Our first interview with women bosses or womenspirations, is with the stylist to the stars Donna aka Sulkydoll.
Fresh back from the Oscars where she was working her magic on the cast of Oscar Winning “Silent Child” she has kindly agreed to answer some of our questions.
- RI2K - Firstly, how would you introduce yourself?
Donna, a Stylist, Fashion Editor and 40 something Mum, I work very hard but am privileged to do a job I love.
Check out my work at www.sulkydoll.co.uk
- What would be a normal working day in your life?
There’s no such thing as normal or typical to be honest which is why I love doing what I do. I Style men and women from all walks of life and no two days look the same.
- What are the highs and lows you have experienced in your career?
Well the Oscars was a huge deal but making people feel great about how they look or seeing my work in print is always a thrill.
People seeing your role as frivolous or disposable and the expectation that you’ll do work for free for the “exposure” there’s a phrase that you don’t understand the value of something, until you pay for it and that resonates with me.
I can’t feed my kids exposure!
Also how hard it is to get couture for red carpet events if your client is a size 12 or more! It’s kind of obscene to be honest.
- We couldn’t agree more. Couture should be available to everyone and not just aimed at such a small range of women. How did you get into the fashion industry?
I have always been obsessed with all things Fashion but I made it official when I trained at London School of Styling and learned the tools of my trade.
- What was it that made you want to get into fashion in the first place?
It’s my creative outlet. I can’t draw but I can write and I can put clothes together without even thinking about it.
- Who have been the most fun people you have styled?
Julie Foy, Actress & Associate Producer of The Silent Child, she was up for anything and often it’s not that simple, the look is usually a hybrid of what you envisage and what the client likes. But Julie gave me creative freedom to do what I liked.
- Throughout your career what changes have you seen for women in the workplace?
I think that the everyday sexism a female encounters is still rife and I still experience it to a greater or lesser extent but it’s more exposed now for what it is, discriminatory behaviour plain and simple.
- What was your main drive to succeed in the roles you have had?
To be able to make a living doing what I love whilst still being a mum. I miss out on some cool gigs because I can’t be super flexible but it’s one of the reasons I’m freelance and not attached to an agency, I like to be able to pick and choose whom I work with and when I work with them.
My kids are growing up fast and one day they’ll be all grown up but they know I’m there for them but they also know mummy is a Stylist and I try to be as positive a role model as I can be for them.
- To be working for yourself and happy in the work you do should be extremely empowering for them. What was the best advice you were given in business?
Don’t work with dicks...or more politely - if it costs your peace it’s too expensive. Don’t tarnish your brand by working with people who just don’t resonate with you or what you stand for.
- Would you have done anything differently if you knew then what you know now?
I think every day is a lesson and although there’s things I wished I’d done differently. You learn from it.
- How do you get a good work life balance?
All the lolz! I don’t but I try very hard to take time off during school holidays.
- What would be the three best tips you would give to anyone wanting to get to the top in business?
Be nice, even when it kills you, be professional and always take the high road! Pay it forward and work hard.
- How do you cope with the casual sexism that is prevalent in business?
I call it out!
- Do you see this finally improving?
Not really but at least it’s being talked about.
- Are there any books that you would recommend that helped you during your career?
I still love print magazines and find these endlessly inspiring .
- Any teachers or colleagues that have inspired you?
I’ve been lucky to have people unofficially mentor me as my career has progressed and I’ve got some incredible Stylist friends who champion me too so there’s a lot of support networks I can pull on and I do frequently, it makes a big difference.
- Do you feel the way you dress effects how you are seen in business?
You are judged the minute you walk through the door. Your style is a way of speaking without having to say a word. It’s the armour we wear to face the day.
- What would be your top fashion tips for the office, relaxing and for nights out?
I think that whatever environment or event you dress for the important thing is to always look like you, that you feel comfortable literally and metaphorically speaking in your look for that day.
But start from the shoes up, this is the piece that pulls the look together and is the one thing that we don’t think about when we plan a look. I always have a spare pair of shoes in my bag, changing into them can transform a look and make you walk taller (in every sense)