Last year I ran three instalments of my “inspirational women” series; these mini-interviews allow me the opportunity to acknowledge some of the incredible women who have been, and are, inspirational to me in one way or another.
When I first started to redefine my style, the styling session I had at one of Annah Stretton’s stores will forever stick in my mind as something that set me on the path to feeling good about my style and about how I dress and present myself to the world. (You can read about it here – obviously I HIGHLY recommend having a personal styling session with one of Annah Stretton’s stylists.) I now own four Annah Stretton dresses, and aside from loving them for their quality and timeless style, I love them because they make me feel feminine and “put together.”
So … I am extremely honoured to introduce the next fabulous woman in my series of inspirational women, the outrageously successful and dynamic fashion designer, business woman and philanthropist, Annah Stretton.
As usual, the following “rules” apply …
1) You can’t choose your children as your greatest achievement – even though they probably are!
2) You can’t choose your Mum or Dad as your most inspirational person, even though they may well be!
A little bit about Annah …
Annah Stretton is a woman of MANY talents; she runs a highly successful fashion business empire that she built from scratch; she’s written three books and has a regularly-updated blog; in 2008 she was awarded an Order of Merit for Services to Business, Fashion and the Community; she was Verve Clicquot’s Business Woman of the Year in 2009 – the list goes on and on! (To learn more, you can read Annah’s impressive CV here.)
Annah’s life motto is “Live and Love Fearlessly.” Fabulous.
Annah is also a philanthropist and is involved with many trusts and charities, in particular the True Colours Charitable Trust, Waikato Breast Cancer Trust and Waikato Women’s Refuge. In 2014, she introduced RAW (Reclaim Another Woman) – a mentoring service for female victims of abuse – visit the website here.
Anyway … on to the questions!
Q1. In 10 words or less, what are you most proud of?
A. My leadership, creativity, longevity in business and strong philanthropic contribution.
Q2. What habits would you say make you successful at what you do?
♥ The discipline I bring to each and every day.
♥ The timeliness in which I get things done.
♥ My ability to prioritise.
♥ Never sweating the small stuff.
♥ Always believing in myself – focusing on what I CAN do and not what I can’t.
♥ Never running from the challenges and always being prepared to have the tough conversations.
♥ Leading with a calm, considered but focused approach.
♥ Less is more – keep the conversation short and get on with getting things done.
Q3. What do you do for yourself that helps keep you going? (I read on your blog you were trying for a better work:life balance, so I am really interested in this answer!)
A. I invest in my relationship, my children and my extended family, they are the people I love and enjoy being with more than anyone else, so I ensure that my life ( albeit busy ) is never too busy to include large dollops of them.
Paying it forward … the philanthropy I’m actively involved in adds the balance to my life; my new initiative, RAW (www.raw.org.nz) will enable me to make huge inroads and to change the outcomes for a disadvantaged demographic of young Maori women. This is the stuff that ensures I get up each day,
knowing I will leave a very real legacy to women in this country that will be far bigger than the frocks.
I never let any of the bad stuff define me – when the going gets tough, a great night sleep does wonders for me.
I have a huge focus on my health; from the food I eat, my body weight and my exercise regime – they are daily considerations for me. If I don’t have my health, I don’t have this life that I love.
Know that as long as you love what you do, it’s not work. This is my passion and I can never be great at anything I don’t love.
Q4. What’s the first name that pops into your head when I ask who inspires you?
A. Sir William Gallagher
A. I have a a huge respect for this man, who remains incredibly humble in his contribution to his external environment; a business superstar and a serial philanthropist across so many platforms, yet he remains likeable and approachable to all.
Why I find Annah inspiring …
As you can tell, I’m a big fan of Annah’s clothing and her stores. I believe the way she runs her stores means customers are dealt with on an extremely personal level and encouraged to try new things that ultimately, will make them look great. I know when I did my styling session, if left to my own devices, I wouldn’t have picked ANY of the dresses Sabine bought me to try on. However, after doing so, I would have bought nearly all of them! In my experience, that level of service is hard to find in retail these days, and that sort of passion and commitment to customers comes from the top.
Annah is also a rule-breaker and someone who “walks the talk” – she admits to making the odd mistake now and then, but owns those mistakes and learns from them.
I loved Annah’s New Years Resolutions for 2015 – check them out here – this one is my favourite: “TIME will be the key gift to give to those closest to me.” You can read Annah’s blog, AnnahStrettonUnlimited here.
Thanks so much for your answers Annah – I’m so proud to have an amazing business woman and philanthropist like you here on my little blog!
Follow Annah on Twitter … @annahstretton
Schmooze with Annah on Instagram … @annahstretton
Read her blog here … www.annahstrettonunlimited.com
Visit her website here … http://www.annahstretton.co.nz
Like her Facebook page … www.facebook.com/AnnahStrettonFashion
To visit Qiane Photography’s website, click here.
Extra for experts: e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to book a one-hour styling session with one of Annah’s stylists (and don’t worry – Annah has 27 stores Australasia-wide, so you’ll find one close!) Also … click here to learn how to identify your body shape and dress for it!