Women Inspiring Women – Smash Your Ceiling
The fashion theme continues in #TheWomanAlchemist #SmashThatCeiling interview series, #womeninspiringwomen giving an insight into successful female leaders/role models and their mindset continues with Alexandra Wall, CEO, Founder and Creative Director of the Cardiff based label Xandra Jane ( which she set up at the age of 23 – I know, impressive).
Sustainable, contemporary, and rebellious, award-nominated Xandra Jane explores gender-neutral clothing through zero waste processes and up-cycled luxury, offering a fresh twist on the fashion industry & reconnecting people to their clothing whilst rebelling against fast fashion.
This interview is an extract from the book “STOP IT! It is all in your head” available now.
INTERVIEW WITH ALEXANDRA WALL
1. When you were a child, what was your dream job and why?
I had a handful, ranging from being an author to mounted police. Mounted police were short-lived; I just wanted to ride the horses; I didn’t realise you had to serve as a regular officer for two years first. I could never settle my mind on one thing, but I knew I wanted to be my boss, and I’ve always been creative; before attending university, it was a split decision between choreography and fashion. How different things could have been!
SUCCESS IS SUBJECTIVE
2. Can you tell me when you started to consider yourself successful?
The definition of success is subjective; mine was when I became truly happy in what I do for a living. I was 23 when I established Xandra Jane. To be financially independent is a massive ask in life; to be truly happy alongside that seems near impossible, but I’ve done it, and I’ve done it all by myself at a very young age, with no business partner and without borrowing a penny. So how can I ask for anything more?
3. I’m sure you have faced adversity like every business/business person: how do you motivate yourself and force yourself through the worst times?
When I was 19 years old, she suffered a long battle with MS and died at 56. So when things get stressful within the fashion industry, as they often do, I remind myself they’re just clothes, which isn’t the worst day of my life. Growing up with such a strong inspirational female figure, I’m incredibly grateful for doing the minor things, so I make the small stuff count, and it naturally feeds into more significant effects.
THE BEST THINGS
4. What are the best things about your job?
No two days are the same. I wrote a blog post recently about The Day In the Life of a Fashion Designer, and it was tough to generalise everything into one generic day. My entire purpose revolves around creating something new or seeing things from a different perspective. My job is to expand my learning and knowledge of my craft continually; it’s very absorbing in the best possible way. I also love that I can exercise the morals and ethics I care so strongly about, which are sadly lacking in the industry in the grand scheme of things, but businesses like mine are driving change. It’s incredible to be a part of that movement.
SUCCESS LEAVES CLUES
5. As Tony Robbins says, “Success leaves clues”: what are your daily/weekly habits?
Get. Up. Early. I’m talking no later than 06:00. My partner is a farmer, so he arises at 04:30 every morning. I can’t say I spring out of bed, but my productivity is at its highest in the first half of the day; you also harness the time to its full potential when you wake up early.
Exercise and take care of yourself; your business will follow if you start to crumble in health. So take that half an hour to hit the gym or get some fresh air, to disconnect from work, drink lots of water – it honestly energises you like you wouldn’t believe and eat healthily though don’t obsessively restrict yourself, food can often lift my mood in an instant! Making time for friends and family also comes into health and well-being. It can be hard to overlook this when establishing a business as you know they will always be there for you, but that shouldn’t matter; you should still invest your love into the people that give it back.
Business-related habits: I schedule social media once a week, usually on a Sunday; although I organically post throughout the week, I am still maintaining a presence online should work overwhelm me at any point to forget.
Post frequently. Suppose you write a blog, schedule as far in advance as needed. Once every two months, I will often sit down for the day and churn out posts I have been inspired to write over time. It’s integral for me to write my blog posts to connect with my customer and build rapport, proving a human behind the brand.
6. What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?
Support and communication. Admitting mistakes often leads to respect; we often feel as though being a woman already sets us off on a weaker footing, so we must portray strength and perfection. But perfection doesn’t exist, and we are stronger in numbers. I still take the bins out in my world and wouldn’t ask an employee or intern to do anything I wouldn’t do myself. Lead by example and conduct yourself with honesty.
WOMEN INSPIRING WOMEN
7. What women inspire you and why?
Women who work hard for what they want, whether a family where they stay at home and nurture their children or go travelling independently, ambition is a personal journey. You have to respect and admire anyone who achieves their goals.
I think it can be easy to ‘settle’, settle for that job that pays the bills but doesn’t fulfil your life, settle for the town you grew up in without seeing the world like you so wanted to, so – hats off to the women who take risks even if they don’t pay off because the energy they display to do something so brave can only be commended.
8. What advice would you give to your 16year old self?
Spend time with loved ones and don’t take them for granted. Support others on their journey and success because you are the only person in charge of yours, don’t sweat the small stuff and persevere – apply yourself to everything you do and don’t be afraid to try new things.
ALEXANDRA WALL AND MINDFULNESS
9. Your instant mindfulness fix…
I have always struggled with ’emptying my mind’, so I dedicate at least 10 minutes a day to sketching. I find this a form of meditation, focusing my energy on something unrelated and therapeutic. Still, it increases my skill in visual communication, which is critical for my career path and my job in particular. In addition, losing myself on something as simple as an A4 page is very humbling and detracts from the buzz of modern-day technology.
10. And finally, something frivolous: the best thing about being a woman…
The liberation to be whatever I want, the balance of sensitivity and strength that drives forward independence, ambition, and the ability to achieve against all odds with emotional resilience of the spirit. Although society’s ideologies allow me to be sympathetic and resistant at the same time without pressure to be confused by my emotions, I hope the balance comes for men. I am not pressured to be a breadwinner, nor do I have to provide for children – I can choose my path (in this country), and my destiny is in my hands. I am fortunate to be a woman.
Top Takeaways from Alexandra Wall
- Be happy with what you do for a living.
- Make the small stuff count and be grateful.
- Take care of yourself: if your health crumbles, your business will follow.
- Make time for friends and family and to disconnect.
- Don’t settle.