Power Outfit: Emma Sexton, Founder & CEO of Make Your Words Work™ and Flock Global™
When Emma Sexton reached a crossroads in her career – should she continue at the PR firm in which she had risen up the ranks, or branch out and create her own company? – she decided on the latter, launching creative powerhouse, Make Your Words Work™, followed by the business collaboration platform, Flock Global™.
Today, Emma is firmly focused on not only being a positive female role model for future founders and entrepreneurs, but also promoting other inspiring women in business by co-hosting the wonderful Badass Women’s Hour on talkRADIO.
We meet the woman making (air)waves in an industry that is still predominantly male-dominated.
What led you to launch Make Your Words Work™ and Flock Global™?
I set up Make Your Words Work™ in January 2013. I had reached a point where my next career move was to get to board level or to face my fears and finally start my own business. I realised I had no more excuses and had to at least give it a go. Over four years later I am probably unemployable but love what I do.
Flock Global was more serendipitous. I had no intention of setting up a second business but, after a few contacts of mine created our own collaborative Trade Mission to New York in November 2014, we knew we had to create something to bring this help, support, and collaborative mindset to other entrepreneurs.
Can you tell us a little bit about your working background before Make Your Words Work™?
I am a graphic designer by trade and had set out on this career path very early, from the age of 18. I did not do a degree, choosing to go straight out to work instead. In my late twenties, I decided to go to back to college to study an MA in Design Management at the London College of Communication. I worked mainly at design agencies before taking a role in-house at a large PR company. I turned their in-house team into a stand-alone design agency which generated our own client base and separate P&L. This was my first test run of running my own business – but with none of the risk!
Apart from London, where you are currently based, are there any other dream locations that you’d like to work?
I have deliberately designed Make Your Work Words™ to run as a remote business with ‘liquid talent’. This means that, as a team, we can work anywhere in the world, anytime we choose. My sister lives in Australia so I can visit her and my niece and nephew whenever I like. The team have worked from Ibiza, Dubai, and the Bahamas. As long as they have good wifi it really doesn’t matter. We have no office – something which started as a cost saving exercise but, four years later, we still don’t need one and the team work wherever fits their mood or location.
My power outfit:
What occasion are you dressed for in the photo?
This photo was taken when we launched our Badass Women’s Hour radio show on talkRADIO – and it is an outfit I quite often wear for work, too.
Why did you choose this particular outfit?
I had a number of outfits to wear that day, but this jumpsuit makes me feel more powerful and I have no idea why! I think it was also the most ‘badass’ of all my outfits – mainly because you can’t really tell if I am going to a meeting or about to fix your car. Whatever it was, I could definitely own it in this outfit!
Here at My Little Black Book, we think women should feel unstoppable when wearing their power outfit. What does the term ‘power outfit’ mean to you?
I use clothes all the time to affect my mood, so I don’t really have one Power Outfit but a number of outfits that help me set the mood for the day. And I can never decide until I wake up that morning and ‘feel’ what I want or need to wear. Planning what to pack is very difficult for me! A Power Outfit is one of my secret weapons for achieving my goals in business and in life.
What item of clothing do you own that makes you feel empowered when you wear it?
My favourite item is a winter coat I own from the label Preen. It was on one of my Pinterest boards for a while and is a bit expensive, but I treated myself. It makes me feel empowered as I bought it with my own hard-earned money. Every time I wear it, it reminds me that I know how to make money and inspires me to keep building the business.
Are you an outfit pre-planner or is it just what feels right on the day?
Definitely ‘what feels right on the day’, which is pretty tricky – especially for any trips away. But I’ve definitely put less importance on what I wear as I’ve got older. I know how to channel those feelings of power even if I do not feel I am dressed my best.
As the Founder and Creative Director of Make Your Words Work™, do you have a little more freedom when it comes to your workwear choices, or does there still need to be a certain level of formality?
I have total freedom, but my personal brand is very important to me. Like it or not, humans are visual beings and we all make split second judgments about a person by how they look visually. What I wear to meetings and for work is essentially all part of my own Marketing and PR strategy.
Which woman’s style do you most admire and why?
There are a few stylish women I admire, Olivia Palermo being one – I love the uniqueness of her style and how she puts together her outfits. I also like the women featured in the book The New Garconne: How to Be a Modern Gentlewoman by Navaz Batliwalla as I have always been a tomboy at heart and love masculine tailoring.
Do you think that there are different expectations for how men and women should dress in the workplace, and do you think that this can have a potential effect on a woman’s career?
Unfortunately, I think women are still judged more harshly in the workplace than men. Some professions have ridiculous sexist rules that should always be challenged too. I do think this is changing, though, and can see how the next generation is already challenging this with their different styles – gender neutral and androgynous.
Women (and men) can use how they dress to influence people – this is very powerful, so why not? But this should be more about finding your own sense of style – what makes you feel your best self – rather than conforming to the latest fashion or generic trend.
What style advice would you give to your younger self taking her first, tentative steps into the working world?
My main advice would have been to invest in quality items rather than waste my money on more items but of cheaper quantity. I always thought I needed loads of choice, but actually we all look much better in quality fabrics and well-fitting items.