This excellent post was brought to you by Estée Lauder.
Confidence is a funny thing. For some, it comes naturally. For others, it takes work.
Risking everything to step out on your own as an entrepreneur requires confidence. It’s one thing to have an idea. In this day and age, who doesn’t have a business idea or two stowed away for a rainy day? But actually quitting your steady nine-to-five to pursue the entrepreneurial dream? That takes courage.
And courage is something that Carmen Hamilton (Founder of Chronicles of Her), Pip Edwards (Co-Founder & Creative Director of P.E Nation) and Deborah Symond O’Neil (Founder of Mode Sportif) have in spades. All three women will be speaking at Gritty Pretty’s One Night Only Beauty Basics Masterclasses across Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane – read more on #GrittyPrettyOneNightOnly here.
Carmen is one of the OG fashion bloggers in Australia and the mastermind behind Chronicles of Her. What began as a blog in 2011 has now evolved into CHRONICLESOFHER.COM – an online destination of curated fashion and lifestyle content.
Chronicles of Her came to fruition “in the pre-Instagram days,” Carmen tells Gritty Pretty. “I was an avid fashion blog reader personally and studied media so the idea to start my own as a hobby sounded like fun.”
Carmen’s hobby quickly transformed into a fully-fledged business where no two days are the same. “Creative would be the best word to describe it but like anyone else running a small business, it’s equally demanding and nowhere near as glamorous as social media would have you believe,” she says. “On any given day, I am usually editing imagery or doing the back end of shoot production that nobody sees. On the other hand, the digital space is an ever changing industry right now so I have freedom to try new things all the time which excites me. Some things work and some don’t (you don’t see those!) but that is the best part of the job.”
Of course, there have been challenges along the way. “Managing finances, client expectations and my own time is something I am still getting better at,” Carmen says. “The other aspect that I have really learnt to embrace is my offline life. Being online 24/7 can take a toll and with time I have learned to better separate my public and personal identities.”
Her advice to budding entrepreneurs? “Trust your gut and always remember the big picture in business.” A mentor once told Carmen that business is equal parts magic and logic. “Both need to exist to create something exceptional. An amazing idea is worth nothing if you haven’t considered the strategy or real world application of that idea.”
Owning, running and growing a business also requires a certain level of confidence. For Carmen, that means looking after herself, inside and out. “Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair and Advanced Night Repair Concentrate are as much part of my de-stressing ritual as they are for my skin,” she says.
And when that fails, there’s always spin. “Something about the music and the dark lighting transports me into another world where I’m unable to think about anything else.”
Pip founded street-meets-sportswear label P.E. Nation with long-time friend Claire Tregoning in March 2016. The pair wanted to create a brand that married functional active-wear with fashion-forward trends. Now in its fourth year, P.E. Nation is currently available at over 250 retailers globally.
So, where did the idea for P.E. Nation come from? “It all started with the name,” Edwards tells Gritty Pretty. “When I realised the obvious, that my initials actually stood for physical education, I knew exactly what the brand was, what it felt like, looked like and stood for! I then went to lunch with Claire to float the idea, and it was full steam ahead from that day onwards! It was a very organic beginning.”
Pip’s life is go, go, go – or as she puts it: “full on, full-time, full speed!” While she describes her role as the brand’s Co-Founder and Creative Director as her “dream job”, it’s taken a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get here. Pip advises budding entrepreneurs to spend time on the set up and structure of their business at the beginning. “Understanding the foundations of what creates a business with longevity is so, so important,” she says. “I thought I had enough knowledge and advice in the beginning but have realised one must really call in the specialists to understand options and consequences.”
Running a business and managing a growing team requires conviction. “I feel my most confident, when I am fit, strong, and healthy,” she says. “When I feel this way, I know I’m mentally, physically and emotionally in balance and can conquer anything. My physical health is so important to my attitude.”
Sometimes, we all – Pip included – feel a little less self-confident than others. On these days, “self-care is the only way.” She has a few fail-safe pick-me-ups: “pilates, walking, a massage, a facial, spiritual healing, mediating, sitting at the beach and connecting with the ocean, quality time with my son, pumping my favourite tunes, eating well. All these elements combined get me back on track.”
Deborah founded Mode Sportif – initially, an online destination for fashionable activewear – in 2014. In the years following, the brand has expanded its offering to include contemporary womenswear across both the e-commerce site and two bricks-and-mortar stores (with a third to open later this year).
For Deborah, being a business owner was always on the cards: “[As a child] I dreamed of being a professional dancer or a shop owner. It’s pretty special to think I’ve made one of those dreams a reality!”
Mode Sportif was on the forefront of the athleisure craze; a trend that is now a mainstay. “I wanted to create a destination in Australia that curated the best of the best in the athleisure category for women,” she says. “I took the idea and rolled with it. We have now evolved to have a wide offering of womenswear covering all categories. I love how much my vision has grown and developed in the past six years.”
Being a business owner, Deborah can never be sure how the day will unfold. “I work across all areas of the business from retail to digital marketing, buying to operations,” she tells Gritty Pretty. “It’s often a wild ride.”
Deborah’s biggest learning curve? Having the confidence to evolve beyond athleisure. “Our customers wanted more fashion focused product, with the same newness we were covering in athleisure space, but I was concerned about deviating from my original brand concept. Our evolution has contributed to our success so far, and it’s our clients and customers that gave me the confidence to expand.”
The Mode Sportif founder advises future small entrepreneurs to research and plan. “Know your concept and why your business is different. Develop your unique selling point and have a defined target market and marketing plan.”
Deborah says she feels most confident when she’s “happy, fulfilled and challenged.” And on those less-than-average days? “There’s nothing like a workout, morning coffee, fresh make up look and fabulous outfit to turn a day around! Self-love goes a long way to boosting my confidence and mood.” Preach!