Despite having no fashion training, and zero experience running a business, a voice in my head whispered, ‘Y not?’. If I was going to have a midlife crisis, now was the time.
If you’d told me five years ago I’d be a fashion designer, I would have laughed. As for launching my own scarf label and becoming a social campaigner… I would have thought you were crazy.
In spring 2015, I was walking my dog in the local park, chatting with a friend about my scarf addiction. I’d always loved scarves, but was disappointed by the lack of beautiful, original, luxury designs.
The idea to start a label crossed my mind, but I knew it was crazy. After 20 years in the corporate world, I was successful and secure… but I was also uninspired. I enjoyed my work, but it wasn’t my Y.
Despite having no fashion training, and zero experience running a business, a voice in my head whispered, ‘Y not?’. At 41, and with my young son growing up fast, I was desperately craving something more. If I was going to have a midlife crisis, now was the time.
Before long, I’d walked away from my corporate life to start my label, dog&boy. To say I was scared is an understatement. There was so much to learn about launching a fashion label, and some days I doubted I could pull it off. It was incredibly exciting, but equally terrifying. My world was turning on its axis – and then it flipped upside down.
My mum, Margot, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer. She passed away soon after. I was shell shocked, but losing mum brought my Y into focus and cemented my vision for dog&boy.
I’d always wanted to change the world with scarves, but now I saw an opportunity to create change on a whole new level. Fashion has a reputation for being fickle, but my Y was about more than designing beautiful things. I wanted to raise awareness about social issues close to my heart, and I knew dog&boy was the perfect platform.
Like magic, Mum appeared in spirit and support. It turns out she was avid artist, and soon after she died I found her sketchbooks. Mum’s botanical sketches inspired some of the first dog&boy designs and gave me courage through those early days.
The epiphanies I had about life, love and loss shaped the dog&boy philosophy, which is about gratitude and giving back. Running my business and indulging my passion for scarves is a gift, and giving back is my way of saying thank-you.
Today, dog&boy is a worldwide brand. We’re making big waves on the fashion scene and helping hundreds of women feel special every day. More importantly, we’re making a difference in the world. We donate a percentage of every sale to the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation, in honour of Mum, and support social causes like homelessness and women’s health.
Our contribution is small, but it’s powerful – and that’s the message I want to share with other business owners. We have a platform and a privilege. Our gestures don’t have to be grand or expensive, but many small contributions add up to big change. Whether its donating money, time or raising awareness, every bit counts.
The more I can spread this message, the more I’m living my Y – and that makes me feel like the luckiest woman in the world.
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Thankyou. YMag Team