The ethical fashion and lifestyle community is quite active on Social Media. Have you joined yet?! That’s where Roberta and I first connected. In a few months time, we learnt more about our professional journeys and found we share quite similar goals and interests. One of our common missions is to empower women through an healthy and ethical lifestyle. While at Annaborgia we promote ethical shopping and support the women that make our clothes through fair labor wages, Roberta is focusing on many other aspects of living ethically, including a more personal approach, to balance the inner and outer beauty. Let’s hear it all from her own voice.
Roberta, I was looking for a comprehensive way to describe what you do, because helping people with their styling needs is quite a reductive description. Working on building confidence, self assurance, promoting a healthy lifestyle and mindful shopping are all topics that would make you a one-of-a-kind ‘ethical lifestyle coach’?!’ What personal journey brought you where you are today?
Hi Daniela, yep summarising what I do can be quite tricky – I think you’ve done a great job. I guess these days I introduce myself in different ways depending on the group of people i’m around, essentially I’m in the business of empowering women and helping to make the world a better place one fashion item at a time. My confidence methods explore a positive mindset, a healthy approach to life and a responsible approach to personal style. Roberta Style Lee is more than just speaking, coaching and styling. It’s about inspiring confidence and empowering women to be the best version of themselves from the inside out – and doing it in a responsible way. I’ve wanted to run a business that has a positive social impact for so long.
What led me here? Well, just a few years ago I lost myself in a blur of work, unhealthy relationships, an unbalanced lifestyle and exposure to too much negativity. To avoid spiraling further out of control I quit my contracting career in London. I then did a lot of soul searching, became a personal trainer, then embarked on a self-development journey that led me to setting up Roberta Style Lee.
How does your personal journey reflect on the people you help?
I’m a creative – I’ve always been able to express myself, and feel more confident through adjusting appearance. I learnt a lot about that during my 7-years studying performing arts. I’ve also learnt a lot about failure and reinventing yourself after my first business went under when I was in my early twenties.
Throughout my colorful career I always found myself in roles that have supported others, managing, mentoring, teaching or coaching. I think that mindset and genuine love for seeing the best for people is what drives my passion, I love supporting other women, especially other women in business like yourself.
Of course that’s not the full story, a lot of women find it refreshing to know that I had a difficult childhood and I was painfully shy and emotionally insecure – but despite all that I have always, got up got dressed and put my best foot forward.
I know what it’s like to wake up one day in your mid-thirties and and just feel disconnected with who you are and what you look like. I had to redefine my purpose in life, build up my confidence, my self belief and create a lifestyle that enabled me to become the woman I wanted to be. Sometimes women just need a bit of help creating a new powerful self-image or transitioning into a wardrobe that doesn’t conflict with their values and beliefs. On other occasions the confident self-image may already be there but the true internal self-esteem is missing. Based on my experiences and skills I am very quickly able to identify how I can best support a client on her journey.
Your “Inspirational Women Series” podcast clearly negates the myth of women being very competitive among each other, at least in our ‘ethical community’. Are women the real force behind sustainability?
Great question, I think it’s an interesting topic. So far in my experience to date, the majority of brand owners I speak to that are leading the way with ethics and sustainability seem to be women. My podcast interviews are a great example of women supporting women and great causes – the focus going above and beyond financial and personal gain. Even way back in my corporate career days – all the CSR managers were women. I think the idea about ‘caring’ for something bigger than yourself is an emotion women can easily gravitate towards, given empathy is our natural superpower. When you combine powerful hearts, minds and the desire to do good – with collaboration – great things happen, look at the Fashion Revolution. We are living in a time where empathy truly matters and I believe women are well positioned to lead. Look at Stella McCartney, Vivienne Westwood and Emma Watson, Livia Firth, Orsola De Castro and other ethical fashion founders like Safia Minney… all leading the way towards positive change.
You are also working hard promoting ethical fashion and women’s brands in particular (thank you!!). At Annaborgia we really enjoy being part of your Ethical Brand Directory. I know this latest project of yours is more then just a ‘guide to ethical brands list’ (how could it be otherwise, you’re a force to be recon with!). Can you share with our readers your big plans involving the Ethical Band Directory?
I am working really hard to promote positive change we can only do that if we change the hearts and minds of the everyday consumer who doesn’t have a consumer conscience, yet. People don’t know what they don’t know. The hidden supply chain is a result of globalization and exporting production overseas. We don’t see the problems anymore, not really. That’s why hearts need to be won. The Ethical Brand Directory isn’t here to compete with other directories but offer an alternative way for people to fall in love with brands and get to know the founders. But yes, you are right we want to go beyond just being a static location to list your brand. I’m creating a network that will enable the brands to reach more conscious consumers so that their businesses can thrive, and conscious consumers can easily search and find brands that stock products that they love.
It’s about collaboration – not competition, that’s my main message, we can all move forwards together – that’s what the EBD is about. Obviously a project like this cannot continue to be bootstrapped – so I’m looking for sponsorship and donations – if anyone reading is interested in getting involved, I’d love to hear from them.
When you have time for yourself, how do you recharge? Give us a little glimpse on a Roberta Lee day-off.
If I can get in one-day where I can just focus on cooking healthy nutritious food for the rest of the week I’m happy. I like to exercise regularly, weights or HIIT mainly. Cycling has become my cardio fix as it attends my fitness and commuting needs at the same time – actually, I just love a bike ride. Sometimes sitting in a coffee shop and people watching can be fascinating – it also gives me outfit ideas. I love exploring London it’s full of culture, unique style and a colorful multicultural society, it’s a blessing to call London my home.