By Jo Glynn-Smith for Harpers Bazaar, June 2016
In Harpers Bazaar’s weekly series, Jo Glynn-Smith meets working women to discuss the secrets to their success.
Each week, Jo Glynn-Smith interviews a successful woman to find out how she made it to the top, and gets tips on maintaining a successful work-life balance. This week, she meets Michelle de Klerk, the founder of the Women’s Chapter.
Describe your role.
I’m the founder of the Women’s Chapter, an invitation-only networking and events platform for women. The network champions women in business, as well as the companies they have founded or drive. We run intimate events for industry leaders, plus larger outreach ones covering topics relevant to all women.
Describe your career path.
I’ve had what they call a ‘portfolio career’. After university, I worked as a news and investigative journalist. Then I moved into commodities, doing pricing and news for the copper and aluminium market in the city, before taking a role as the marketing director for a luxury travel group. I’m now a private-client events consultant and the founder of the Women’s Chapter.
What is the most rewarding aspect of what you do?
I love connecting people with one another, finding synergies and helping to make collaborations. My job allows me to bring people together in a meaningful, and fun, way. I’m also fortunate to have some of the most phenomenal women in the country in my network, so I’m surrounded by people who inspire and challenge me to keep growing and innovating.
What is one piece of business advice you would pass on?
Don’t hold back or make excuses. Most of the time, the biggest obstacle you will face is your own fear. In business (and life), it is paramount to be honest with yourself and trust your gut instinct. You don’t need to grab every opportunity that comes your way – you can always afford to be selective about who you work with.
Name one piece of advice you ignored.
To work smart and set firm boundaries: otherwise, running your own business will consume you. I spent the first year working all hours of the day and night like a crazy person, but then realised that it was neither healthy nor sustainable. These days, I make sure that I show myself, and my family, a lot more kindness. Now that I exercise and sleep more, I am also far more productive.
Did you have a mentor or who inspired you?
As the daughter of entrepreneurs, I always wanted to run my own business and be the master of my own time and income. My dad passed away the year before I started my business; I really wish I could tell him that I know now how much work went into what he built. My mother is the most resilient person I know, so getting up, resetting and moving forward is very much part of the way I am. My daughters are also a major source of motivation for me. I want to be physically and emotionally present in their lives, but also to inspire them – both as a mother and as a professional role model.
What is your work look?
If I’m in London for meetings or travelling, my go-to looks are a Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress or a good pair of black jeans with a well-cut blazer and heels. I also like to mix up vintage with capsule classics and high-street finds.
What are your go-to brands?
I love stylish classics by Amanda Wakeley and Goat, as well as statement pieces by Roksanda and Peter Pilotto.
What is your favourite…
…form of exercise? A HIIT session, either at home (with my four-year-old twins in tow) or with my trainer out in the woods of the Surrey Hills.
…way to relax? A long, hot soak in the bath with Mauli Rituals Himalayan Healing Salts and a glass of wine.
…beauty treatment? An oxygen facial at QMS Medicosmetics Spa.
…beauty product? The Mauli Rituals Sacred Union Oil, the Studio 10 Miracle Effect Priming Serum and the Merumaya Melting Cleansing Balm are daily staples.
…tech product? My iPhone and my MacBook Air.
…restaurant? Nopi on Warwick Street. My all-time favourite abroad is the Test Kitchen in Cape Town.
…service you can’t live without? Our amazing nanny.
…guilty pleasure? Champagne and Turkish delight.
Plug something else you’re involved in.
We’ll be launching the new Women’s Chapter website soon, which will offer profiles of some of the incredible game-changers in our network, as well as features on the businesses they have founded or run. Essentially, it will be a showcase for female talent in the working world, and a place to come to be inspired and support fellow women professionals and entrepreneurs.
Original article for Harpers Bazaar, published 19th July 2016: https://www.harpersbazaar.com/uk/people-parties/bazaar-at-work/news/a37664/work-it-out-michelle-de-klerk/