My Dad Taught Me How To Succeed

31 August, 2014

Bella ChiaraLast week I posted an article on how women struggle to break through the glass ceiling, and why we achieve less than our male counterparts. I took a look at what’s really holding us back: is it gender-bias, an inadequate skill set, or more to the point, do we let our feminine doubts and insecurities get in the way of achieving more?

I received a number of responses to the article, but one in particular stood out for me. It’s from a courageous and tenacious young woman who very generously shared her story, and has given me permission to share it here with you.

Claire writes:


Hi Robyn,

I’ve been reading some of your facebook posts and your article on the glass ceiling, and strangely it makes me mad. Not at you, but at these restrictions women seem to impose on themselves that are nothing more than imaginary chains.

To be fair, my husband and I don’t have kids. I don’t know what it’s like to be pulled between my business and my little ones, although my cat can be quite demanding lol. My husband never resents the time I spend on my business. He just brings his book or his laptop and makes himself comfortable in my studio. He sees my business as a valued extension of who I am. And now that I’m expanding my business, which will involve our Saturdays, we are excited because we see it as an adventure where other people will pay our travel expenses and we get to enjoy a day in the vineyards or some other pretty place. It might sound like I’ve landed with my bum in the butter, when really l have built a business around doing what I love and what makes me feel good.

Why is it that women seem to feel more fear and guilt when it comes to running a business than men? I started mine at age 23. I knew that I was throwing away a traditional career in marketing in the process as I would have to start at the bottom if I ever turned back. 3 years later I’m stronger than ever. The only thing I have ever been afraid of is not meeting my bills at the end of the month.

I grew up in an entrepreneurial home. My dad owned the biggest plastic packaging manufacturing outfit in the country. When he worked nights, my mom and us kids would pack a picnic supper and some camping beds and we would camp out at the factory. We loved it! To this day the smell of plastic reminds me of being a kid.

I feel like the luckiest person amongst my group of friends.

It hasn’t been easy. I was diagnosed with a complicated type of bipolar 9 months ago and there were times when it was touch and go whether I would still be able to function never mind run a business. There have been times when we have needed to sell my car as finances were dire, but we pulled through. I pulled through. And now I’m about to launch my second business.

I wish women would forget about being strong, or smart or brave. We are those things. What we need to learn to do is have fun and stop cheating ourselves of life and good things because we are so insecure.

My dad spent very little time with us as kids. But he taught me so many things and today we are extremely close. I don’t resent the lost time with him for one minute. He taught me what it means to earn a living, to make a business from your passion.

He showed me how to trump adversity and not take life too seriously. This is the best gift he has ever given me, and he had to live life to do that.

Thank you for reading this and letting me share my thoughts with you. All the best with your business.



Thank YOU Claire. As you grow and succeed, you shine your light for others to follow.


About Claire

Claire and her husband Gideon live in Durbanville. Their house is filled with books and craft supplies and they make it a home with their mutual love of food, BBC dramas and a cat called Millie. She started her business at 23 and now makes a living making pretty things through her two businesses, Bella Chiara and the soon to be launched Something Pretty. Claire was diagnosed with bipolar at the start of this year, and her life lesson is about letting adversity teach you more about what you can do than what you can’t.

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Robyn Young - Personal Leadership Branding for Executives

About the Author

Robyn Young

As a personal leadership branding strategist, Robyn Young helps individuals identify and articulate their unique strengths, values and goals, empowering them to build an authentic personal brand that resonates with their stakeholders.

Robyn has a keen eye for aligning personal attributes with professional aspirations, helping her clients project a powerful and compelling image in their chosen field.