Modern women of Mi Piaci, leading the way in business

Interviews - October 18

With the inaugural Femmepire Summit fast approaching, we sat down with Mi Piaci Designer and Brand Manager, Sarah Street, and Head of Retail, Mandy Tomlinson, to get the inside word on how they designed their careers and manage that all-important work/life balance.


What is the Number 1 piece of career advice you have ever received?

Sarah: Trust your gut, take risks, and I know it sounds cliché but don’t be afraid to fail. So much greatness can come from failure, it’s important to take learnings from everything, no matter how tough it can seem at the time. Also learn not to sweat the small stuff, I’m a control freak by nature so one of my biggest learnings for the past few years has been letting go of the things I can’t control. One last thing: learn to prioritise and delegate.


When work is hectic, and life feels crazy busy, what keeps you focused and motivated?

Sarah: Remember what’s important to you and to take time out for yourself – self-love and mental health is so important. Meditation also helps keep me focused although I need to be a lot better at regular practice! I have also recently become a mother, and my son is definitely one of my biggest motivations - having the responsibility of a child and working full time in a busy career means I can’t afford not to be organised!


What advice can you offer to young women who are looking to get into a career in design?

Sarah: Know what you know and what you don’t know and go from there. Find courage in embracing the unknown and reaching for help to get you where you want to go, either by way of learning or by collaborating with other brilliant minds. Also know your worth - don’t ever let anyone tell you that you should / shouldn’t do something, especially if it’s because you are a woman. Chase the career you want and carve the path you want to walk down.


What advice can you offer to young women who are working hard on their career, but may have hit an unforeseen roadblock along the way?

Mandy: Sometimes a roadblock can be the best thing for you. It’s the universes way of getting you to slow down and evaluate where you are heading and whether its where you’re truly meant to be.

Take some time out, get advice from people you trust (those that don’t always tell you what you want to hear) and come up with a plan.

At the end of the day, if you want it bad enough, you will find a way through. It might not be the way you thought it would go but that’s really the best part. I have found in my career that the times I have learnt the most from are always the unexpected, and as a leader I am constantly drawing on those times to help support and challenge my team.


Where do you look for career inspiration and motivation?

Mandy: I am a big goal setter and as a salesperson I’m not really ever satisfied, so I am constantly trying to achieve the next thing. Reflecting on my goals and where I want to be in 3-5 years’ time is my constant motivation to keep going, and the sense of achievement when I tick something off drives me forward.

For inspiration, I follow the careers of so many successful women who I look up to. Sheryl Sandberg, Lisa Messenger, Emma Isaacs, Oprah, Helen Clarke and Michelle Obama, as well as successful businessmen like Richard Branson and Howard Shultz.

I read constantly (I have a goal of reading a book a week this year). Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” is always a go to for me as well as “Onward” by Howard Shultz and “Legacy” by James Kerr. I also listen to podcasts in the car or on my run. I listen to a lot of Tony Robbins and Tim Ferris and have just recently started listening to Kristina Karlsson’s podcast [founder of Kikki K] which I am really enjoying.


With such a busy workload and so much on (especially being a new mum!) how do you create that all important work/life balance we all strive for?

Mandy: To be honest, I don’t really strive for work/life balance! I think it’s an impossible target to strive for. I think sometimes the pendulum will swing to your career, sometimes to family, and sometimes maybe to something else. I’m proud of being a working mum, I want to show my son and those around me that it’s possible to have both. That doesn’t mean that the guilt doesn’t set in. When I am with my family during the work day I feel guilty about not being with my team, and when I am at work, I feel guilty about not being with my family. So I just try and stay focused and present with whatever I am doing. When I feel out of balance, I’ll reflect on how I’m spending my time and course correct if I am neglecting an area of it. I am lucky that I have chosen a career path that I am truly passionate about so it doesn’t really feel like work. I have also got a very supportive husband, and we have a truly 50/50 partnership which allows me to take time away from my family to focus on work.


About the Femmepire Summit

Taking place on Thursday 11 October, the Femmepire Summit is a brand new conference for aspiring entrepreneurs, creatives and businesswomen alike. Connect with likeminded colleagues, future co-founders and advertise your creative talent and skills over delicious food and drinks, which will be on tap all day. Attendees can expect panel discussions – one of which involves our very own Sarah Street – keynote speakers, mentor sessions, activations and live music. We’re giving away a double pass to the Femmepire Summit – simply head to our Instagram or Facebook page for more details on how to win. Tickets can also be purchased from the Femmepire Summit website, here.