Where did your personal inspiration, entrepreneurial/leadership purpose come from – what shaped your views?
I was born in Siauliai in Lithuania. My Dad has always been inspirational because he never accepted small, boring and most obvious things in life. He always pushed boundaries and aimed for the unusual, different and challenging goals, he never cared much about what people thought about his choices.
We own a historical windmill that was built in the Eastern European war in 1864, I remember that he once exclaimed ‘Sandra I would like you to do something with the windmill’ he built the ambition and always believed in me and made me realise that I could do anything I wanted.
I remember when I was young Pope John Paul and his entourage came to our windmill restaurant during his Lithuania visit in 1993. Seeing a person like this in our windmill restaurant was a significant event.
For me, it meant the power of 'small' and the power of the ‘passion’ of what you do every day. It was a proof that other people (even very famous and extraordinary people) see the authenticity and uniqueness in what you do or have, even though you treat it as obvious and don't see significance in it after a while. Do or build something that the society needs, every day.
I guess my entrepreneurial purpose comes from having a very clear big vision (that I’m a bit scared about what the completion of it would bring) and purpose. My ambition is built around doing unusual things, discovering the needs in the society and enriching both my own and other people's lives.
Entrepreneurial Steps - Bringing the World’s Strongest Man to the UK
I was the only woman working in the Strongman Champions League organisation back in 2005 in Lithuania. I got to learn and understand the strong mens’ world. I spotted an opportunity, I realised that the WSM competition has never been run in the UK.
I have always wanted to impress my Dad, to show him that a little girl can do something extraordinary in another country, so I brought the license for WSM competition. I bid first and I was successful as there was no international competition run in the UK, I spoke with Geoff Capes and Terry Hollands, they didn’t want to make it happen and I did.
I purchased the license for 24k euros and got Wembley arena, with Euro-sports, Sky Sports and arena covering it. We managed to sell out with nearly 3000 people in attendance.
How did I make it happen?...........Hard and focused effort
For 3 months I was standing outside stations in London handing out flyers, at Twickenham I was there every day promoting the WSM event. I managed to get nearly 3000 people to pay to come and see the event and we had 2 million in Europe watching on euro and sky sports, this was on Christmas and Boxing day 2009.
What I suppose is remarkable in some ways is that I did it only with me and my partner, we called in many favours to make this happen. One of my realisations through this entrepreneurial journey was that I always try to be in the shadow, I’ve never had the confidence to be in the limelight, this is something that I am changing through this realisation.
We became pretty well known on this journey and I feel that I did make my Dad proud, whilst gaining a personal sense of achievement.
What did I learn through this experience?
I learned the importance of actual business contracts as we were screwed by one TV Company. We didn’t sign a contract and one day before the event they pulled out of the event. I didn’t have a signed contract I mistakenly thought email was a sufficient contract. Luckily I had a plan B, so I still managed to have good TV footage.
Staying in the shadow is not good for you, I gave away too much empowerment to other people and I realised this only a couple of weeks before the event when someone asked me ‘so Sandra are you the secretary’ whilst looking at my business partner.
This was a complete shock and I realised that being humble was hammered into my personality, ‘don’t shout’ was so much in my character and I realised that it isn’t good always.
You don’t want to be arrogant, confidence is really important; there is nothing wrong with being confident.
So what is the inspiration behind B.I.T.C.H (Bold – Intelligent – Total - Control of Herself)?
“I’m an entrepreneur with an accent”
I want to give inspiration to foreign women and men, BITCH will be the platform and medium, teaching them that they don’t have to always aim to be actors and restaurateurs. Instead, they can become a business celebrity, to show that you don’t necessarily need to have big boobs or a pretty face to be liked or inspire people.
With Bitch I want to show women that they don't have to become the person the media promotes. I want them to learn that they can achieve their goals in life without having big boobs, a pretty face, being young, having a rich uncle or speaking the local language perfectly (or even sleeping with a footballer).
It’s for other women and men and it’s also to get rid of my own insecurities and leave my mark in the world, to test myself to see whether you can remain humble whilst you become known. I want to challenge stereotypes. The magazine is only one form, it will become an aspirational and inspirational brand for women to build their confidence and achieve what they want. We will build a platform online, a TV talk show on the behind the scenes issues.
What’s the purpose, vision of Bitch magazine? Bold – Intelligent – Total - Control of Herself
For me this represents as a woman you are in control of your career, personal life, image and lifestyle choices. Since I was a teenager I have never found an interesting magazine for women, it was always about superficial things, celebrities and gossip. I always found magazines lacking substance in the content.
I have always wanted to create a brand that is synonymous amongst women who are seeking to achieve more than is constructed by the present media for women. BITCH is beginning with the online platform and going forward we plan to expand the BITCH brand across other areas.
“Don’t follow the crowd, be you, your best self”
I have lots of interests and need intelligent content, the inspiration for BITCH came from seeing the niche in the market, to help people to find inspiration from real women, rather than celebrities. I want women to increase their self-confidence, enhance their characteristics and don’t follow the crowd, be you your best self.
The name came from my own frustration. Last year I finished university and I couldn’t successfully find a new job, I was applying and couldn’t find anything. I started to underestimate myself by saying to myself ‘I’m not suitable for the British culture’.
Then one day I was listening to a song called perseverance and this awoke something within me and all of sudden the ‘bitch was in the battle field’, I wrote this note and when I was applying for jobs, I knew I had to be proud of who I was and so I started pushing myself.
With this new attitude, I very quickly got the job. I then found myself in the city surrounded by lots of ambitious women, talking to them I started to realise they were pretty superficial. Many of these women were telling me they have nothing to read and that is where the linkages all came together. It’s not been an easy journey, lots of people question the name of the bitch magazine and say they can read vogue instead.
“BITCH magazine wants to game-change women’s lives”
The business world lacks inspiring female business celebrities. Probably Michelle Mone is the most proactive and consistent female business celebrities in Great Britain at the moment. She earned her success having a strong business idea, constantly challenging and pushing herself to achieve better and bigger and not being afraid to be herself. I think that Britain needs to have more of these type of women from any walks of life, happy being different and original in business.
I really want to build confidence in any woman irrespective of nationality, the language they speak and the shape they are, I want women to feel like they are worth it, like a celebrity.
I don’t want to push the same types of women I want to celebrate real women. I want to explore multi-cultural woman in this country, there is so much talent and they don’t shine, nobody notices them, they hide themselves from this strong world and this is wrong. I know I have some value to add to their lives.
Life changing moment
4 years ago I was close to death due to cancer. After waking up from the coma I made a decision to live my life to the full, empower myself and do my best to inspire others. It took me 1.5 years to pick myself up post illness, whilst starting a completely different life by moving to London on my own and making my dream come true by entering the university in the UK.
For 2 yrs it was running around in my head ‘why me’ and then I got into Tony Robbins and personal development events, it taught me to appreciate every day and don’t take things for granted. I care less now about what people and think and feel about me as a person.
What have been your critical lessons learnt along your entrepreneurial journey
- Have guts, don’t be afraid - have less self-doubt and don’t listen to what other people say about what you are doing. I cannot say that I am a typical entrepreneurial, self-analysis is an essential part of me.
- Work with the right type of people - People you can trust, feel the synergy of the goal. It’s not about the number of people, it’s more about the passion and fire you produce this really matters and the fire ignites you. I am happy to work with smaller teams of the right people.
- Going out of your comfort zone teaches you most - you accelerate your personal growth when you go out of that zone, do things that test your knowledge and I’ve learnt that going out of your comfort zone often positively surprises.
- I’ve learnt that I shouldn’t trust people so quickly - test them at first especially in business. I have a belief that if I am a good person then I should attract the right type of people around me.
- Learn to verbally reward other people, it does wonders - with my type of character I don’t necessarily praise people unnecessarily. I’ve learned the rule of praise can be useful to achieve results.
What are the characteristics that in your experience entrepreneurs require now and in the future?
- Enthusiasm, intelligence and passion – I think that’s how I achieve results, I am passionate and can share the vision with people.
- Perseverance – not giving up on any obstacles that appear in your road.
- Persistence and friendliness – I think in business it’s important, I think friendliness isn’t mentioned enough in business.
- Focus - really having a very clear vision and goal and really going for it, not side tracking off on to many ideas, stick to one particular thing.
- Self-criticism – not blindly focusing on something, listen to what other people say, critically evaluate your ambition. Question yourself along the way towards the goal and re-evaluate if there is anything you can change for the better.
What would be your 5 top tips for aspiring entrepreneurs
- Believe in yourself.
- Go for it.
- Find your inspiration – I find my inspiration from dancing, I go dancing with my Latin music, I just dance and feel inspired.
- Find a mentor - I never believed it before, I never used to share my experience, I realise that mentors can help so much.
- Read books – business and personal development to build that inspiration within you.
- It is good to lose or fail at something - I used to think that failure was a bad thing and I know realise that you can learn so much if you sit down and reflect. I have my private tears and I learn through that failure.
- Work hard play hard.
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