5 Min ReadBusiness 24 April 2020
It all started when I went into my first corporate job after finishing university. I immediately noticed the lack of suits that were available to women. I remember that the men, rolling into any new corporate position, looked pristine, smart, and professional whereas we women were forced to mix and match business attire to create a somewhat smart look. It was a struggle.
I just remember not wanting to look like the rest of the women. Not that I looked down on them, but it just didn't make me feel good to wear a basic suit from H&M or New Look that more than likely didn't match and didn't represent me or my style. Looking back, I'm sure most of them felt the same way.
I finally went to Hobbs, as a young professional just finishing University, and managed to find something that looked semi-decent. Emphasis on "semi." Even then, as much as I liked my suit at the time, it was still pretty basic, and definitely more mature and stuffy than I really wanted to be dressing at my age (or any age, to be honest). It just didn't bring any of my personal style or attitude to my working wardrobe.
Apparently, if I wanted to look "professional," I could barely look like myself.
This was when the seed for my brand was planted, even if I didn't know it yet. It was a feeling or a desire that I always came back to. It just took me a while to get where I was going. But before I could embark on my fashion journey in tailoring, I somehow knew that I needed to go out and gain more life experience first. So I moved to Dubai. I faced similar challenges there, still lacking a corporate suit that worked for me. But I learned a lot more about myself and my work ethic, eventually, after a couple of years in Dubai, I suddenly knew that it was time to embark on my journey into the world of high-quality tailoring and professional fashion for women.
We deserve to climb the corporate ladder with the same level of tailoring and style that men have. This major gap in the market, combined with a movement of social change toward empowering women in business, became my combined creative calling. This had been building up inside of me for so long that once I realized this, I knew I was onto something big.
It's a question that has always been on my mind: why do men have so many options of getting a professional-looking suit? Whether they want something high street or high end, they always have somewhere to go. Women, however, are forced to piece outfits together, quite often in different brands, just to make do. This question forced me to dig deeper within myself to find what I wanted my brand to represent for the rising tide of women leaders in the world.
Whether they own their own business or they're climbing the corporate ladder, I want to be apart of women's professional journeys. I want to be a window to their imaginations. Empowering women through expert tailoring and uniquely professional designs is my part in gender equality.
My label, CHERIDA, is all about personal expression through power suits that ooze sex appeal, attitude, and self-confidence from every stitch.
The term "businesswomen" has changed over the years; now, in the 21stcentury, women are speaking up more than ever, finding their voice, their purpose, and really taking a stand for their convictions. Fashion has not just evolved to suit powerful women wanting to look and feel professional, but it also represents what modern women stand for.
CHERIDA found a way of saying goodbye to the stuffy corporate suits in a way that both represents and reflects the 21st-century woman.
I created this label to meet the needs of the modern woman by offering bespoke and custom-made options for our clients. The idea that true craftsmanship is something only accessible to men is now a thing of the past.
Our service has changed what it means for women to power dress.
All garments are handmade and adjusted to our client's precise measurements while offering a choice of fabrics and colors to reflect their personality and design preferences. Tailoring is a type of craftsmanship that goes way beyond high-end fashion. It's all about symmetry, form, and the experience of having something beautifully fitted to you. The feeling you get wearing something like this is priceless.
It's the feeling of being empowered by the simple act of changing your clothes. It's the cut and shape that accentuates your natural waistline and compliments your curves. The symmetry and the cuts within the tailoring are a form of expression that brings out the best in us from the outside in. All my clients have said they feel both sexy and professional wearing our designs.
CHERIDA has pushed the boundaries of British tailoring, not only by offering tailoring services to meet the needs of the modern woman but also by pushing the limits of what woven wool can achieve — combining masculine and feminine silhouettes to reflect gender equality in a completely new medium.
The structure of the halter top, that re-creates and revolutionizes the standard shirt and tie effect. Coaxing the wool to drape beautifully for a waterfall skirt. Marrying the feminine with the masculine to suit the preferences of boss women who are playing a multitude of roles.
Each piece is designed to empower women in their place of work and power whether that be at a board meeting, in court, at a conference, on TV, in editorial, or during any other public appearance. CHERIDA is a movement for women who are breaking boundaries in different industries worldwide and want their clothes to reflect their power.
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Sometimes it takes falling to rock bottom in order to be built back up again. I learned this many years ago when the life I'd carefully built for myself and my family suddenly changed. But in those times, you learn to lean on those who love you – a friend, family member or someone who can relate to what you've been through. I was lucky enough to have two incredible women help me through one of my lowest moments. They taught me to love myself and inspired me to pass on their lessons each da
If it weren't for the empowering women who stepped up and brought fitness back into my life, I wouldn't be standing – in the door of my own business – today.
In 2010, I was a wife, a mother of three, and had filtered in and out of jobs depending on what my family needed from me. At different points in my career, I've worked in the corporate world, been a stay-at-home mom, and even started my own daycare center. Fitness has always been a part of my life, but at that point being a mom was my main priority. Then, life threw a curveball. My husband and I separated, leading to a very difficult divorce.
These were difficult times. I lost myself in the uncertainty of my future and the stress that comes with a divorce and found myself battling anorexia. Over a matter of months, I lost 40 lbs. and felt surrounded by darkness. I was no longer participating in my health and all efforts to stay active came to a halt. I didn't want to leave my home, I didn't' want to talk to people, and I really did not want to see men. Seeing my struggles, first my sister and then a friend, approached me and invited me to visit the gym.
After months of avoiding it, my sister started taking me to the gym right before closing when it wasn't too busy. We started slow, on the elliptical or the treadmill. This routine got me out of the house and slowly we worked to regain my strength and my self-esteem. When my sister moved away, my good friend and personal trainer started working out with me one-on-one early in the morning, taking time out of her busy schedule to keep me on track toward living a healthy life once again. Even when I didn't want to leave the house, she would encourage me to push myself and I knew I didn't want to let her down. She helped me every step of the way. My sister and my friend brought fitness back into my everyday routine. They saved my life.
I began to rely on fitness, as well as faith, to help me feel like myself again. My friend has since moved away, but, these two women made me feel loved, confident and strong with their empowerment and commitment to me. They made such an incredible impact on me; I knew I needed to pay it forward. I wanted to have the same impact on women in my community. I started by doing little things, like running with a woman who just had a baby to keep her inspired and let her know she's not alone. I made sure not to skip my regular runs, just in case there was a woman watching who needed the inspiration to keep going. These small steps of paying it forward helped me find purpose and belonging. This gave me a new mentality that put me on a path to the opportunity of a lifetime – opening a women's only kickboxing gym, 30 Minute Hit.
About four years ago, I was officially an empty nester. It was time to get myself out of the house too and find what I was truly passionate about, which is easier said than done. Sitting behind a desk, in a cubicle, simply didn't cut it. It was hard to go from an active and chaotic schedule to a very slow paced, uneventful work week. I felt sluggish. Even when I moved to another company where I got to plan events and travel, it was enjoyable, but not fulfilling. I wanted to be a source of comfort to those struggling, as my sister and dear friend had been to me. I wanted to impact others in a way that couldn't be done from behind a desk.
I began to rely on fitness, as well as faith, to help me feel like myself again.
When I heard about 30 Minute Hit, I was nervous to take the leap. But the more I learned about the concept, the more I knew it was the perfect fit for me. Opening my own gym where women can come to let go of their struggles, rely on one another and meet new people is the best way for me to pass on the lessons I learned during my darkest times.
Kickboxing is empowering in itself. Add to it a high energy, female-only environment, and you have yourself a powerhouse! The 30 Minute Hit concept is franchised all over North America, acting as a source of release for women who are just trying to get through their day. I see women of all ages come into my gym, kick the heck out of a punching bag and leave with a smile on their face, often times alongside a new friend. 30 Minute Hit offers a convenient schedule for all women, from busy moms to working women, to students and senior citizens. A schedule-free model allows members to come in whenever they have a free half hour to dedicate to themselves. Offering certified training in kickboxing and a safe environment to let go, 30 Minute Hit is the place for women empowerment and personal growth.
Through my journey, I have learned that everyone is going through something – everyone is on their own path. My motivating factor is knowing that I can touch people's lives everyday just by creating the space for encouragement and community. It's so easy to show people you care. That's the type of environment my team, clients and myself have worked hard to create at our 30 Minute Hit location.
Fitness saved my life. If it weren't for the empowering women who stepped up and brought fitness back into my life, I wouldn't be standing – in the door of my own business – today. The perfect example of women empowering women – the foundation to invincibility.
This article was originally published September 12, 2019.