10 London Girlbosses Reveal Their Secrets To Success

Designed by Anna Sudit.
We get it. It's summer. Your head says deadlines; your heart says tan lines. You should probably be burning the midnight oil, but it's all you can do to not have your ergonomic office chair outfitted with an ejector button that'll launch you up and over to the nearest rooftop bar at 5 p.m. And how can you possibly think about meetings and conference calls when the only thing you want to be projecting is which SPF factor to use on next week's beach holiday?

Hold on there, sunshine. You'll get your towel time, but let's not let all that vitamin D go to your head and make you lose focus on your career goals. Staying motivated at work can be especially tricky during the summer, which is why you could probably use some major career inspiration right now. We turned to some of London's most go-getting girlbosses for insight into staying motivated, knowing when to strike out on your own, and propelling your career forward. Enjoy your Summer Fridays and bank-holiday weekends, but remember: Being a business-minded badass is a year-round gig. Never. Stop. Hustling.

Read on for real-life career advice from superwomen who've seen it all. Dare we say you'll be rushing back from your next getaway hungrier than ever?


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Photo: Courtesy Eva Karayiannis.
Eva Karayiannis, Founder Of Caramel Baby & Child

You started out in law. How did you make the leap to fashion?
"I always felt passionate about children's wear and saw a gap in the market for authentic, well-made, well-designed clothing specifically for children. All that was available at the time were high-street designers and basic clothing that resembled another era. I felt as though fashion moved forward and left children's wear behind."

What was your big break?
"I started off in a small shop on the Old Brompton Road, which is still one of the most popular Caramel Baby & Child stores. I approached a number of young, cool womenswear and knitwear designers to design one-off pieces for babies and children. There was no formula or business plan, but I think this is what people liked, the unique and
unexpected. [After] receiving so much enthusiasm from mothers, I started designing my own knitwear to keep up with the demand. I came across a lovely factory in Scotland (recently bought by Chanel) and started my own production of wonderful-quality cashmere, which really has been a foundation for the brand. Our customers know we make the perfect, long-lasting cashmere pieces that will stand the test of time, allowing them to pass pieces down through the family."

What advice would you give to a young woman looking to start out in your field?
"Follow your instinct and dreams, and stay passionate about what you want and your goals. If you stick to this, you have a high chance of success! I would also say have a thick skin. I have learned that everyone’s expectations are high and people can really underestimate you at times. Keep going and don’t give up! Enjoy the process, as working for yourself and following your dream is one of the most
rewarding things you will ever do. Finally, be nice to your bank manager!"

What qualities do you think have helped you make it this far?
"I am very organised. I always have my list, and I don’t stop until everything is crossed off. I don’t procrastinate easily and stick to my goal. I also have a great ability to hire an amazing team. I feel I can see something in someone and try my hardest to bring the best out of them, which always ends in great results. You are only as strong as your team around you!"

What's a huge myth about your job?
"I know this is very cliché — it’s not glamorous! Nobody should want to enter the fashion industry thinking it's all parties and events, sipping Champagne! You are involved in everything, from packing deliveries to working in one of the stores, merchandising the new lines, dressing the windows, etc. You have to provide so many
skills to deliver a unique product and bring a special experience to the customer."

What's the worst thing someone can do on the job?
"Not love what they do; it really shows. Be passionate!"

What do you wish you'd know then that you know now?
"Not to worry so much. Although you need to plan, especially at the beginning, I wish I had looked at the growth of Caramel Baby & Child, took it in, and enjoyed it. I wish I had given myself a break at times."
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Photo: Courtesy Olivia Wayne.
Olivia Wayne, Sky Sports News Presenter

Tell us about your career path.
"I started my post-university life unsure of what I wanted to do. I dabbled in various industries, trying to figure it out. I worked in fashion PR, interned at Stella McCartney, got a placement at a health-care and pharmaceutical PR company, waited tables, worked in nightclubs — everything, until finally I realised I wanted to pursue presenting. I had always been curious about it and loved being in front of the camera, or anything performance-related. I was very lucky and met the owner of a production company by chance, and
he needed a presenter for their work at London Fashion Week and
he gave me a shot. I had no previous experience! That was the
beginning."

What's it like working as a female in a male-dominated field? Do you feel pressure to prove yourself?
"So many industries are male-dominated, so to be a female working
in one of them is hugely satisfying. I feel very proud to know that I
got where I am because I worked hard and continue to work hard,
and not for any other reason. I don’t feel pressure to prove myself
because it is a male-dominated field, but more because I have high
expectations of myself and am ambitious."

What advice would you give to a young woman looking to start out in your field?
"Don’t overthink it — just go for it. Try, and don’t be put off or change your plan if it doesn’t happen immediately. Anything worth having doesn’t come easily."

What qualities do you think have helped you make it this far?
"I think I have developed a resilience and toughness that I didn’t
necessarily know I had. I have also learned to adapt to crazy hours
and limited sleep. I now embrace my mistakes and learn from them."

How do you stay motivated at work?
"With rolling news. Nothing is the same two days in a row. There
are always new stories, different sports, and people to be talking
about, so it keeps it exciting! I also try to push myself to keep
improving and learning. I think it’s important to keep challenging
myself."

What's the best career advice you've ever received?
"For my line of work, it would be to not worry about pleasing
everyone. You are never going to be liked by all. Not everyone will
like your style, your voice, your approach, or your look, but as long
as you enjoy it and are genuine with what you do, then that is what
matters. Don’t try to emulate others — just be yourself."
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Photo: Courtesy Shara Tochia.
Shara Tochia, Trainer & 1Rebel Head of Communications

How did you end up in fitness and tech?
"I started in fashion marketing, working for Ralph Lauren in London after finishing a degree in Fashion Merchandising Management. After six years, I wanted a change and took a contract role in the restaurant business, running the online marketing for 26 high-end restaurants in London. This experience gave me a business idea, so I jumped straight in and found myself in the startup community, running my own tech startup based around fitness. (I have always worked part-time as a fitness instructor since I was at university.) It’s been a great balance of work in different industries. After a gruelling two years running my own business, I was freelance for a year, consulting and working for multiple brands across health, fitness, and technology. This then led me to meet the team behind 1Rebel, a new boutique fitness business founded by the team that built Fitness First, where I look after all communications and business development. Let’s just say it has been a journey!"

What about your current job appeals the most to you?
"I am building a brand from scratch. It’s very fast-paced and very challenging."

What's your work mantra?
"Work hard, play hard, and prioritise! Also, do a job you love, as you spend most of your waking life at work."

Who is your work role model?
"Natalie Massenet, the founder of Net-a-Porter. She built a successful online luxury-fashion brand when repeatedly told that no one would buy designer clothing on the Internet. Martha Lane Fox, the founder of Lastminute.com, is a tech entrepreneur with a passion to disrupt consumer behaviour purchasing services online."

How has your career changed you?
"My career started off very corporate and has completely changed to become a self-motivating way of life. This doesn’t work for everybody. I prefer taking risks in a job that is not necessarily the easiest or most financially rewarding, but building something from scratch. After 10 years of working, I now know what motivates me."

How do you stay motivated?
"I work long hours and honestly never really switch off. It is important for me to take breaks/escapes/holidays. This is the only real way to switch off, refresh, and stay motivated longterm. I also work with people I like, which I think is hugely important in any job."
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Photo: Courtesy Mary Alice Malone.
Mary Alice Malone, Footwear Designer & Creative Director Of Malone Souliers

What skills do you think a girlboss should have?
"More a leader than a boss, as I see it. You come to realise it is your job to lead and direct beyond your actual tradecraft. It is a rather constant course of education-cum-crash-course. But were you to listen and entertain (not recklessly trust) your gut instincts, you should hopefully be just fine. I say hopefully, as there is simply no shorthanded formula."

What do you love most about your work?
"All of it, bar none. Business, suppliers, the people, all really complex with varying nuances and moving gears, directly and indirectly flowing in to make it all possible. Shoes follow the same analogy. I find it all fascinating, including the airports that lead to other airports, with contrasting dynamics between factory days vs. press days, showroom reclusion vs. red carpet tomfoolery."

Do you have a female mentor of sorts whose career you admire?
"I am really very blessed to have a dynamo of a mother who has also run her very own successful business for decades. As far as the bloated term "inspiration," she is more than that to me: strong and assertive, yet empathetic and reliable. Add in there my personally idolised friend Denise Morrison, CEO of Campbell’s, plus my best friend and partner, Roy Luwolt. One may say I’ve been fortunate to be surrounded by quite the lair."

What advice would you give to a young woman looking to start her own career?
"I wouldn’t dare call this advice, so let’s just say they are three personal lessons I’m humbled to share from my limited experience:
Firstly, I believe a leader, male or female, needs to know there’s no getting there without the team. It is really that simple, and cannot be overemphasised. Secondly, when you launch and build a business, you cannot be above any part of the process. All of it is work, and all of it you must always see as your own burden, regardless of recruited assistance. Thirdly, know your limitations, then employ and enable people who are better at Xs, Ys, and Zs. However, do not forget your prowess, either. The leadership remains the final decision, both strategic and executive, a private right of wisdom that Roy and I protect very intimately. Otherwise, there really is no formula to these things. I believe self-help literature only counts in the ironic suggestion that you really have to help yourself and make your own way. As Roy often says, there is no textbook to how we've done what we have. We really just did it our way. So perhaps lesson 4 is this: Do it your way."

What to you is a fire-able offense?
"Dishonesty. Now, dice that in as many ways as you wish."

What makes you want to hire someone?
"A skillful obsession, otherwise known as unyielding specialism, founded on humbleness."
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Photo: Courtesy Rose Lloyd Owen.
Rose Lloyd Owen, Chef And Founder Of Peardrop London

Tell us about your career path.
"After university, I worked in film production, which led me on to a career as an actor’s agent. All the while, my passion for cooking and creating was growing until finally it got to a point that I couldn’t ignore it any longer!"

What advice would you give to a young woman looking to start out in your field?
"Be original and kind."

What qualities do you think have helped you make it this far?
"Tenacity, fearlessness, and a love of beautiful food."

How do you stay motivated at work?
"It’s much harder to be motivated at work when you work for someone else. When you have the weight of trying to make a living from your business, there's a sink-or-swim instinct that kicks in, I think."

What's the best career advice you've ever received?
"'Don’t do it,' from most of my family. That only made me more determined!"

What's a huge myth about your job?
"That I get to be creative all day and have a lovely time baking cakes and coming up with recipes. Actually, I don’t think anyone really thinks that, but perhaps that’s what I thought life would be like. In fact, I’m more run off my feet than I had ever anticipated. Sometimes it gets to 12 a.m., and I just have no idea where all the time has gone! But I’m lucky, because I’m doing the job I love."

Do you have a mentor?
"My dad; he seems to have the answer to everything."

What's the worst thing someone can do on the job?
"Bad service is simply unacceptable. Bad attitudes in the kitchen or front of house are not welcome here."

What's your work pet peeve?
"Lack of initiative drives me round the bend."
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Photo: Courtesy Nicole Levy.
Nicole Levy, Fashion Director At Nicole Levy PR

Tell us a bit about your career path.
"I started a fashion-design course at LCF when I was 16. I applied for a PR foundation but got rejected for not having the right 'skills.' I organised a work placement for myself at Kim Blake PR when I was 17 and didn't end up going back to college. I would intern for free five days a week and then worked behind the Kiehl's counter at Liberty at weekends to make pocket money. To cut a long story short, I got a job at Dust PR and helped build the fashion division with very little experience. I headed up brands including Wildfox, Barbour, Original Penguin, and Rebecca Minkoff. I'm grateful my boss trusted me and threw me in at the deep end to figure things out; otherwise, I probably wouldn't do what I'm doing now. I left after six years as fashion director. I've had my own company for about three and a half years."

What do you consider to be your big break?
"When I left my last job, I wasn't entirely sure what I was going to do. A few companies were offering me roles, but nothing excited me. The prospect of starting my own freaked me out. But then I got introduced to a guy one night who offered me a free rooftop studio in Shoreditch (no strings attached), and I felt like this was a signal to start my company; no outgoings = nothing to lose. Who gets offered a free office? He was my guardian angel. Eventually, he sold the property, so now I rent a space in Soho, which is 100% definitely not free. However, it was an absolutely perfect platform for me to get started. I don't think I'd have had the confidence to do it otherwise. I didn't take any clients with me when I left Dust, so I had to start the whole thing from scratch."

What advice would you give to a young woman looking to start out in your field?
"Definitely get work experience, but be proactive with it and show interest and willingness to learn. It sounds obvious, but I think some people think this is The Hills. When I started doing work experience, I was sat in a tiny cupboard untangling wire hangers for seven hours, but still with a smile on my face. I'm not saying I would make someone do that now, but I was just happy to be in the environment and knew there would be better prospects if I stuck with it. Also, if you're sending me a CV, start with Hi, Dear, or Hello, not Yo."

What qualities do you think have helped you make it this far?
"Being myself, not giving up, and working my ass off. I also think people enjoy visiting my showroom. It's like an extension of my bedroom and features all the tacky toys my boyfriend won't let me keep at home. It's like having all of my friends over, but can be a distraction when I have a proposal to work on."

How do you stay motivated at work?
"I'm always motivated. I think that's what's making it successful. Sometimes I can feel disheartened if things aren't happening quickly, but not for long, as that won't benefit anything. Also, my cat is my motivation. If he wants to carry on eating nice dinners, I've got to keep working hard."

What's the best career advice you've ever received?
"Don't worry about what other companies are doing. And stress won't solve anything."

What's a huge mistake you see women making?
"Bitching about each other and then posing together for photos at parties. ALSO, getting stressed over shallow stuff that really isn't that important. Nobody forced us to go into this industry. It was mainly all of our decisions, and we aren't saving the world, so people should be grateful they've got a job in a creative profession they chose and love. Trust me, I can get stroppy. But then I switch on the news or speak to my sister who looks after disabled kids and realise, we don't have it so bad at all."
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Photo: Courtesy Helen Mott.
Helen Mott, Head Of Profession For Delivery At The Ministry Of Justice Digital Services

Describe your career path.
"I was a junior researcher in a small retail-design agency, then moved to a project-management role. Moved to a digital agency as a project manager — working with a range of clients, from small startups to Microsoft, eBay, and EasyJet — then promoted to Client Services Director. I was approached to join a growing startup called Quill and the budding digital team in the Ministry of Justice in the same week, and had a gruelling time trying to decide the right next step. In the end, the draw of the inspirational vision of transforming government came out trumps against pay. I joined the MOJ digital team as a delivery manager, and within a few months was promoted to Deputy Head of Delivery, then a year later, Head of Delivery with a team of 14 delivery managers of differing levels of experience."

What has been your ultimate girlboss move so far?
"I wouldn’t describe myself as a maneuverer — it kills trust and often backfires. Do a good job, step up to a bigger responsibility, and prove you can handle it...then go for the promotion."

What advice would you give to a young woman looking to start out in your field?
"It's not specific to my field, but confidence is key. You may have all the skills and characteristics, but you need the person you're persuading to give you a promotion to believe you and have confidence in you. So you have to have confidence in yourself. Also, don’t read the job description and think, I’m not 100% sure I can do everything in that. No one else will be 100% sure, either. If you’re 50% sure, give it a go."

How do you stay motivated at work?
"By having a higher purpose and vision that makes all the effort worthwhile (i.e., transforming government and better use of public money)."

What's the best career advice you've ever received?
"Don’t be late — it’s not only disorganised, it’s rude! I’m not a natural get-places-on-time person, but someone once said to me turning up late creates the impression that you don’t care. Worse still, it can create an environment where others feel it’s OK not to care as well."

What's a huge mistake you see women making?
"This is not a gender-specific thing, but is something I’ve seen in women more often. Don't blame yourself. Be accountable for everything you do, of course, BUT when things change or the info you had turns out to be wrong and something goes wrong, don’t blame yourself. Shit happens. Often there's nothing we could have done about it, and it turns out no one can predict the future; work with others to fix the problem, learn lessons, and move on. You did your best given the information/situation you had at the time. Never lose confidence in yourself."
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Photo: Courtesy Sharmadean Reid.
Sharmadean Reid, WAH Nails Founder

Give us a brief synopsis of your career path.
"I always knew I wanted to work in fashion. At 19 I assisted Kim Jones and Nicola Formichetti while studying Fashion Communication at Central St Martins. I then worked under Jo-Ann Furniss at Arena Homme Plus and did freelance brand consultancy and styling. I then set up WAH Nails in early 2009."

What has been your ultimate girlboss move so far?
"Definitely launching my own books and product range. Selling while you sleep is the ultimate achievement. As a stylist your income relies on your time and effort, but with products, you put the initial hard work in and it continues to pay off regardless of where you are, physically."

What advice would you give to a young woman looking to start out in your field?
"If you're not willing to put in the grind, don't bother."

How do you stay motivated at work?
"I used to be motivated by the things I could buy, but the older and happier I get I'm motivated by the things I'm going to experience. I stay motivated by thinking of my long-term dream of building a hotel in Jamaica."

Do you sense any gender bias or inequality in your field?
"On occasion, sure, but I think the key for me is normalising the situation. Of course I'm going to speak up at a board meeting. Of course I'm going to be ambitious. If you doubt your talents because you're black or a girl, you also have to take responsibility for the situation. Similarly, if you enter an environment where you expect inequality you're unknowingly putting out the message that you're waiting to be victimised."

What's the worst thing someone can do on the job?
"I can't stand laziness or lack of intuition, or people who repeat mistakes. I remember when I was an assistant I hung all the clothes on the hanger the wrong way round. Once I'd been chided I never did that again."

What skills are most important when it comes to starting your own business?
"The fine balance between creativity and commercialism. Have a good idea, but make sure it sells."

Have you ever made a mistake but managed to turn it into a positive? "All the time. I don't see mistakes as failures; they're just new routes. I once trusted a staff member with client details who then left and stole our contacts. All that did was allow me to write an entire employee handbook, which I spent two months doing, and we still use it to this day. I am also less trusting, which women often are in business. You quickly become hardened."
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Photo: Courtesy Little Boots.
Little Boots, Singer

What does being a girlboss mean to you?
"It means trusting yourself and being in control of your own choices and your destiny. The biggest factor for me is learning to trust myself, and when I have a gut instinct, trying to go for it even if nobody else agrees. It's also about knowing when to compromise. Learning to trust yourself on a daily basis is such a big, life-changing thing. The more you do it, the more natural it becomes. You find yourself making better decisions over time."

How do you fight to keep your independence as a female pop star?
"It's been a big deal for me, because I've been through the whole system. I got signed at the age of 24 and had big chart success in the U.K. and was in that whole pop world. I kind of came out of the other side of it with a big reality check. I had been quite naive, and I hadn't been trusting myself or putting my opinions forward. 'Control' is a very harsh word, but it was a lot of decisions being made by committee or being pushed into things. Now, I've got my own record label and have become an independent artist, releasing other people's records. It's been a huge, really exciting change for me...I have so much respect for people like Lorde who know what they're about from the very start."

What skills do you think have contributed to your success?
"Perseverance and not giving up. There were so many times where I could have given up because it was too much. When you have setbacks, or things don't go how you want, or people are judging you, things like that, you just have to keep getting up and going for it. I don't think there's some secret; it's just perseverance, working hard, trusting our vision, going for it, and not giving up."

What's the best career advice you've ever received?
"To not be afraid to take risks, but also [to not be afraid] of failing. When things don't go right, there's usually something to learn or somewhere to go from there. Instead of saying, 'Why me?' you have to say, 'What next?' 'Where's it going to take me?'... There's always something around the corner that you don't expect. Use your mistakes and setbacks as a positive thing."

What's the most girlboss thing you've ever done?
"Setting up my own record label, releasing other artists, and taking creative control over everything. Nowadays, I do things like direct my own music videos. If you'd asked me five years ago to direct my own music video, I'd go, 'No, I've got no idea!' But you really find things out about yourself when you push yourself. When you just try and do things, you're amazed at what you can achieve."
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Photo: Courtesy The Good Life Eatery.
Shirin Kouros, Co-Founder, With Yasmine Larizadeh, Of The Good Life Eatery

Tell us about your career path.
"I did my undergraduate in America, studying marketing and economics, then went on to culinary school in NYC at the French Culinary Institute. After graduating, I worked under Daniel Boulud in New York at Daniel. I then moved to London to help a friend set up a restaurant and members' club. After a year of doing this, I met Yas through our fathers, and together we opened The Good Life Eatery."

What has been your ultimate girlboss move so far?
"Having now three kitchens full of MEN."

What advice would you give to a young woman looking to start out in your field?
"You have to be strong and have thick skin. Even when you aren’t feeling your best, you have to put your game face on."

What qualities do you think have helped you make it this far?
"Persistence and perseverance."

What's your work pet peeve?
"Lack of knowledge of our product in front of customers. It drives me mad!"

What skills are most important when it comes to starting your own business?
"Organisation and confidence."

What do you wish you'd known then that you know now?
"Believe in yourself. You’re taking a risk most people would never even dare taking, so it's okay to mess up and fall down."

How do you delegate responsibilities?
"It's important to learn to be a boss, not a friend. Once your staff or team know that when you tell them to do something, that it has to be done within a given deadline, then they will do it. It's when you are unclear with unreasonable expectations that it never happens. Be clear and be precise."
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