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Making an impression

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Five successful business women tell Stylist.co.uk about their first day at work...

Sarah Curran is the founder and CEO of my-wardrobe.com

“I will never forget my first day when we launched my-wardrobe.com back in April 2006. We were up at 5am waiting for the website to go live with all of the products that we had styled, photographed and written about.

In the early days we were a team of two, Andrew and I, my focus was on all things from the buying to the editorial writing, the styling and photography, customer service and wrapping and dispatching of the orders. It took ages to do everything, making sure that everything was perfect.

I remember the exact moment that the first ever order came through - my heart literally stopped. It was to a lady called Simone who lived in Berlin. She had ordered a pair of Rogan NY jeans. As this was my first order, I wanted it to look perfect. It must have been an explosion of tissue paper when she opened the box, as it took me an hour to wrap the order and get it looking perfect.

I'm delighted to say that the team now work at a far more productive pace.”

Sunita Passi is the Creative Director and Trainer of Tri-Dosha an Ayurveda specialist

“Having setup my own company six years ago, a lot of the time is spent in comfortable attire, developing new concepts, focusing on sales and marketing, and running the agency side of what we do. So, I'd actually consider my first 'professional' day, my first appointment with a new high profile client.

I remember thinking that first impressions count, so I made sure I made an effort with that outfit. I’m not a corporate looking executive, so I felt it was right to wear something that displayed professionalism but also my personality. Representing an Ayurvedic brand, which includes development of luxury therapies, gorgeous spa skincare and meditation training, it made sense to be groomed in the right way. I even had a fresh haircut!

I don’t remember nerves being an issue, but I do remember really wanting to present our concepts and ideas well so that our new potential client could see the benefit in partnering with us. I spent a good amount of time putting a professional folder together of what we are and where we could go together. I feel the level of preparation helped me cap what could have been a nerve racking experience, and consequently led to a successful pitch.”

Sharon Cain is the MD of the award-winning PR firm Quest PR

"When launching as a freelance from home in Shropshire, I remember putting some cheese on toast under the grill for lunch on my first day. Engrossed in all the things that I needed to sort-out, I forgot all about the toast and later heard a big bang!

I was horrified to realise that the grill door had exploded because I had inadvertently closed it in my nervous excitement of going it alone.

It was an expensive and memorable start - and I've stuck to sandwiches ever since!"

Deirdre Bounds is an entrepreneur, author and speaker

“My first day at work was when I put on my first TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course in Birmingham.

People had paid deposits of £50 and I asked a friend to sit at the 'payment desk’ with a list of tutees and a cash tin taking the £75 balance from 20 people.

This was my first course for the public, I was terrified and astonished that people would pay this amount of money - I felt like a complete fraud, although I knew I really wasn't.

The business grew bigger and bigger, so much so that I became the largest trainer of English teachers in the world (18,000 a year) and Britain's biggest gap year travel company.

After 10 stressful and frightening years of having my own business, I had my most terrifying moment when I sold the company to TUI Travel PLC for an eight figure sum, so it was all worth it in the end."

Saeeda Ahmed is the Director of Trescom Research and Consultancy Limited

“Running your own business and being responsible for the decision making can be a daunting experience, especially if you are 24, bright eyed but lack knowledge of the professional world.

Well that's how I started nine years ago, with dreams to make a difference to the lives of people through diversity training and community consultation. I was excited and had a vision on that first day of how I wanted to achieve this, but no understanding of political correctness even if it slapped me in my face.

So when I had my first client meeting, he told me to go back to working for someone as he couldn't see a place for my business. I just laughed as I thought, I am going to prove you wrong.

I realised people were not going to take me seriously for the type of work I wanted to do, so I wore thick glasses, a suit that was far too old for me and a matching scarf. The delivery man for the stationery kept asking me where my manager was!

This was a strong foundation for me to learn that we shouldn't make assumptions on how people look and there was a need for my type of work.”

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