Michelle Hua – co-founder of Women of Wearables and founder and CEO of Made With Glove and Marija Butkovic, co-founder of Women of Wearables and Kisha Smart Umbrella share their career journeys and why they decided to launch Women of Wearables (WOW). Interviewed by We Are The City. Here is an excerpt of their interview.
What inspired you to start a business?
Michelle: When I was working remotely as a lawyer for the Western Australian Government in Manchester, I rented a hot desk at a co-working space. I was surrounded by other entrepreneurs and their passion for their business, their self determination and motivation inspired me to resign from my job and start my own wearable technology company, Made With Glove. After 2 years, I met Marija at the Wearable Tech Show in London in 2016 (who is also in the wearable tech industry) and we co-founded WoW.
Marija: Same as my co-founder Michelle, I was working as a lawyer for 8 years, before tapping into startup world. It all started as becoming a startup mentor, tech journalist and when I started organising hackathons for Croatian startup community. I soon realised it offers me much more creativity and independence than working 9-5 in a stuffy office, so when I moved to London in 2014 I just knew I had to have my own business. It all started by co-founding Kisha, world’s smartest fashion tech umbrella and until today our umbrellas have been sold and shipped to more than 40 different countries. After realising potential of wearable tech industry and lack of women in it, my co-founder Michelle and I decided to start WoW and empower and support women who already are in this industry, but also those who still struggle where to start.
What is the greatest challenge and the greatest reward in being your own boss?
Michelle: The greatest challenge in being my own boss is finding the time to do everything and be everywhere. Being a sole founder and CEO means you are the Chief Everything Officer. The greatest reward is meeting inspiring people every day, seeking new opportunities and being a STEM Ambassador especially to young girls. I have the freedom to make decisions according to my goals for the business and for the wider community.
Marija: Greatest challenge is wearing multiple hats all the time and managing my time effectively. Having multiple businesses and projects requires me to be super organised. The greatest reward is having my own freedom to do things when I want and how I want, being able to travel and work at the same time, which is a commodity not many people today have, and also making more impact now I have my own business.
What motivational tips can you give to our members about goal setting and managing both successes and failures?
Michelle: It is so easy to work “in” your business every day that sometimes it’s necessary to take a step back to work “on” your business. Every week, writing down your to do list and ticking them off as you go along helps you look back and recognise your achievements. This is a reminder that when there are failures, these achievements are little successes that will help you get to your end goal. They might be just enough to keep you going because running a business is hard. It’s difficult to see the successes when all you’re focusing on is getting to the end goal and questioning why you aren’t there yet.
Marija: I used to stress out a lot if I wouldn’t tick off all the boxes on my to-do list before. Not any more. Now I have more smaller goals and focus on not more than 3 things in a day. I also try to dedicate at least two days per week on actual working, which means no meetings, no events, just me and my laptop. Learning to say ‘no’ is very important, too. Not every opportunity is the right opportunity. When it comes to failures, I see them as part of my learning process, so I always try to understand what could be improved for the next time. Failures are okay if they make you stronger and bring you useful experience which can help you in the future.
Read the rest of the interview on We Are The City here.