Inspirational Woman: Lalita Russell-Smith | Founder of Me & Maya

Lalita Russell-Smith is the founder of She sat down with WeAreTheCity to share her career story.
What inspired you to start a business?

In life if you never try you never know…….this is what motivated me to start my business. I have always been drawn to fashion, although I studied interior design, and my late father was in the textile business.

What is the greatest challenge and the greatest reward in being your own boss?

The greatest challenge having your own business is to be able to successfully delegate to your staff. These days this can be so difficult as finding the right staff with the right attitude can a HUGE challenge. Having good staff one must always reward them which is something I am very conscious of.

What motivational tips can you give to our members about goal setting and managing both successes and failures.

It is SO important to have goals however big or small they may be. Be realistic about your goals as well and take a step at a time. Listen to any advice you might be given even if you don’t agree with it! You might at a later stage! Never let success get to your head ….. pride often comes before a fall. Learn from your failures and never be afraid of them. Even the most successful business people fail occasionally but move forward.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced as a business owner?

I’m going to say staff but of course in fashion it is also time. Making sure everything falls into place is a huge task as I am SO dependent on a team to get me there to the final stage.

How have you benefited from mentoring or coaching?

Mentoring has been VERY positive. I would recommend it. It has made me focus even more on my business, given me ideas and kept me thinking positive.

What advice can you give about the benefits of networking?

Do remember that ultimately it is your business and people will always have an opinion! That said, networking is important, I attend many events myself and regularly meet people who inspire me. Very often these are also events that my target customer attends, it not only influences my designs, but also my eye for detail. My label focuses on separates for the modern woman so it’s vital to have that understanding of a woman’s sartorial needs for certain situations by talking to women and listening. For example, our dresses have a slightly longer hemline for work, we always include the perfect little jacket or coat for a wedding or a social occasion.

We never underestimate the beauty and value of luxurious cashmere knitwear that can transform an outfit, a beautifully tailored shirt to wear at work or for the weekend or an effortlessly stylish dress or kaftan for a summer escape… Networking helps me hone our USP and offer our customers exactly what they need.

What are your tips for scaling a business and how do you plan for and manage growth?

Before I launched my own label and business, I worked for a very large fashion brand and I saw first hand how a good business can develop successfully. It also takes time and I plan to go very slowly where growth is concerned. I don’t think one should take risks in today’s economic climate. I am not a mass produced clothing line.

What does the future hold for you?

The future…… I am very positive. When I first started I had no idea that my shirts made from saree fabrics would take off! But they did and now I keep adding to the concept. The future is bright!

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