Meet Melanie Hatjigiannakis, CEO of Authentology AB.

Taking on the Herculean responsibility of creating a start-up and driving it toward success was not an easy decision. But Melanie, a highly experienced business mentor, has never shied away from a challenge.

To find out just how demanding her journey has been, keep reading.

And Discover…

12 PERFECT GIFTS* for every budget.

Plus a 15% discount!

*WARNING: You’ll want them all for yourself.  I know I do. #ChristmasWishlist

 

Meet Melanie Hatjigiannakis, CEO of Authentology AB.

Taking on the Herculean responsibility of creating a start-up and driving it toward success was not an easy decision. But Melanie, a highly experienced business mentor, has never shied away from a challenge.

To find out just how demanding her journey has been, keep reading.

And Discover…

12 PERFECT GIFTS* for every budget.

Plus a 15% discount!

*WARNING: You’ll want them all for yourself.  I know I do. #ChristmasWishlist

 

 

 

In Melanie’s words, this is the story of Authentology:

 

‘In an age of mass-production and commercialisation, Authentology is a destination for the creative worldly women who long for fashion accessories, stationery, and homeware that aren’t found on the shelves of stores everywhere.

Every collection is the creation of a new world for the woman of today who is chic, self reliant and unapologetically herself.

We like to call it defiant elegance with the right amount of effortless cool…

 

 

The Authentology Story continued…

‘Born 2020 in Sweden, our brand encourages self-discovery, the honoring of who you are and who you aspire to be.

Our mission has always been to source pieces that allow you to express yourself in your own authentic way through your wardrobe and home at an affordable price.

Every item is sourced with care, an eye for detail, and a passion for old-world craftmanship, ensuring that any treasure you find at Authentology is unique, just like you.

We strive to grow our business with the same honesty and integrity that we use to source our products, to help inspire conscious consumerism through sustainable fashion.

We want our customers to feel at peace about their impact on the planet and the people who crafted the items you purchase from us.’

 

The Authentology Story continued…

‘Born 2020 in Sweden, our brand encourages self-discovery, the honoring of who you are and who you aspire to be.

Our mission has always been to source pieces that allow you to express yourself in your own authentic way through your wardrobe and home at an affordable price.

Every item is sourced with care, an eye for detail, and a passion for old-world craftmanship, ensuring that any treasure you find at Authentology is unique, just like you.

We strive to grow our business with the same honesty and integrity that we use to source our products, to help inspire conscious consumerism through sustainable fashion.

We want our customers to feel at peace about their impact on the planet and the people who crafted the items you purchase from us.’

With an introduction like that, I feel like saying anything more would be superfluous. However, let’s delve a little deeper, into the heart of Authentology.

Mel, when did Authentology actually ‘go live’?

Born 2020 in Sweden, we went live in July 2021.

 

Do you run the company alone or do you have help?

As the CEO I manage the daily running of the business together with a small number of outside consultants.

 

What made you decide to take on the daunting role of CEO of a start-up?

Does desperation count? Because that’s the honest truth. (Thank you, COVID.)

 

(We’ll come back to that…) How scary was the plunge?

Heart-stopping but exhilarating.

What Doesn’t Kill You…

Did you need qualifications of any kind?

25+ years of senior management experience running companies and advising other companies has been a blessing.

 

Was your age, gender, or any other aspect a hurdle in any way?

Being a woman in male-dominated sectors has always been an issue. It is incredibly challenging for a woman to climb the corporate ladder. But if you want it badly enough you learn to find a way. Never give up. Never surrender!

(Something tells me Ms Hatjigiannakis would’ve given Churchill a run for his money.) 

What are the best nuggets of advice you’ve been given?

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. And: find a mentor — it will change your life. But the best advice I’ve ever received, which I use in my private life as well, is this: ‘If you are in a relationship, be it work or private, and you are not getting 51% out of it, then walk away.’ It may sound harsh, but it has stood me in good stead up to now.

Did you need qualifications of any kind?

25+ years of senior management experience running companies and advising other companies has been a blessing.

 

Was your age, gender, or any other aspect a hurdle in any way?

Being a woman in male-dominated sectors has always been an issue. It is incredibly challenging for a woman to climb the corporate ladder. But if you want it badly enough you learn to find a way. Never give up. Never surrender!

(Something tells me Ms Hatjigiannakis would’ve given Churchill a run for his money.) 

What are the best nuggets of advice you’ve been given?

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. And: find a mentor — it will change your life. But the best advice I’ve ever received, which I use in my private life as well, is this: ‘If you are in a relationship, be it work or private, and you are not getting 51% out of it, then walk away.’ It may sound harsh, but it has stood me in good stead up to now.

Can you tell us a little about your career history?

I went from being a CEO of a South African trade/regulatory association responsible for a R3.5 billion per annum sector (vacation ownership — property) to starting a management consultancy business in the UK. Once COVID hit, I ran out of work and so I decided to take up the offer of running an ecommerce start-up in Sweden, namely Authentology.

I have always been eager to try new things, and this is evident in my career history. I’ve always worked, since graduating from High School at the age of 17, and my first job was in finance. I also tend to be drawn to very male-dominated sectors, for some inexplicable reason. I went from Finance (Banking) to Insurance, followed by forays into Alcohol, Hospitality/Tourism and Management Consulting… and now here I am in ecommerce.

I love working and, yes, it does define me, seeing as I have spent such a large proportion of my life working and traveling. Most of the knowledge I have acquired has been through work. I can honestly say I have had the privilege of collaborating with some extremely talented individuals from around the world.

My work has also made me more culturally tolerant and emotionally intelligent, as I have been fortunate enough to live and work in some fantastic countries, such as South Africa, the UK, The Netherlands, Sweden, the USA, Malaysia, and Australia, to mention a few.

How did COVID-19 affect Authentology?

The business started during COVID. As the pandemic pushed people to shop online, starting an ecommerce business was a good fit.

Where do you promote the business? How important is word of mouth?

Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.  Word of mouth is worth gold, but a social media influencer’s referral is worth diamonds. Regrettably, getting an influencer on board costs a fortune for small business.

Any highlights that stand out in your mind?

This company took a lot of research: almost two years. Only once I knew as much as possible did I start drafting a business plan. The highlight, after all that hard work, was obtaining first-round funding.

How did COVID-19 affect Authentology?

The business started during COVID. As the pandemic pushed people to shop online, starting an ecommerce business was a good fit.

Where do you promote the business? How important is word of mouth?

Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.  Word of mouth is worth gold, but a social media influencer’s referral is worth diamonds. Regrettably, getting an influencer on board costs a fortune for small business.

Any highlights that stand out in your mind?

This company took a lot of research: almost two years. Only once I knew as much as possible did I start drafting a business plan. The highlight, after all that hard work, was obtaining first-round funding.

What have been your worst moments so far? The times you’ve been at your lowest.

One of my greatest disappointments, which I still feel today, is that after moving from South Africa to the UK and looking for work, I discovered to my horror that all the senior executive work experience I had — covering more than 20 years — appeared to be meaningless.

I struggled to get any interviews. I spent a fortune having my CV written by professionals, polishing my LinkedIn profile, and so on. But because my experience was not ‘specialised’ it seemed that recruiters just simply did not know where to put me. Pigeonholing is a huge issue: if you don’t fit in a ‘box’, you’re difficult to position in the market.

I find this very strange, especially in an age where companies are moving away from very rigid corporate structures (Silos) and, instead, are pursuing more innovative approaches to corporate structure. This means that employees with experience in multiple business disciplines are being sought after.

This issue is not localised to the UK; it is also something I have recently experienced in Sweden. I don’t like to generalise, as I do know of companies who embrace non-sector-specific work-experience individuals. Regrettably, though, the problem does still cover the vast majority of the employment market.

I am also a firm believer in the fact that sector knowledge can be learnt. After all, when you study at university you are taught business skills in a particular topic, e.g. marketing, which is not industry specific at all. And I don’t seem to be alone in this thinking. One only has to look at the individuals who are disrupting sectors with innovative ideas: most of them come from outside that sector.

Word of Mouth is Worth Gold

What would you have done differently?

Taken a job with an established company instead of risking everything for a start-up… Jokes aside, I would have researched the employment market in the UK before leaving South Africa, and better prepared myself for entering that market.

I also would have built up a better work network for the UK, as it’s not always what you know but who you know.

 

What was your steepest learning curve — the most difficult aspect to get your head around?

Getting traffic to the website, as you’re competing with ecommerce stores from all over the world.

 

What would you have done differently?

Taken a job with an established company instead of risking everything for a start-up… Jokes aside, I would have researched the employment market in the UK before leaving South Africa, and better prepared myself for entering that market.

I also would have built up a better work network for the UK, as it’s not always what you know but who you know.

 

What was your steepest learning curve — the most difficult aspect to get your head around?

Getting traffic to the website, as you’re competing with ecommerce stores from all over the world.

 

Who has been your greatest support?

My greatest support throughout my career has come from my business mentors (they know who they are). I cannot stress enough the importance of connecting with that senior leader who is willing to offer guidance and advice, especially for women moving into senior roles. It is not easy: it may take a few tries to find that person who just clicks with you and understands the support and level of encouragement you need.

I am currently registered as a business and student mentor for LinkedIn and have offered advice and counselling to start-ups, SMEs, CEOs and new graduates from around the world.

My life partner and family have been my second greatest support. They are your essential and I thank them so much.

Without Failure We Do Not Learn

Do you have any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs — and/or for women in male-dominated sectors?

Find a mentor. Start looking for one now, no matter what stage you are at. It’s very important to connect with the right mentor. It took me more than 10 years to find mine. Personal coaches are also very good if you need someone to help you focus on future career paths, or just as a sounding board. Because when you move up to senior executive positions it gets very lonely from a work perspective, as you can’t really confide in co-workers and definitely not in junior employees.

Another bit of advice: do the research. And then do more research before even thinking of starting a business. Be prepared to give up all your free time, family time, and holiday time, because running a business takes a lot of work.

And accept that you will make mistakes. But don’t see them as failures; rather see them as opportunities to learn. Thomas Edison, when developing the filament for the light bulb, once said, ‘I didn’t fail; I found out 2,000 ways how not to make a light bulb.’ Without failure we do not learn. And if we do not learn, we do not innovate — for innovation and failure go hand-in-hand.

Do you have any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs — and/or for women in male-dominated sectors?

Find a mentor. Start looking for one now, no matter what stage you are at. It’s very important to connect with the right mentor. It took me more than 10 years to find mine. Personal coaches are also very good if you need someone to help you focus on future career paths, or just as a sounding board. Because when you move up to senior executive positions it gets very lonely from a work perspective, as you can’t really confide in co-workers and definitely not in junior employees.

Another bit of advice: do the research. And then do more research before even thinking of starting a business. Be prepared to give up all your free time, family time, and holiday time, because running a business takes a lot of work.

And accept that you will make mistakes. But don’t see them as failures; rather see them as opportunities to learn. Thomas Edison, when developing the filament for the light bulb, once said, ‘I didn’t fail; I found out 2,000 ways how not to make a light bulb.’ Without failure we do not learn. And if we do not learn, we do not innovate — for innovation and failure go hand-in-hand.

What are your future plans?

Now that I have completed my project as CEO of Authentology, Sweden, I am looking for a new long-term opportunity back in the UK so that I can be closer to family and my ageing father.

We wish you all the best with that, Mel. You certainly must be an exciting prospect for any switched-on employer!

One last question. Did you say you had a SPECIAL OFFER for readers of this blog?

Yes! A 15% discount. Just pop onto the Authentology website and use **Discount Code SAVE15 at checkout. (Offer expires 15 February 2022. Just in time to get that Valentine’s Day something special for her.)

That’s a generous offer, thank you! I assume **the discount code will only work after the current ‘15% off’ SALE ends on 26 December?

That’s right. The code, in effect, extends the sale for you until 15 February.

WOW. Well, I’m certainly not going to wait: I don’t want the stock to run out before I get there. #timetoshop

GOOD TO KNOW: Authentology ships worldwide. AND they generously offer FREE SHIPPING on all purchases over £50.

Oh, by the way: there’s a handy currency converter on the top left-hand side of the site’s main menu.

What are you still doing here? 

HURRY! Place your orders at Authentology ASAP to get your goodies in time for Christmas & snag that fabulous discount!

You can also follow Authentology on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook.

Tweetable TAKEAWAYS:

NEVER GIVE UP. NEVER SURRENDER!

WORK YOUR PASSION

FIND A MENTOR

EXPRESS YOURSELF

WORD OF MOUTH IS WORTH GOLD

SECTOR KNOWLEDGE CAN BE LEARNT

WITHOUT FAILURE WE DO NOT LEARN

INNOVATION & FAILURE GO HAND IN HAND

WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU MAKES YOU STRONGER

CATCH ON TO CONSCIOUS CONSUMERISM

SUSTAINABLE FASHION IS HOT! (Just ask Benedict Cumberbatch.)

And here’s one for discussion:

SHOULD PIGEONHOLING BE POOH-POOHED?

Just so you know…

I don’t receive any reward/commission for promoting any of the businesses on my blog. Having bought something from each company, I just can’t help but LOVE these brands and want the world to know about them.

 

If any other key points stood out for you, or you just want to let me know what you thought about this interview, feel free to comment below.

COMING UP . . .

Next week: An incredible artist who designs & creates ‘art you can wear’. And you’ll want to wear these pieces, I PROMISE.

If you subscribe to my weekly news blurb (it’s brief, honest!) you’ll be in the know. wink

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