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Woman of Style & Power

Galyna Nitsetska
On Running A Fashion Business

September 11, 2017

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Education: I studied Political Science, Russian & Economics at University College London.

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The CV: After graduating from UCL, I worked in the financial industry and  launched Silkarmour last year.
successCareer Highlight: Leaving the corporate world to leverage the experience I had gained in business to start my own company.
successMy Inspiration is: Strong independent women who are masters of their own life: ranging from my own mother to Diane von Furstenberg & Helena Morrissey
successPersonal Style: Classic styles topped off with extravagant & eccentric pieces.
successI Stand For: Empowering women. I strongly believe that true equality will create a better, safer & more compassionate world for us all.>

Words of Wisdom: Live and speak your truth: the majority of problems that arise in our lives are because we are too afraid to live our truth.

successAdvice To My Younger Self: Don’t try to control your external circumstances or the curve balls life throws at you: the only thing you can control is how you perceive your experiences

successFun Facts: My friends frequently describe me as a 50-something-year-old woman stuck in a 20-something-year-old body. I love exploring antique bookshops, horse riding and my idea of a night out is sipping champagne at the Dorchester bar while listening to live jazz.

successDid You Know: I was born during an earthquake: I guess I have been committed to making grand dramatic entrances since day one.

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Galyna Nitsetska exudes a remarkable level of calmness, self-awareness and confidence that demands attention whenever she expresses her thoughts on any subject matter.

successHer words are delivered with clarity, a generous dash of wisdom and an authentic viewpoint on why she does what she does. She remains forthright about her focus to empower women – especially in their careers.

successAnd, unsurprisingly, her personal Instagram echoes inspirational messages declaring the importance of a ‘oneness’ among women with quotes along the lines of:

success“the success of one woman is inspiration for another” and “when women support each other, incredible things happen.” It is inevitable that this narrative remains at the core of Silkarmour. A business she launched last year. >

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Offering impeccably designed, classic and business appropriate pieces, Silkarmour is essential for the successful woman in need of a confidence boost before entering the battlefields of the boardroom.

successGalyna’s open and genuine manner offers an in-depth glimpse into the journey that led to the birth of her company.

success A mother diagnosed with terminal cancer, a fascinating dislike for polyester suits – described frankly as sticky, disgusting and smelly.

successHer desire to do something she ‘really believed in’ after spending her earlier career in the world of Finance, where men were invariably the majority. And her courageous intelligence to just go for it, leave her job and launch her own business.

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Silkarmour


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1. Before we go into detail, can you describe your career before launching Silkarmour?

successSilkarmour is a very new venture as I only left my corporate career a year ago and we just celebrated our one year anniversary. After university I worked in a wide range of financial advisory roles, it was a fantastic experience.

successHowever, in every job I have had, I was always the only woman when I would join the team, so the gender disparity in meetings and in the corporate environment was very clear to me since day one.>

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…even in the companies where there is a near 50/50 representation of men and women in the beginning stages, as you look further up the corporate ladder, fewer women remain in positions of power.

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 2. How did you deal with that?

successsuccessFrom a professional perspective – you definitely start missing the female friendship and mentorship.

success It was perhaps due to this extreme lack of female leadership in my own career trajectory that I started speaking to other women about the issues they faced in the workplace.
successThe truth is, even in the companies where there is a near 50/50 representation of men and women in the beginning stages, as you look further up the corporate ladder, fewer women remain in positions of power.
successI think for me, that’s really where the fashion aspect came in, because I was the only female and the youngest for a very long time.
successSuddenly, you have to go into these meetings where there are 10 men and somehow, you have to make sure that you personally feel comfortable whilst also ensuring that the people around you perceive you as being capable of doing the job at hand.

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Silkarmour


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3. How did such experiences inspire the name Silkarmour?

successsuccessWe wanted to play with the fact that silk is one of the strongest materials in the world, whilst also being extremely soft and light, and traditionally associated with femininity.

successIt is also the ultimate sign of luxury – we discourage following fashion trends and the “throw-away culture”, and instead believe women should invest in themselves and in their wardrobes. Specifically in long-lasting items that make them feel on top of the world.
success Men have long recognised the importance of this and come into meetings with the best Savile Row cut suits:
successIt is time for women to accept themselves completely as both women who enjoy and respect their femininity and as ambitious and strong fighters in their chosen careers and dress accordingly for the corporate world.>

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4Let’s talk about the transition from banking to fashion. Did you have any experience in the industry before making the career change?

successMy sister used to be a model back in the day, so I was exposed to the fashion world from quite a young age. She would frequently take me to the photoshoots and catwalks she was attending, so the fashion bug was probably planted then.

success It’s funny because whilst I was at school most people used to say “you’re going into fashion,” because I was always experimenting and mixing & matching things.

success I thought at the time it was unlikely as I didn’t feel I had a set style, though now I realise I was actually experimenting with how people would react differently depending on what I was wearing.

success It’s definitely something I’ve always enjoyed, but at the time I thought “I need to do something serious” and decided to become a banker.

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Silkarmour


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5.  How did you go about taking that leap of faith to quit your job and launch your own business? What was that journey like?

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To give you a personal background, I had a very life changing experience that made me reevaluate a lot of things in my life.

successMy mum had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and in a situation like that, you suddenly have to make a decision whether you want to spend time with that person or whether you continue going on business trips and flying around the world.

successI wanted to spend more time with my mother because I didn’t know how long I had left with her. 

successAs cliche as it may sound, I also realised that we are only given one life, and that I wanted to do something I really believed in and would make other people happy.

successSo the jump to change careers became easier because psychologically, emotionally and spiritually, I realised that I wasn’t doing what I was meant to be doing. >

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6. So, you make the switch and find yourself running a fashion e-commerce business. Talk a little bit about the initial stages of that reality.

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It definitely came as a shock that suddenly I didn’t have a corporation behind me, supporting me with the lawyers, the accountancy, the bureaucratic side of things.
successThese were all things I had to figure out. The decision-making was definitely challenging because in the end, every decision rests with you. Whether it’s social media management, what designer to take on to which accountant to choose.
successI also had to build the website myself because a lot of developers quoted ridiculous fees & time estimates. I’m the type of person who’s a bit competitive, so I thought: “16-year-old boys build websites in their bedroom, so if a 16-year-old boy can do it, I don’t see why I can’t figure this out.”
successSo, I started coding, figuring out how the technology worked and if I couldn’t figure it out, I would find the right person to explain it to me. 
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Silkarmour


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7. How did you handle some of the financial challenges that came with starting a fashion business?

successI had some female investors who I knew from before, that have invested in the business because they believed in the vision and understood the need for it in the market.

successMy plan has always been to not go to venture capital funds, which to this day are still predominantly male-dominated. I’m a very big believer in growing businesses organically and our investors are all working women so they have an in-depth understanding of the market.

successI think there is a bit of a bubble going on in the start-up world where money ends up being wasted. Its very easy for people to go in and be like “oh, we have this round of funding done, now let’s hire 10 new people”.

successBut actually if that was your own money, you would stop and think “do I need these 10 extra people? Can we hire 3 people to do the same job, with more work?”>

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8. What is your advice to anybody hoping to make a career transition?

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It’s an extremely difficult journey and you have to be committed to it. One of the women I interviewed recently for the SA Journal – Miisa Mink – compared starting a business to having a child.
successIt’s nine months of thinking of the idea and conceiving it. Then, once it’s born and you’ve started the business, you realise that the business is a baby and it can’t do anything for itself.
successIt’s definitely not the easy way out. If you want to have the standard 9-5 job and a stable income, then by all means don’t start a business. Or if you want to just dip your toe into it, then with the internet, it is possible do it as a side gig for a while before making that jump.
successOne thing I would definitely say is, once you make that jump, look for a support network around you. There are fantastic communities which help women connect: be it, LeanIn, Blooming Founders or Dreamers // Doers.

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Silkarmour


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9. And for anyone hoping to start their own fashion business, what would your advice be?

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Think about the problem you’re solving and take things back to basics. One of the things I have seen with a lot of people – especially in the fashion industry – is a lack of thought about the sort of issue they want to solve for a certain customer segment.
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You should think about what the customer wants, what they need, what you are giving to them, and make this part of your core message.>

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10. Lastly, What are your favourite workwear pieces on Silkarmour at the moment?

successThat is such a difficult question because I feel like a mother with all the designers, you’re not allowed to have a favourite one! This interview was originally published on Anaria on 24th October 2016.

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Photo Credit: Nuraan Ackers Photography

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