I quit my job after 20 years in the corporate arena …
For seven years, I was a ski instructor travelling between Europe for the Northern hemisphere winters and Australia for the southern hemisphere winters. In between these two seasons I backpacked and travelled, but the age of 25, I grew up and tired of the nomadic life I’d been living.
I had naïve visions of being an international corporate, career woman.
It took more than eight years of determination and hard work to eventually land my dream job of International Sales & Marketing Manager for Servcorp Limited, an ASX listed company that provide the world’s best serviced offices. I lived a glamorous 5-star lifestyle and set-up their new locations around the world.
After four years with Servcorp, I then worked for nine years in the recruitment industry.
Eventually, I got to the point where I thought I’d been sitting in a box, in a tall office tower, wearing high heels for more than 13 years, and it was time to do something different and also tick a few things off my bucket list. I call it my “mid-life creative detour.”
So off I went and I did the Kokoda Track, followed by Mount Everest Base Camp. This gave me time to think about life and what I might like to do next.
I had always had a love of fashion, so I enrolled in a Masters of Fashion and Luxury Goods Management at The University of Milan.
At the time, I thought I would try to reinvent myself and get a job with a fashion label either in Europe or Australia. The university sent me to several internship interviews but the employers kept saying “No, too experienced.” I also applied for dozens of fashion related jobs in Australia but couldn’t even get an interview. Quite by fluke or maybe it was fate, I actually got offered an internship when I wasn’t even looking.
After completing my studies in Milan, I was on holidays in Italy and I went into a really traditional old sandal shop, where they handcrafted really beautiful Swarovski crystal sandals. I was never really a shoe girl, I was always more into clothes but I loved the sandals I saw immediately. I kept going back into the little shop every day and I bought multiple pairs of sandals. Eventually it got to the point where they’d say “Oh, you again.”
“I kept going back into the little shop every day and I bought multiple pairs of sandals. Eventually it got to the point where they’d say ‘Oh, you again.’”
Then on one of those visits, quite out of the blue, the Artisan’s son said to me, “come and work here, we’ll teach you.” They had never offered an internship to anyone ever before. I ended up working there for no pay but for great training. I sat next to ‘Papa’ every day and he patiently taught me the craft of making beautiful embellished sandals.
Do you know our sandals are handcrafted here in Australia by me? They are lovingly made with beautiful Italian leather and embellished with Swarovski crystals. They are gift wrapped in our iconic packaging and I have 27 designs for you to choose from. Check out this little video for a behind the scenes peek! #ankaliadesigns #ankalia #cherylbotha #sandalmaking
Posted by Ankalia on Wednesday, 22 November 2017
Back in Australia I spent a year getting my label, Ankalia set up. I was almost ready for the website to go live, but I had come to the realisation that my personal life wasn’t on track. My marriage was dysfunctional and I’d been unhappy for too many years to count. I literally just got in my car and drove across the Nullarbor to Melbourne for five days straight.
Upon arriving in Melbourne, I rented a tiny apartment straight away. I slept on the floor on my tiny hiking mattress with a sleeping bag (and lived like this for the next two years). I waited two weeks for the internet to be connected and for my Ankalia components to arrive. All I did was eat and sleep Swarovski crystal sandals 24×7. I had to make it work because I had no other choice. There was no going back.
“All I did was eat and sleep Swarovski crystal sandals 24×7. I had to make it work because I had no other choice. There was no going back.”
Ankalia is my passion. I love it. There is no other known brand in Australia that makes a large selection of beautiful, high quality Swarovski crystal sandals. My designs are limited editions and made with love. And now, I can’t imagine myself doing anything else.
CONNECT WITH CHERYL HERE.
Check out Ankalia here.