Alice Olins, Founder of Step Up Club, has created a space for women to realise their professional goals, work on their confidence and find support. With online courses, one-to-one coaching and many more resources, Alice is here to help.
Tell us about you and your background.
I am a Journalist by trade, I was a Journalist at The Times for many years and I’ve still got a column in Red Magazine. At the beginning of my career, I felt like that was going to be the entirety of my career but then I reached a point in my life where change was inevitable for several reasons. Having children was one, and just the feeling I had of wanting to do more. I spoke to lots of friends around reaching these change points within our careers, or who had gone through their education years into work and then actually didn’t feel very successful. What I noticed was, for women, it seemed like there was a different shape of a career trajectory to men. There is a need to support women through these areas of change, it’s very normal and should be celebrated too. It’s important to feel fulfilled in the many chapters of your career and we don’t necessarily just have one chapter.
You started Step Up Club following the success of your best-selling book Step Up: Confidence, Success and Your Stellar Career In 10 Minutes A Day, did this feel like a natural progression from the book?
Yes I wrote the book with a friend, which is a general career manual to help women, and over time I’ve finessed my expertise through supporting women when they can’t always express exactly why they’re feeling a certain way, and giving them the tools to make positive change. Sometimes that change is actually just assessing the jobs they’re in and realising it is the right job but there might be a few things I need to change about the role. Other times it’s about making a big change, and sometimes it’s about returning to work. Pioneering a new conversation helps women feel they don’t have to just accept the status quo,, and they can keep evolving in terms of their professional life.
Following the book we decided to run a series of events and we noticed people were coming back for advice and tools. This eventually evolved into the membership programme, and now I run the Step Up Club which is an online membership club, as well as one to one coaching.
Step Up Co•Work is an online space for women to be able to work together remotely. What we’ve noticed, especially within the last year, is that many people are feeling isolated, productivity has fallen, we’re not feeling as motivated and we’re missing interaction and accountability. By creating a virtual team, we’re giving women support in a different way and helping them to enjoy their work. Just because you’re working apart from others, doesn’t mean you need to work alone.
We’ve built Co•Work around three pillars: productivity, motivation and connectedness. The format of the co work sessions is split into 3 cycles of 50 minutes of solo work, 10 minutes of connected time. What we’ve found so far is that most people are really productive in those 50 minutes because they know they’re coming back to the group and will be encouraged to share how they got on in that time. Hearing how others found the time is really inspiring and motivating, and we’re able to support each other in our connected time.
Sharing podcast recommendations or what was on TV last night is a great way to interact on a social level. Working from home can be difficult, those of us who are parents have got lots of distractions in terms of home schooling and other demands, and to carve out time and space for yourself is really important.
To help with productivity levels, we have a planner where you can write your tasks in and record what you achieved, as well as planning your next steps. To be able to feel connected as well as motivated helps with keeping up momentum and ticking off our to do list.
How important is community to you?
Community is the heart of Step Up Club and is an absolutely vital part to what we do. Having clarity of thought doesn’t just come from training and coaching, it comes from hearing other women are in the same position. With the 30 Day Reset Programme, a 4 week structured course which covers 8 topics, third of the time is dedicated to hold space for the group to talk. We talk about how their week’s been, we listen to each other and give each other advice. Realising and understanding you’re not the only one who’s struggling or lacking confidence is helpful. It’s really energising when you hear other people are in similar positions to you.
What inspires you and motivates you?
I’m inspired to create a successful business that is well run, efficient and profitable. Creating a team of people to support me and then be able to support so many people. I feel really motivated by the lovely feedback we receive, and seeing how women find strength within themselves they didn’t think they have. Giving people the tools they need at the various change points, helping them be reflective and work out what needs to improve or develop. That’s what keeps me going.
What piece of advice would you give to someone who is looking to set up their own company or start their own personal project?
- Have patience.
- Acknowledge that there is going to be fear and challenges along the way but those aren’t reasons to stop.
- Get comfortable feeling uncomfortable. If you run your own business, there will be many times when you feel uncomfortable. This could be getting negative feedback, creating something that doesn’t sell or an unforeseen technical issue. You could find yourself in difficult positions, but you have to keep going. The parts where you might be struggling will also be teaching you things which you will look back on as experience and knowledge.
- Be realistic. As a business owner you’ll find you have flexibility but you’ll never switch off so you’ll need to accept it will always be on your mind, but that’s not a bad thing. The rewards are well worth it. The joy and freedom comes from being able to pick and choose what you want to do, who you want to work with, how you spend your time.
At A LITTLE FIND you can find brands and products for all your home and beauty needs, with a particular focus on sustainability and being kind to our planet. What would be your top tip to help encourage others to live more sustainably and mindfully?
As a Fashion Journalist by trade, I’m conscious of our shopping habits. We’ve learned so much about fast fashion and we need to be more mindful of how we shop. Buying something cheap has massive implications and good quality products go a long way.
What are you most excited to work on over the next few months?
We’re going to be developing new programmes, specifically for professional women. We’re also making changes to the Members Zone and we'll be relaunching it at the beginning of March 2021 with a new interface. We really want to make women and members feel as connected as possible, to be able to access content when and how they want, and in a way that will help them progress in their careers and feel good about themselves too.
What is your LITTLE FIND? (Favourite product on A LITTLE FIND)