Friday, April 2, 2010

Private Interview with Lisa Kelly.....a woman on the way to the top!!

Whilst some of us search everywhere for the one thing which will inspire us as well as give us the opportunity to fulfill our life purpose there are others who have always followed their intuition and have been led to their life's work.

We all know the ache of our soul when we are in a J-O-B for which there is very little to show and where our spirit has very little opportunity to shine. We can justify why we are stuck where we are and why we can't make the move to something greater but sooner rather than later, God taps us on the shoulder and forces us ever so gently to get off our butts and create a life we love.

I have had the privilege of interviewing some of Australia's most amazing women, all with their own success story. Some have had very public failures, others have risen to the top at a very young age but all share one common thread and that is the work, determination, focus and burning desire to achieve and do what they truly love!!! Of course there were hard times, challenges and obstacles but it is the belief in self that gets you through every time...

Like many great women I have interviewed, Lisa Kelly is one gorgeous Aussie woman who has chosen success over mediocrity and pursued her love of the life we Aussie women are know for, sun, surf and sand and of course a bikini.... Here she gives us a very private interview and shares with us what it takes and to dispel any ideas that success just happens to the lucky ones because here is a woman who has a dream and has a personal motto of "whatever it takes" it!!!

Where were you born?
I was born in Gosford north of Sydney

Where did you grow up
I grew up in a small coastal town nearly 2hrs north of Sydney called Charmhaven, best little town to grow up in!

Current city
I have since moved to sunny Maroubra in Sydney’s Eastern suburbs

Date of birth
25.3. 82

Favourite fashion brand - why?
I LOVE Agent Provocateur!!! Lingerie based and completely enthralling. Every aspect of their business is built to create a brand image; I hear their sales girls in London are barred from wearing their ‘uniform’ out of the store as they have caused too many passing by car accidents!

Favourite designer - why?
Betsey Johnson. The woman is amazing! She has beat cancer and conquered the fashion world with her whimsical designs that are so quirky yet wearable, going into her store is like a treasure trove. You can tell a piece of hers a mile off!!! To die for! (ps… who else would do a cartwheel at the end of their fashion show!?)

How do these fashion brands/designers empower you as a woman?
I think both are unique and inspiring. Both have a very definite brand identity and create such a within store presence it’s an ‘experience’ shopping there. Everything right down to their packaging, every last detail is finesse, something to aspire to.

Favourite charity?
SIDS kids, also known as red nose day. A charity close to the heart helping families deal with the grief post losing a child and researching the causes of cot death. It’s not hard to buy a red nose once a year!

Favourite model and -why?
Pania Rose, OMG… have you seen that girls divine neck!? Amazingly beautiful and Australian!

Favourite holiday spot - why?
Without a doubt Byron Bay! It’s the only place upon arrival I feel ‘released’…relaxed and inspired. The surrounding areas are all so amazing; every time I go I stumble across some other small piece of heaven!

Favourite resort/place to stay -?
I don’t have one in particular. I prefer to stay in small boutique hotels, not large chains… loving Le Montrose in LA, candles, fire places, it’s like your own personal space and very personal.

Things you love and can’t live without?
My iphone and laptop sad to say… my friends recently caught me on a weekend away walking down the street with my laptop above my head trying to get internet connection!!! Truly but, these things make my life possible whilst running this business! I love having a camera on hand at all times, capture any moment in the moment, a great source of inspiration! A bikini and towel (they live permanently in my car for a swim at a seconds notice!)

How did you start out?
East Sydney Fashion Design studio, studied there then moved into lingerie working on Morrissey and Oroton intimates ranges. I was lucky enough to work my way up from the very bottom, hand dyeing fabrics, cutting then ended up Morrissey Brand Manager/ Designer, all by 24! One of my mentors Ursula then pushed me to fulfill this long standing dream I had of a swimwear company. It began as a stretched out hobby then I took it slowly, one step at a time… name registrations, range plans then all of a sudden I’m shooting my first collection with amazing people around me!

What do you love most about what you do?
There are so many aspects. One great pleasure is seeing a concept through to reality. It’s so exciting to see your designs all made up when they started as a sketch on your lounge room floor! I love hearing from people, especially when they love their new pieces, that’s a fantastic feeling!
How do you think you are making a difference in the world by what you do?
I’d like to think eventually my ‘story’ will inspire people. I have so many roads to cross yet so it’s a work in progress but seriously if I can do it, anybody can! I’ll help anyone I can to realise their dreams. I’ve had so many people help me, they will probably never realise how much so by this token I hope I can make the difference for someone else.

What do you feel is your calling and how do you achieve it through what you do?
My calling?! I’m an Aries, probably a serious case of A.D.D. I don’t sit still and you could probably ask this question on different days and get different answers! What I can say is my goal is to become an ‘entrepreneur’… a success story. My mum’s motto which I live by ‘whatever it takes’

What other professions have you tried and when and how did you know that this was your calling?
I haven’t really tried any other professions, it has always been design. I was lucky enough to know from an early age what I wanted to do and set my goals then. I’ve been working towards this since I was a teenager, winning scholarships to work shops in my holidays, focusing all my attention on the creative subjects at school relevant to getting into college. I have always had this dream and have tried to stay focused on the end goal

What inspired you to become a bikini designer? Did you always know what you wanted to do?
As I said, this was always what I wanted. I grew up in a small coastal community with my mum always sewing around me. Then when I moved to Sydney I worked in a surf store so have always been around swimwear. I think it was more of a natural progression through my life. I lived in bikinis so wanting something different from everyone else sparked a love for swimwear and designing my own.

How did you go about achieving such a level of success? We want the secrets.. Success!? I’m still working at it!
It depends on how you measure success really. I’m doing something I really love but I would not say I have ‘achieved’ success . I think success is knowing you have achieved something through your hard work. I’ve definitely worked hard no doubt about that. Determination, focus, vision and confidence. People are going to throw curb balls at you, they are going to try to take advantage of you, you have to know within yourself you are worthy of this and deserve it. You have to believe in yourself before anyone else will. And finally, passion, if you’re not enjoying the ride, whats the point of taking it???

What do you believe is the reason you are where you are today?
Again, hard work. Another thing, supportive, encouraging people around you who push you further ESPECIALLY on those days when everything is going wrong, for someone else to see the light at the end of the tunnel is a god-send.

What is success to you?
Success is looking back and knowing you deserve and have achieved what you have become.

What have been some of your greatest successes?
Wow… maybe pulling of my launch party last year, something crazy, lots of pressure but oh so worth it. How I (we) pulled it off was no minor feat but having a team of people around me that were all so talented in their own ways, it was a triumphant event! And the actualisation of my launching collection! Words cannot describe the feeling of standing in the middle of 100 boxes of cossies and knowing that I had ‘done it’ felt amazing.

What have been some of your greatest failures and how did you overcome them?
The simplest little things have let me down but every time I try to make myself laugh (or cry) and say ‘learn from it’. Things like forgetting to add certain unavoidable costs onto a whole shipment, hello, it’s like throwing money away! I haven’t yet had a massive failure… yet… but it will come. Hopefully at the time I can learn from that too. I try to remember this has happened to someone else at some time so what is the answer…

What has your success enabled you to do? What other goals and dreams has it allowed you to pursue? Have the challenges and obstacles been worth it?
I wish I could say all the exciting parties. You may get invited but good luck finding the time to go! I will eventually be able to travel for my business internationally. So far it has just been Australia which is fantastic. I also get to do something I love every day, what’s more rewarding than that? Eventually everything will be worth it, that I have no doubt about

Was success a choice or something that just happened?
What conscious decision did you make to get to where you are today? ‘
This’ did not just happen. You have to make sacrifices. Sure I could have gone overseas travelling, I nearly did. I could drop everything and have a lovely life, going away every weekend, spend weeknights going out, my money on myself… but all of that (well nearly) has to make way for ‘this’. You have to know at the beginning that ‘this’ is what you want. What are you prepared to give up? I think you’ll be surprised. Those new shoes or that amazing holiday sounds fantastic but what about that shipment coming in? Who else is going to do it? It’s all up to me.. Success or failure, it’s my choice.

What do you believe contributed mostly to you achieving success? Possibly drive? Or ambition?
Just being so focused on making it happen. Sure things go wrong but accepting them and moving on towards your goal, that’s a choice you make. Just know deep within yourself what you want, really deep within yourself, and believe it. You will make it happen.

Who are your role models and what inspires you about them?
I was only talking about this the other day. I really appreciate as women the original ‘supermodels’. I know, we all love to hate them but look at what they have achieved; Elle McPherson has a business empire built up from her modelling career. Kate Moss is in her own right a divine stylist, her look copied worldwide and positions yearned for by every fashionista. Helana is out there as an amazing photographer. Each of these women have controlled aspects of their lives and turned their post modelling careers into success stories.

What do you attribute to your success and having reached being at the top of your game?
I have a long way to go to reach the top of my game. Maybe that’s the key, constantly setting new goals, challenging yourself. Healthy body and healthy mind.

Do you believe you are at the top of your game? Why/why not? Do you believe there is a top or is there always more to aspire to and create?
There is always more to aspire to, to create. I’d get bored if I didn’t have a new project, idea or concept. I’m always coming up with new ideas for business, some crazy, some not so crazy. I don’t think I’ll ever be the ‘top of my game’ because I’ll always be looking for something new to achieve. At the moment it’s the bikini business, in the coming years I’d love to look at hospitality or event management, creating a ‘group’ of projects if you will. To be thought of as ‘successful’ or a ‘leader’ in this field, that would be excellent but for me to assume I’m at the top of my game, well then it would be time to retire wouldn’t it!?

Have you had a mentor along the way and who inspires you most and why?
I’ve had numerous mentors and they have all been so instrumental in me being where I am today. Three women in my life I can directly contribute to having come this far. Sharon J. A teacher from high school who indulged my dreams and pushed my creativity to get into college. She was there from the beginning and is still in my life today. Ursula D. Mentor and friend. She listened to me talk endlessly about having my own label before she finally demanded ‘so are you ever actually going to do this, or just talk about it?’ Talk about tough love! But seriously, business wise, she taught me everything she knew. And finally, Sam W. I can’t tell you how many emails for help this wondrous creative soul receives! She either calmly writes back or sits me down over a coffee and notebook and all of a sudden, everything is crystal clear!

Who would you most like to meet and why?
Richard Branson or Darren Lyons. They don’t actually compare but I have read both of their inspiring books. They were both knocked down and trodden on and look at them now. They have amazing tales of success. Plus, I think meeting either would be hilarious, they both seem to be quite the character and I’m sure it would not be a boring affair! Richard or Darren, if you’re reading this, give me a call!

What are the most important lessons you've learnt along the way?
Never give up. Break the problem down to the smallest of steps then it won’t seem like such a big problem to overcome. Oh, and very important.. GET EVERYTHING IN WRITING! Not everyone is your friend.

What difficulties and challenges have you faced to get to where you are and how did you turn them around?
I hate to talk about money but that has been a challenge. I don’t come from money so starting out has been tricky and all about making things happen. Hence sometimes up to 3 jobs at a time. I am also only one person and making sure everything is done is my responsibility. I don’t have a money tree nor do I have a time machine so I just do my best and hope/ pray its good enough!

If you could say one thing to women out there to inspire them on their journey to success what would it be?
Don’t be afraid! Whats the worst that can happen? If you can answer that you won’t let it happen!

Do you have a favourite quote you would like to share with us and what it means to you?
I found this one today and thought it was quite cute:
"Have faith in your dreams and someday your rainbow will come smiling through. No matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, the dream that you wish will come true- Cinderella. Why not hey… I mean if you can dream it, surely its achievable!"

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