Women Inspiring Women – Smash Your Ceiling
#TheWomanAlchemist #SmashThatCeiling interview series continues with another entrepreneur/woman in fashion ( it is Fashion Week/Month after all) – #womeninspiringwomen giving an insight into successful female leaders/role model and their mindset – this time though with a luxury British shoe brand ( Sargasso & Grey) and its founder Katie Owen.
Sargasso & Grey launched in 2014 designing and producing luxury shoes and stilettos for women who require shoes in a more spacious fit but still expects them to be stylish and attractive. This exciting new shoe brand is making a name for itself challenging the view that wide fit shoes cannot be comfortable and beautiful.
Katie is a mum of two who found that her feet got wider after the birth of her first child (a common but permanent side effect of pregnancy). Working in the City in a job that required her to look smart each day and keen to continue to wear heels but desperate to avoid damaging her feet by wearing shoes that she now found too narrow, she started to scour the market for stylish heels and stilettos to wear to work but in a wider fit. She soon found that there was very little choice, especially in the luxury space. Therefore she decided to create a brand to cater to women who like wearing stylish shoes and heels but need a wider fit.
Business ideas and opportunities are everywhere, you just have to grab them…
This interview is an extract from the book “STOP IT! It is all in your head” available now.
INTERVIEW WITH KATIE OWEN
1. When you were a child what was your dream job and why?
I must confess to having lots of dream jobs when I was a child. Firstly it was a vet and then an actress, before eventually settling on a pilot. I ended up working in banking. I am not sure what happened! Perhaps now running a shoe business, where I get to design beautiful shoes alongside my “day job” is my way of bringing out the creativity in me!
2. Can you tell me the time that you started to consider yourself successful?
I guess it depends on how you define “success”.
There are certain achievements I have made as part of building my shoe business that I would deem a “success”. Setting up a company from scratch. Establishing a brand. putting in place a production line. Selling shoes. Having Lorraine Kelly were a pair on her breakfast show. Featuring in Prima Magazine. Getting amazing feedback from lovely customers. Seeing repeat orders come in.
Success shouldn’t be measured by the end game as there are lots of successes on the way, as well as many failures, and whilst it is important not to lose sight of the ultimate goal, whatever that may be, it is also hugely important to recognise the smaller but significant individual successes on the journey.
3. I’m sure like every business/business person you have faced adversity: how do you motivate yourself and force through the worst times?
Sometimes things go wrong or at least don’t go as planned. Whether it is ordered from the shoe factory not arriving on time, shoes returned (perhaps they didn’t fit or weren’t the right colour), or getting stressed out by competitors, there can be so many distractions reasons to feel down and de-motivated.
The key thing is to keep going and just take each day as it comes. If you are certain you have a great product/idea/service persevere and use the stumbling blocks as stepping-stones.
4. What are the best things about your job?
Without a doubt, it is a happy customer. I absolutely love it when customers email me to say they love the shoes. It is all the more special because usually, they have searched high and low to find the perfect pair of wide fit shoes so they are especially delighted!
SUCCESS LEAVES CLUES
5. As Tony Robbins says, “Success leaves clues”: what are your daily/weekly habits?
My business is small but growing, so much of the day-to-day activity is all down to me, as well as working in my day job of banking. That said, I recognise the things that I can do well (the customer service side, the shoe design, supply-side) and where I lack the knowledge or experience (web design, SEO) I get the experts in.
6. What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?
I think women struggle to effectively delegate. That is why they are so busy and often take on too much. I definitely see this trait in myself. Maybe it’s about not letting go of control, but to run a successful business you have to focus on what you are good at and delegate the areas where you are not as strong.
Confidence is also something a lot of women lack: confidence and self-belief. For ages, I called my business my ‘expensive hobby’. I was running it alongside my day job, it was all self-funded, I reduced my employed hours to devote time to it, so had to take a pay cut and I was scared of it not being “successful”, so I belittled my efforts. Then a male friend said to me “if you don’t take your business seriously, no one else will “. That was a real turning point for me.
WOMEN INSPIRING WOMEN
7. What women inspire you and why?
There are so many women who inspire me: successful entrepreneurs, full-time mums; mums with careers. Women who volunteer or spend their life helping others.
Inspirational women are the ones who are positive and supportive of other women…. and don’t judge!
8. What advice would you give to your 16year old self?
Explore life more. Don’t be confined to following the well-trodden path. Make your mistakes early and learn from them. Try new things. Be confident. Be kind.
9. Your instant mindfulness fix…
When things seem overwhelming, think of the most stressful things that you felt happened to you in the last 10 years. How do you feel about them now?
Hopefully, the answer is that they are insignificant. In which case, soon so will this current “major drama”!
10. And finally something frivolous: the best thing about being a woman…
Now is a great time to be a woman. We are pushing forward with equal pay and there are lots of areas for women in business to come together and support each other and share experiences. Women now feel empowered to be able to achieve their ambitions as well as have a family. The two are not mutually exclusive. There are few limitations and lots of opportunities, as proved by the fact that our PM is female, as is the leader of the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Conservative party.
And if that wasn’t good enough, we don’t have to shave our faces every day either!
Top Takeaways from Katie Owen
- Recognise the smaller but significant individual successes along the way – not just the end game.
- No matter what keep going and take each day as it comes.
- Get the experts in where you lack the knowledge overall and focus on what you are good at.
- Take your business/career seriously – if you don’t, no one else will.
- Explore life, try new things, and be kind.