I founded Lyfcycle with my Dad in 2019…. He brought the knowledge and I brought the creativity and drive to do something new. Lyfcycle was founded with a vision to clean up the fashion industry. We strive to partner with brands, help them on their journey to create sustainable clothing and give them the tools they need to bring traceability and transparency to their product offering. As an individual, I can’t say that I’ve never used a plastic bag or that I stand and actively protest alongside Greta Thunberg but I just want to do my bit. I believe that if we all took the time to make small, positive changes in the way we do our shopping and conduct our business, the overall impact on the environment around us will be a positive one. For me, it’s about doing my best - and I think that’s all we can ask of people. Lyfcycle enables me to do that through my work.
Theres no such thing as a typical day in my career…. And that’s actually the best thing about it! Every day brings something different, whether it’s connecting with suppliers, meeting with customers, getting stuck in with design. I do a bit of everything and like it that way. I’ve been brought up around clothing manufacturing since being a kid. My Dad, Tony, spent 30+ years mastering garment sourcing with hundreds of trips across Asia so it’s something that came naturally for me and always captured my interest. Here’s a photo of us on a recent journey to Bangladesh to connect with existing and prospective suppliers of recycled materials. After 3 decades of visiting Bangladesh, it was Tony’s first time in a TukTuk!
I continue to face challenges daily….but that’s the nature of being a business owner. Until very recently, the biggest challenge I faced when launching Lyfcycle was trying to cross the boundary between a conceptual prospect and a proven service offering. Winning our first customer and having a solid case study just makes for an easier conversation with new prospective clients. But just 3 months ago, my partner in crime, my dad, Tony, passed away very suddenly. Aside from the emotional impact of losing a father, I have had to come to terms with losing my business partner and mentor. It’s been a huge setback for Lyfcycle but also the source of a renewed motivation to succeed in what we set out to do in a way that I had never had before. The biggest thing it has taught me, is not to focus too hard on the end destination, but to enjoy the journey as you try to get there. And that goes for both personal and professional life. It’s about enjoying experiences, creating memories and nourishing relationships. I’m where I am now thanks to the incredible example and encouragement of my dad but also thanks to the people around me that have supported me – family, friends, customers and suppliers.
Everybody has setbacks but the key for me is persistence and constant reassurance from the people around me that support me as an individual but also that fully believed in the vision I set out for Lyfcycle as a company.
My upbringing gave me the determination and drive to succeed. I was brought up in an entrepreneurial household, always encouraged to see the opportunities that life brings – through both good and bad eventualities. Always encouraged to step back from the status quo and question ‘why is that being done in that way?’. With that habit, naturally you find yourself looking for better solutions to the existing ones. Growing up with supportive parents that gave me the confidence to know I can succeed in whatever I set my mind to.
Im also hugely motivated by life itself….that may sound bizarre, but the health & wellbeing of my loved ones around me, the lifeline of the planet & the environment and the societal impact of business on people in our wider communities. Business can and will be done in a better, more sustainable way. My work every day is pushing to make that happen. It’s the best motivation out there.
Ownership of what you do – in work, in life, not just as an owner of a business is really important to me. As the founder of Lyfcycle, I see it as my job to enable my team to reach their full potential. My role is to encourage autonomy, curiosity, creativity and ultimately, giving the people within Lyfcycle the confidence to make their role’s their own. To own it.
Finding the courage to leave a secure job in pursuit of a new career when I had no idea what that new career would or could look like I would class as one of my biggest achievements. Just knowing I wanted to create something for myself or have the opportunity to truly apply myself to a role and make it my own, and then being brave enough to make it happen. We all need the fear sometimes. For me, the fear came in quitting a job before having a defined path lined up. I found my feet quite quickly and Lyfcycle is a result of that.
I don’t see my gender being a barrier or a particular advantage in what I do. If I had to pick something, I’d say the typical ability of a woman to multi-task is advantageous. When you have a million and one things to do, it helps to be able to tick off two from the list at a time! Being female isn’t something that I have ever felt has held me back nor has it brought me special attention. And that’s the way it should be. Regardless of gender, I truly believe we all have it in us to do something brave, follow our dreams and lead successful careers.
“Your word is your bond” is a mantra, if any, I live my life by. It’s a message that has been drilled in to me since being a kid by my Dad, who was also my fellow co-founder at Lyfcycle. It’s all about integrity. Too often, we come across people that feel the need to say things for the sake of it, that commit to doing things and delivering things that they never had the intention of doing. Even something as small as “I’ll call you” or “Send me an email and I’ll get back to you”. For me, that has become one of the most telling characteristics in people. Simply put, if you say you’re going to do something, then do it. Be honest, humble and honourable.
Ive been lucky enough to receive many pearls of wisdom from my mentors but one that perhaps less people will have heard and less generic - “If you don’t ask, you don’t get”. I was always encouraged to ask questions and be inquisitive… Aside from sounding greedy, the real lesson here is more in learning from other people. Ask a question that some might deem to be cheeky in the hope of being given some information that might arm you with a stronger chance of success, and you might just be surprised at how open and honest people are with you. For the amount of times I’ve asked for such things, I’ve been pleasantly surprised more times than I’ve been politely ignored.
The key pieces of advice I would give to those aspiring to do more would be:
- Just do you. Don’t let anyone put you in a box that defines you. If it doesn’t fit for a particular company/project/person, then it’s not meant to be. Just move on to the next thing.
- It’s ok to want to quit sometimes….as long as you don’t! We’ve all been there. That time you thought you delivered the winning pitch but it never materialized, or that time you came back from an event with 20 new business cards and not one person took it upon themselves to call you. It’s all part of the fun (kind of). You’ll have your down days but they will be outweighed by good if you keep pushing to achieve what you want to achieve.
- Be unapologetic. When I say that, I don’t mean be horrible to people and don’t say sorry. I mean, own your truth, accept you’re in the early stages of your career or that you’re a startup and let that be a quality rather than an off put to people. If you get asked something and don’t know, just say so. There’s nothing worse than agreeing to deliver something when you don’t have a clue what you just agreed to – and you’ll come off worse than if you had just put your hands up from day one and said “I’m not sure”.
As females we need to do our best to get out of the mindset that being a woman can and will hold you back. Although there might be invisible barriers in place, ultimately, you’re the driver of your own car. Challenge the status quo, do your thing and do it well…success will find you. As long as your ambitious, hard work and determination outweigh everything else, you’ll find your way through. Don’t be afraid to put in the hard work and to be knocked down. If you believe you can, you will.
Listening is also critical. When you set out on a path to lead a company, team or even a project, it’s too easy to have everyone else play along to your game plan. That’s not how great things are achieved. Great things are achieved when people’s creativity and individuality and combined to work towards a common goal. So, listen to the people around you, take advice, seek guidance and work collaboratively.
Outside of work the things I really enjoy are food and travel and….did I say food already? I’m of Italian origin so food has pretty much always been the most important aspect of any and every day. Aside from eating, I love to travel. I’ve been fortunate to travel to explore many corners of the globe but even more fortunate that my work is constantly taking me to new places.
If I were to give my 16 year old self some advice it would be invest in virtual meeting software….and Amazon!