I have got to admit, I just love Chit Chat Friday! It truly is a pleasure chatting to the most inspiring women around. Each of my guests are ambitious, dedicated, hard-working, inspirational, creative and gutsy.
This week I am so excited to have Karolina editor in chief of Estila Magazine with us. If you are not familiar with Estila Magazine, it's a beautifully curated lifestyle magazine featuring articles on interiors, fashion and beauty.
I met Karolina at a Mothers Meeting a while back when I had shared my story about having a brain hemorrage when I was 30 weeks pregnant. Karolina came up to me after the meeting and said we have something in common: we both have brain issues. Ok, maybe not something to aspire too, but definitely a relief knowing you're not the only one that has experienced a severe heath issue and still keeps charging full speed ahead towards that ultimate goal. Well Karolina, I respect you and you are doing a mighty fine job! Read on to learn more about Karolina and her magazine Estila!
1. TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELF. WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND?
Oh, wow. Where do I start? I was born in Prague, Czech Republic to very entrepreneurial parents. After the iron wall came down, they didn’t waste a minute to start their own importing and distributing business, which they have been running for over 25 years. Since I was a teenager I had to help after school and at weekends. I guess being part of early stages of the business provided me with knowledge and understanding what’s actually involved in starting from zero and building something viable. However, at 18, I couldn’t see myself staying on and keep on working for them. I had to cut the umbilical cord once and for all. I just finished my A-levels in Economics and Business Studies and so I really wanted to carry on educating myself in this field. An opportunity led me to London and I’ve been here ever since. Well, sort of. I met my husband and we lived across Europe for the first 5 years of our marriage. My first daughter was born in Germany but once she was ready for school, we decided to come back and put our roots down.
2. WHAT SPARKED THE IDEA FOR ESTILA?
The journey to starting my own magazine, ESTILA, started around 15 years ago. While my two girls were very young, and we travelled from one country to another, I studied for a degree in Economics and Business Studies at the Open University. After I got my degree I was at a crossroad and really wanted to start my own business. I wanted to work around my family needs and really create a brand and have an impact in an industry. In the end I decided to go in the similar market as my parents’ business. I knew the products well and there wasn’t anybody else in the UK purely focusing on selling that kind of product. Over the following 6 years I managed to build up an importing and distributing business in the fireplace industry. I worked with retailers, trade and architects on projects for self-builders. I had 2 sales reps on the road and me, covering different regions. Business was good. Until the recession came. We managed to keep the business going for the next 3 years after the initial hit, but after some time I realised that we wouldn’t be able to carry on. My network collapsed within 6 months, self-builders weren’t building and architects weren’t getting new projects. The final straw for me was when our warehouse and distributing partner went into administration. My husband at that time got a job offer in Switzerland and so I decided to close the business and help him to relocate there. After I came back, I found myself at a crossroad again. I evaluated what I enjoyed doing while running the business and concluded that design and interiors were my jam. I enrolled at KLC Design School in London and started my Diploma course to gain more knowledge. Since I’m very impatient, I also managed to find myself a job in the field to see if that’s something I could pursue. By pure accident I came across an American designer’s blog, which by the way was so inspiring, and so I got into blogging as well. I was struggling with juggling all the balls in the air, and in the end I decided to leave London behind and focus on my own thing again. I focused on blogging and started to experiment more with graphics, layouts, stories and topics. I noticed that I unsubscribed from all magazine’s subscriptions I had because I found consuming blogs more current, interesting and inspirational. However, I got really overwhelmed with all of the information out there. And, I was also struggling to find clients. I was frustrated and while brainstorming with my content mentor, we came up with the idea of an e-magazine. Reason being; one to resolve my “information overload from other blogs” and two to attract potential clients/readers. She suggested to try and test the waters but I went full steam ahead. When I make my mind up, I just go for it. So I contacted few other bloggers in their field of expertise and we published our first issue two weeks later. That was exactly 13 months ago. Since then we have generated very close to 1 million views on our issues and we attract around 20,000 readers each month.
3. YOU’VE HAD A VERY SCARY HEATH ISSUE, CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THIS AND HOW IT’S CHANGED YOUR PROSPECTIVE ON LIFE AND WORK?
My prospect on life and work changed massively. I was diagnosed with a benign brain tumour while pregnant with my second daughter. By the time I was properly diagnosed, I lost vision in one of my eyes. It was very quick. But what it gave me is the appreciation of time. This was first time I realised that life can change very quickly and this change can be something which is out of your control. My outlook on life changed from that moment. I realised that any doubts, insecurities, worries or problems; being financial, work related or relationshipwise, were insignificant, in a way. These you can control and resolve. Your health, you can’t. Nothing really gets to me as much as my health issues. Time, for me, is the biggest luxury. My diagnosis also answered one question for me; “What is my purpose?” Through the magazine I want to inspire and empower women to take action - to listen to their gut and change their path in order to pursue their dreams; to find their own purpose in order they can live life with no regrets. We interview women (including you, Kelly) to show others that you can do anything you set your mind to. We feature women who run emerging brands in fashion, interiors and lifestyle. We feature women who became artists, designers and creators.
4. WHO ARE YOUR FAVOURITE DESIGNERS?
There are so many!! I find Diane von Furstenberg and Coco Chanel very inspiring. Both were pioneers in their own rights and created timeless, flattering silhouettes that will be always in style regardless what’s currently “trending”. I admire the work of Matthew Williamson, who we just interviewed for our first print issue, and the Missoni family. They both managed to create visually strong lifestyle brand around their own unique style.
5. DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE?
I would describe my style as “relaxed sophistication”. I love wearing colours and pattern but it has to be balanced. I prefer classic cut that is flattering and that complements my body shape. I don’t like anything revealing or too baggy.
6. WHERE DO YOU GAIN INSPIRATION FROM WHEN COMING UP WITH NEW IDEAS/TOPICS FOR ESTILA?
I get most inspired by women behind the brands we feature. I find their work so inspiring. I see them as artists. They not only create stunning products but also run inspiring businesses. My process starts with finding the products first and then I think about the best way to put their message across. Sometimes it means doing our own photo shoots and editorials so readers can see the detail of the design, on other occasions it might mean creating a whole new section in the magazine around them.
7. DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE CAFÉ, BOOKSHOP, CLOTHING SHOP, ETC THAT YOU GO TO AND GAIN INSPIRATION FROM OR JUST GO AND HAVE A LOVELY THINK?
I like visiting Anthropologie and any of the Firmdale Hotels. Every time I go in, I get inspired by so many things.
8. WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE PLACE TO GO TO WITH YOUR KIDS?
My girls are now older and so are very involved in the business. We all love going to exhibitions, being art or design, and trade shows. They both enjoy taking photos, which I “have” to feature in the magazine and, of course, give them credits. They just love seeing their name on the page. We usually make the whole day out of it, stop off for nice lunch and conclude with a quiet walk around the river or park.
9. IF YOU COULD COLLOBARATE WITH ANYONE WHO WOULD THIS BE? WHY?
I know I should probably give this more thought but I really haven’t got anyone in mind. Last year, when I started the magazine, I wrote down a list of people who I would love to feature. Someone who would be a perfect example of the magazine’s message, someone that has a strong, individual style. (Because I totally believe that once you “find your style”, you are unstoppable.) One of them on my list was Matthew Williamson and now that came into reality. I guess I would love to collaborate with someone who inspires women in business and maybe give a talk at one of our business events that I’m planning in near future. I think someone like Holly Tucker MBE or Kim Winser OBE, who I just interviewed as well, would be definitely on top of my list.
10. WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU HAVE BEEN GIVEN? WHAT ADVICE CAN YOU GIVE TO US?
It’s not an advice someone gave me but it’s something I had realised while on my own journey. It’s: “Don’t make yourself feel like you’re not good enough.”
11. IF YOU WEREN’T DOING ESTILA, WHAT WOULD BE YOUR SECOND DREAM JOB?
I think I would become a writer, which might actually happen because I love telling stories. Maybe that might be my next chapter, if I ever get to another crossroad.
12. FAVOURITE CHILDHOOD MEMORY.
I think watching my mother and grandmother putting their makeup on and getting ready to go out. They both showed me to care about how you look before you leave the house. I used to walk around in their high heels, play with scarves and handbags while they were busy perfecting their hair. Every time I think about it, it gives me a feeling of safety and content. In those moments I was carefree. My mum still continues with her “getting ready routine” to this day and, I must admit, some of it she passed on to me. Now I’m doing the same thing but 100 times faster. Life has got so much faster these days, which is a shame.
estila.co (available to read online now and purchase in stores at WH Smith, Waitrose and M&S from the 24th November.