Meet Dani Wallace, an entrepreneurial mum of 3 from Preston who’s a domestic abuse survivor is on a mission to have ‘done her bit’ during Covid-19, through an ambitious fundraising initiative ‘The Big Festoon.’
The Festoon will draw in celebrities and high profile entrepreneurs to raise money for domestic violence charities whilst also supporting small business owners whose livelihoods are being threatened.
Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role
I am Dani Wallace, 36, I am an international speaker and speaker coach, as well as a professional singer.
Having overcome homelessness as a single parent, domestic violence and years of self-sabotage…. I am now a motivational speaker and coach and fearless leader of the I Am The Queen Bee Movement helping women across the world Show Up, Wise Up and Rise Up http://www.iamthequeenbee.co.uk
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
At the age of 9, I remember my primary school teacher noticing that I had an ability to sing and helped nurture my talent – however, as my family were unable to afford more formal singing lessons. By 17, I had decided to utilise my talents on stage and travelled the world over singing and compereing in hotels and on cruise ships.
However, when I turned 22, my family were keen for me to settle down and get a ‘proper job’ so I bought a house with my partner at the time and had my first child, Poppy. Due to my natural presenting skills and ability to train large groups, I was very quickly talent managed in the corporate sector moving into leadership training for multiple global brands. However, it was during this time, whilst holding down these incredible roles, that my personal life was in turmoil.
Have you faced any challenges along the way?
Having grown up on the council estates in Preston, my early life was full of adversity, an alcoholic father, life on the bread line and the comings and goings of various cousins as my Mum tried to help them when, they too, fell on hard times.
In 2008, just a few months after ‘settling down’ and having my first child – I was all excited for our forthcoming wedding and just a couple of weeks after sending out the invites, my partner called time on the relationship leaving me a lone parent on one income at the start of the recession… I remember feeling so unlovable and feeling very vulnerable and was so surprised when I was pursued by someone at work and so began a relationship that spiralled into a rollercoaster of domestic abuse.
As is quite common in DV situations, I became pregnant with my second child and when I was 4 months pregnant, the relationship came to a violent head and after one particular incident whereby I was almost strangled, with the help of DV services, I was able to escape the relationship.
Now a single mum of two and barely able to afford both my mortgage and nursery fees for two under threes, I was forced into homelessness with my children and survived by sofa surfing at my family and friends until I was able to find a home that I could afford.
I then spent the next 5 years rebuilding my life, accessing support, engaging with personal development and made the jump to self-employment some six years ago when I realised the only place I sang anymore was in the kitchen doing the washing up I decided I’d like to get back on stage.
I met my amazing husband and with his support I now perform on stages nationally for multinational companies and private clients – doing something I love singing, motivating and inspiring others….
Alongside this I was set on a personal mission to give back to other people who may not feel good enough, who are victims of their own self-sabotage or who are hiding their talents from the world because they were fearful…
One day whilst watching TV with my 3 children, inspiration took the form of a quote from a children’s film. At the start of Bee Movie (2007) the Narrator declares: ‘According to all known laws of aviation, there is no way a bee should be able to fly. It’s wings are too small to get its fat little body off the ground. The bee, of course, flies anyway, because bees don’t care what humans think is impossible.’ – It is from this, the I Am The Queen Bee Movement was born.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
Helping people who have been terrified to speak, take to the stage and screen to deliver their message truly does feel like a huge achievement every time.
Personally, going on to sell out my Show Up, Wise Up, Rise Up speaking events, being invited to speak on national stages, partnering with charities and inspired hundreds of women globally in business to also #FlyAnyway are definitely all on the list!
What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?
My passion and determination to help others…. my content and events centre heavily around empowering women in business – by sharing my life stories, employment and 20 years experience on stage in an entertaining, straight talking and humorous way. I think it’s my inimitable mix of irreverence, business acumen and wisdom makes my brand of personal development accessible, appealing, motivating and inspiring.
How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?
I am a massive believer in collaboration and not competition. I host a global online community via the I Am The Queen Bee Movement where I mentor women delivering my message that despite what we have faced we can step up and into success and fly anyway…
I have been personally mentored by the most incredible business minds in the UK, Brad Burton and Lisa Johnson most recently. Learning from those who are doing the thing you want to be doing is that savviest way to learn quickly in my experience. Im so lucky to have found mentors wo truly believe in me.
If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Equality, what would it be?
Give more women the microphone! The speaking world is still very male dominated and we NEED more women to come forward and share their expertise.
If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?
Know your worth – I have to consciously remind myself that I am worthy of the work, opportunities and pay I receive. One of the hardest things at the beginning was charging my worth and not compromise on my value and expertise. That, even as I grow still is a sticking point…
and ‘the more you practice, the harder you work, the luckier you get’
“I moved out of the ‘safe’, well-paying corporate world to work for myself as a singer 6 years ago. Despite having a consistently full diary of incredible bookings, being the household breadwinner, having high end clients and consistent fabulous feedback….it took me a long time to identify as a ‘professional’ singer let alone a ‘Business Woman’. It always stuck in my mouth, yet that is exactly what I am! The feeling of getting ‘found out’ is real…There are other better singers than me out there, are there not? Singers that look better, dress better, have better sets, singers that are better at speaking to audiences. Yet here I am still amazed that my business is successful! Suffice to say the saying ‘the more you practice, the harder you work, the luckier you get’ is wholly applicable to most situations, mine included.
What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?
I’m currently in the midst of organising and hosting an ambitious fundraising initiative drawing in celebrities and high profile entrepreneurs to raise money for domestic violence charities whilst also supporting small business owners whose livelihoods are being threatened.
As a domestic abuse survivor myself, on seeing the devastating DV statistics of lockdown, I felt led to ‘do my bit’ during Covid-19, through my fundraising initiative ‘The Big Festoon’ running on 5th June. This day will see celebs and entrepreneurs coming together for a 12 hours chat-a-thon packed full of real talk, motivational pow wows, business inspo, power ballads and awesome DJ sets as celeb guests and business leaders come together to lift the spirits of the nation’s entrepreneurs and raise much needed funds and awareness for domestic violence charities at the same time. The primary charity being supported is Women’s Aid.
What is a FESTOON? In bee terms… it is a lacework of bees hanging together, leg-to-leg, between the frames of comb is called a “festoon” and the behavior is called “festooning.” Having already received words of support from one of my idols, Macy Gray, I am calling upon others to support, share and link arm-in-arm with me for the Queen Bee’s ‘BigFestoon’. Find out more – https://www.iamthequeenbee.co.uk/thebigfestoon or via https://www.facebook.com/thequeenbeedani
WeAreTheCity has a back catalogue of thousands of Inspirational Woman interviews, including Cherie Blair, Paula Radcliffe MBE, Caprice Bourret, Anna Williamson and many more. You can read about all our amazing women here.