WHO: Annie Spano
WHAT: founder of style collective
WHERE: North Carolina
PHOTOGRAPHY BY: SARA COFFIN & BORA IMAGES
Style Collective was formed as a reaction to an experience that should never happen to other women. I left my job in corporate marketing after being bullied and harassed by another woman in the workplace. The experience had left me feeling defeated and emotionally drained. I want there to be a better way for women to work together and help each other achieve success. I’ve made it my mission to empower other women, improve their happiness, and help them achieve their goals through sisterhood and support of a shared passion. Style Collective is precisely that mission.
While others may look at your success and think it came without hard work, was there a moment when you were overwhelmed, felt like giving up or thought your vision would not come to light? How did you overcome those thoughts? Absolutely, earlier this year in January, I had to migrate our billing system because the software that we had been using was full of bugs and causing us to lose revenue every single month. I found out that over the previous year and a half, this bug had caused me to drop $17K of revenue. Also, I ended up spending another $20K to migrate to a custom billing system. This was also while I had started planning the first annual conference in Raleigh, so I had to pay for $20K of the conference up-front while ticket sales were coming in during the 1st quarter of the year. It was incredibly stressful to manage so many expenses, and this experience almost broke me. I told myself that I was committed to the conference and if after the conference, things didn’t improve, then I would evaluate my decision to keep going or close it all up.
What creative tips can you share that help keep you afloat in your industry?
I create lists, many to-do lists and I find a lot of joy in just crushing my list each day. I love checking this off, deleting them, and marking them as DONE! If I am doing something that I don’t enjoy, I try to make it special. I turn on my favorite playlist, light a candle, grab a snack, etc. to make it feel more enjoyable.
I would have set up a different billing system right out the gate, and I also scaled too fast in the beginning. I hired a lot of team members thinking that SC would keep growing at the same rate, which meant that I didn’t pay myself for the first 2 years. That was really tough and looking back, I wish that I had at least set some boundaries to establish business savings while I was adding headcount.
Who were you before you started your venture?
Leaders are defined by their unique life stories and the way they frame their stories to discover their passions and the purpose of their leadership. I honestly would not be the woman I am today without every single experience that I have had. My life isn’t perfect, but if you can reframe your negatives and use them as motivation, then you can create the life that you have always wanted. It takes courage and hard work to take control of your own destiny, but if you have the will, the drive and a plan, then you can do it. Take it all one day at a time and enjoy the journey.
What tips can you share when it comes to cultivating a good alliance with others in your industry.
Be supportive, ask someone how you can help them! It’s always so nice if someone emails or messages me wanting to help instead of asking for something. This is a way to stand out.
When life throws you lemons, just add BEAUTY, COCKTAILS, GIRLTALK. Life obstacles can weigh heavy on your mental and physical wellbeing. How do you stay uplifted, motivated or even inspired to push through and maintain your happiness?