Boss Lady: Supal Desai

Boss Lady is a series that shares personal insights from creative women in business. Today we chat with Supal Desai, a familiar face who has contributed to our blog (here and here) and who recently just launched her own company, C&É Consultancy. The London based firm provides businesses, brands and designers from the worlds of fashion, food and interiors with insight, strategies and much more. 

Supal Desia of C&E consultancy

Image courtesy of Sara Lejon Photography

1. Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself and your career.
By day I specialize in the business environment in the Middle East and Central Asia, which includes things like conducting due diligence through international networks, monitoring political and regulatory developments and presenting my findings to senior decision-makers or players interested in making an investment in the region. I started traveling to the Middle East when I was in college to conduct field research and really enjoyed learning about the society and culture. Though I always wrote in journals, I wanted to document my experiences and share it with family and friends back home. These experiences included recipes, DIY projects, tips about travel and narratives about my experiences. When I moved to Washington, DC after college that’s when I started taking blogging seriously as I wanted to blend both my work in international affairs with my love for culture and adventure. To my surprise, people were interested in what I had to say! Soon after I continued backpacking and eventually started graduate school at the University of St. Andrews working towards a MA in Middle East and Central Asian Security Studies. Studying something so dynamic on a campus full of people from all over the world, it enhanced my outlook and refined my opinions and style. I started C&É Consultancy because I believe combining a company’s business goals with design ambitions is important to strengthen a brand and my international experience can provide a unique perspective!

2. How did C&É Consultancy come to exist?
When I was at St. Andrews, I was reached out by a few major department stores based in London to do some concept design for windows. I was working alongside reputable brands in the fashion industry and was becoming more exposed to the design world. After moving to London and doing a bit of networking in the fashion world, companies and designers were reaching out to me because I was bringing a unique perspective, one that combined design with diplomacy and business ethics, which is what gave rise to C&É Consultancy! It marries both my worlds of business intelligence and management with design.

3. What draws you to the world of fashion, food and interiors?
Well, my mom with fashion. My mother is incredibly beautiful and has always loved quality clothes. She used to have long, dark hair that she braided and wore stunning floral frocks. I can confidently say that I share the same love for skirts, dresses and frocks! Also, growing up in an Indian household, I was spoiled with beautiful traditional clothes of silks and cottons and vibrant colors. When it comes to interiors, my parents bought a home when I was about 12 years old. It was a blank canvas, one that we were going to truly make our own by decorating each room and painting the walls! My parents took point in involving me in the entire process of designing. They consulted me on color selections, dining sets, chinaware, etc. It’s the fact that they had confidence in my choices. And when it comes to food, just about every narrative on c&é’s recipes is a personal story about how food has always brought my family together. I mean, even our home is centered around the kitchen island! I remember after submitting my dissertation at St. Andrews, I was home in Florida and we decided to grill out. The scene: my dad was trimming the meat as my mom mixed together a spice rub right next to him. My brother setting up the table outside and helping me put together the side dishes and dessert, but mostly taste testing everything. We’re a stream without a ripple when it comes to the kitchen. Everyone has a distinct, essential role and it’s something I cherish and love so much.

4. Where would you like to see C&É Consultancy go in the next 5 or 10 years?
I want C&É Consultancy’s philosophy to be something emerging designers and business owners prioritize. In 5 years, I imagine we will have a network of retained clients that entrust us to help them navigate critical business decisions. In 10 years, I hope we establish a strong enough impact in the design and boutique hospitality industry where it is natural for companies to outline business goals encompassing what we believe in at C&É Consultancy.

5. How do you balance business and pleasure?
That’s a really good question! I’m still trying to figure this out. In a world where social media dictates our lives (and my social media being so connected to the brand of my blog) it is incredibly difficult to emancipate myself from blog/business time. There are a few habits that help me unwind and enjoy myself: I never go on the internet when I’m in the tube. That 20-40 minutes without internet is pure freedom and I usually don’t even listen to music just so I can force myself to live in the present. I always wake up an hour before I’m supposed to and I write letters to readers, friends and family. I go rowing out on the River Thames once-a-week (if weather permits in London). Finally, I can never fall asleep without reading.

London Bridge

Image courtesy of Sara Lejon Photography

 6. What inspires you and fuels your creativity?
Travel, adventure, experiences, my past. I was fortunate enough to have parents that continued to push me to learn everything I possibly could. When I was younger my weeks were full of after-school activities like piano lessons, dance classes, language courses, sports and the like. Those skills defined my characteristics and open to new experiences, which is why culture through art, music, language, and literature drives my creativity. I take raw experiences and adapt them into relatable posts or projects for my readers and clients.

7. What advice would you have for those thinking about launching their own company?
Be ready for early mornings, long nights, and lots of caffeine! But really, it’s one of the best feelings in the world and if it is something you are truly passionate for, you will never work a day in your life. Be prepared. I drafted a business plan and went over it with my dad, until I constructed a business model that I was happy with. Defining a philosophy and outlining your goals will build a stronger brand and make the transition into being your own boss that much easier.

Just for fun…

behind the boss with supal desai

1. Estée Lauder Modern Muse | 2. Chanel Chance | 3. Roses et Reines | 4. Coffee | 5. Tea | 6. Favorite Editing Tool – Adobe Lightroom | 7. Vogue | 8. Business of Fashion

More on Supal

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram


Boss Lady: Ashley Jung and Paige Dellavalle

Boss Lady is a series that shares personal insights from creative women in business. Today, we chat two kick ass boss ladies, Ashley Jung and Paige Dellavalle, who are the founders of the fashion brand Stella Valle. With a military background these two beautiful sisters are no stranger to hard work  and you might recognize them from a little TV show called Shark Tank

Stella VallePaige (Left) and Ashley (Right) wearing the F World Collection

Can you share with our readers a little bit about yourselves?
We grew up in a small rural town in New Jersey, with our parents and two other sisters, Lindsay and Kate. We are a very close-knit family. Our dad, an entrepreneur himself, and our Mom, a stay at home mom with a knack for design brought us up to work hard and enjoy the simple, but finer things in life. Our entire family always enjoyed fashion and design. We spent most of our childhood in the pool as competitive swimmers, which also taught us values that helped us get to where we are today. Ashley was recruited to swim at West Point and decided to take on the challenge and serve her country. Paige, 5 years younger, with three other sisters already serving in the Army, decided to attend West Point as well.

We’ve always felt like we were meant to do something larger than ourselves. Serving in the military gave us that sense of purpose, but when we were both separating from the military at about the same time, we knew we wanted to live out life long aspirations in fashion and design despite our unique background. We felt if we could succeed in fashion, we could inspire women by encouraging them to live the life they’ve dreamed despite their background or place in life.

If I were to describe our personalities—Paige and I are VERY similar—I’d say that we are sweet and warm, but type A and tough. I think this is reflected in our background and our jewelry. Our military past has thickened our skin and made us tough, but we are inherently gentle and kind.

What prompted the start of Stella Valle? Where does the name come from?
As I mentioned, Paige and I were getting out of the Army at about the exact same time. Paige suffered an injury and was unexpectedly forced to medically retire. I had just finished my five years of active duty service, and Paige called me to ask for advice on what she should do with the rest of her life. I asked her what was she passionate about. She told me she really wanted to be in fashion, but given her background, and the competitiveness of the business, she thought it would be nearly impossible to do. After many discussions, we decided to start our own company with the hopes she could build her resume to someday land her dream job in fashion…and what we both found in the process was our dream job. We love designing and we love being entrepreneurs.

About the name….While we were in the beginning stages of starting Stella Valle Paige adopted a French bulldog in Oklahoma. At the time, I was living in Dallas, so Paige flew to Dallas and we drove to OK to pick up her new puppy. On the 12 hour drive we were deciding on both the name of her dog and our company. Paige named her dog Stella. We wanted our company name to sound like a girls name, but also incorporate our last name – Dellavalle. So we took off the D, added the St and split the name to make Stella Valle. It was a perfect remembrance of our journey to get Stella and the amazingly fun time we had on that trip discussing our new business venture.

Stella VallePaige (Left) and Ashley (Right) wearing the F World Collection

What does a typical workday look like?
Wow, that’s a tough question– As an entrepreneur you really do almost everything, so there is vast range in our ‘typical workday” (and everyday is a workday–we don’t take off too many weekends: P ) We always get up and check emails from bed, usually about 6:30 or so. Most of the time I have an email or two or a text or two from Paige. We also get emails from our manufacturers in Asia during the night. We’ll follow up on the urgent emails from them while they are still at work and flag the others for later. Paige doesn’t do anything more until she has about 6 oz of coffee in her. Then we either head to the office or head to NYC. We love our days in NYC because it means we are meeting with people and spreading the word out Stella Valle. We typically meet with magazine editors, manufacturers, boutique owners, or anyone else we do business with. We pack our days from morning to night on those days, hopping in and out of cabs from meeting to meeting. We typically get home really late.

On an office day, we get into the office between 8-8:30, although our day started much earlier. We have these massive ‘To Do ‘lists that we track all of our tasks on and send back and forth. We are pretty organized and structured when it comes to that stuff—hey what can we say, we were in the military! We do everything from following up on production, designing, reviewing our financials, communicating with editors, talking with store owners, writing blog posts, communicating with our marketing company to update our website, designing eblasts, and the list goes on. We usually grab lunch and bring it back to the office so we can get things done while eating. We try to wrap up and head home from the office about 6:30 or so but that doesn’t mean the end of the day. We both like to workout after work and then eat dinner, before we are back on our computers from about 9 -11:30 working on emails and continuing to tackle that long To Do list. There is really never enough time in the day to get everything done we want to!

What is the brand’s most successful form of marketing?
Undoubtedly our appearances on TV are our most successful form of marketing. We were fortunate enough to appear on the super popular TV Show on ABC called Shark Tank during its 4th season. Shark Tank has approximately nine million viewers per episode. The airing was a way for us to tell our unique story- going from the military to fashion designers- to America. Since then, we’ve appeared on Shark Tank two other times- first for the update show ‘Swimming with the Sharks’ and then again for the Veteran Episode that we taped at the White House just a few weeks ago.

We also sell our more affordable line of jewelry called Women Warriors by Stella Valle and designed with our business partner Lori Greiner on QVC. This is another outlet for us to share our story and our brand with a national audience. It’s been an amazing experience.

What or who inspires and fuels your creativity?
So many things in our lives inspire us. In fact, each one of our collections is inspired by something meaningful or important to us. For instance, the women in our lives that were born in the 1920’s and 30’s inspired our Nonnina Deco Collection. Its aesthetic is art deco and each piece is named after a woman close to us from that era.

Our most recent collection is called the F World and was inspired by contentment and understanding in our new world, the fashion world. Our journey to establish ourselves, as jewelry designers had been both trying and rewarding. We finally felt like the rewarding times outweighed those trying times that we were inspired to create a collection that honed in on our adoration for fashion.

Who inspires us: Paige and I served in the military prior to following our hearts to become designers. We have met so many admirable Soldiers in the Army. Although we’ve found our true passion in design, we feel indebted to those who fight for our freedom on a daily basis. They are true-life heroes who often go forgotten when we get into the craziness of everyday life. When we are having a bad day, we remember that there are Soldiers around the world living in the harshest of conditions and fighting for our freedom-that’s heroism.

Do you have personal and industry mentors?
Our mentor is definitely our business partner – the warm-blooded Shark from ABC’s show Shark Tank, Lori Greiner. We were skeptical about bringing on partners to our family-run business, but Lori and her husband Dan are now just part of the family. They have done so much for our business and us. We wouldn’t be here today without their amazing support and tough love.

Where do you both see Stella Valle in 10 years?
We don’t put limits on where we see Stella Valle, but we do set measurable goals for our business. Our long-term goal is for Stella Valle to be a global household brand. In 10 years, we believe we’ll have landed some major retailers. We see our line being well respected and successful in the fashion community. We imagine we will expand beyond accessories into other areas such as clothing, shoes, swim wear, interior etc.

What advice would you both give to those looking to become entrepreneurs?
First, choose something that you are passionate about and believe in. This passion will allow you to persevere through tough times—which you undoubtedly will have. It will make you want to work day and night – which you will. And it will allow you to not take “no” for answer- because you’ll get many No’s.

Then, work your a$$ off! Our investor, Mark Cuban, will tell you that business is the ultimate sport. He believes there is no sport more competitive than business because it is 24/7, 365, and more often than not, you don’t know whom your competition even is. Therefore you must have this fire inside of you that won’t let you quit. We feel we have been successful due to this fire—it’s our unwillingness to give up despite the ups and downs of the business. We don’t let an issue or a question go unsolved.

Third, start small and be conservative. We started with $2000. We grew our business slowly. We watched every penny we spent, and we still do. We review our financials often and make the best business decisions as possible based on analysis of our financials.

Finally, NETWORK. Our mom has always said to us, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” While what you know is important, we truly believe that if you have a network of mentors, business colleagues, and industry you expand what you know or can find exponentially. Help others and they will help you!

Just for fun…

Early bird or night owls: This is one place that we differ—Paige is an earlier bird, Ashley is more of a night owl.

How would you characterize each other?
Paige of Ashley: Ashley is one of the smartest, most impressive women that I know. She doesn’t tell a soul that she graduated top in her class at West Point or was the 5th female ever to graduate Sapper School, one of the most prestigious/ hardest schools in the Army, nor would she tell you that she’s extremely artistic and super athletic. Her strength, character, brilliance, and beauty while being the most humble person you’ll ever meet are what make her my role model! I could go on all day long about Ashley, as I am the proudest person in the world to call her my sister.

Ashley of Paige: Paige is the most mature, driven, and smart 27 year olds I know. We started the business when she was 22 and she’s really the one who has made Stella Valle what it is today. She gets SH** done. Besides from her amazing business sense and work ethic, she is kind hearted and always thinks of others before herself. She is an amazing business partner and sister. I couldn’t ask for anything more! I love her to death!

Words of wisdom:
We’ve live by the quote: “Life isn’t about finding yourself, it’s about creating yourself.” Know who you are and be yourself…and do what you love to do. You only live one life, don’t sit back and let it pass by. Follow your dreams, and follow them passionately and with perseverance. Nothing worth having comes easy. Don’t give up! Sorry that’s probably more than one piece of advice.

More on Ashley and Paige:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest 


Boss Lady: Stacy Igel

Boss Lady is a series that shares personal insights from creative women in business. Today, we are so excited to chat with the fabulous entrepreneur Stacy Igel, who started the fashion brand Boy Meets Girl, which launches it’s partnership with Nordstrom’s today (see below for exclusive link)!



1. What prompted you to start Boy Meets Girl?
I always knew that I wanted to be a designer. My mom was an entrepreneur and I definitely inherited that “go get them spirit” from her. I started out dressing my pre–K classmates and staging fashion shows from my school cafeteria.
Throughout college and even after graduating, I found myself continuing my love for sewing and designing for my friends, who were like walking billboards! From that point I started taking orders from friends of friends – I sewed, promoted, sold and shipped the line from my bed essentially.

The first time I met my husband’s parents was for dinner at their apartment. While they were giving me the tour, I noticed a picture frame containing silhouettes of their three children from when they were younger. My parents had a similar picture of my sister and I from when we were about the same age. I thought about us and how we still both had these young, playful, carefree versions of ourselves inside of us and I knew right then and there my brand would be called Boy Meets Girl® and that I’d use our silhouettes for the logo. The logo driven product came first and we have been growing the collection organically from there.

2. What does a typical day look like?
Well, my typical day routine has definitely changed since last month. On October 4th, I welcomed my second baby Dylan Reid (the first being Boy Meets Girl®) into the world.

Since October 4th, I generally wake-up at 4am to pump (I am breast feeding). While the first thing I do after waking up has changed slightly since my son was born :), I still make time every morning to grab my phone and look through all of my alerts that feed in from all my various social platforms and review emails that have come in. In between feedings, I find time to read WWD (my bible to what is happening in the fashion industry) and theSkimm (which is perfect highlights of world news for me). I usually post an Instagram post in the morning too (yes even on Maternity leave). And somewhere in between get dressed, have breakfast and kiss my husband :).

Below was my routine before Maternity leave and how it has changed on Maternity leave (in bold)…
-Before get to the office I usually stop in my favorite coffee spot, Gregory’s, and then start with reviewing emails and then the meetings begin.
-Now I get Starbucks from time to time around the corner from me and then after I finish feeding Dylan Reid I STILL review emails and respond. You’re probably asking what? Isn’t she on Maternity leave? Well my version of Maternity leave is being remote but I am still working from remote.
-I break up meetings each week with my teams. So every week I have web, social media, sale, pr/marketing, licensing, and design meetings… In between those meetings my inbox fills up with 1000 emails and sometimes I am requested in other meetings. So my day can change from day to day as things always come up.
-I break up meetings each week with my teams the same way as noted above in red still on Maternity leave. In between feedings my inbox blows up even more (lol!). I make sure to spend quality time with Dylan Reid. We listen to a lot of music together (Bob Dylan, Wyclef, Bob Marley, Bon Iver baby playlist and much more) and I read a lot of books to him. We also dance and I am trying to teach him guitar while I am still learning. We also open presents each day together. Its like Christmas everyday and we are so grateful for all the love but if I didn’t keep up with all the presents the house would look like we were upside down so of course I have a google doc spreadsheet making sure my thank you notes are all going out on time and tracking all the goodies for DRI.  I have also made sure we enjoy walks in the park while the sun is still shining in NYC. And we get lots of visitors because everyone wants special time with Dylan. I am so grateful for our family and friends.
-The end of the day is me time or at least I try to get that time. I leave the office anywhere from 7-10pm. I have events 2-3 times a week and try to work out during the week too.
-hmm well me time not so much in this new role as mom and business lady. But, the end of the day is special..Daddy comes home and we get to bond with our new baby. Bath time is amazing. Dylan loves the water!

I could write a lot more but I will save that for you all for another time.

3. What is your brand’s most successful form of marketing?
I think that it is tough to identify only one form of marketing that has contributed to the success of Boy Meets Girl®. However, I am a big advocate of social media, which for me, is such a wonderful way to connect directly with my customers. Through various outlets, including my website, blog, Facebook pages (Boy Meets Girl) and (Stacy Igel Fan) and, Twitter  (Boy Meets Girl) and (Stacy Igel), Instagram (Boy Meets Girl) and (Stacy Igel), YouTube, Pinterest (Boy Meet Girl) and Stacy Igel, Tumblr (Boy Meets Girl), Polyvore (Boy Meets Girl), I am able to constantly communicate with not only my fans and customers, but also with various people within the industry. I have made some good friends and learned a lot about fashion, technology and business through social media. I think it’s great that I can discuss fashion and my brand with people who care about these things as much as I do. And I take my audience’s feedback very seriously. Social media is like conducting a 24/7/365 focus group. Interacting with my fans is one of the most important things to me and for my brand – I’ve been building honest, mutually-beneficial relationships in fashion for years now, it has to be organic.

4. What inspires you and fuels your creativity?
Coco Chanel famously said “Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening.” I agree. I draw inspiration from a variety of eclectic influences: vintage clothing, the vibrant New York art and music scenes, Hollywood glamourati, street style, etc. I believe that fashion is influenced by style, culture, art, music functionality and accident among many other things, which is why I never leave my home without my sketchbook. I also always listen to music while designing.

5. Who are your personal and industry mentors?
Personally, both of my parents had their own businesses. I think it was my mom who told me that, in order to run my own design business, I was going to have to learn much more than simply how to make a pair of shorts or a dress. She was right; designing, while important, is a small part of my daily routine. I am so grateful for my well-balanced education. I’ve always been a worker, just like both of my parents. Work ethic is a learned trait I think. I knew what I had to do, organized myself, and just went for it.

As far as business/industry mentors and role models, there’s Ellie Tahari, Zandra Rhodes and Elsa Klensch, all of whom I’ve worked for and all of whom are or were insanely hard workers in their own right even after they’d “made it.” That was an eye opener for me. I was smart enough to recognize that the hard workers were usually the individuals who got the big opportunities in life. They were also the ones who were prepared to capitalize on those opportunities.

6. Where do you see Boy Meets Girl in 10 years?​
What I want is this company to last forever and continue to be original and to really stand for empowering women. We celebrate freedom, empower women and sell confidence. That is my claim to fame.
I think, in many ways, Boy Meets Girl® is still an emerging brand with a lot of room for growth. The quality of the product – design, fabric, etc. – is where it needs to be. I would like our e-commerce and social media to become the most user-friendly and engaging brand discovery and sales platform in fashion. The website and our e-commerce is a crucial discovery tool for us. We have to make sure our message is focused so that visitors know exactly who our brand is and what we stand for. On a related note, I’d like to have a larger international presence. The brand is big enough now to begin doing that slowly and smartly. I also see combining brick and mortar stand alone stores across the country! I want to continue to take my brand to all the platforms that I have been building. Many partnerships and collaborations are in the works with both smart and talented people. I am looking forward to expanding and taking my brand to everywhere I have dreamed it should be and working with leaders in the industry.

7. What advice do you have for those looking to go from employee to entrepreneur?
1. Be prepared to work like an absolute dog.
2. Being a talented designer is necessary but not sufficient… You need to learn how to be an effective marketer, networker, salesperson, service provider, writer, stylist, merchandiser and psychiatrist too. The designing is probably the most fun.
3. Work with multiple vendors and never stop sourcing potential new ones. It gives you leverage and protects you from catastrophes.
4. Work hard and provide great service. While you may not always be the most talented, creative, charming or brilliant person in the room, you can be the hardest working and most dedicated — that is something that is totally within your own control. By working hard, my bosses took notice at my earlier jobs and my employees take notice now. It’s leadership by example and I think it fosters loyalty and camaraderie.

Just for fun questions:

Favorite movie: Airplane. I can recite quotes from it!

Signature scent:Kai perfume oil

Words of wisdom: My motto is: Think. Say. Do!
My favorite quote is: “A person is a success if they get up in the morning and get to bed at night and in between does what they want to do.” – Bob Dylan

You can shop the Boy Meets Girl® Nordstrom exclusives on here

More on Stacy:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter


Boss Lady: Meg Shackleton

Boss Lady is a series that shares personal insights from creative women in business. This week we chat with Meg Shackleton, the designer and founder of Margaret Elizabeth Jewelry. A firm believer that life is too short not to be doing what you love, Meg decided to take the leap from employee to entrepreneur. She left her job at Google and began designing jewelry.

Meg Shackleton of Margaret Elizabeth Jewelry


Tell us a little about yourself ​​and your company.
I’m the founder and designer of San Francisco based Margaret Elizabeth Jewelry. We make classic pieces for the modern woman and seek to bring out the vibrancy in everyone who wears our jewelry.

​​Were you nervous to leave Google and start your own business? ​ What was the pivotal moment that inspired you to make that leap?​
I was really nervous to leave Google! I was very comfortable there and enjoyed the company and my co-workers so much. It was definitely a major change in environment to go from a corporate setting to working on my own- and not getting a steady paycheck was certainly a huge difference! Once a few large retailers expressed interest in the line, I decided it was time to pursue Margaret Elizabeth full time. It’s been so much fun and so exciting- I haven’t looked back since!

Is it hard to balance designing ​the ​jewelry with the  ​every day ​business​ & marketing aspects​ of Margaret Elizabeth Jewelry?
It can definitely be challenging balancing the two sides of the business. Realistically, the ‘business/marketing’ aspects involved with running the company occupy much more of my time than designing does. That said, my team is so amazing and they do so much to keep the business running. Having a great team in place is allowing me to focus more on growing the line and designing new pieces.

margaret elizabeth jewelry

What is your brand’s most successful form of marketing?
Social Media! I think that sharing our pieces on social media allows people to visualize how they would wear them in their own wardrobes and how they can style the jewelry. Social media provides an extra lens that a simple website doesn’t.

​What inspires you​ ​and fuels your creativity?​
Travel! Every time I’m in a new place and encountering new cultures and people I get so inspired.

​What advice do you have for those looking to go from employee to entrepreneur?
If you have an idea or product that you’re passionate about- go for it! Surround yourself with great advisers and talk to as many people as you can before you take the plunge.

Just for fun…

Who is a woman in business who inspires you?
I admire and look up to Diane Von Furstenberg so much. She’s a true boss lady!

What blogs do you love to read?
Love Garance Doré, Gadabout, Elements of Style, Piece of Toast, Sacramento Street, Glitter Guide, Everygirl…the list goes on and on!

Favorite piece in your jewelry collection?​
Our teardrop bangles!


More on Meg Shackleton
website | facebook | twitter | instagram 

(photo credit: bess friday)