Kelly Stickel is the 46-year-old CEO of Remodista–a social think tank cultivating women leaders as they disrupt global retail. If you think that sounds really cool but don’t exactly know what it means, don’t worry–we were in the same boat. Which is why we decided to sit down with Kelly and learn more about her woman-empowering organization.
FAME: You describe yourself as “a connector.” When you were trying to figure out your career path (through college, internships, even just dreaming as a kid), did you realize “connector” could be a job? How did you connect those dots?
Kelly: I was challenged as I tried to figure out who I wanted to be. I ended up in recruiting and saw that I had a knack for putting the right people together. I soon realized my biggest strength was my ability to assess and connect others. I have spent the last 15 years helping businesses solve problems and connecting with other like-minded leaders.
FAME: You’re the founder and CEO of Remodista, a social think tank. What exactly does “social think tank” mean–aka, what are your job responsibilities?
Kelly: We operate as a research facility that works with everyday leaders using collaboration research and analysis. As a sole business owner, I wear many hats growing the organization while selling the programs we have built.
FAME: What has been your biggest career accomplishment?
Kelly: Launching our Women2Watch in Retail Disruption program. We are connecting our women leaders with the innovation they are solving focusing on retail and fintech. We have expanded to Australia and will be reaching into Europe in 2018. 50 of our Women2Watch honorees in 2017 have already spoken at conferences in the US and around the world.
FAME: You also founded a non-profit. What’s the main difference between the women’s empowerment work you do for Remodista (for profit) and Women Influence Chicago (non-profit)?
Kelly: Both organizations are using community as a business model, meaning we are using purpose to attract our customer.
Remodista is a for profit business helping retail and fintech solve disruption and innovation. I have architected goodwill into the business, which helps us focus on cultivating women leaders while we research and collaborate.
Women Influence Chicago is a nonprofit that operates as an umbrella to bring women leaders together across all verticals. The goal is to get more women speaking and nominated for awards in the Chicago community.
FAME: What was it like founding your own company? Were you working somewhere else at the time, or did you take time off to dedicate yourself to the launch? What are some sacrifices you had to make in order to make your dream a reality?
Kelly: I founded Remodista when I was working for Acquity Group in Management Consulting. My CEO let me start my organization. As I worked on building conferences and education, I saw that women weren’t on the stage and I wanted to change that. Acquity sold to Accenture in 2013 and I left to build and scale Remodista using community as a business model.
FAME: In your mind, what is the biggest challenge for women in business? How can women combat that challenge?
Kelly: One of the challenges for women is to take credit for the work they do. I watch many women solve difficult, complex problems in business–and then put that credit in a box by their feet. Women don’t naturally seek credit, but we have found that is key for women at the top–to get to the very top.
FAME: Best business advice?
Kelly: Surround yourself with smart people. If you are founding a business, just know you are the one who will have to have the wear-with-all to get it over the mountain of challenges.
FAME: Best style advice?
Kelly: I go more for style vs. trends. I like to go through magazines and our community for inspiration….deep, jewel-toned colors are my favorite.
FAME: What’s your go-to “power outfit” (to feel good on a big day)?
Kelly: My power outfit is a well-tailored pinstripe sheath dress that hits right below the knee and a pair of slingback heels with a fresh leather jacket or a silk scarf.
SHOP HER LOOK