Along this disruptive journey, three lines of advice, one, feel the fear and do it anyway, two, ignore the naysayers but listen to sound advice; and three, trust your gut and those who walk the talk. I add a fourth, test your product before going public. The Spa Dress has been well tested from one steam room to another among many test runs. But, there was nothing like my first promotional event where I arrived after an hour’s drive to a Floridian outdoor event in the heat of the summer by way of a car that had no air conditioning. While the humidity had frizzled my hair and washed away my makeup, The Spa Dress held up in a ‘sweat test’ as the dress that can be a towel. The concept has now been tested on 100+ women and is now socially followed by a sisterhood of ladies who spa at home and away.
As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Daniella Cracknell.
Daniella is the Creator of The Spa Dress®, A Dress Before You Dress that Doesn’t Drop when You Need a Towel to Stay Up. Daniella provides the answer to ‘towel dropping syndrome’ in a new way.
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?
Thank you for inviting me to the discussion about women disrupting industries. As most know, we often learn from our mothers and women who came before us, which leads to a backstory you ask about me. As a young girl, I dabbled in making clothes for both myself and my dolls. My mother had taught me how to sew so naturally that hobby led to The Spa Dress, which does for the popular 80’s sundress what Diane von Furstenberg did for the wrap dress in providing a practical wardrobe item for the everyday on-the-go woman.
Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
The work I’m doing that is disruptive comes as an award-winning new trend in comfort wear that offers women a new way to use and wear a towel with less wardrobe malfunction. The Spa Dress provides a remedy for ‘towel dropping syndrome.”
In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?
Disruption usually happens when someone sees a problem with a solution in mind. Or, sees a need for something that is not already in existence. Disruptors are usually the ones who step up to the plate out of a strong desire to make the world a better place rather than be complacent in it, and that is how I became a disrupter in the comfort wear, toweling industry. Sometimes disruption is good, sometimes not, and how a disruptor succeeds or experiences a perceived failure depends on the support that surrounds them.
Because disruption is too uncomfortable for most to bare, disrupters are often solo operators until proven successful. The rest then follows. But, nothing is ever created without critics and I have had my fair share. Disruptors often see what others cannot and know it takes time to paint a picture before others see what they see. It is why disrupters are trendsetters rather than followers, and often sit alone for a time as originators of ideas.
Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.
Along this disruptive journey, three lines of advice, one, feel the fear and do it anyway, two, ignore the naysayers but listen to sound advice; and three, trust your gut and those who walk the talk.
I add a fourth, test your product before going public. The Spa Dress has been well tested from one steam room to another among many test runs. But, there was nothing like my first promotional event where I arrived after an hour’s drive to a Floridian outdoor event in the heat of the summer by way of a car that had no air conditioning. While the humidity had frizzled my hair and washed away my makeup, The Spa Dress held up in a ‘sweat test’ as the dress that can be a towel. The concept has now been tested on 100+ women and is now socially followed by a sisterhood of ladies who spa at home and away.
We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?
You are correct, I am not done. Disrupters are rarely ever done nor short on ideas. One idea might be a perceived failure. Yet, be the tipping point that moves a disrupter up and into the next level of success. The Spa Dress was a starting off point for me and is part of a larger vision but I will save that story for another day. In the meantime, personal capital funds The Spa Dress from owning a registered trademark to consumer product testing to sourcing manufacturing, and building sales and distribution channels through retail and e-commerce, all of which are considered early-stage product development. Shaking things up means expanding size and color offerings in a fully-operational enterprise so The Spa Dress can fulfill its intended purpose as a product for women of all shapes and sizes, and move into B-Corp status.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by ‘women disruptors’ that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?
In my opinion, the biggest challenge faced by women disruptors not typically faced by our male counterparts is gender bias or discrimination in the workplace. Men are not sidetracked professionally like women over this issue, and it is a well-known fact that men receive more investment dollars than women in entrepreneurial business. Because of this, more and more investor groups are being founded by women stepping up to back women-owned businesses. One in particular I follow is www.ifundwomen.com founded by angel investor Karen Cahn.
According to their website, women are starting businesses 4.8 times faster than the national average, yet struggle to access capital without going into debt. The site confirms 72% of female founders cite lack of access to capital as the #1 barrier to starting a business. And, 49% of women cite lack of access to coaches and mentors who have “been there, done that” as a major barrier. Plus, 31% of women cite lack of access to a support system, community, and connections to help them level up.
Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?
While I have not yet found time to read a book by Brené Brown, I do find her talks on TED Talks empowering where she talks of showing vulnerability as a strength. And those that do, come out the other side as enlightened. I tend to agree. Disruptors put themselves daily in positions of vulnerability just by doing what they do, and often learn lessons the hard way as I have with enough to fill a book.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
A quote many women love and I love, too, because it rallies up confidence is the one that says, “Well-behaved women seldom make history.” The quote was penned by Harvard professor Laurel Thatcher Ulrich but often mistaken as said by former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Then, in 1995, journalist Kay Mills introduced the quote into popular culture but altered “seldom” to “rarely” as the epigraph for her own women’s history book From Pocahontas to Power Suits: Everything You Need to Know About Women’s History In America. Come to find out, the original quote was meant to imply that well-behaved women should make history rather than encourage women to rebel or be less well-behaved.
Since most know me as a well-behaved woman raised with British manners, I subscribe to the original interpretation. However, I do like the altered connotation that to disrupt the status quo we all need to step up if we are to be agents of change. I am often told my politeness is my weakness, that I should not be so nice. The notion pains me because I am not authentically mean-spirited and dislike the idea that to be successful one has to be. I believe it pays to be nice and as they say, more is done with kindness than hate. So, in the B-Corps way of doing business, well-behaved women often disrupt but ever so politely.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I hope we can all be of influence in making our mark in a good way in our communities and on the world around us. As for me, a social media collaboration with MISS AMERICA was my first step towards achieving B-Corp status, with many thanks to the chairwoman at the time in Gretchen Carlson named one of Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World” and a globally recognized advocate for women’s rights. She encouraged contestants to help me light up our #UpliftOurGirls message in a pink flurry on Instagram where contestants are seen wearing The Spa Dress® in ‘Get Gorgeous Pink.’
How can our readers follow you online?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!