Michaela is passionate about helping women embrace their own signature style and look their best in clothing that truly suits their body shape. She has built her buisiness on the understanding that women are all differently built – even if they share the same dress size. Read how she did it below..
Michaela Jedinak // Michaela Jedinak // Fashion // UK // 40s
WHAT MOTIVATED & INSPIRED YOU TO START YOUR BUSINESS…
While working for a design agency in Milan, I developed a love for Italian women’s style, because they naturally know how to effortlessly look their best and create their own signature looks. When I moved to London, a lot of things fell into place. I noticed that there was a gap for women who need to dress from desk to dinner and a retailer who appreciates the diversity in women’s body shape.
I believe that we women are all differently built – even if we share the same dress size. As a result, we all have a unique STYLEDNA and need a different dressing code. I want to empower and inspire women to dress towards their body strengths rather than weaknesses and to create their own signature look rather than being a bad copy of someone else. Dressing right takes strategy and it is all about understanding how to create visual balance in your look and understanding all the different garment characteristics. “ Fashion is like architecture- it is a matter of proportions.” – Coco Chanel
TELL US ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS…
I am a fashion designer and entrepreneur who designs power dresses with 7 women’s body shape in mind rather than one or two as traditional retailers and designers. While many designers create dresses for one idealised body shape, I appreciate the diversity in body shapes. I am targeting business women who have a busy lifestyle and who need a dress from desk to dinner. Dresses that women can rely on 100% throughout the day, that allow them to move with ease and make them feel confident, comfortable and reinforce their performance.
All of my dresses come in 4 power colours that can be worn by all women no matter the age as well all year around. I want to encourage women to purchase investment dresses that are timeless with a modern touch, so that they love to wear them over and over again.
All of my dresses are made out of luxurious Italian wool cloth with the WOOLMARK Trademark. They are made out of 96%Wool and 4% Elastene and all of them are MADE IN THE UK.
WHAT WERE THE FIRST FEW STEPS YOU TOOK TO GET YOUR BUSINESS UP AND RUNNING?
I always knew what I wanted to be a fashion retailer with a new design concept, who has integrity and authority. But I didn’t know how and where to start to get there. It was at the height of the dot.com era so I noticed that online shopping was all evolving. At the same time, I realised that with an increasingly overwhelming choice of clothes, designers and stores, finding the clothes that suit you can be more stressful than joyful.
There are a lot of mixed messages and information out there that focuses on shopping for the latest trend or newest designer, rather than on how to make a woman look her best. I was always very passionate about providing advice that makes women independent and confident about her clothes purchases. So, I started out to work as a stylist for 2 years, where I worked with thousands of women with different needs and budgets, across different life stages and what I noticed is that size doesn’t matter but instead how to create visual balance in your body shape.
There is no such thing as an international sizing system. Therefore we are never the same size when buying clothes. Plus, “ Size doesn’t equal fit”- meaning even if it comes in your size, it doesn’t mean that it will suit your body shape and your “visual balance.” Dressing for your body shape has nothing to do with plus sizes, but about knowing your body proportions.
Designers have their own muse they are designing clothes for and retailers have their idealized customer. Once I understood that creating visual balance in your look is key for successful dressing for your body shape rather finding the right size in your clothes, I started to research the most common body shapes. I ended up with 7 and moved then into the next business phase. With the help of my website Joy of Clothes www.joyofclothes.com, interactive tools and my ebook, Style ME, YOUR PERSONAL STYLIST, I can bring my skills and experience to a broader audience and empower women everywhere with the expert know-how they require to dress with complete confidence for every occasion.
One of your interactive tools is STYLE ME – an exclusive fashion software that enables you to build your own avatar based on your body shape and colouring, you can then “virtually try on” thousands of recommended styles and colours and see for yourself what clothes styles look best on your body shape. After 3 years of building Joy of Clothes, I felt I had built enough authority to get started on my fashion line. I always knew I wanted to work with Wool, that my fabric had to be Italian and that I wanted to produce in the UK.
So, my next step was attending fabric and production courses to understand this line of business better. After that, I researched my fabric supplier and my manufacturer and got started in designing dresses by briefing a fashion illustrator with the dresses I wanted to create. Next step I had to finalise my size system for my dresses. My first collection was based on 7 red hero dresses- one for each body shape. I took the “OPEN FRONT SLASH Trend and interpreted it on 7 body shapes to create visual balance in each body shape. And that was the beginning of my fashion business: Michaela Jedinak.
But where to start? Who could help me and who could give me support to travel down that road? How was I to find the business concept that would enable, inspire and empower women to find their own signature look to make them look and feel good every day and stop them from constantly comparing themselves to others or opting for fashion trends that were not designed for them in the first place? It was important to me to find a business concept that is credible and to achieve integrity and authority in what I believe, do and create. I knew my goal but I didn’t know how to connect the dots.
The first mistake I made I was looking for the right and perfect steps. But there is no such thing. The most important thing is that you have to get started in order to put your mind into the “right orbit.” The next big mistake is that the first step is neither perfect nor will get you straight away to your dream and goal. Instead, it is a stepping stone where you learn and take what you need and like and leave what is not right. It is molding you for the next step and so on. Don’t forget that every expert was as well at some point a beginner!
WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST EFFECTIVE WAY OF RAISING AWARENESS OF YOUR BUSINESS AND GETTING NEW CUSTOMERS?
We are selling our dresses only online or by appointment only in London. Plus, I’m involved in a lot of women’s networking events and corporate events to sell my dresses or raise brand awareness.
WHAT HAVE BEEN YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGES SO FAR WITH RUNNING YOUR BUSINESS?
One was to make women appreciate that dressing for your body shape has nothing to do with plus sizes and that size has nothing to do with suitability. Just because you can fit into a garment doesn’t mean it will look good for the overall outward appearance. On a personal note, when you start out – especially with a new idea and concept – failures, rejection, sacrifices and loneliness are part of the package.
A life lesson learned was that all your relationships change for better or for worse, because not everyone loves what you do, doesn’t share your ideas, excitements and ultimately your lifestyle decisions or will help and support you. Also, I had to come to terms that some didn’t want me to see to succeed, because either they are afraid to try themselves or that I might succeed after all.
HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THESE CHALLENGES?
So, I was ruthless about eliminating any negativity out of my life – because a negative mind can’t give a positive life! You have to learn fast how to keep the noise out and only to listen to what matters. Creating something new simply needs time to come together – it is the nature of things doing things differently. “When plan A doesn’t work there are 25 more letters in the alphabet- so stay calm and keep going!”
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT RUNNING YOUR OWN BUSINESS?
I love of creating something new and of making a dream into something real. It is an incredible feeling and satisfaction when women are falling in love with my dresses and feeling confident and comfortable in them. You feel that all the hard work and pain was worth it and came full circle.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER ENTREPRENEURS?
Learning that failure is a good thing and can be an opportunity in disguise to start again with a new angle. Failure is part of the learning process to create something new and/or better. If you never fail, you never learn anything new. So keep trying, work hard- play fair- be kind- follow your heart, but take your brain with you!
”The world needs dreamers, the world needs doers, but most of all the world needs dreamers that do.”
“Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely.” – Henry Ford
“Failure is not the opposite of success, but a stepping stone to success.” – Arianna Huffington
“It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.” – Theodore Roosevelt
HOW DO YOU KEEP MOTIVATED THROUGH DIFFICULT TIMES?
What helped me was removing myself from the old life and creating a new one with different people in it and by reading inspirational books by entrepreneurs who changed the world with their ideas. My role models are men and women, past and present, famous and non-famous, young and old – basically from all walks of life and all for different reasons. The people I look up to and feel inspired by are people who had a dream or have a dream and put everything in their power to make it happen. Mahatma Gandhi said: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
DO YOU HAVE A BUSINESS PHILOSOPHY?
You never can quit. Quitters don’t win and winners don’t quit. So, stay cool, find your feet, stand your ground and get ready – it is a battlefield out there!
When I face a big challenge I…
Stop what I do and try to switch off by e.g. taking my dog Barnaby for a walk. It helps me to distance from the challenge as well to look at it more objectively. Also I discuss it with my husband David Lethbridge, who is my business partner, in order to see more angles to get a different perspective.
My greatest fear is…
There are a few, but one of the greatest ones is running out of money. We are self –funded and though we grow slower than if we had external investments. It enables me to follow our roadmap of business rather someone else’s.
The most courageous thing I’ve ever done is…
Starting all over as a nobody and from the bottom up.
If I could go back in time to when I was 20 I would tell myself…
It is ok to be a misfit and see and do things differently. And that everyone you meet in your life is not meant to stay and it is ok to let him or her go. “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole believing that it is stupid.” – Albert Einstein
Work hard – play fair – be kind -be generous and follow your heart, but take your brain with you!
The biggest lesson I have ever learned is…
Being an entrepreneur is a lifestyle choice, because it dictates where and how You are spending your money; there is no order or rhythm and no regulated work balance. Also there is never a perfect time or place to start your business. You simply have to start somewhere, because there is not perfect stepping-stone to get started. You have to put yourself into “that orbit” first and then you do what you need to do to keep going. It is simply different for everyone. It doesn’t matter how you start, but only how you finish. Keep moving, aiming towards the finishing line. Also, creating something new simply needs time and hard work to come together – it is the nature of doing things differently. “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” – Wood Allen.
My favourite business tool or resource is…
To be self-sufficient. You don’t need to know everything in life, but you need to know where and how to help yourself. Control what you can control, because there is so much you can’t control in your life.
My favourite quote is…
“May your choices reflect your hopes and not your fears.” – Nelson Mandela
“If I had asked my customer what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.” – Henry Ford
“Passion is energy- it comes from focusing on what you love.”- Oprah
“If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.”- Martin Luther King
“If you are going through hell – KEEP GOING!” – Winston Churchill
“I walk slowly, but I never walk backward.” – Abraham Lincoln
“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.”- Henry Ford
“Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” – Martin Luther King
“The Woman who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The WOMAN who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no one has ever been before.” – Albert Einstein