08 Mar #InternationalWomensDay is here – a budding female entrepreneur in our network!
As we celebrate International Women’s Day, Enactus Ireland would like to salute every woman who is making a difference in their community!
Dominika Kowalska, a 3rd year business, entrepreneurship and management student is a woman of many talents and someone who we wish to salute on this day. Not only is she a full-time student studying business, entrepreneurship and management in IADT, she is also the PRO of her Enactus team and is the Co-founder and Creative Director at DK House of Fashion, Bespoke Fashion Designer, Hair Salon and Modelling Courses all under one roof, based in Tallaght Business Centre. Dominika provides us with an insight into how she got started, who motivates her and how Enactus has enabled her to be a female entrepreneur!
Q.1 How did you get involved in fashion?
When I was about 14 years old I was invited to a talk show in Poland as someone noticed my social media account. Back then there was no Facebook so I had an account on a Polish website for teenagers. A woman advised me to get some professional shots done so I could start to create my portfolio. I took the plunge and it was a huge success! I have done a lot of professional photoshoots, fashion shows and have been a participant in Miss Ireland and Miss Polonia. I have always been a creative person so I decided to take an art portfolio course and to apply to an art college to study fashion designing. I was thinking of my plan B for future as when I will be older and my modelling years will pass I could then be a successful designer.
After a year of modelling and socializing I got to know myself a lot better and realizing that I am a #GirlBoss who loves not only modelling at fashion shows but also organizing the events and managing the crew. In 2013 I organized my very first charity fashion show where we showcased the first ever DK Fashion collection which was designed by myself and my mother together as a team.
Since then we have come a long way opening our own Atelier in Tallaght Business Centre and expanding to Hair Salon and Modelling Courses for wanna-be models. My bespoke collections has been showcased on red carpets at Cannes Film Festival, Xpose Magazine and recently at a runway during London Fashion Week 2017.
Displaying her work on the catwalk at London Fashion Week 2017!
Q.2 How did you get where you are today, and who/what helped you along the way?
It has been a long journey and I wouldn’t be where I am without my family, especially my mother. She has taught me to be strong, work hard and be independent. I have really grown up fast when we moved from Poland to Ireland. I was only 12 years old and had no words of English. I always felt mature and that I think about my future and make decisions to help my dreams come true.
Q.3 When you began the process of starting DK Fashion, were you faced with challenges being a female entrepreneur? If so, what were they?
Due to special occasions and red carpet appearances my mother and I decided to start designing bespoke one off dresses just for me as it was really hard for us to find something unique in the shops. We were a team designing it, my mother made the clothes and I was modelling it, showcasing it to the world of fashion labeling it with DK.
There was a time where I faced many challenges and comments from people. They told me I couldn’t be the face of a company, the boss, the designer and the whole lot. At the beginning, I was afraid that maybe they were right, maybe we should stop and when I finish modelling I can then open my own business. After a while I have gained confidence and I believed in what I do, I realized that I am a female entrepreneur and that I can do whatever set my mind to! No one is going to tell me if I can or cannot be the face of and run my own company. Now I am proud to be representing my brand as a co-founder and the model.
Dominika created the DK brand – how cool is it?!
Q.4 What do you think is the biggest issue for women starting their own business?
The biggest challenge would have to be planning for the future. If a woman would love to have kids or a house she would feel she needs to keep it in mind when starting up her own business. Of course it is not for every woman, I am talking from my own experience. My business idea was born when I was only 18 years old. My original plan was to study and be a professional model and then once I was settled and gained more experience then I would open my own business. It turns out I was too ambitious and eager to change my plan B and I am lucky to say that I live it now.
Q.5 What advice would you give to a potential female entrepreneur?
You must be strong and believe in your dream. Running a business is tough, but being a mum, full time student and female entrepreneur can get crazy, but you must be strong. Stay focused, believe in your dream and work hard. Manage your time well and make sure you have positive people in your circle of friends. You will receive a lot of criticism but believe me, one day it will all be worth it.
Dominika showcasing her work in London this year.
Q.6 Has Enactus enabled you to be a female entrepreneur?
This is only my second year in Enactus and I have really enjoyed it! Thanks to my college and my course I had a chance to find out about Enactus and become a member. Enactus has given me a great variety of opportunities to take my business to a new level. I have learned a lot about business and being an entrepreneur which I can then use in my business structure to develop my brand.
I love the fact that everything I learn during my involvement in Enactus and my college course, I can put into practice straight away and gain even more experience. Enactus is perfect for anyone who ever thinks about becoming an entrepreneur. Many great opportunities, career choices and networking occasions.
Dominika was a social ambassador at the 2016 Enactus Ireland National Competition.
Q.7 What is your favourite motivational quote?
“Everything happens for a reason” – that is what I go by every day. If something doesn’t work out now, I know there is something bigger waiting around the corner. It is not about finding excuses for everything that is not going as planned but learning from mistakes and working harder to create something much better is the way I go.
Q.8 What other female entrepreneurs do you admire and why?
A woman I always look up to is my mother who is a true #GirlBoss female entrepreneur. She started building her career in Poland when she was just 18. Today, she is 25 years in the hairdressing industry and she is the strongest woman I know. She is extremely strong and works hard for herself and her family. Every day I try to be just like her and learn from her as much as I can. I owe her my life and my happiness in Ireland. Thanks to her courage I have so many great opportunities to have a great life here in my new home, Ireland.