Luxury Lingerie line as featured in ‘Vogue’ Katherine Elizabeth (London-based Milliner who designed for Dita Von Teese), Luxury shoe designer Aruna Seth as worn by Pippa Middleton at the marriage of HRH, Save Your Soles, Convopiece showcasing innovative and unique watch brands with exquisite luxury, La Diosa London based Luxury Jewellery who have designed pieces for Oprah, Michelle Obama and HRH Duchess of Cambridge, Aiisha Ramadan Dubai based designer and her style consultant and designer Britta Von Basedow. »

Twitter @renebyrdworld
Instagram @renebyrdofficial