Fashion that empowers you, reflects your personality and supports sustainable companies? Sign us up! We spoke to the woman who’s doing all of that and more – Amy Silberzahn, Founder of Silberzahn Style.
After working in the fashion industry for over 20 years, before moving to Germany with her husband, Amy started up her own styling brand: Silberzahn Style. The brand set out with the mission of inspiring women to understand their values, supporting them in their fashion journey and providing sustainable clothing that represented them. Not only is Amy empowering women through fashion but she’s also using her platform to tell the stories of real women facing real issues in today’s modern society, in her series ‘In Conversation With…’. As if that isn’t enough – she’s doing it all while writing a book too!
Read on to discover how Amy Silberzahn made the move towards starting her own business, and why she believes that adapting to whatever life throws at you is such an important part of being a founder.
1. Which three skills would you say are crucial to being a founder?
Resilience. For me, resilience is the ability to push through challenges and maintain focus when things start to shift in direction. Not only that, but it’s also about having a sense of resilience to be able to maintain your headspace. It’s easy to run down a rabbit hole but being able to pull yourself out of that mind space and recognise when you’re heading down there is a crucial skill as a founder.
Adaptability. You need to have a clear overview of the bigger picture of your company and be able to adapt without getting into a struggle on a day to day basis.
Creativity. By this, I mean the ability to be able to see around the concept rather than just the obvious. I think that creativity is a skill that’s finally getting the recognition that it deserves in the business world, as well as innovative thinking too.
2. What is your favourite thing about being a business owner?
It’s always been that feeling of having control over how and where I spend my time. I’ve run my own company since I graduated from university but before then I did work in the fashion industry for quite a long time, in Marketing & PR and fashion magazines.
One of the things that I always hated about those roles was having to do a nine to five, and I hated having someone else dictate to me that I should be doing a nine to five. Also, the process of having to commute to and from London for work was something that I didn’t want to spend my time doing. So being a business owner and having the opportunity to be in control of my own time, and choose wherever I want to be at whatever time, is definitely my favourite part.
3. What have you found challenging about starting your business?
The effects that the pandemic has had on my business have been the biggest challenge so far. I took an extended maternity break in 2019, following the death of my father, and by the end of 2019 I found that my company network had grown to the point where people were asking me to style them. I made the decision to come back to styling, but on my first day back it was announced that lockdown was going to start in Germany that same day!
My business focuses on styling women and helping them thrive in clothing that feels like them, so it’s obviously always been something that you need to do in person. However, as we’ve all had to do during the pandemic, I had to adapt to the situation and figure out how to make my business work. This led to me taking my styling completely digital. I started creating digital lookbooks, offering virtual wardrobe edits via Zoom and running some fashion masterclasses too.
Despite the challenges that the pandemic has brought, I’ve managed to adapt. I’ve actually had more time than ever to work on writing my book! It’s an analysis of the interviews that I’ve featured on my website with real women who are facing real issues within their industry – everything from being involved in a start-up to being a working mum.
4. What are the biggest barriers you face when it comes to growing your business?
Organising childcare and balancing that with running the business. Childcare is just such a crucial part of how we support people to get back into getting to do what they want. I’ve had to create a strong schedule around work and taking care of the kids where I’ll get up at 6:30 am, work from 8:00 am until 12:00 pm and then take over the kids from my mother in law until around 3:00 pm. I’ll restart work until 7:00 pm or 8:00 pm then try to do some of my hobbies e.g. karate and art journaling.
5. If you could learn more about one area of marketing, what would it be?
Social media. My degree is in marketing but it seems like social media has gone bonkers recently, so I’d love to learn more about Instagram. I’ve actually signed up for a course all about Instagram Stories which I’m hoping will help me to continue growing my account. My focus is on trying to be consistent with my platforms and put out great content across Instagram and LinkedIn. I think the mix of the more visual network on Instagram paired with the professional network of LinkedIn works really well to connect with people as a brand.
I’d also be interested in learning more about Clubhouse. It’s not necessarily something that I have the time for at the moment, as I have so many things to do, but I think it’s a really interesting concept!
6. How did you recognise that you were an entrepreneurial person?
I always have been. I started my first business when I was in school which was making jewellery and selling it to everyone at the school. I’d work out my profit margins and even made business plans – it ended up making a profit!
In terms of my headspace, I’ve always been entrepreneurial. I don’t think it’s something that you can teach someone. It’s a desire. For me, it comes down to my drive towards being in control and wanting to live my life how I choose and to my rules. I’m hugely conscious that you only have one life, and it’s short, so I think that we should think of our time here as precious and respect it.
7. How do you fight Imposter Syndrome?
I think that anyone who suggests that they don’t have that voice in their head that’s telling them that they can’t do something is lying. It’s all about how much you choose to listen to that voice that’s the key. There’s this wonderful spiral that seems to come from having success that enables you to have even more success because your inner voices are more positive.
8. If someone was struggling with their confidence, what would your advice be?
To have a clear plan about why you’re doing what you’re doing. It doesn’t necessarily matter what it is that you want to do, but whatever it is, you do need to understand why you want to do it. It comes back to basic marketing and understanding what your strengths and weaknesses are. When you know what they are then you can start to become more confident and understand where you can be driven forward.
9. If you could magically change one thing about your business now, what would it be?
Although I do believe in magic, I don’t believe that business is run on magic. It’s a lot of hard work! However, if I could change one thing, I’d probably clone myself. I’ve employed people over the years but, fundamentally, no one gets the way that my head works.
I’m really conscious of my time, and I always try to make sure that it’s centered around the tasks that only I can do. Being able to clone myself and divide myself up across all of the tasks that I need to get done would be great!
10. Tell us about another brilliant businesswoman that our readers should know about
My network is all brilliant businesswomen! I’m part of the Work Happy Mums group in Berlin which is run by Melanie Fieseler. She’s a career advisor who helps women come back into the job market after maternity leave and has helped thousands of women.
Senada Sokollu, who was previously a crisis journalist, who founded fitbuddha is another brilliant businesswoman. fitbuddha is a clothing brand that supports women from Turkey who have been affected by war. Senada supports them to curate the products and thereby giving them a job and finance. As well as Melanie and Senada, all of the women who I’ve interviewed for my ‘In conversation with…’ series on my website are incredible too!
Thrive in style
If you’re not quite done learning about some of our favourite female founders then make sure to read our interview with Tracy Fishwick, Founder of Transform Lives Company.