Inspirational Woman: Sarah McVittie & Donna North | Dressipi Founders

Sarah_DonnaDonna Kelly
Co-founder of Dressipi, Donna Kelly is a seasoned digital media expert, and prior to co-founding Dressipi was Head of EMEA, IMG Digital where she oversaw all the digital media strategy and operations across the breadth of IMG clients and IMG companies in the areas of Fashion, Entertainment, Sport and Social Networks.  Multi-award winning, she has a proven track record in the development and launch of new initiatives.  She co-created The Interactive Content Factory (ICF), which was sold to Verizon in 2005 and has launched a number of ‘firsts’ across mobile, web and broadband.

Sarah McVittie

Prior to co-founding Dressipi, Sarah was the co-founder and CEO of Texperts the world’s first text message question answering service. The company won numerous awards for its concept and technology. In 2008 the company was sold to KGB, owners of the 118118 directory enquiries service, in a multi-million pound deal.  The Times recently called Sarah one of the UK’s “top rising female entrepreneurs”, and she was named by Management Today magazine as one of the top 35 female entrepreneurs under the age of 35.  Sarah also has a passion for motorbikes and in 2001 rode her motorbike and sidecar from London to Beijing along the oldest Silk Route.

Tell us a little about Dressipi

Dressipi is a free fashion advice and recommendation service. We give you the know-how to dress your shape and update your style – and a quick and easy way to find the best clothes and brands for you.

How did you end up starting Dressipi?

Back in 2009, we were both busy working women who didn’t have the time to shop but definitely wanted to look lovely.  And if we bought clothes, it was often from the same brands and not always clothes that were great for us. Everyone was pushing product but no one was genuinely servicing the customer. This led to the idea to create a service where you could find all the clothes and brands in one place, and where every single item you saw was selected personally for you, based on your own style and shopping preferences. A service that was simple and fun to use and where you could always find inspirational and feel-good things. Exactly like having your own personal stylist on tap.

What do you think is the meaning of fashion and style to women in general? 

Style never really goes out of fashion. It doesn’t matter if what you’re wearing is hot trend wise. A stylish person exudes confidence and reflects an aspect of their personality in the way they dress. Fashion is more to do with trends and being in touch with what is current in clothing terms.

What is your advice to women in today’s world with controversial body images delivered by the media?

It’d be great if we could all genuinely dismiss the myths surrounding perfect body images delivered by the media but we’re only human and it does tend to have an effect as to how we see our physical selves. A personal goal should be to accept the body you have and to dress to flatter it in a way that makes you feel the most confident and fabulous that you possibly can.

What would you say to women who want to succeed in professional life?

DK: Really care and believe in what you are doing. Be passionate. There’s nothing to fear.

SM: Do a job that you are passionate about and enjoy. It is a wonderful thing when you love what you do and are lucky enough to look forward to going to the office every day. Surround yourself with brilliant people, understand the power of a good network, be tenacious and do not be afraid to be creative, push the boat out and try new things.

What has been the biggest challenge in your life?

SM: So many! From a business perspective, I think it has been learning the skills of empathy and when a risk is a calculated one and when it is just a gamble! On a personal level, I rode a motorbike and sidecar from London to Beijing across the oldest Silk Road when I was 22  –  I managed to convince 5 other friends to join me, we raised money to do the expedition, managed to get all the kit sponsored and we set off in 2001 on 2 Ural motorbike and sidecars, a Land Rover and a lot of spare parts! Thousands of miles, 13 countries and many breakdowns later we made it to Tiananmen Square having raised £20,000 for Cancer Research and Mercy Corps.

What’s been your greatest achievement personally?

DK: Believing that anything is possible for everyone when tenacity and imagination is applied.

SM: Building and successfully selling my first business despite learning many lessons and making quite a few mistakes in the process!  It’s amazing where a bit of passion, determination and tenacity can get you!

Dressipi’s business idea is based on giving inspirational style advice to women. How do you find combining creativity into your business?

DK: It’s essential. Style advice is part binary and part emotive. Without the creativity we wouldn’t be solving the problem.

SM: The beauty of Dressipi is that it is a wonderful combination of brilliant technology and very talented stylists and requires creativity in all aspects of the business.  What we are doing is unique in this space so requires new ways of doing things and a totally new way of looking at the problem.

If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you be doing?

DK: Thinking about solving how women could feel more confident with their shopping and dressing decisions:

SM: It is impossible to say, your own business is so all consuming and we are “heads down” and pretty hell-bent on solving this problem but if I was doing something else it would probably contain similar elements – data (I love data), technology and solving a real-life problem that I have.

Who has been the biggest inspiration in your life?

DK: Too many people to single out. Right now all of the Olympic athletes. I’m inspired by anyone who challenges their own status quo, believes that the change or goal is possible and then applies hard work to get there.

SM: I would say that one of my greatest inspirations growing up was my grandfather, not necessarily from an entrepreneurial point of view but he was without doubt the most time-less, class-less principled person I have ever known. Him and my grandmother were full of fun, laughter and always surrounded by people of all generations and from all walks of life. My parents have also been an inspiration to me, always encouraging me to do what I enjoy and to never give up!

What does the future hold for you?

DK: Right now Dressipi is my only focus.

SM: The future is bright. The future is Dressipi. We believe Dressipi will be hugely disruptive in the fashion industry and hopefully we will be a big part of that!

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