Values, values, values! Having strong values is vital in life. They help us to create the future we want to experience. When we use our own values to make decisions, we make a choice to focus on what is important to us.

Possessing strong values is what Bianca Bellantoni is all about. Bianca is the CEO and founder of her self-titled womenswear label, BELLANTONI. Bianca had a vision and made the necessary steps to achieve that vision while always keeping in mind her core values. The clothing company is based out of Vancouver, BC and is known for being a sustainable and cruelty-free organization. Bianca, a Leader In Heels herself, sat down with us for a chat on her experiences throughout this journey.

Can you give me a little background on yourself? Who you are and what lead to the creation of your business idea?

Hi, my name is Bianca Bellantoni and I am a 26 year old designer based in Vancouver. I love animals and I have a strong desire to make a significant impact during my time on this earth. I applied to fashion school in Toronto because I wanted a creative career. Fashion ended up being an outlet that seemed fun, and one that I felt I would do well in. Within my first year at Ryerson University, we were taught about the negative impact clothing has on the environment as well as the people involved making it. This was extremely alarming to me and it really changed my outlook on the fashion industry as a whole.

I learned about the waterways in Asia that would “magically” change colour based on the latest colour trends at the time. I learned about large populations of cotton-farmers being diagnosed with brain tumours. I learned about toxins being dyed and sprayed all over various fabrics. I was at a point where I wanted to quit attending fashion school for good. It took an honest and vulnerable conversation with my Mom to remember that if I really wanted to make a change in the fashion industry, I was going to have to stay in it! From then, I focused my studies and assignments around sustainability.

Upon receiving my Bachelor of Design at Ryerson University in Toronto, I had a deep desire to want to make clothing the way I believed they could be made and in a way that stayed true to my values. That is, without harming people, without harming animals and without harming the planet.

“I had a deep desire to want to make clothing the way I believed they could be made and in a way that stayed true to my values.”

How long have you been operating your business now? Was having your own business something that had always been of interest to you?

Officially, it was a year on March 21, 2018. However, throughout school I put my designs and clothing in every fashion show opportunity that I could find and began building my online presence before I even had an online storefront. I never really said, “I want to be an entrepreneur.” I wanted to be a designer and an artist. My dad is an entrepreneur. He owned his own restaurant and now has a successful importing company, so I guess you could say that it is in my genes?

Did you feel like you had necessary skills to build a business? Was it something that was self taught?

I was lucky that almost all of my internships and jobs in the fashion industry were in small businesses or family-owned businesses. From working independently with designers, to working in a small bridal shop, to being a designer for a startup company, I was really able to see how companies ran on a smaller level. I thought to myself, I can do that! So I went for it. I honestly believe that if I sat down and tried to work through every little detail before I even started, I would have talked myself out of pursuing fashion all together.

What would you say are THREE skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?

I believe the three skills or tips you need to be a successful entrepreneur are:

  • Believe in yourself and your business​ because no one will love your business more than you.
  • Be optimistic & persistent. Know that you will be successful, and find the strength to push through when times are tough and you feel like giving up.
  • Build a network & support system​. I’m not only talking about your friends and family, but surround yourself with other entrepreneurs, join interesting groups, like-minded meetups and find an accountability partner. I have the BEST accountability partner and I am so grateful!

What does a regular work week look like for you? Is scheduling down time important?

I have another job, so my weeks are pretty busy. I work part-time as a Marketing Designer, so I work on my business in the evenings, on most weekends, as well as the few days that I am not working at my other job. Scheduling down-time is ​very important.​ I consider this to be alone time. For me, I need time alone to re-energise and allow myself to reflect on my own life. I have started meditating every morning for 10 to 20 minutes and this has helped me to stay focused throughout the day. I feel mentally lighter and I can go about my day calmly.

What do you enjoy doing during your spare time?

I love going to breweries or coffee shops with my friends or going for walks around the city. Vancouver is just so beautiful.

What has been your biggest hurdle throughout this entire journey so far? How did it affect you and how did you handle it?

I think the biggest hurdle I’ve encountered, and I actually still catch myself doing, is being really hard on myself for not being farther than where I am today. I catch myself comparing my business to other companies who have been around for years and years, and pointing out how “slow” my business is growing. It can definitely be a good thing in that I maintain my ambitiousness and keep pushing myself to do better, but it can also be detrimental to my mindset.

“My meditation has helped a lot with this too, and allows me to detach from the outcome letting life and my business just naturally happen on their own terms.”

When this bothers me, my fiance pulls me out of my head so I can acknowledge how much I have already accomplished. He always brings light to the situation. He helps me realize that I cannot compare myself to other people who are already farther than me or people who are in a different situation to me. My meditation has helped a lot with this too, and allows me to detach from the outcome, letting life and my business happen on their own terms. I know that big things are going to come, but I need to be more patient with myself and continue to work hard.

What would you say is the most unique aspect/attribute of your business?

Many people love that I recycle my fabric scraps and turn them into pet beds to donate to local shelters. This idea originated from when I was in my third year at Ryerson. I was enrolled in a sustainability field study of four selected students. I focused my thesis on zero-waste. The pet bed idea came about from this class, and I began collecting scraps from students at my school to reuse. When I started my own business, I decided to incorporate this pet-bed-making process so I knew exactly where my scraps were going.

“Many people love that I recycle my fabric scraps and turn them into pet beds to donate to local shelters.”

If you had one piece of advice to give to someone who was just starting their own business, what would it be?

Make sure that you absolutely LOVE your idea. Don’t give up when it gets really tough and remember that success doesn’t happen overnight.

Leaders In Heels is all about nurturing, inspiring and empowering female leaders. In your own opinion, what are three qualities you think a Leader In Heels would naturally possess?

I think these women would naturally possess authenticity because it is just so important to be true to yourself. Courage because it takes a whole lot of it to go after what you want in life, and kindness because the world needs more kindness. When you lead by example, you can create that ripple effect.

 

Bianca is such an inspiration and her self titled label is up and coming in beautiful Vancouver. Show her some love and support and admire her unique and classy collections by finding her at:

Website/Store: ​www.bellantoni.ca
Instagram: ​@bellantonidesigns
Twitter: ​@biabellantoni
Facebook: ​BELLANTONI


Zeina Dalal Ossi is a handbag designer bringing together cultures. Born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1974, she and her family immigrated to the United States when she was six. She originally pursued a more traditional career path working in management at American Airlines, consulting with Deloitte, and in new product development at Frito Lay. A lifelong lover of fashion and artistic pursuits, she finally took the step to begin her own business creating designer handbags that convey glamour and quality, at reasonable prices.

We sat down with her to talk about designing handbags under her brand NinoRossi, her inspirations, and her life as an entrepreneur.

 

You have beautiful and unique handbags – what makes them different from other handbags on the market?

NinoRossi’s research shows that only a few designers are offering creative and original designs, but at very high prices.  Hence, our business model is to bridge that gap where we offer distinguished designs and luxurious quality at reasonable prices.

Our forte is an artistic interpretation of style, creating designs which exemplify our motto: “The Art of the Handbag”. We begin with the finest grade of European leathers that include embossed lizard, hornback croco and anaconda snake leather, to name a few. We love color. And we love to combine and weave colors and textures into pieces of art.

From art and music comes imagination, hence the creation of beauty. Beauty that manifests itself in a good design. A good design must always express an intrinsic balance of flow while being elegant, glamourous, and rich.

Do you bring your own culture into the handbag designs, and if so, how?

Our “Inscription” Collection employs a centuries-old method of Lebanese embroidery called “Aghabani”. Aghabani was used to decorate garments, tablecloths or shawls, using threads to stitch patterns. Traditionally, this was done purely by hand in small shops by elderly ladies – a time-consuming and intricate process.

What we have done is to evolve this process into a more sophisticated method by bringing special machines together with hand and foot led movement to create what is called an “Aghabani” stitch – you can see a video of the process here. This method embroiders beautiful and colorful French silk threads onto European embossed leather using a hand-led machine to create an authentic and artistic handbag.

What inspired you to start creating handbags yourself?

I have always known that at some point in my life the focus of my passion would be in starting my own business. Now my children are in school and I have more time on my hands – and considering how much energy I have for being productive and purposeful – I decided it was the right time to begin a new venture.

Through my work experience with select Fortune 500 companies that took me around the world, I had a wide exposure to art and artisanal work which fostered a tremendous appreciation for culture.  My lifelong study of music and the arts were equally an inspiration, as was my family’s love for the finer things in life.  Growing up in an entrepreneurial family, where my father was involved in starting and developing major companies, I gained the perspective that there are no limits to what you can do.

I’d say the most important turning point was early in my life, during my study abroad in Salzburg, Austria and my subsequent travels throughout Europe. It planted the seed for what became a lifelong journey of artistic discovery in wherever beauty is expressed, be it live performances of classical music at the Vienna Musikverein (The Golden Hall), the study of impressionist paintings at the Louvre, or breathtaking views while crossing the Alps from Italy to Switzerland, to name a few.  I learned that the more I immersed myself into the study of the arts and culture, the more I could discover a deeper layer of myself.

With my love of fashion, I knew that designing handbags would draw from my own strengths, experiences and passion.  I truly enjoy interpreting each design to satisfy the lifestyles of today’s discriminating woman. It was not so much a risk as much as it was rewarding to be able to see so many pieces of my life come together.

And, with this decision came the ability to fulfill my goal of supporting St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, a charity which has been near to my heart since my mother passed away of cancer in 2011.

What is it like to be in business with your dad, and what roles do each of you cover?

My dad is a wealth of knowledge and experience when it comes to business. He is also well traveled and well read, so he brings an open and multi-faceted perspective to everything we do.  We also have an association which is quite special. We have a lot in common, which fosters a deep understanding of one another – we often finish each other’s sentences!  Our roles evolved in a complementary manner, as we work closely together on every aspect of our business model from design and marketing to finance.

When it comes to production, my dad plays the major role.  While we work closely together on all the aspects of the business, my dad takes a direct responsibility for seeing that the designs are sampled and produced exactly as agreed upon.  This is done through a reputable factory in Lebanon which my dad has contracted with for producing samples as well as production of inventory.

How do you manage overseas production?

Upon finalizing each group of designs, my dad travels to Lebanon for around two months, where he works with stylists and sample makers at the factory to produce the samples, and offers various choices for hardware. The samples are then shipped to Jacksonville with DHL for our evaluation and for any changes, if necessary. Sometimes, samples may require more than one trip to get them exactly right. Subsequently, we create final patterns for each of the designs together with all the selected hardware to be ready for production. Finally, we put in place a rigorous quality control for production.

My dad travels to Lebanon as frequently as needed, depending on what new designs we have in the making.  He also gets to meet with representatives of European tanning companies in Lebanon, getting samples of new leathers and new colors.

Why did you choose Lebanon as the main place to create the handbags?

Lebanon has always been a center for art and creativity. It’s given birth to many world-renowned fashion designers, such as Elie Saab, Zuhair Murad and Reem Acra, whose dresses steal the spotlights at red carpet events with gowns made for Hollywood celebrities. Beirut is known as the “Paris of the Middle East”, not just for its cultural vibe, but also for the remnants of its status as a French colony during the second World War. The city is rife with Parisian-style cafes, as the city is constantly alive with art showings, plays and poetry nights.  Even the streets and architecture stand true to the nickname.

As a result, Beiruit is famous as a fashion capital in the Middle East, and a major world hub. Downtown Beirut and its souks are a hub for luxury shopping in the region, boasting names like Louis Vuitton, Hermes and Christian Dior, among others. It’s not only the city that makes Lebanon such a hub for fashion but also the locals.  The Lebanese have proved more understanding of  cultural change. Trends catch on, and Lebanese high society are quick to consume fashion goods. Gucci is a household name. Cultural enrichment and beauty is readily embraced by much of the population.

From that perspective, and because of our connection to Lebanon’s artisanal tools of production, we chose Lebanon for manufacturing, as it has a strong emphasis on quality.

What was your biggest challenge in business, and how did you overcome it?

Our biggest challenge was to understand the market and define NinoRossi’s business model.  There was a tremendous amount of research to be done in understanding the marketplace, and then in determining where we would fit in.  And of course with production being overseas, we had to plan well and work efficiently to keep our costs down.

There were so many hurdles to overcome – research, product positioning, design, production, as well as online marketing and advertising. So I am most surprised by how well things have come together in an efficient and cost effective manner.

What are three pieces of advice you would give to someone starting out in business for the first time?

  1. Have a good business plan and continually reevaluate your roadmap. Plans are necessary but are constantly in transition.
  2. Take in as much feedback from as many people as you can about whatever idea you have…seek critical feedback.
  3. Quality and passion should always be main ingredients.

What is a typical day for you? How do you maintain work-life balance?

At this stage with NinoRossi, it’s all about marketing.  We are continually assessing our marketing strategies.  We are constantly looking for opportunities and working to steer our business in the proper channels. We also persistently monitor the market for future product and design direction.

On a personal level, I have three children, ages 12, 11 and 9, and they are my first priority.  I am involved in their school and also with them in all their after school activities, which range from violin and piano, to tennis and swimming.  My day starts at 8am after I drop off my kids at school and ends at 2:30pm when I leave to pick them up from school.  During those hours, I work on NinoRossi, exercise, run errands, cook, have coffee or lunch with a friend, and make plans for my family.  I have a loving husband who is very supportive of me and my vision and that helps things go smoothly.  My father is also tremendously helpful in lending a hand with my kids.

Having an online business allows for so much freedom. Freedom of staying in your workout clothes all day, or approving ad campaigns in your pajamas.  While a photoshoot would have to end by 2:30pm, most of my work can continue throughout the day and around my other responsibilities.

Okay, now for some fun questions! What is currently lying on your bedside table?

Photos of my kids, parents, brother and grandparents. Also, “Pride and Prejudice”, by Jane Austen.

What couldn’t you leave home without?

A snack. I’m always hungry. ?

Who is your favourite designer or fashion brand and why?

We have always admired Louis Vuitton for their quality and beautiful designs.  My vision for NinoRossi is an artistic and vibrant image for today’s woman.


With so many handbags in the marketplace, NinoRossi provides clarity to women in their search for the right handbag.  A handbag that offers authenticity and luxury, as well as value. You can take a look at their full range here!


Christmas is chaotic at the best of times. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had our very own personal shopper to pick and style our outfits for the bustling holiday season?

We had the chance to chat with Topshop Bondi’s very own personal shopper, Mel Costalos, about fashion tips for the office Christmas party, New Years Eve, meeting the in-laws and Christmas lunch with the girls, all taking inspiration from TV series The Wrong Girl.

Collared shirts for Christmas lunch with the girls

Throughout The Wrong Girl, Lily is a fashion powerhouse, playing with patterns, colours and fabrics. It seems basic, but a collared shirt can be styled in a range of creative and uber-chic ways. Mix up your standard white collared shirt for a printed piece with a hint of metallic. The holiday season is all about being fun and flirty; so don’t be afraid to pair your shirt with a pop of colour, like a scarf, hat or handbag. Finish off the look with a pair of patent black heels and cue the compliments.

Celebrate the office Christmas party in checks

It’s tough going from corporate attire to casual wear to bring in the holiday season with your colleagues. Keep it classic in a statement skirt paired with a plain top to guarantee yourself a place on the best-dressed list. Lily is a pro at subtle, yet sophisticated pairings. And when it comes to the office Christmas party, opting for a comfy, yet trendy outfit is exactly what you need. For extra style cred, slick a bright hue over your fingertips and add a statement necklace or ring.

Metallic New Years Eve moments

New Years Eve is the perfect occasion to be the star of the party. So don a metallic dress and get ready to shine bright. Metallic pieces are perfect for evening gatherings as they’re subtle and capture the light perfectly for memorable New Years Eve snaps. Keep it simple with your shoes like Lily, and chose a nude pump to compliment your overall look.

Keeping it classic for meeting the parents

The holiday season is filled with family get-togethers. Perhaps the most nerve-racking is meeting your partner’s parents for the first time. A pair of cropped black pants is a staple, not just at this time of year, but for life. When meeting the parents, simplistic pairings are guaranteed to keep you in the good books. Pair with a trusty collared button up and your favourite sweater for a preppy look.


Swing by Topshop Bondi Personal Shopping for a glass of prosecco and let Mel pick and style your outfits for the bustling holiday season…for free! Email [email protected] to book your appointment now. Spend $80 or more with Mel to enter the draw to win The Wrong Girl Book, DVD and GO-TO Lips!Squared! for you and a friend.

This article was brought to you by the DVD and digital release of The Wrong Girl, based on the ever glam Zoë Foster-Blake’s best-selling novel,


yuliya-raquelYuliya Raquel is the CEO and co-Founder of BootstrapFashion, and the Founder and former Fashion Designer and Creative Director of IGIGI by Yuliya Raquel brand founded in February 2000.

An award-winning fashion designer, accomplished creative director, brand and women’s fashion e-commerce expert with strong skills in fashion design, merchandising, visual brand and marketing, Yuliya has a passion to produce results.

Yuliya is an outspoken women’s empowerment activist and entrepreneur with the mission to transform the world’s view of beauty and to democratize the fashion industry. She is also a forward-thinking leader with a keen entrepreneurial background and an eye for identifying new and innovative opportunities for fashion and ecommerce businesses and providing insight and strategies to capitalize on them.

I had the privilege of discussing with Yuliya her thoughts and experiences in the fashion industry, being a woman in business, and her visions for her new business BootstrapFashion.  Here is what Yuliya had to say!

Yuliya, you were very successful with your fashion label IGIGI. What compelled you to start BootstrapFashion, and what problems in the marketplace did you see that you wanted to solve?

There are several reasons I left IGIGI in 2013. I recently found myself a divorced, single mother of two and chose to use my new-found energy to propel my career to new opportunities where I could continue to do what I love yet make a bigger difference and positively impact the world. For me it’s a priority to be a positive role model for my children and to empower them.

I had recently found myself a divorced, single mother of two and chose to use my new-found energy to propel my career to new opportunities…

 

When I started IGIGI without any funding and manufacturing experience, I discovered that the process of running my own fashion business was extremely complex, expensive and simply said, grueling; there were no easy-to-use, affordable tools available.

For me it’s a priority to be a positive role model for my children and to empower them.

I realized that there could be thousands of designers out there with the ability, talent and skills to create fashion that would allow women to know themselves as beautiful and feel powerful and confident in the clothing that they wear. I dreamed of creating a social marketplace where anyone could simply design a custom dress or launch and operate a multimillion-dollar fashion business. It is then the idea of BootstrapFashion was born.

In BootstrapFashion I have used all my experiences to provide a solution to every obstacle and hurdle I had to personally overcome while running a fashion business.

Where did you get your inspiration for BootstrapFashion?

I spent over 20 years in the fashion industry, first as a custom dressmaker, Indie designer and later Head Designer of an international fashion company. I dreamed about finding easier, less expensive and faster ways to design a production-ready collection. Yet nothing of the kind was available. The variety of patternmaking CAD software that existed on the market were expensive and required specialized skills in both patternmaking and learning the workings of each CAD system, which took time.

The creative fashion design software for illustrations was also expensive, and conceptualizing, sketching and drawing a technical flat illustration for each style took hours and sometimes even days, greatly reducing productivity. It is from these experiences that I wanted to completely automate the design and product development processes.

My goal was to create online software where ANYONE – even people with no experience – will be able to create an original design, get a technical flat sketch, and a color/fabric rendered illustration with a custom-fit sewing pattern of that design, in less than 30 minutes – while actually enjoying the entire process!

Where do you see BootstrapFashion having the most impact?

I foresee the biggest impact will be with Indie designers and DIY sewers, who will be able to create unique designs and offer them for sale or make them for their own enjoyment, hassle free. However, there is also a huge opportunity to disrupt the larger fashion industry as well, allowing design companies faster delivery of their products.

What do you see as the biggest challenge of the future for the fashion industry?

I believe that the biggest challenge the fashion industry faces is it’s inability to quickly deliver fully customized fashion items, designed and made to consumers’ unique style preferences, their body shape and size, while providing superb quality at reasonable price and turning a healthy profit. Instead, there is a need to stock massive quantities of inventory that was produced based on the subjective point of view of merchandisers. Additionally, the time that it takes fashion companies to design and develop each item and then produce the inventory reduces their profits significantly, forcing them to make it up by using significantly cheaper fabrics and paying extremely low sewing costs.

How do you think that social media has impacted the fashion industry and how can designers leverage it effectively?

Social media has played an important role at taking the first steps at democratising the fashion industry and creating a two-way dialogue between consumers and fashion manufacturers. For the first time in history consumers have an opportunity to become fashion critics, expressing their desires, likes, and dislikes publicly through comments and blogging. Designers have an opportunity to leverage social media, to listen to the feedback from their targeted customers, as well as building relationships with fashion bloggers, who have become a force to be reckoned with influencing fashion trends, promoting brands and designers. This is one of the reasons we have developed a social platform in Bootstrap Fashion where designers can collaborate with fashion influencers, brand themselves, and even develop a following and a customer base before ever going to production.

What are your thoughts on sourcing and operating ethically and how do you see this is impacting the fashion industry?

I believe that ethical fashion production means combining sustainable textiles and fair trade manufacturing. Sadly, in my opinion, the fashion industry as a whole is challenged by this due to its struggles to recover exorbitant development costs, lengthy delivery timelines and inventory overproduction – while staying competitive! Thus companies are forced to use very inexpensive, low quality textiles and cut sewing costs, lowering the overall quality of the garment and paying minimal costs to the factories. This is one of the reasons we have also incorporated a service marketplace into BootstrapFashion, which we believe will lead to creation of over 2,000,000 home-based and small businesses, expanding local economies.

What are the biggest challenges you see that new designers face when starting their label and production line, and how best can they overcome these? 

There are a few equally significant challenges that beginner designers face. They include solving design, development, sourcing, production and distribution, and the “I’ll do it all myself” or “I can’t afford to hire anyone to help me” mindset.

The way to overcome these obstacles is to streamline the entire process.

The way to overcome these obstacles is to streamline the entire process. It is important to have textiles available in a way that can be easily sourced and procured; to have access to service providers who can accommodate manufacturing of various volumes, whether it is one piece or one hundred thousand, in a fair but competitive pricing environment.

What would be your key pieces of advice for anyone wanting to start their own fashion business?

  1. Have patience and be ready to work long and intense hours
  2. Don’t take mistakes made by others personally
  3. Be open to reinventing yourself several times before you ‘make it’
  4. Know your target market
  5. Listen keenly to your customers
  6. Build a team, and give interns an opportunity if you are short on funds
  7. Think strategic, always streamline and do not get stuck in a single area

What do you love most about being in business?

I love building my own dream and future and having the ability to run with my visions and ideas, without having to go through tons of higher-ups deciding ‘yes’ or ‘no’. I also love seeing my vision becoming a reality and the kind of impact that it creates. Additionally, I love the flexibility of hours, being a mother of two. However, I sometimes do end up working 12-16 hours each day, sometimes until 3 am, so the working hours are long.

Who are your business mentors/role models and what do you find inspiring about them?

I love working with business mentors and find their input invaluable. Being a first-time CEO, I work with a coach and advisor, Gary Jinks of GLG Group, who helps me to develop myself as a leader of a high tech company. In addition we are starting to look for funding and I work with a seasoned fundraising coach, who is helping me to fine-tune my pitching and presentation skills.

Regarding my role models, Oprah Winfrey inspires me tremendously. Regardless of her early hardship, she was able to build an empire by revolutionizing television and positively inspiring viewers to transform their lives. I also have always admired Coco Chanel, who in her time was able to revolutionize fashion.

What has been your biggest challenge in running your own businesses so far, and how did you solve it?

Both of the business I started by bootstrapping, so having very limited resources yet taking on playing huge games has always been the biggest challenge.

What I find extremely helpful is having a ‘can do’ unstoppable mindset and instead of focusing on what is impossible to accomplish, my team and I look for what we can do to move us closer to our goal. Although we were told that a project like this would cost close to $1M dollars and require a very large team of people, the entire BootstrapFashion platform and the Design Center app were created by a team of three people!

If there were 2 people you could thank who have helped you get to where you are now who are they and why?

First is my co-founder and life partner, Don Straub, who has been a powerful stand for the creation and success of BootstrapFashion. Second is my family – my father, mother and sister, who have been standing by me, regardless how ‘crazy’ my dreams seemed to them. Their belief, honesty and acceptance of me have been an enormous blessing in my life.

Who is your favorite designer or fashion brand and why?

Aesthetically, I’ve always liked Ellie Saab and Valentino and some of my favorite brands include Nanette Lepore, Catherine Malandrino and Milly NY. However, I now prefer to have my clothing custom-made. The feeling of wearing something that fits me impeccably and hand crafted by a person who loves what they do is incredible – custom-made items have become my most favorite pieces in my wardrobe.

Finally, what’s next in your development and growth of Bootstrap Fashion?

BootstrapFashion will be launching an Indigogo campaign on February 1st to raise funds for additional design libraries and hosting servers. I invite readers of Leaders In Heels to support our effort to democratize and revolutionize the fashion industry!


Technology is now an integral part of our everyday lives. Whether it’s phones, portable storage, or even smartwatches, many designers are now working with tech companies to produce items that are not only practical, but also stylish.

Here are some great Christmas gift ideas of the always-connected fashionista in your life… or, perhaps, yourself!

1. She Lion Rainmaker Tote and Laptop Bag

shelion-rainmaker

This tote is full of compartments to hold your laptop, your papers, your phones, and just about anything else you can think of (including the She Lion Go-Getter umbrella that comes with it). And it looks absolutely stunning – it certainly wouldn’t look out of place at any event. She Lion has a whole range of bags if you’re after different sizes or functions.

2. Guess Connect

guess-connect

Like the idea of having notifications on your wrist, but finding the standard smartwatches with full touchscreen too bulky? The Guess Connect has a standard watch-face with a small screen at the bottom for notifications. You can see the basics of incoming notifications at a glance – and it takes voice commands, too!

3. Fitbit by Tory Burch

fitbit-tory-burch

We’ve previously done a giveaway of this product – that’s how much we love this fashionable fitness tracker! It works together with the Fitbit Flex to track  your daily activity and monitor your sleep – all while looking fabulous.

4. LaCie Mirror

lacie-mirror

LaCie Mirror is a portable hard drive made of Corning Glass, which turns it into an actual mirror for your table! It also features an elegant yet functional ebony wood stand display for your home office, designed by French tableware designer Pauline Deltour. It’s the ultimate multitasker, a statement piece for your home office and the business storage device you need to save and carry all your most important multimedia files at home, at the office or on the go.

It’s perfect for travel, as it comes with its own soft pouch, creating a very sophisticated way to carry large capacity digital files within a slim sized drive, without the need for power.

5. Monster Harajuku Lovers Space Age In-Ear Headphones

monster-harajuku

If cute is more your style, you can’t go past these adorable headphones that are a collaboration between Harajuku Lovers and Monster. They’re in-ear headphones, and come with interchangeable colours to match your outfit!

6. Swarovski Supreme USB Bracelet

swarovski-usb

USB sticks are one of the staples of modern life. But forget the flimsy plastic or plain metal casings and get stylish with a USB bracelet made by Swarovski. You’ll always have your data on you… literally.

7.  Tech21 Evo Elite cases for iPhone 6/6s and 6/6s Plus

Tech21-Evo-Elite

Tech21 has just launched the ultimate protection for premium handsets, the Evo Elite range of cases for iPhone 6/6s and 6/6s Plus. The Evo Elite range is the result of an 18-month design and engineering journey that delivers beauty and protection in one.

Just like skin care products, they’ve been styled not to hide the beauty of your new iPhone, but to flaunt it with a smooth aluminium and metallic finish that’s durable and scratch resistant and matched to the iPhone 6 gold, silver and space grey colours.

The cases are very lightweight and super slim, while extremely tough thanks to the embedded Flexshock advanced impact protection which can withstand drops up to 6.6 feet.

8. Opening Ceremony and Intel Mica Smart Bracelet

intel mica 2

intel-mica-3

For any readers based in the USA, Opening Ceremony worked together with Intel to create the gorgeous Mica Smart Bracelet. It’s completely independent from your smartphone (comes with two years of wireless data from AT&T), and comes with a phone number you can give your friends so they can message you. We should note that it doesn’t have an on-screen keyboard so you can only use canned responses. You can also view your upcoming Google and Facebook appointments, and access Yelp, among other things.

9. Spy Pen Camera

spy pen

Not only does this pen look right at home in any office environment… it also has a hidden camera that can take photos and record video. Not that we would recommend using this for any corporate espionage, of course!

10. Tag Heuer Connected

tag-heuer-connect

If you’re based in certain countries (search here), the Tag Heuer Connected is a smartwatch built on Android Wear, with all the features you’d expect such as a full touchscreen, apps, etc. Yet it still has the elegance and refinement you’d expect from the standard range of Tag Heuer watches.

Do you have any recommendations for technology with style? We’d love to hear about it in the comments!


Our final interview in our series with the Red Heel Day Sydney speakers is with fashion and lifestyle expert Jules Sebastian. If you haven’t yet, check out our interviews with Anne-Marie EliasAlexandra MillsKirsten Galliott and the founder of Leaders in Heels, Kasia Gospos!

Jules-Sebastian-2014

Jules is a television presenter, stylist and professionally trained make-up artist. As a frequent guest of The Today Show, The Morning Show, The Daily Edition, and The Kyle and Jackie Show, Jules will be sharing her best tips to creating a strong brand and on how to dress for success! Along with her husband, Guy Sebastian, they have established The Sebastian Foundation to create lasting change in the lives of the less fortunate.

Describe your typical week – what does it look like?

I wish I could describe a typical week! It changes constantly depending on what is going on in my life and work. My absolute constant is my kids and being with them everyday. I’m up at the crack of dawn with them getting everything ready for the day then it’s either spending the day with them or going to work. My work days are quite diverse depending on my projects. I am a Fashion Stylist first and foremost, so I work on briefs, prepping, going to showings, meetings, fittings, and so on. Once the prep is done I am usually on set working with my clients on what we have prepped for. I also have a blog so a lot of my time is spent researching for posts and working on shoots. Another arm of my business is my You Tube series Tea with Jules where I sit down with inspiring people and have a chat about their career path and how the became a success. Again, a lot of preparation goes into that, researching for my interviews, location scouting, working with the production team, then filming days, editing and running the channel. I am also working on another online series with realestate.com.au at the moment too which gives us a sneak peek into the homes of some of Australia’s favourite celebrities. Every day is different to the next, but I enjoy every aspect of what I do. There is never a dull moment!

What inspires you to get out of bed every day?

I genuinely enjoy my life and that is what inspires me to get out of bed every day! I love that I get to make people feel beautiful for a living. It’s taken me some time, but I have found what makes me happy in life, and I am actively doing it. My family is the biggest inspiration by far. I want to be the best mum I can be and give my kids a fun, fulfilling life. That’s what matters the most!

Which key characteristics do you see a female leader having?

Strength, resilience, patience and kindness. To be a leader, one must have a vision and clear direction on where you are headed. You have to be prepared to have others follow you and the smarts to know where you are leading them. Not everyone is born to lead and that’s ok. Being a good leader is about identifying your own strengths and the strengths in others.

What is the greatest learning you have had?

Trust my intuition and learn to say no.

Why are you excited about Red Heel Day?

There is something so great about people (especially women!) coming together to celebrate each others achievement and cheer each other on. I know for certain that I would not be where I am today without the encouragement and inspiration of being around women who are better than me, kicking goals and achieving great things. That’s what is great about Red Heel Day! We get to stop for a minute, look around us and recognise both our achievements and the achievements of the people around us. We don’t do that enough!