Inspiring Women Series – Melissa Wheeler

This is something new for the blog but I had the idea to use this little blog space as a way to celebrate some of the many talented and inspirational women that I am meeting at the moment.  So it is an absolute privilege to introduce Melissa Wheeler to you.  I met Melissa last year at a style evening that I was presenting at.  We clicked straight away over our love of fashion and style and have kept in close contact ever since.  Melissa has been a great champion for my business and I’ll often find a lovely email in my inbox from her with praise on something that I have done. She is a very talented writer and journalist as well as now working alongside a number of brands to manage their PR and content.  And the reason I wanted to feature her here is because her job in fashion is very cool and I think that if you are wanting to get into fashion it is really helpful to read about potential avenues and the journey that others have taken.

So over to Melissa…enjoy the read. X

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do? 

Well, I guess I’m a Fashion-person born and bred, although I’m very much not a Fashionista in my day-to-day life, it’s just the industry is in my DNA. I’ve been immersed in the fashion world since I was a young girl, attending LFW with my mother during school half termsand attending some wonderful events ‘back in the day’, and so have grown to love the magic and madness of it all.

I’m a writer by nature and my work has evolved around that skillset, telling stories essentially, painting pictures with words and drawing on themes. My own experience is that I’ve come to view the industry through these eyes and that prism, and have always been fascinated by the impact which clothes have upon how we feel aboutourselves and our self-esteem. This often informs my writing and certainly my approach to those clients who are designers. I do a number of different things in my work and it continues to develop and change, but I’m primarily a PR & Marketing consultant and Content Writer. Through writing and communications I’ve crafted a career which I love, providing fashion brands and emerging designers with PR support, marketing advice and creative content across various platforms. That said, I’ve re-written websites and copy for all sorts of small businesses.

What do you think has been the most important lesson that you have learnt so far on your career journey? 

To love what you do and do what you love. It makes everything easier. Also, the results tend to always be far better! Listening to feedback and learning from the not-so-great chapters too; it all helps towards channellingyour strengths. Don’t sell yourself for someone or something which you’re not. Even if your service or skillset is very niche, there will be a market for it and customers for you. A happy person is a creative person.

What advice would you give to anybody wanting to get into a similar line of work as you?

Specialise. I’ve written about most subjects and indeed will always welcome and embrace exploring a wide range of subjects. However, when it comes to my clients and supporting them to grow and achieve their objectives, I know that I need to understand their proposition in order to believe in their brand and therefore become a specialist. It’s absolutely vital in order to create a credible brand image. Also, it’s important to feel satisfied that you’re doing a good job and really making a difference. In order to do that you really need to give your heart and soul to understanding the project and brand. Personally, my work is worn pretty much on my sleeve and I’d feel fraudulent if I said or projected something I didn’t really ‘feel’. Millennials and awoke customers generally these days; they all see through that pretence.

Then there’s communication. I support my clients on a 24/7 basis and communicate with them regularly, even if just to say that all is well and reminding them I’m there. Likewise, it’s important that you ask lots of questions before starting out, so that you understand the brand as if it were your own.

And, you get out what you put in. Hard work does pay off….just not always immediately! Whatever I read, wherever I go and whoever I’m speaking to or listening to, any possible links with my clients is bubbling away in the background. Life experience is an opportunity so if you can relax into your work it then ultimately you’ll find it easier.

As woman in business, what challenges do you think you have had to overcome? 

It happens to be something that’s being discussed a lot right now and I’ve realised I too suffer a little from ‘imposter syndrome’, though I don’t think this is exclusive to women. Truth is, the most conscientious of us – and those who give that extra 50% to what we do – always say ‘yes’ and feel like we’re ‘winging it’ much of the time. I’m not ashamed to say that I do and yet I know that’s no reflection on my skillset or talent. This is especially pertinent in such a competitive industry that’s geared towards social media and the projection ofpolished ‘perfect’ work-life set ups. Ironically, despite excelling at promoting others, I guess I struggle with owning my own talent and success and can think of instances where I’ve waited for my work to be noticed rather than positioning it in a sightline with audacity. The fear of failure is something which affects us all to some degree and I try to remember Susan Jeffers’ book whenever I become paralysed and a bit overwhelmed by managing people’s expectations: Feel the fear and do it anyway!

Also, what do you think has worked well?  What have your successes been? 

From a practical point of view, LinkedIn has worked well for me and I’ve established a strong profile there with integrity, which has attracted some great leads and some consistent work.

I’ve always maintained good relations with everyone I’ve ever worked with and have made a point of writing and producing from the heart – as well as the head in everything I do. Being accredited by the Chartered Institute of Marketing has been a professional mark of security I guess and my creative output has secured me contributing roles on public platforms such as the Huffington Post, which has worked well for me and my clients in supporting the marketing work, as well as industry platforms and publications.

I consider my successes to me the difference I’ve made to those I’ve worked with and have also helped businesses in national industry awards; one win and two finalists. I’ve come to realise that a lot of my ‘consulting’ work with my clients involves a therapeutic flavour, which comes very naturally to me and which I love.

Various very niche and great opportunities have been offered to my clients via my connections and that makes me feel great and reassures that I’m doing something right, which is ultimately down to how I conduct myself. Managing to connect with a celebrity model to wear one of my client’s products – in her first few months of business – was thrilling and there are some pretty ambitious and exciting projects in the pipeline later this year too.

What do you think is the secret to success? 

Ha, well, typically I don’t feel qualified to answer that (cf. imposter syndrome) but, hypothetically….Self-belief and a playful attitude towards new challenges. Be the very best, true version of yourself and your own USP, rather than bending and trying to emulate others. Plenty of famous quotes on that but let’s just say that we all know when we’re in the flow and embracing who we are.

How important do you think it is to feel confident in what you wear? 

Immensely. Comfort fosters confidence and we feel comfortable when we feel secure. This means respecting your shape and unique style which empowers you to tap into your own frequency, as Oprah would put it. Embrace what you are rather than fighting against it. Easier said than done in our online, curated world but there are also some great role models out there and a positive energy if you look for it and tap in.

When do you feel most empowered at work? 

When I’m in ‘the zone’, not thinking but producing and then realise that I’m actually damn good at what I do and know my stuff. It’s an elating and magical feeling which always centres me and I love nothing better than feeling really excited by something I discover or an opportunity. They say, do something you love and you’ll never work another day in your life! TBD!

How can your services help other women in business? 

I think any woman following her own path fearlessly while articulating her fears and vulnerabilities is an inspiration to other women, whatever you do. I happen to be working with a few incredible emerging female designers at the moment, with whom I feel hugelyhonoured and grateful to have met. I know that I empower them at times – their words – and they in turn make me feel valued and strong. You get what you give. I also support all other women I connect with out there and a firm believer in the adage that celebrating another woman’s success does not diminish you own.