Libby Allaway has established herself as pioneer in both the fashion and women’s networking industries. With over 25 years of experience in her fields, Libby is a leading businesswoman and the director of Let's Connect Women - an organisation helping connect and support women in business and in life.
What empowered you to start your own business ‘Let’s Connect Women’?
As a serial entrepreneur, always working with women and also a sole operator, I loved being in business for myself but not by myself and in the early days constantly wished for a community that I could call on for advice, referrals and support. I also saw a gap in women’s networking groups that only focused on professional development and felt that offering workshops and a philosophy that focused on both personal and professional development is where magic can happen.
We believe that to be at our best professionally we need also to be functioning at a high level personally so we offer integrated workshops to address this. I am also passionate about supporting and connecting women in business to empower them to live a happier life both personally and professionally.
What would you say is your favourite aspect of running your business, and where do you allocate the majority of your time?
The premise behind Let’s Connect Women is as the name says – is we love connecting women. What I love most about the business is connecting women in business and seeing the collaborations and business growth occur from these connections. I really love developing workshop ideas for entrepreneurs and concepts for corporates to support their women clients to improve connection between the company and the customer. Most of my time is spent marketing, talking to members about their business and keeping an eye on the numbers.
How has the global crisis affected you - personally & in your business?
From a personal perspective my family and I have been very lucky. Our children moved home during lock down which meant we were all together, which was lovely. It meant that we had a (welcomed) slower than usual schedule, coupled with not having to commute to work has allowed us extra hours in the day which I have used for doing online yoga classes and swimming almost every day.
From a business perspective, like many other businesses we have been pivoting our strategy. Before lock down our entrepreneurs met in person once a month to discuss their businesses and hear from successful women. In response to not being able to meet in person, we have now initiated “Lunch with Libby” where 8 members catch up every Friday on Zoom to discuss business, ask for referrals and support other women on their journey. Prior to lockdown, we had in place a 2 day live program called The Entrepreneur Survival Guide with 11 guest speakers sharing knowledge on how to be a successful entrepreneur, which has now launched very successfully on line. We also had in the pipeline many of our C.E.O events. C.E.O’s are our Customer Experience Opportunities for our corporate Clients, which have been postponed until after lock down. The great thing about that is by the time the world comes back we will be ready with some fabulous opportunities which are already locked in for corporates to support their customers which is really exciting!
What changes do you see in the future of businesses post the global crisis?
There obviously has been a shift in the way we do business. I believe this crisis from a business perspective has allowed businesses to really focus on the most important aspect of their business – their customer. Without our customers, we have no business. I see that there will be a greater focus on the benefits we as business owners can provide for our customers to better their lives. We have always focussed on the power of connection and collaboration, so I feel there will be more collaborations, more Zoom meetings and a new norm of split working between home and office, making it easier for working parents, taking the pressure off roads and creating extra hours in the day with reduced commuting times. On line, of course will be an even bigger part of our lives so the challenge for businesses will be how to cut through the noise of so many invitations to buy coming into our inboxes. With an ever changing market the businesses who will be able to continue to pivot quickly in response to changes will be the ones that come out on top.
How are you approaching personal style in this time?
My style is eclectic. Some days I will be wearing corporate complete with heels, some days, a boho dress and boots whilst other days you’ll find me in jeans and sneakers with a killer jacket. As an ex fashion stylist, I really believe in the impact clothes can have on our self esteem and productivity, so WFH wear still means maintaining a level of personal style that incorporates comfort and style. I’m especially conscious now of clothing that will look flattering on Zoom as I’m often interviewing or running live courses via Zoom such as Maison Poi sunflower top (the colour is fabulous) or Bottega Veneta Rib dress.
What are your favourite brands from Parlour X?
Hmmm where do I start. I’m really loving Paco Rabanne at the moment and no wardrobe is complete without some Isabel Marant pieces. I also love the luxury and classic style of Saint Laurent, (the tuxedo blazer is a classic piece that every woman should have in her wardrobe) and Aussie designer Christopher Esber’s is always exciting.
You connect many women, from all different walks of life. What do you think is the ultimate measure of success?
Success means different things to different people – for some it is the amount of money in your bank account whilst for others it can be about living completely off the grid. For me, success is definitely about living in align with your purpose, doing what you love and being of service to others. It’s about setting small and large goals and achieving them, living a balanced life – doing what you love and spending time with people you love.
What advice do you have for young people starting their careers?
- Learn as much as you can before you start – especially when it comes to the financial stability of your business. We often get carried away with the “fun and exciting” side of starting a business but without focusing on revenue and expenses your business wont survive.
- Find a mentor, business coach or join a business group who can support and refer your business.
- Do what you love – you spend most of your waking hours working so you should, where possible do what you love
- Back yourself. Be confident in your decision, stay focussed on your goals and go for it!