We spoke to Lana Suhova, founder of Dalry Rose about her career journey, being a business owner and more.
My career journey
“I went from wanting to be an actress, model or fashion designer when I was younger which is what I studied at college, to then going on to university to study creative writing and publishing. It was during university that I studied digital marketing and social media, and decided this is a career I would love and enjoy – being creative and working with many industries! I then went on to set up my blog which combined my passions of fashion design & style, creative writing, and social media. I can still hear Hollywood calling out my name though!
I went to university to study publishing which consisted of many different modules from traditional bookbinding to website design & coding. I loved learning how to use social media for business and developed a passion for blogging. I’ve always been very creative, but also curious to see how technology adapts and how we can use it to our benefit.
After graduating, I spent a year or so working first as a store manager and then as an office assistant whilst I searched for a good career start in social media, which I finally found close to home working as a PR & Marketing Manager for a leisure company.
Working in-house was great fun, but I discovered the world of creative agencies which called out to me – so I jumped on the career ladder in the direction of marketing agencies. I worked for several local agencies for around 6 years, with a promotion during each transition until I managed teams of designers and developers.
But I soon realised that the agency life wasn’t for me as I had no work/life balance and found myself getting overly stressed – so with my knowledge and business drive I decided to go freelance, and open my own business.
Blogging for 7 years has helped me build connections with brands and local businesses, and I have already received a couple of proposals from brands looking for a social media manager – if you can’t make the jump then when is ever the right time? So I continued working on my blog, working on my business, and welcoming more clients to my digital community – time to grow and blossom with Dalry Rose!”
The Trials and Tribulations of Entrepreneurship
“My advice is to not be afraid to try – fear stops a lot of us from growing and taking steps towards our dreams, so go for it. I would rather regret not being able to make it work than never trying in the first place. When I left my comfortable, well-paid agency job I gave myself three months to start making an income to support me (mainly because that’s all I had in savings!) or I would go back to the Mon-Fri office job. In 2019 I celebrated 3 years of success which was a big mark for me!
Also, you need to invest in yourself – in your education, experience, and most importantly health and wellbeing. Say YES to more things at the beginning, and learn to say NO when opportunities are just not right.
Some of the best advice I’ve received is: “You’re not a heart surgeon, no one is going to die if you don’t finish your projects on the dot.” This may sound odd, but this advice came from one of my female directors at an agency I worked for when I was nearly crying over a client deadline, I was so worked up about some leaflets being delivered late that I nearly had a breakdown.
When she said that I realised the world won’t end if my client had to wait another few hours for the project to be delivered – as long as it’s delivered to perfection. Unless you’re working in a profession where you save lives, there is no point in giving yourself a breakdown over a deadline which unexpectedly extends.”
“In ten years, I would hope to work with a team of creative, tech ladies who can help me grow the business and want to help drive the change for women in tech and marketing.
Social media is evolving and changing every single day, as businesses and small business owners it’s hard to keep up to date with the changes and know what to do – so I can see more social media coaching will be needed to empower business owners not only navigate and manage their social media but also to understand the effect social has on their overall marketing and community influence.
There is also a growing number of small business owners and independent shops who will benefit from having a strong social media presence so there is a market for freelancers to gain clients by offering social media management.
I think every challenge is an opportunity to grow and helps us get to where we need to be. However, if I had to navigate any situation differently it would be the burnout I experienced when I took on too much work and completely crashed – this wasn’t healthy for myself or my business. It’s something I have learnt from and now know the signs of when I need to either say no or ask for help to manage the workload.
I’m a very resilient person, and that’s my biggest strength. I don’t give up easily, I’m stubborn – there’s no such thing as impossible when you want something.”
Spending a lot of time in digital
“I think everyone has experienced digital burnout at some point! Humans develop habits easily and with mobile phones, it’s not difficult to get lost on social media for hours on end – especially with functions like Instastories or apps like TikTok which I am guilty of. You just keep scrolling through videos and by the time you’ve noticed – an hour has gone by!
To combat digital burnout I don’t use my phone during events with friends and family, and occasionally switch off for a whole weekend when I don’t even check my phone. If someone needs me in an emergency, they know my partner’s number and can reach me on that – everyone else can wait until Monday morning.
If you spend a lot of time working in digital, make sure you have strict rules for yourself to switch off after your work is done – some things I enjoy to help me end the working day and start unwinding are taking my two dogs for a long countryside walk, cooking a new recipe in the kitchen, or having a long bath whilst catching up with my favourite show.
When it comes to inviting more women into the industry I feel that young women in education are being told they can achieve their chosen career, more now than ever before.
I was very honoured to be invited to my college to be the guest speaker during the Women in Digital event, and their guest of honour the year after to talk to young women about a career in digital – after all, when I first started my blog everyone (except my mother who has always supported me) told me I could never make a living from it!
I also have guest talks booked for schools and colleges in and around London this year to inspire students and help them use social media to help achieve the careers they wish – whether it’s in digital or another industry but using help from social platforms.
I’ve been very lucky to have connected with women leaders in the industry – mostly digitally as we’re all spread out! Some girl bosses in digital I love are Sam from Small & Mighty, Sapphire from The Coven Girl Gang, & Jenna Kutcher who is kicking it in business.
I feel very empowered seeing more women in digital become influencers in the field and go head to head with what’s been a mostly male-dominated market. I think we need to keep supporting each other as women, we need to raise each other up and celebrate successes instead of seeing another gal pal who’s doing amazingly well as a threat. Even a “like” or a comment on her social media post will boost her digital clout, and it takes you less than a second to do.”
Being a woman, in business.
“It’s not uncommon in the industry to feel discriminated against for being female, and it’s infuriating that people still can’t look past a young woman in digital marketing.
There have been several occasions, but the one that stands out for me was when I was talking to a director of a company who employed me during an Expo dinner event and let’s say he had enough to drink for his loose lips to sink ships. He came over and said “You know you only got the job because you’re a young and pretty girl right? I didn’t think you had enough experience and I wouldn’t have picked you, but the board overruled because you looked great in that dress.”
Not only did it make me feel awful, but it also made me question my abilities. Safe to say, I left the position and moved on somewhere else pretty quickly! At the time I was a young girl and he was right I didn’t have enough experience, so I walked away. Had this been said to me now I would have taken a much more different approach.
I’m very fortunate to work with some amazing brands who look past gender and focus more on creativity and talent. I have to say I thought I would be up against many more male counterparts, but it’s been great to see that most other creatives pitching for the positions are also women in social media or design!
When it comes to whether I think mental health is being tackled better in the workplace, this is so dependant on the person you are working for. I’m an advocate for good mental health as I previously struggled with debilitating anxiety attacks which stopped me from doing many things for years – including going to my office job. But back then mental health was not an acceptable reason to not come to work – pushing people like that just makes it worse.
I see some companies who are doing incredible things to help make their office a great environment to work in like flexible hours and work from home, which can have a huge positive impact to someone who is struggling with mental health. I don’t think there are enough of them out there though – more efforts should be made to ensure your teams are healthy. It’s not a strict regime that boosts productivity and sales, it’s a healthy and happy employee that wants to work for you who will make a difference to your business.
Depending on how you perceive social media, and how your mental health is currently placed, social media can leave people divided. I remember when I was feeling burnt out and overwhelmed, I used to log into Instagram and feel like I wasn’t achieving enough, like I wasn’t good enough, or even like I wasn’t pretty enough. It was a dampener on my self-confidence. But on most days I see the platform as inspiration, motivation, and a way to keep up with my friends!”
The Year 2020 for the digital industry
“I think 2020 for women in digital will be about achieving higher positions in digital, more women setting up their own business and building their empires, and more men learning to be supportive of women in the workplace. I have to give credit to my fiancé who was and is supportive of my business every single day – he wants to see me achieve more than anyone, and keeps giving me space and time I need to focus on my growing brand.
I’m very excited about video in 2020 – social media platforms are becoming video-based and it’s great to see creative ways businesses are using video to promote themselves. TikTok is a platform I’m currently watching (I may have also posted a few videos of my dogs on there!) but I think it’s going to be huge once business owners understand how to use it and the audience widens.”