A SEAT AT THE TABLE WITH MONIKA MUELLER
Breaking the mould for professional women to discover their Signature style, increase confidence and live their best lives, today
By Tricia Scott
Monika Mueller is a woman who walks her talk.
When you meet her for the first time, you instinctively know what she does. Before she ever speaks a word, her style speaks an entire story.
Sitting down for a virtual catch-up and coffee together, 1000 miles or so apart, her casual elegance and immaculate set up let you know that you are about to experience something exceptional, and she does not disappoint.
As our conversation develops, I realise that Monika is a constant surprise; she's everything you expect in terms of first impressions; she's beautiful, poised, and elegant. She's also acutely tuned in to her client's needs because she's walked in their shoes. Warm with an easy girl-next-door charm and a razor-sharp eye on her ever-growing business, I already know she's our kind of girl.
While living in London and working as a buying manager for one of the most prestigious fashion houses in the world, Burberry womenswear, Monika met her now-husband. After a long-distance relationship, the pair decided to marry and relocate to his home in Switzerland. This meant leaving behind her friends, her job, and everything she knew to be home.
Living in Switzerland, Monika began to think about the work she loved so much back in London and how to continue her passion in her new life when an altogether brand new adventure presented itself; she was pregnant with her first baby.
As many mothers will undoubtedly identify, Monika had no idea what to wear when she had her baby. Nothing felt like it worked anymore. With no time to get dressed or think about herself, she felt like she had lost her identity. She was no longer the same person she was in London but had no idea how to navigate this new path and new life. Feeling lost, she would open her wardrobe full of clothes to get dressed and have nothing to wear.
TIME FOR CHANGE
With a new life, new country, and a new baby Monika soon realised that she would have to embrace this new chapter and figure out a path if she wanted to feel like herself again. At the time, all she knew for sure was that she didn't want to feel the way she was feeling anymore, so she started with a purge.
Out went everything that didn't serve, starting with her wardrobe. She recalls leaving herself with only an essential few clothing items and then realised that living in a new country meant she had no idea where to shop! Undeterred and determined not to live in her maternity wear any longer, Monika took matters into her own hands and shopped where she knew best. She booked a short trip back to London and a day with a personal shopper.
THE TRIP THAT CHANGED HER LIFE FOREVER
A trip back to familiar territory was just what Monika needed in more ways than one. Meeting up with her old friends, the conversation soon turned to children, and she realised that they were all feeling the same way! Being away from home, Monika thought she was the only one, but now she knew better; this was a universal issue, and women everywhere were struggling.
Her shopping trip was a huge success; being in the fashion industry, Monika had an idea of what she wanted. She knew that she wanted fewer, better quality, versatile items that she could easily mix and match to reduce overwhelm and cut down on time while still making her feel good—having a professional on hand to bring her ideas and inspiration saved time and precious energy.
Monika laughs as she recalls feeling like the scene in 'Pretty Woman' where she's being brought outfit after outfit to try on and leaving the shops feeling amazing! In fact, she tells me that some of the clothes from that first trip she still has and wears today some years later.
SIGNATURE FIVE IS BORN
Travelling back on the 90-minute plane journey with her purchases, an idea came to her. What if she could take her own experience and use it to help other women in the same or similar positions? At that moment, it was as if she had opened the floodgates; inspiration poured in. By the time the plane landed back on the tarmac, Monika had a business idea, branding, even a name! Signature (as in signature style) Five (as in a handful of great items) was born.
Working with a brand and website designer helped formalise the idea into reality; within a few months Signature Five was a business.
EXPECTATION VS REALITY
With a shiny new Instagram account, a website and beautiful branding, Monika embarked on putting her idea out into the world, then she waited...And waited.
Where were the people flocking to book her services?! The realisation we see so often with entrepreneurs was sinking in. Having the idea isn't enough; we have to tell people about it, promote it to a broader audience and be present in the work for it to become successful. Realising this, Monika got to work at first telling friends and family, growing her social accounts and gradually building an engaged audience of fans and followers. It was working. Bookings came in, clients appeared and loved her work, and her fan base grew exponentially. The issue? She was trying to serve everyone.
As is often the case on the entrepreneurial journey, we start by serving absolutely everyone who asks for our services. We bend and shape ourselves to fit moulds that were, in fact, never made for us, and before long, we are worn out. This was Monika's experience.
SERVING EVERYONE DOESN'T SERVE YOU
Realising that this way of working wasn't going to serve her or her business, Monika took a step back and reevaluated. She is keen to point out that this is not a magical process; it took a lot of work. Ultimately, deciding on who she wanted to serve and, as importantly, why, meant that she could give the highest possible service level when she worked with a client in line with her expertise and values. It felt good!
Monika knew that her business was about more than the clothes her clients chose to wear every day. It was about the way they felt in those clothes. Feeling beautiful and inspired, not stressed with overwhelming choices every morning, had been life-changing for her, and it would be for them. Carving out a signature style means bringing out your authentic, unique personality and shining a light on who you truly are. Having lived the experience herself, she was ready to niche her audience and get to work.
A WOMAN ON A MISSION
Today Monika works only with professional women and entrepreneurs either on a one to one basis or within her highly successful group programme. Finding and working in her niche has meant clarity both for her and the women she serves, and through that clarity, her business has grown exponentially. With more time, Monika is able to use her skills to change the lives of the women she works with, not just in how they dress but in increased confidence, productivity and authenticity and they love her for it. You don't have to look far to find raving testimonials and stylish superfans when you look up Monika Mueller!
Her next challenges include a mission to help 100 women in 2021 via her online group programme, which has been super valuable during the worldwide pandemic, with women, under Monika's careful guidance, finding solidarity, friendship and, of course, their signature style together in a safe setting without fear of judgement.
We close our interview talking about post-pandemic fashion and how to present ourselves professionally on zoom (she has some fantastic tips on this and you can get your free guide on how to set up your perfect video conferencing call and what to wear so you're always camera ready here). This leads to a discussion about first impressions and the importance of portraying yourself authentically to build a brand that resonates with your ideal audience; it got me thinking. There's no doubt that Monika has this in the bag, you only have to glance at her stunning website to see that, but more importantly, when I met with her today, she was everything I thought she would be and so much more.
Women like Monika are a rare and beautiful surprise; with authenticity and openness, they remind us that anything is possible when we embrace our true nature as the superpower that it is. I know she has BIG plans for the future, and I, for one, cannot wait to see where Signature Five goes from here because, with Monika at the helm, I know anything is possible.