Ilde Naismith-Beeley’s ‘lightbulb’ business moment was her wedding day, “My love of high heels and outdoors met in an unfriendly fashion! The bridal party and my guests in heels were sinking into the grass, we teetered unsteadily as we sipped our champagne and nibbled on canapés on the lawn of a beautiful mountainous venue near Sydney,” recalls the charismatic Founder and Director of online powerhouse Starlettos.com
The solution was as elegant as it was practical, “Shaped like a little flower, cupping the heel, Starlettos not only preserves a girl’s most adored stilettos and her dignity, but the distinctive beautiful design adds a little bit of extra fashionable fun and star quality to high heels.”
Fast-forward a decade and the little Aussie stars have removed the need for thousands of women around the globe to compromise on shoe choice at outdoor functions, “It’s an exciting time where females can rewrite the business culture rules shifting towards a more equitable and inspiring workforce. However, there is still a long way to go. In the 2018 Fortune 500 list of CEO roles only 5% were held by women,” says the fashion-forward
Founder who started her business in trying circumstances.
While Ilde admits statistics shouldn’t hold any bold vision back, she’s quick to point out there are hurdles and frightening moments need to be embraced if success is to follow, “Running your own business can feel very scary. For my business Starlettos, the concept wasn’t in the market so as a company we had to create awareness for both the global heel protector market and grow our own brand. I remember the first day we switched on our website it shocked me that we made a sale!”
If that wasn’t daunting enough, the founder was looking to up the personal challenge, going live with her first website to coincide with the birth of her first child – it was a testing launch phase, “Not really expecting sales straight away, I was juggling a crying baby and wasn’t yet an expert on the intricacies of the then new payment system – needless to say I had to learn both to separate my baby time and become an expert in many payment systems. It was a crazy state of uncertainty, mixed emotions, intense love and excitement were rife in my life!” she recalls fondly.
Her number one advice for those looking to be bold and follow their own vision to the market is to look for reasons why, not to be bogged down in the doubt of why not, “I believe that living bravely is important and often the fear that rules our lives is based on stories and anticipation of what could go wrong, not actual circumstances. So for me, becoming brave enough to launch Starlettos was all about gathering facts, gaining knowledge, and breaking down components of the business into manageable and assessable pieces. Each step I had to remind myself to break it down, plan it out and deal with each small item rather than getting overwhelmed.”
While Ilde affectionately recalls the journey she’s been on with her business, she knows there’s been a lot of key developments that have smoothed out some of these memories. Now Starlettos functions are automated as much as possible, with worldwide distribution channels on their website and through Amazon in the USA, UK and Europe but it took a long time to get to that stage, so she’s careful not to sugar-coat the start-up experience, especially for those with young families.
“There is never a perfect time in your career to start your family. Women can be set back years in their roles from taking that important time to raise children. Whilst we don’t regret taking this precious time with our little ones, it is frustrating to miss opportunities in work and operate in an environment impacted by the wage gap. I think one interesting area to consider is defining what success looks like for you and how it incorporates both family time and career aspirations. Creating your personal idea of success enables you to work towards a model that suits you as a professional within your family unit.”
To that end the Starlettos visionary believes more needs to be done at an employer level to support parents, “I am all about promoting transformation and leading as you want the world to be. Acting as the leader I want to be and promoting agendas that are important to the female collective. Paying super to female employees on maternity leave is one integral in creating change and closing the wage gap and promoting a more inclusive work culture. Within Starlettos, I do not look at these payments as a strain but as part of an essential set up to support staff and retain talent in the organisation,” says the Founder.
While the Starlettos company might have been born out of an individual vision, there’s no doubt in Ilde’s mind that the bedrock on which the heel enhancers stand strong is the people she’s recruited into her business, “Dedicated, talented and enthusiastic staff are game changers when you run your own business, they provide a greater reach and a richness to everyday functions and projects - so it is essential to work out how to keep them feeling valued and engaged.“
For more on Ilde’s story visit starlettos.com
Photo kindly provided by Melinda Hird
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