I am SO pumped to kick off our “real world” women interview series with none other than my incredible friend Charlene Perera! Charlene laughs loudly, doesn’t take life too seriously and always puts herself out there realising that the greatest rewards come with risk -  Which is why I thought she was a PERFECT choice for someone who can share how she is having their cake AND eating it too!

You might recognise Charlene from her time on Married at First Site back in 2018, - since that experience she has not only found an amazing man, but also has continued to be a powerhouse business-woman dominating the footwear industry, has recently started an executive MBA and STILL remains a beautiful soul with a great story to share!

I think we can all learn a bit from this awesome interview with Charlene and take some great tips and tricks away – check it out below!

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Charlene, we would love you to give us a bit of a bio of who you are and what you do?

Sure! My name is Charlene Perera and I look after the team, brand and all the other bits that have to do with a US footwear brand called Hush Puppies across Australia and New Zealand. If we must do titles, then I’m the General Manager for Hush Puppies – I LOVE it!

What is the biggest personal risk you have taken and how did you arrive at the decision to take the leap? 

The biggest risk that I have taken was leaving my university course with about 6 months to go…. I had no idea what I was going to do, I just knew that, that wasn’t it. I was at uni and working part time in a clothing store called Landes in Richmond, Melbourne. It wasn’t until I started working full time that I realised there was this whole world called ‘buying’ and I knew that’s where I wanted to be.

After creating a strategy for the clothing stores accessory business, I was lucky enough that they owners let me execute it and my career has just stemmed from there – it was a blind leap and I wouldn’t change a thing!

How do you stay motivated and how do you work out what you want to achieve in your life?

There’s always more….. it’s a good thing but also can be exhausting. In everything I do whether it be my career or my personal life an end goal is everything!

As soon as I know what my end goal is going to be, the strategy to how I achieve it may change 10 times, but where I’m headed never does. That drive for me is everything. To be completely honest, staying motivated is never really an issue, because I always want the end goal. I just really have to make sure that I enjoy the achieved goal for long enough before my head starts bouncing off to the next thing.

What does “success” mean to you? How would you define it for your life?

My definition of success is ‘hitting that target, accomplishing that goal or reaching that vision’.

Success to me has always been linked to happiness. Your mind can become so heavily focused on your strategy/vision that you can forget whether you’ll be happy when you get there – so long as whatever it is, will make me happy, then it’s worth striving for success.

Have you ever experienced Imposter Syndrome or a time where have felt like you weren’t good enough, smart enough, or experienced enough? How did you deal with it? What advice would you have for other women who struggle with self-doubt or low self confidence?

I deal with imposter syndrome often – it drives me crazy as generally I’m such a self-confident person. Given I started my career without a ‘degree’ or higher education qualification I often feel a wave of ‘surely there’s something I’m missing’ or surely someone is going to say to me one day ‘oh you actually have no idea what you are doing’.

How I repeatedly get myself through this though is by remembering that most things in my life or business come down to simplicity and common sense – you don’t need to have a degree for that.

Furthermore, in my position at Hush Puppies and leading a team, it’s not about me having the right answers, it’s about asking the right questions.

What I would say to women who are challenged by self-doubt is ‘if not you then who’, what makes someone else more capable? The right attitude and passion are worth their weight in gold. One phrase that I have learnt to live by is ‘fake it till you make it’, one day you realise you aren’t treading anymore you are just swimming without even realising.

What advice do you have for women who might not be sure of what their purpose is, or what they want to do with their lives?

Oh I know this feeling all too well!!!

The only advice that I can truly offer here is to ‘try everything’.  It means giving up personal time, doing things for free, reading a lot and most of all never saying no to an opportunity. But until you truly put yourself out there and experiment, you will never really know what you are capable of and what you might just fall in love with. You really have to get comfortable being uncomfortable.

What do you think the top 3 skills are that women need to have in a professional sense to be successful?  

Be authentic – always stay true to who you are – you can’t be anybody else.

Be passionate – create an electricity that people will feed from and be inspired by.

Be human – in the professional or corporate world people can forget that we are all human. The core essentials are key be open, be honest and be kind.

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What do you think so often prevents women from asking for what they want, and what advice do you have for the Eating your Cake too community to help them build their confidence?

I honestly feel that women often don’t go after what they want is because they feel under qualified, which is all based around a lack of confidence. My advice here is that you really don’t know until you try. When I have lacked confidence and gone for it any way I have found that my version of common sense and my authenticity always prevails.

What is a quote that you live by?

I have a few that I absolutely live by:

“Team work, makes the dream work”

“Fake it till you make it”

“Not here to f*ck spiders”

“In a world where you can be anything, be kind”

‘Hold the vision, trust the process”

There is some AMAZING advice in there from Charlene!! Thank you so much!

If you have any other questions for Charlene, we would LOVE to here from you - email me at yo****@ea***************.com

If you found this interview helpful, then don't miss our next "Real World" women interview with the amazing Kylie Falconer, owner of KX Pilates Booragoon studio, Lululemon Ambassador,  co- founder of Lacuna Wild and all round girl boss!!!

Finally, if you know another sister who needs some words of wisdom like the ones here, then PLEASE pass this onto them and share the love!