One of the biggest benefits for Athena Executive Members is the opportunity to collaborate with other professional businesswomen for specific projects and events. Many Athena Executive Members are entrepreneurs or sole business owners, so the ability to leverage skills, expertise and support from fellow members enables them to work on a wider range of projects and achieve greater success.
Athena Executive Members Carla K, Alexia Sichere and Maelle Ternot of FoxySales and Norah Salazar have collaborated on several projects since meeting at the Athena Executive Group a few months ago. We caught up with this dynamic group to learn a bit more about how they collaborated and what they can suggest for other businesswomen looking for similar connections.
Tell us a bit more about working together on some recent projects.
Maelle: “We started working with Carla on small projects like short blurbs on our brands in the Wanted Labels daily newsletter. Then we moved onto bigger projects like our press event and Carla’s style seminars. Norah was also part of our press event giving great makeup tips to the public. Working with a professional stylist and makeup artist has given us a lot more credibility in our newsletters and events. We are also going to organise some contests on the Wanted Labels website and Facebook page with Carla and Norah; this provides great content for us and great exposure for them. Let’s see how it goes!”
Norah: “In the last few months I have been delighted to collaborate with Carla K on styling and with Maelle and Alexia for their Wanted Labels events. Each of our businesses bring something unique to the table and for me it is has been a huge opportunity to get comfortable speaking to large groups as well as to learn from their individual talents.”
Carla: “My style seminars have been a great collaboration for all of us as we have similar styles and products that complement each other. Norah and I also collaborate on individual clients. I use her a lot for the makeup component of my styling, even though I know a lot about make up, I like to bring in a specialist so my clients get the best possible advice.”
How do the dynamics of the group work? Is there always a designated leader or do you all just work on your own thing?
Maelle: “No leader, I think! Everything comes very naturally. Someone suggests the idea and each lady knows what she has to do to make it work because it’s always relevant to her expertise. We usually start a project with one preparation meeting and it all becomes clear very quickly!”
Norah: “It’s always very much a collaborative effort; I think we are all very aware of our roles and how this impacts our end result.”
Carla: “I don’t think there is really a leader, more an instigator. Whoever has the initial idea is usually the facilitator of the group.”
What are your top 3 tips for collaborating in a team?
Maelle: “I would say first you have to find the right people to collaborate with (everything must be very natural), then you have to trust everyone’s expertise and let them express it the way they think is best, and finally communicate and tell the others if something becomes too much to handle or not relevant for your business goals.”
Norah: “My top tips would be communication, patience and to be prepared for meetings to maximise everyone’s time.”
Carla: “Understand each other’s business well and be sure your brands have a similar philosophy, passion and target client. Thirdly, it’s important your personalities are compatible. Collaborations need to be fun and you should enjoy and respect each other.”
You all met through networking – how did the relationship develop from the initial meeting?
Maelle: “One project after another you get to know each other better and the way everyone works best; you like partnering with them more and more. Then, it becomes very difficult to consider working with other people with the same expertise; it feels like they are part of our business now. I hope it will continue with more collaborations in the future!”
Norah: “For Carla and me it was very much a ying and a yang; we definitely got along well and of course, it also helps that her styling is impeccable! In our professions, it is the best feeling when a client is happy with the transformation of clothes, makeup and hair. As a makeup artist being able to work with a great stylist is key. The same goes with Maelle and Alexia, I love the concept of FoxySales and working with them is fantastic.”
Carla: “For me it was a case of stalking them a little bit! It’s important not to commit too much at an initial meeting until you know their business well and can see the parities between your businesses. It’s also really important to ensure that their brand will complement, and even enhance, your brand and not contradict it.”
Did you all agree on certain values or objectives before working together?
Norah: “Objectives are essential and this is where a collaborative effort became a success story, each one of us was very clear from the start.”
Carla: “It felt more like an organic relationship flourishing rather than a pre prepared business venture. I was able to get a clear idea of the girls’ values simply by their business model, branding and personalities and after meeting a few times, the ball just got rolling.”
What advice can you give other professional women who are looking for similar connections within their own business?
Maelle: “I think it has to be very natural. The main idea is that every collaboration has to be a win-win for each lady involved. Each of us should gain from any project or collaboration we do together. In our case, we develop awareness for their business by communicating to our customer database via newsletters for example. Carla and Norah bring credibility to Wanted Labels with their expertise in style and makeup.”
Norah: “It’s a good idea to partner up with someone whose business is aligned with yours. In my case, makeup, clothes, styling and events make sense. If you want to get noticed, network and mingle outside of your business! By this I mean, it would be very easy for me to spend my time with makeup artists, beauty bloggers and hairstylists but the real business connections came once I started going beyond my comfort zone attending various networking events, professional organisations and of course working with women who shared this vision.”
Carla: “Identify the collaborations that would be beneficial for your business. For me, it was a makeup artist, hairdresser and boutique owners. Then you can scout for these rather than make too many commitments elsewhere that are not as necessary for your business model. Research them well. A bad collaboration or teaming with a brand that does not have the same principles as you will always reflect on your brand through association.”
Thank you ladies for giving your insight into your projects! We hope this helps other professional women seeking to collaborate on projects for their business.
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