International Women’s Day, held every year on the 8th March, is a day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women. In celebration, The LuxPad has pulled together our favourite advice from some of the top influential women in the world of business and design. From fashion icon, Rosita Missoni, to Amara’s Chief Customer Officer, Madeleine Melson, take inspiration from these influential women and #PressforProgress this International Women’s Day…
Rosita Missoni, Home Fashion Icon
Rosita Missoni is the Matriarch of one of the most famous fashion dynasties in history. Rosita created the iconic fashion line with her husband Ottavio in 1953 and the brand, which is most famous for its colorful zigzag patterns, has grown into an empire spanning fashion, home accessories and furniture over the last 65 years.
Missoni is renowned for being a family run business, what are the best rewards from working with your family and what are the hardest challenges?
It is rewarding to have created a “Style” – the challenge is to keep it in the right track when it comes to shared duties and honors.
What is the best advice anyone has ever given you?
When in 1965 we were looking for a place to build our factory my husband Tai said: “We should find a place to work where we would like to spend our weekends” and I totally agreed. Our choice was so right that once the factory was built we started to plan to build also our house. The best decision in our life!
Madeleine Melson, Chief Customer Officer at Amara
Amara’s Chief Customer Officer, Madeleine Melson, has an extensive background in online retail. She recalls her time at the University of Nottingham, where she studied Architecture, provided the foundations she needed for her chosen career. “You could be studying philosophy one moment and cognitive mapping the next which certainly kept me on my toes. What I didn’t realise at the time was that the principles I was learning at architecture school could be applied the creation of online experiences. “ From university Madeleine worked at many renowned e-tailers including Browns fashion, figleaves.com and John Lewis where she worked in Creative Services before managing the Electricals and Home Technology category of the website. Her last stop before Amara was at House of Fraser where she started as Online Trade Manager in 2010 and was promoted through a variety of different roles to become Director of Customer Insight.
Who has inspired you in your life and why?
I’ve been lucky to have been inspired by a lot of people in my life and I can’t mention them all here, but most notably of course my parents who worked incredibly hard have been great role models in their work ethic and drive. They gave me so many opportunities to find what I’m passionate about and made me feel capable of anything I set my mind to.
Another is my friend’s mother, who had 5 children within 10 years, showed huge conviction and perseverance when she trained to be a doctor in her 30s while bringing up the children and then opening a very successful clinic for children with eating disorders. She didn’t accept no for an answer (and still doesn’t) and she and her amazing family have had a big impact on me and what I believe I can achieve. And lastly, my final year architecture tutor who helped me develop creatively at university has been a big influence on me. He appreciates and analyses everything around him. His imagination, perspective and attention to detail still open my mind today.
What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment to date?
One area I get most satisfaction in my role is from supporting others developing and flourishing in their careers. I’m lucky to have worked with very intelligent, charismatic teams and people over the years and I’m incredibly proud of them and what we achieved together. I could see that Amara was full of people with a lot of potential, ambition and desire to learn, which was a big part of the reason I joined. We are working on some things that we hope to be very very proud of soon.
Orla Kiely OBE, Fashion Designer
Orla Kiely OBE is an Irish fashion designer with an empire that spans clothing, home accessories, bags and jewelry. Orla founded her eponymous brand in 1995 to express her love of pattern and color & her collection of bold motifs with retro-influences has graced wardrobes and homes across the world ever since.
Since the inception of your brand what has been the biggest challenge that you have faced and how did you overcome it?
There are ongoing challenges; and I think with challenges what you have to do is get through them. There is no challenge that cannot be overcome – so you know with all the challenges that we’ve had over the last 20 years, and there has been many, we’ve never let them beat us. We couldn’t take no for an answer we had to be resilient and just get through. We had to come up with good ideas and be clever and that’s really how you have to cope. Be creative – that is always the key to overcoming challenges.
What’s the best advice any one has ever given you?
Be yourself! And I think that is really important, because as soon as you try to do something that’s not really you it falls flat on its face. And that’s why all designers have their strengths and styles, and I wouldn’t want to try and do or be someone I am not. In the end I know what I can do and what I am good at, and that is important.
Jan Constantine, Home Textile Designer
Jan Constantine is the founder and Creative Director of British international home textile company, Jan Constantine Ltd. With a background in fashion, interiors and styling, Jan brings together her vast experience, a love of decoration and strong drive to create the eponymous collection of hand-embroidered home accessories and exquisite textiles.
What’s the best mistake you’ve ever made?
I was so excited when London won the bid for the Olympic Games in 2005 that I made a successful pitch to create a homewares collection in collaboration with London 2012! It was the most difficult and disappointing thing I ever did in my business, but in retrospect, it was great because it attracted wonderful press and international coverage for my brand.
If you could collaborate on a line of homeware with anyone, past or present, who would be your dream design partner and what type of collection would you create?
Dream design partner – I’ve already collaborated with some great British brands but my favourite designers of all time are Terence Conran and Patricia Guild. My collections would be true to my craft, using hand embroidery and I would love to make it a high end, limited edition collection of both pillows and bags.
Harriet Farrow, Head of Digital Product at Amara
An interest in interiors and art saw Harriet Farrow apply for an Office Assistant role at a new interior design business in Essex back in 2005. Fast forward 13 years, and through an incredible amount of support from Amara founders Andrew and Sam Hood, Harriet has transitioned through many new roles at Amara. From moving into a Customer Services role to completing managerial and project management training courses, Harriet has found her calling as Head of Digital Product at the luxury homeware online retailer.
What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?
I’m naturally a problem solver, so having varying challenges to overcome keeps my mind animated. I also love being around other people, this is probably my biggest motivator, so having an office full of enthusiastic and friendly colleagues really makes coming to work a pleasure. These two things combined is probably why I’ve been at Amara for so many years!
Can you share any important lessons you’ve learned throughout your career?
To have confidence in myself and in my ability. It’s come up many times throughout my career and it continues to be a challenge, but it’s probably the one which has helped me to develop and achieve the most too.