Saturday, July 31, 2010

CHANEL one day PRADA the next....Interview with Melinda O'Rourke from MO Luxury

There are some women who discover their true passion and pursue a career which brings them much satisfaction. The world of fashion and luxury brands is one of the most exciting and coveted industries to be part of. I remember as a young woman going to David Jones and getting so excited by the feeling that even for a minute being part of this world would bring out in me! A little luxury or a lot women everywhere want to be part of this exciting and enviable industry.

I have recently met a woman who is part of this world everyday, she has carved out her own piece of the luxury brand pie and is inspired an excited about what she does and the impact the luxury brands and fashion have on our senses and our lives. We take a look into the universe of Melinda O'Rourke from MO Luxury where she'll take you through her success secrets and how you too can get into this exciting industry.

Favourite fashion brand?
SO, so difficult to have just one. However, if I am looking at the total brand, its innovation, design, quality of fabrics, quality of manufacture, artisanal embellishments, consistency and pure indulgence, I really do not believe you can go pass Chanel. Then there is the heritage, the business and marketing strategies… I could go on. It’s my favourite fashion brand for this multitude of reasons.

Favourite designer?
Past – Monsieur Yves Saint Laurent (rest well his soul), innovation and dare to be different at the time, sheer beauty, quality and luxury of his haute couture and ready-to-wear.
Now – I think the two Christopher’s if I can have two for the price of one! Christopher Bailey you really cannot beat what he is doing right now with Burberry and Christopher Kane, innovative, I love that he loves colour and his is an intelligent design.

How do these fashion brands/designers empower you as a woman?
They offer me the perfect balance of confidence, branché and femininity

Favourite holiday spot?
Anywhere in France….the food, the fashion, the wine, the history and beauty or when France doesn’t take any more visitors at its borders, then Italy, for all the same reasons.

Favourite charity?
Internationally World Vision, their scope and immediate call to action for global disasters. Locally Mission Beat for their work in the streets of Sydney, their availability and the great consistent work they do.

Things you love and can’t live without?
Good health, the ability to interact and engage with other human beings, wonderful fresh food produce. Also, the beach, the sun, fresh air, green grass, weekends, holidays, martini (vodka with a twist, dry please), pinot (gris, and noir), dark chocolate

How did you start out?
I started out essentially in a product and marketing assistant role with no formal (read: tertiary) qualifications. I left school at 17 as I could not ‘wait’ to work and earn money and explore (and buy clothes and shoes). My practical and theoretical learning developed from there and my tertiary education came later after years of practical experience just to ‘test’ myself and ensure what I was ‘doing’ was actually correct!

What do you love most about what you do?
Having started my business over two years ago what I love most is that I can ‘create’ something from zero and see it evolve into the Vision I had set three years ago, with some tweaking on the way.

What excites you about the luxury brands and where do your true passions lie in what you do?
Luxury brands inspire and excite me due to their rich heritage. Their stories from pioneering brands to global conglomerates are extraordinary and understanding the depth and the detail of why these brands continue today provides an ongoing excitement for me from their new advertising campaigns, their seasonal launches, their new store designs…. My true passions lie in the fact that I am an extremely visual person and I am constantly excited by the vision the founders and the custodians of these brands had and continue to have. Therefore it is a privilege to work with these brands as I am passionate about their DNA.

You have almost 20 years of experience with some of the world’s most luxurious brands including CHANEL, PRADA and Yves Saint Laurent – what excites you about the industry and working with luxury brands?
The industry is looked up to for inspiration by many other fashion, accessory and beauty brands globally, so to see what these brands launch continues to excite as they are visionary and can often push the boundaries in relation to the ‘marque’ of the brand, however maintaining the respect. Now isn’t that exciting, working with brands that are constant change agents and influence many.

You also have a talent management and research arm to you business – what do you look for when recruiting people in the luxury brand market?
First and foremost - passion, it’s numero uno. A love of quality products, exceptional service and a level of technical skills appropriate to the job description and an articulate, warm and personable communicator who is well groomed (this doesn’t mean conservative but relevant and appropriate)

What advice would you give to women wanting to get into the luxury brand business?
Retail is an excellent start. One issue that can be problematic in Australia is that retail can often be thought of as a ‘stepping stone’ and not taken as a ‘serious’ career. In the US, Europe and Asia retail is series business and taken very seriously. At MO Luxury we are also trying to educate and inform that retail is often a person’s best step into a luxury brand. Like all businesses, luxury is no different, you have to ‘see the opportunity’, identify your own personal vision of where you see yourself in the short, medium and long term and ensure you are on the right path to take you there. The success of luxury brands is built on beautiful, quality products with rarity and exclusivity sold by knowledgeable and professional people. Make sure you don’t shy away from a retail position. We have several Managing Directors that we work with that want to know if someone has worked ‘on the floor’ as they know it is the best training ground.

What do you feel is your calling and how do you achieve it through what you do in the luxury brands market?
Wow, my calling…well I truly believe it is to interact, engage, encourage and mentor people. Having the Talent Management pillar of the business allows tremendous connections with a great wealth of people. Also with our Consumer Research pillar we study consumer experiences in luxury environments and again, understanding what the motivators and drivers of satisfaction are keeps me constantly engaged with and learning more about people and how ‘we’ operate and what improvements can be made.

What other professions have you tried and when and how did you know that this was your calling?
I worked with Foreign Affairs for a couple of early years in my career, which was extremely interesting, however I did find it quite bureaucratic and not a fast paced enough environment for me. I wanted to be able to make change and I didn’t believe that could be done easily (or at all) in a government position.

What inspired you to choose this path?
Travel and aspiring to own some of the beautiful things I saw when window shopping in Paris when I was young. The colour, movement, the constant change, variety, excitement and the odd bit of drama thrown in!

How did you go about achieving such a level of success? We want the secrets….
Well I suppose success is subjective, however I am very happy with my career-to-date and I just love what I have done, everything has been a great experience and not a waste of time.
A strong vision, persistence, being brave and getting out of your comfort zone, instilling confidence in yourself that you ‘can do’ whatever it is you are thinking. I know a lot of people say this and it can seem rhetorical, however it really is thus. As long as you are committed, determined, always positive and open to learning you really will be successful.

What do you believe is the reason you are where you are today?
Wonderful foundations, I had a brilliant upbringing, with wonderful supportive parents and brothers. For that I count myself very lucky. From there it is self drive that further mobilizes you on your path. Self belief and a commitment to achieve, putting end goals up front and sign posts along the way to ensure you are tracking well.

What is success to you?
Happiness and ultimate fulfilment.

What has your success enabled you to do? What other goals and dreams has it allowed you to pursue?
Have the confidence to commence my business, travel, meet extraordinary people and see extraordinary things. It has enabled me to live a wonderful life thus far. The goal was to create a luxury brand and with the experience I have it has allowed me to pursue this.

Was success a choice or something that just happened? What conscious decision did you make to get to where you are today?
I find it a little difficult articulating why I am successful as I said, success can be subjective… Having said that, I do firmly believe success is a choice as some people can be successful for a period of time, or within one aspect of their life, you need to work at success.
The conscious decision I made was to be professional in every aspect of day to day, discreet, and diplomatic and operate with the highest of integrity and ethics in all aspects of my life.

What do you believe contributed mostly to you achieving success in the luxury brand business?
Being committed to achieving goals set by the companies I was employed by in addition to my own goals. Being patient for the right position, respecting my superiors and peers and being positive about the range of tasks and challenges as they arose. Hard work really ‘does’ pay off but you need to earn your dues.

Who are your role models and what inspires you about them?
I really cannot go passed Nelson Mandela for his unwavering strength and commitment to a cause he truly believed in. Through his passion, persistence and commitment he drove real change. The current Governor General Quentin Bryce, as she is always compassionate, gracious and appropriate. On a business side I would say Heather Ridout Chief Executive of the Australian Industry Group because she is intelligent and fair in her dealings representing business in a broad range of sectors; she has a deep interest in public policy and is a trusted professional and a voice of reason in her field.

What do you attribute to your success and having reached being at the top of your game?
Integrity and a professional approach, all with a smile!

Have you had a mentor along the way and who inspires you most and why?
My father has been a wonderful mentor (still is), an intelligent yet extremely down-to-earth and practical retired lawyer. He is a believer in “the closed mouth catches no flies” and “look before you leap”; he has many bon mots to hand out.. These are a few and also my mother of course for the diplomacy, humility and patience she has instilled in me. I have probably two unofficial female mentors who I have worked for and with over the years and have admired how they conduct themselves.

Who would you most like to meet and why?
Super tough – Barack Obama, he is a man that has always been driven to change and make things more equal for all people. I think his task is extremely daunting and I would like to ask him if he is as free to ‘really make change’ now as the President of the USA as he thought he would before he got the top gig.

What difficulties and challenges have you faced to get to where you are and how did you turn them around?
Realistically early on in my career it would be the constraints of being a female in the work place, you had to prove yourself more for the promotions and negotiate better for the pay rises. Being professional and delivering on KPIs ensured I was able to convince previous bosses that I was capable and worth it. Working very long days, nights, travelling enormously takes a toll on your social life, I made a clear decision five years ago, that I would not continue on this path as I really wasn’t that important (Prime Minister, Neurosurgeon etc) and therefore the only way to manage this challenge was to manage myself better…It’s working!

What are the most important lessons you’ve learnt along the way?
Listen to people, learn from them and be respectful at all times. Always look at the positive side of ‘everything’ and be sure you surround yourself with people who encourage and support you as you progress. The road can be a little bumpy at times but it’s certainly well worth it.

If you could say one thing to women out there to inspire them on their journey to success what would it be?
Be self aware, confident in your convictions, seek support when you need it, don’t be too proud to ask and don’t put too much pressure on yourself, you will self combust and then you’re no good to anyone! Every day is learning, enjoy it.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The ball's in your of tennis, life & love...

How often do we say and hear the saying "The ball's in your court". Well I have often been amazed and amused by those that look at the ball and are too afraid to hit it. They dont seem to know what to do with it, should I hit it, should I run away or maybe I'll just put it in my pocket and lose the game.

Life is a game - the game of love, game of business...there are rules and there are scores. When we don't play by the rules we lose the game! It's pretty simple really and such a truth that can be applied to our life.

Today I learnt that some people don't play by the rules, they think they can outsmart others and win the game. There are those who try to play but without reading the rule book first and then wonder why they're losing and then there are others who didnt think there were any rules and decided to make it up as they go and wonder why it's not working out!

So the lesson here is that if you want to win in business, in tennis or in love that you need to know what the rules are, play by them and keep hitting the ball within the lines because otherwise you're out!!

Shopping which makes you richer.....

After 12 hour days on my laptop I needed some inspiration and a break from thinking and doing! I've realised the importance of taking the time out and remembered what I read the other day about the teachings of Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. It doesnt say "Work Hard and Grow Rich" because we need the time to think of ideas, be inspired and work out the path and a plan to achieving our goals.

So as I ventured off to find some inspiration I walked through the department store surrounded by luxury brands, make-up, perfume, shoes, bags and all those beautiful things us women cant do without! I had a realisation that these "things" that some people say are Message unnecessary & superficial in fact bring a richness to our lives. They bring us hope and each season we can reinvent and refresh, we put on a beautiful dress by our favourite designer and feel like we can take on the world. A new world, a world full of hope, inspiration and beauty.

What kind of world would it be if we all walked around in our sloppy jeans, runners and a plain old tee? I realised that fashion brings out my passion for life, I am excited, joyous and I can grow a little taller with the confidence to take on the world, and for a 5ft'er like me the world certainly does look better in a pair of louboutins.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Women join forces...Gail Elliott, Terry Biviano and Fashion Editor Harper's Bazaar

Little Joe Woman designer lunch INVITATION at Pendolino restaurant

The Strand Arcade and the Restaurant Pendolino invites you to a very fashionable luncheon...Join me in celebrating the Little Joe Woman 2010 Spring Summer Collection Launch with a fashion show and exclusive insight on new season trends...with Claudia Navone, Contributing Fashion Editor at Harper's Bazaar,and a fabulous look at new season shoes from Terry Biviano.

Enjoy a three-course lunch with matching wines, designed by Pendolino Chef and Owner, Nino Zoccali.

Please join us for a fun afternoon 12pm for 12.30pm, Tuesday 3rd August 2010.
Bookings are $130pp.

To reserve your table, phone 02 9231 6117 or email

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Walking away....

A few years a random meeting with two random Londoners in a Walgreens Supermarket on the corner of Lincoln Road and Collins Avenue in South Beach Miami and today I remember the song that was sung to me whilst sitting at a dinner table across from Craig David because I seriously had no idea who he was. Today I remembered this because it reminds me that there are times in life that we all need to walk away from the troubles in our lives and find a better day!

Sometimes some people get me wrong
when it's something I've said or done
sometimes you feel there is no fun
that's why you turn and run
but now I truly realise
some people don't wanna compromise
well I saw them with my own eyes spreading those lies
and well I don't wanna live a lie, too many sleepless nights
not mentioning the fights, I'm sorry to say lady

I'm walking away from the troubles in my life
I'm walking away oh to find a better day
I'm walking away from the troubles in my life
I'm walking away oh to find a better day
I'm walking away
Thank you to such an amazing artist and a song that continues to inspire me to walk away and find a better day.....

Princess Power.....

Palazzo Versace brought Alex Perry’s ‘Arabian Princess’ fashion experience exclusively to Queensland....

Palazzo Versace was transformed into an exotic Arabian mirage. Sheer fabrics, ornamental lamps, tea lights and Versace cushions were scattered throughout the hotel sunken lobby when it hosted renowned Australian fashion designer Alex Perry showcasing his Spring/Summer 2010 ‘Arabian Princess’ collection.

The exclusive event was emceed by model Chloe Maxwell, with guests treated like Arabian Princesses (or Princes) as they immersed themselves in glorious new-season high fashion, nibbling on "couture" canapés, sipping signature cocktails and flowing bubbles and listening to exotic Arabian-inspired tunes.

Before and during the parade guests were pampered at the Palazzo Perry Parlour receiveing complimentary GHD hair treatments and a trial of succulent Moroccan Oil from the holy land of Israel...When it comes to beauty it looks like the Arabian and Jewish Princesses can get along quite well :-))

And for Palazzo Versace guests lucky enough to secure a personal fitting, Alex Perry, the master of made-to-order gowns, brought his Couture Store to Palazzo Versace to create bespoke gowns for just one weekend......Oh what a glamorous weekend it was!

Your most powerful self...

Actress Jennifer Aniston has spent a lot of time and effort on her signature perfume ‘Lolavie’. She says that she invested so much time and effort on it, because she wanted it to be an extension of herself. I love the fact that women globally are awakening to their immense power and choosing to be the creators and masters of their destiny instead of a victim of their past.

If there is a woman that we can admire that would be Jennifer Aniston. She has gone through losing one of the world's most desired men to Angelina Jolie...and I know there are ordinary women everywhere who have lost the love of their lives to another woman. I know that it leaves us wondering whether there is something wrong with us, whether if only we were different then maybe they would have stayed?

The answer to this question is one that we all struggle with....we go through heartache, we go through doubting our very own being and with that comes greater strength to become the powerful women that we really are! Sometimes it takes a great loss to find out how amazing we can be and in the pain and sorrow we re-discover a new woman that can really be without the man we believed we would die without...

Lets celebrate the women, like Miss Aniston who no matter what age or stage in life still look incredible and continue building empires as a true extension of who they are....

Chanel pops up in St Tropez.....

St. Tropez — the playground for celebrities and jetsetters looking for a little fun in the sun by the ocean, the French Riviera town where Brigitte Bardot was discovered, where Karl Lagerfeld vacationed during his childhood summers, and where he chose to show Chanels 2010-2011 Cruise Collection — will host Chanel’s new pop-up shop.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Rock of our lives....Tiffany's or De Beers

We often believe that happiness will come when we finally receive the long awaited rock on our finger. The glistening diamond which will be a reminder that we are loved, wanted, appreciated and valued and that someone has chosen us to journey with them down that path of life....

I have recently realised the value of a different kind of rock, it may not be Tiffanys but it certainly shines brighter each day if we tend to it, polish it and value it like it is the rarest kind of all...Our men may give us a diamond but it is who these men are in our lives that truly make us shine! I have been beautifully surprised by the stability they provide for us women, enabling us to go out into the world and do what we do best!!

So thank you to the men who make our lives better, brighter and give us our strength instead of taking it away.....
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