In our new online series, Fashion Quarterly editor Sally-Ann Mullin talks to successful women about their careers and how they have got to where they are.
Chantelle Mears is someone I’ve crossed paths with many times over the years – most recently as a key component of Juliette Hogan’s rapidly expanding business. The impression I always get of Chantelle when I see her is one of calm-assuredness – nothing seems to phase this woman, even though she seems to have a thousand balls in the air at any given moment! In every setting I’ve ever encountered her, she is the consummate professional who gets stuff done expertly and efficiently, but does everything with passion, warmth and grace. I wanted to know what makes Chantelle tick – she shares her career story below:
Role: Business manager at Juliette Hogan.
Lives: Auckland, with boyfriend Cam.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
Oddly, I remember being in the car with Mum and asking her about Oggi, the company that owned billboards in Auckland and thought I’d quite like to own those spaces.
What single book, film or album has had the greatest impact on you? Why?
Quiet by Susan Cain is a book I often refer back to in my mind – as an introvert dressed up as an extrovert it’s helped me navigate my way around situations that might have previously daunted me. Also, Nick Cave’s album Push the Sky Away feels like home…
When do you go to bed and when do you get up?
I go to bed pretty early, around 9.30pm and I’m up at 5.15am most mornings, either to go to a gym class or take some time to figure out how I’m going to tackle the day ahead.
Who would you most like to be stuck on a desert island with? Why?
If my boyfriend Cam is off the cards, then it would have to be Dev Hynes [singer Blood Orange]. I’d make him teach me the dance he does in ‘Time Will Tell’ until I’d perfected it!
Can you explain your career path to date?
I studied at AUT and did a Bachelor of Business with a double major in Management and Advertising. Half way through studying advertising, I realized it just wasn’t for me and worked my degree to push me in the direction of fashion. From there, I started with Juliette Hogan as her first employee, then went away and worked for moochi as their marketing coordinator and on to do PR and Sales for Kate Sylvester. I took some time away from New Zealand and went over to London to go on to work as a project manager for agency My Beautiful City who ran London Fashion Week shows, gigs for bands such as the Kills as well as restaurant openings and gallery installations. Since then I’ve come back full circle where I’m the business manager for Juliette Hogan.
What is the biggest obstacle you’ve overcome, as it relates to your career or industry?
Speaking in front of a crowd of people. It’s something that I’m certainly no pro at, however I’ve been working on techniques to become better at it. Communication is an essential tool, especially in a leadership position.
What motivates you?
Challenge. I’m a big picture thinker and if there isn’t a sizeable project or goal I’m working towards, I tend to get bored pretty quickly.
What do you wish you’d known at the start of your career?
Whatever you do, enjoy the ride.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
One of my greatest achievements would have to be working with My Beautiful City in London and producing, under our fashion director, a Vivienne Westwood London Fashion Week show. From someone who had never produced a show in her life to producing one for one of the biggest names in fashion, it was a pretty great moment. In recent times, it would have to be working with Juliette and the growth the brand has experienced – being a part of that is very cool.
What do you believe has been the key to your success?
My inability to rest on my laurels. I’m always thinking about what comes next, which perhaps in this day of mindfulness and wellness is a curse as well.
What is your life motto?
Be a good person. Always.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
You’re the only one who can hold you back.
Who do you most admire in business? Why?
I admire anyone who dares to venture out on his or her own and give it a go.
What do you believe is the secret to success?
The secret to success is to surround yourself with people that are better than you. I love that quote if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room. Also, trust your instincts, they’re rarely ever wrong.
Who do you turn to when the going gets tough?
My best friend Suzi. She’s the smartest person I know and has a great way of making me see situations from alternative points of view.
What are your favorite traits you are drawn to at work or when hiring?
It’s attitude – skills can usually be taught but attitude is what counts.
You have already achieved so much, but what’s next for you?
2017 is set to be a big year for Juliette Hogan and I will be part of the team driving some exciting new projects forward. Stay tuned!