Female Founders: Angelina Mahany of Angie’s Showroom On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

Candice Georgiadis
Authority Magazine

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Women in general have different thinking and might be even stronger than men physiologically speaking. But we have history behind us, our family’s traditions, customs, and it’s always easy to start thinking differently. To believe in yourself and think that everything is possible nowadays. I know with a little more time, we will have more and more successful women entrepreneurs.

As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Angelina Mahany.

Angelina Mahany is a fashion designer based in Ormond Beach, Florida. She is the founder of Angie’s Showroom and the creator of the Angie’s Luxury Bags, a sustainable resell ecommerce platform. You can follow her on Instagram at @angies.showroom.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

Yes, sure. My name is Angelina and I am originally from Moscow, Russia. I used to be a ballerina. At that point in life I thought dance would be my whole life and by accident, I switched to business. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Corporate Management, and also a Master degree in Marketing. I have worked for large corporations for some time in Russia and France, then I received an offer from a start-up company in Cyprus, so I took this chance and moved there. After that I moved to Austin, TX, where my future fiancée was living. Long story short, when I realized there is a huge gap in the lingerie market, I decided to start my own business at this point. I wanted to show the US clients something they had never seen before… Lingerie that has it all. Quality, comfort and sexy styles at an affordable price! So Angie’s Showroom was born. So, I guess I can say that I have broad experience in different spheres. My biggest dream (especially after Paris) was to work with fashion and to create something for women. I know different languages and got to know different cultures, this definitely impacted on starting my own company.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

When I started my first project prior to Lingerie store, it was my first experience working on my own. So when I started, I based on my Marketing experience in big firms, I tried to do everything by “rules and theory” before launching. Logo, marketing materials, colors, brand book, philosophy and etc. When I launched this first reselling project, I realized that a lot should have been changed, so I guess the main point here is not to be scared of launching and then adapting your business, because it might turn out in a different way than you expected, especially when customers start giving you feedback and things like that. When I came to the point of opening my handmade lingerie business, and hire employees, I began to learn how to teach and delegate certain tasks. That was definitely the most difficult part and I think the most important. I am still learning every day because you work with people and it’s important to understand them and be a little bit of a psychologist. Trying to find ways on how to cooperate, because each one of us has different ways of how they work and how to make them work efficiently.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When I was opening a retail store in Austin, TX, we were still preparing the space with my family who came to visit us for the holidays. I already had to look for sales representatives to work in the store. So, I guess a funny story here is that when I was checking and reading people’s CVs, I automatically assumed that mostly girls would apply to work in a lingerie store because it’s about trust and intimacy, to help them try different lingerie sets and make advices. However, being Russian myself, I had a hard time with names. Most of the names on the CVs I presumed were feminine and as you know in the U.S, very few put a photo on their CV. So, I was inviting people to participate in interviews, and most of them turned out to be guys. It was kind of funny to me when I saw them arriving to the store, and I wasn’t expecting so many guys to apply for this role. The lesson here is, life is full of surprises. Don’t just assume. Be open minded.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

That would be my husband. He has always supported me no matter what crazy idea I have or had in my life. He has encouraged me to try new things to which he helps however he can. For example, I opened a retail location at a mall and then the Mall asked me to relocate to a new space after we just finished all the preparations and were ready to open. He of course helped me to redo everything again. Basically, it was just him and I. He listens to my ideas, challenges with business and ends up giving me advices or a helping hand. I guess without this support I would never have a courage to start anything.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience what is currently holding back women from founding companies?

Yes, that’s true. There is a big difference of how it was and how it is now, but still there is a huge-huge gap to be filled to increase these numbers even more.

In my opinion, there are different factors resulting to this. One of them is motherhood. A woman may have a great business idea, but she has little children that need a great deal of attention. She ends up prioritizing them with regards to time spent compared to pursuing a great business idea. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford daycares, nannies and work full time. As time goes, so does the feasibility of that business idea.

Two, not every single woman wants to build something big, some open and resell businesses or make things by hand and sell on Etsy, for example. It brings them joy, and also income that is enough for them. They feel fulfilled and they wouldn’t want to grow their business further.

Three, Fear of the unknown. To ask for investment, present your project to the investors, and prior to that prepare pitches, business plans, sales projections and all financial documents especially if you just have a great idea so far, but not enough knowledge in finance, it might be very scary. They might think that it’s not possible to win anything and they won’t be heard or present it well. There should be certain level of skills to do that too. I have this fear too to be honest.

Four, lack of support from their family or friends. They just don’t feel that they will succeed.

Women in general have different thinking and might be even stronger than men physiologically speaking. But we have history behind us, our family’s traditions, customs, and it’s always easy to start thinking differently. To believe in yourself and think that everything is possible nowadays. I know with a little more time, we will have more and more successful women entrepreneurs.

Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government, to help overcome those obstacles?

  1. As a mother myself, I understand how hard it is to have a child especially when you need to work full time. I lived in different countries (I didn’t have a baby at this time) and I knew people with kids, I asked about childcare services and etc. I wish US had more affordable places for children, actually have some governmental sponsored childcares for certain ages, longer maternity leaves and actual support from the government for both parents.
  2. We need to see more successful examples of women in business, clubs, organizations, grants, sponsorships, investment possibilities, of any color and religion.
  3. Team work. Families and friends should step up to support one’s hustle. It means a lot when they are there, cheering you on, supporting you and reminding you that you got this. Remember, the power of positivity goes a long way. It needs to start with the people around you.

This might be intuitive to you as a woman founder but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?

I believe that women have great ideas, but most of the time they don’t go for them. If more women became founders, we would have even more great innovative products/services on the market. Remember women are solution oriented.

Secondly, we women are inspirational beings. I know when we step up to go for what we want, the mark will be felt. We will be able to fulfil our dreams when we go for it. To bring something valuable to this world and feel complete inside if we do what we really want to do and to inspire others.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder? Can you explain what you mean?

When you have your business, you work less, but receive tons of money LOL. Definitely not true. You work harder and most of the time you do not even pay yourself a salary at least at first.

You have a schedule. That’s probably not true for most of the people. As a business owner, you always work, it doesn’t matter if it’s a holiday or a weekend, but you might need to fix something quickly.

Is everyone cut out to be a founder? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder and what type of person should perhaps seek a “regular job” as an employee? Can you explain what you mean?

No. Not everyone can be a founder, and that is fine. We are all different people; we need different things in life. Some like and enjoy working from 8 to 5 and grow inside of their company, have stability and spend as much time as possible with their families. And some like to create something on their own and leave their legacy. They like to risk and not be afraid of losing. That’s actually a part of the success as well. Not to be scared and push harder. Founders are quick learners because you normally start from zero and alone, so you have to learn many different things and quickly. They have to have persuasion skills and good communication skills. Be ready, as I said, to risk, and always think outside of the box.

Others are very well structured people who do not like creating, who like to receive direct tasks and do them well. That probably is a very good employee and an asset in the company, but definitely not a business owner.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your opinion and experience, what are the “Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder?” (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Motivation. Once you’ve started, there might be bumps and holes down the round, and you might be tired and lose your drive. You always need to find what motivates you to keep going.
  2. Support. You need to have support. Whether it’s the community, your family, friends, mentors, or maybe co-workers, you need to have someone behind you to support you when you need it.
  3. Learning. Always keep learning. Education is the key. We live in a very fast changing world and everyday there is something new to learn. We need to adapt quickly and knowledge helps keep our minds working.
  4. Funding. You need to have a stable job at first before you are going completely into business. Business always needs investments from your side, and you have to be able to have finances and time.
  5. Team. You will need a team, maybe not from day one, but somewhere on a road. You need to learn how to delegate, use your own best practices or other people best practices and grow your businesses further.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

We are always working on our sustainability and social responsibility. We try to use recycled packaging whenever we can. We are almost zero waste manufacturers as most of the time we are working on pre-orders for our customers. Each of our designs is ethically manufactured in Europe. Individual sets are created by hand in our private atelier. That means absolutely no outsourcing to overseas factories, no sweatshop conditions, no child labor, and no unlivable wages — EVER.

As a small business we have a much smaller carbon footprint than larger companies, and we prioritize designing, creating, and packaging each individual order, rather than mass-producing items for the public.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

CONFIDENCE. Angie’s Showroom has a slogan that says, “You deserve it all”. We mean this. With this era of the pandemic, most of us are majorly indoors. Some have let go of themselves. No need to style up and feel good when you will be staying indoors. In other cases, we have had women whose body took a toll as a result of bringing life to this world. Most of us feel not so super or confident with ourselves. You can’t easily shop for stuff because you are not sure whether it will fit or not. Same to plus size women. Angie’s Showroom on the other hand gives you the freedom to customize whatever design you love to whatever size and color. Who says you need to squeeze into anything when we got you? We want our women to wear with confidence. To feel great about themselves. Whether it is to a wedding, lounge, bed, work or indoors. Normalize getting what you deserve and feeling good about it. Be confident about it. As a result, we want to see happy and satisfied clients.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

Sara Blakely — Founder of Spanx. I just want to talk to her, and get inspired, ask some business-related questions. I love her story, and how she created her brand from zero.

And I also love Richard Branson, I think he is amazing, he is so passionate about everything he does, and he seems a very nice person too. It would be interesting to get to know those people in person to see how they are in real life, to find more about their personality.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

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Candice Georgiadis
Authority Magazine

Candice Georgiadis is an active mother of three as well as a designer, founder, social media expert, and philanthropist.