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Designing Women: Finding Style Inspiration with Sotiria Krikelis

September 12, 2012

Sotiria Krikelis of StyleScan

“Designing Women” is Damsels in Design’s latest endeavor! Join us every Monday and Wednesday for inspiring interviews with designers, entrepreneurs, and creative professionals. Learn how these movers and shakers got their start, what drives their passion, and what advice they have for aspiring creatives.

Interview by Jennifer Markas; Photography by Amy Lee

In honor of Fashion Week, we are taking this time to highlight the ladies who show great promise in the industry. We deliberately chose to steer clear of models on the runways and the streets of SoHo. Rather, we are curious about the entrepreneurs who are disrupting fashion and making style accessible to all. Thanks to Sotiria Krikelis and her jack-of-all-trades spirit, she is on a mission to deliver expert style advice right to your phone. Using her StyleScan mobile application, you can forego the personal (a.k.a. expensive) stylist and do without your all too critical girlfriends for a shopping experience that is as easy as pushing a button.

DID: You’re a serial entrepreneur.  Can you tell us what were you doing before launching MeliModa? How and why did you start StyleScan? What was your “aha” moment?
I was actually in the medical field working as a Nuclear Medicine Technologist which is completely unrelated to the fashion industry.  My mom is a seamstress and a designer, so I guess you can say I took a liking to fashion from an early age. Beginning in 2007, I developed my own shoe line of folding ballet flats called Relax Missy after the idea came to me in 2005 while vacationing in Las Vegas. Through Relax Missy, I learned firsthand the trials and tribulations designers face.  Marketing and relationships are number one and it takes time to build these.  MeliModa was an idea born to solve the disconnect between designers and retail buyers.  It brings the entire wholesale process online making it easier for the fashion industry to conduct business.  But StyleScan was my big “aha” moment because it came to me so organically.  After shopping in Bloomingdales one day and coming across a shirt I thought was interesting but didn’t know how to wear, I instantly thought of a styling app.  It was just common sense that I should be able to scan a barcode and see photos of how to wear that item.  With all this technology merging with fashion, StyleScan seemed perfect for an everyday use app.

DID: How do you manage all of your daily to-do’s? Have you adopted morning/evening rituals to help you get through the day? If so, which ones have had the greatest impact on your career?
SK: It’s definitely not easy.  Each day is different and when you want to focus on one thing you get pulled from another direction. For me, to-do lists are really important.  Without them I would be lost.  In the evening, I write down everything I need to do for the next day.  That way, when I get to the office, I immediately know what needs to get done.

DID: From whom, what or where do you get your motivation from? What drives your passion? How do you measure success?
SK: I believe that motivation and passion is something that’s innate.  You can’t really teach someone to be motivated.  You can talk to them and try to push them, but ultimately it’s up to the individual to find their own drive.  My motivation comes from wanting a better life.  Life truly is short and I want to fill it with as many joyful things as possible.  Working a 9-5 job and doing the same thing everyday for 40 years is really not in my blood.  The things that motive me are my own desire to have freedom in life, freedom in money, and wanting more. I can look back and say I’ve been successful when I’ve achieved financial freedom by doing something I love and by mentoring others to do the same.

DID side note: Financial freedom is extremely important as women grow older and progress in their careers. Damsels in Design recommends visiting DailyWorth for beneficial tips and advice on money management.

DID: Working in the Fashion industry definitely has its perks and freedom for dress. How do you dress for client meetings? Do you have a set office style? What advice for first-time entrepreneurs can you share about dressing for success in front of investors or sponsors?
SK: Freedom to dress always has its perks!  I like to take advantage of color and accessories.  I also like to utilize my shorts with flowing tops and a blazer without having a boss to worry about.  My set office style is comfort!  I dress up when I’m taking meetings or once a week when I get tired of the comfort look. Dressing for success in front of investors or sponsors should always be approached carefully.  Remember that you want them to take you seriously.  I wouldn’t show up to an investor meeting with shorts and stilettos.  I would prefer a more professional look but then throw on a colorful shoe or accessory to stay true to myself and the industry. Always ask yourself – how will one perceive me by what I’m wearing?

StyleScan Mobile App by MeliModa

DID: If you could travel back in time and offer yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
SK: Meet as many people as possible!

DID: Name three skills that helped get you where you are today. Name one flaw you are working to fix.
SK: Tough question.  My three skills are: persistence, motivation, and researching. My one flaw is my humbleness.  Being humble may be a good thing but when you’re starting your own business it’s not.  You need to get the word out and talk to as many people as you can about it.  In other words, you have to toot your own horn because no one else will.  I’m not shy, but whenever I talk about myself or things I’m doing, I always feel I’m being too self involved.  I need to get over this.

DID: How do you boost your confidence at/for work?
SK: Working out and eating well.  It may sound cliche but losing even five pounds gives you so much energy and boosts your confidence.  It’s a state of mind and I think working out helps you achieve that.

DID: You also have a co-founder. What are the advantages of working as a team with your male co-founder? Is it different working with a man versus a woman? What works/what doesn’t?
SK: I’ve never had a woman as a partner so I can’t compare the two.  However, I will say working with a man promotes problem solving.  Running a business is all about problem solving because there will always be issues to fix and you can’t run away from them.  I think men are natural problem solvers where women take longer to find a solution.  What doesn’t work with a man is organization.  It’s all over the place!
DID: Ha! We couldn’t agree more! It sounds like you make a perfect pair though.

DID: lf there is one thing you could change about the industry you’re in, what would it be?
SK: That people weren’t so uptight and were willing to try new things!

DID: Where do you picture yourself (professionally) one year from now?
SK: Ideally, I would love to be profitable with my ventures and have written a motivational business book.  I’d also love to go on a book tour and start a lecture series on entrepreneurship.
DID: Sounds like you have many great plans Sotiria! We wish you the best of luck and look forward to using StyleScan! Damsels, stay tuned for more information on StyleScan’s launch in the coming weeks.

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