Meet Paola Diana, Founder of Sigillus
Inspirational, ultra-glamorous entrepreneur Paola Diana is a self-confessed glass-ceiling breaker. She heads up a trio of highly-successful companies and, as a committed advocate of women’s rights, she’s a tireless campaigner for female welfare and employment rights. In January 2016, Paola’s first book was published in Italy and is called “The Salvation of the World. Women: The biggest Change Agents of the 21st Century”. The book will explore the reasons why all nations need to have many more women at the top of political and economic sectors.
She is described as a “real all-rounder”, with a dynamic life seeing her successfully balance motherhood and multiple businesses, proving women are equally capable in the fields of parenthood and entrepreneurship. Paola Diana is the founder and managing director of Sigillus and Nanny & Butler, offering invaluable services ranging from high-quality childcare and household help to the exceptional management of luxury experiences.
Passionate about women in business… Cracking the glass ceiling!
As a mother of two, Paola encountered sexual prejudice on her way to the top: “I struggled to find a job in Italy. I got into politics via a professor I’d previously worked with and then decided to become an entrepreneur so that I could be my own boss and not have to face sexism in my career.”
Paola is particularly passionate about equal rights for women and feels it’s her mission to ensure women are represented equally in both business and life.
In 2006, she founded PariMerito (Equal Merit) a game-changing association and think tank which lobbies and campaigns for female empowerment, and was instrumental in the passing of an Italian law requiring every company board to have at least 30% female representation. “The idea to start PariMerito came very naturally to me. There’s a real gap between opportunities for men and women. We have to network as a society and come together to create this change.”
What inspired you to start a business?
My business was born out of a personal need both for my childcare head hunting business and for my lifestyle management company. I am a mother of two grown up kids and when they were young I couldn’t find a good nanny service in Italy and had to travel all the way to the UK to find one.
I thought it was a great idea to run a similar company and took the business model to Italy to start my own service. I launched a website and was surprised by the amount of requests I received. Customers started making other enquires like ‘Can you suggested the best one-in-a-lifetime travel on a private jet?’ which led me to create Sigillus – a network of lifestyle services, from fine art, extraordinary travel experiences, real estate to high security protection.
What is the greatest challenge and the greatest reward in being your own boss?
It is always challenging to get the business off the ground at the start-up stage and there are many hurdles to overcome but it is so rewarding to have the creative freedom to make your own decisions. Staying in business isn’t easy and having a good pitch isn’t enough on its own, you need to source clients and study the markets. Know your industry and understand what your competitors are doing so you don’t repeat their mistakes but do it better.
Ultimately, never lose hope and confidence in yourself. No matter how many times you fall down, the important thing is to learn from failures and to stand up stronger and wiser than before.
What advice can you give about the benefits of networking?
Networking is hugely important no matter what sector you’re in or what level you are at. I network every day in every city I am in, it is worth it as it’s how you meet incredible people. It can be time consuming but it is one of the best ways to create a big network of contacts, which is so valuable. Never underestimate the power of networking.
How do you differentiate your bespoke services at Sigillus from its competitors?
If you are in the luxury world, you must decide to pride yourself on the quality of service you offer. Luxury consumers truly appreciate honesty, trustworthiness and a pragmatic approach. I constantly help matching individuals who have unique requests with rare access to the most trustworthy and professional consultants in luxury lifestyle management. It is about building a trustworthy relationship – whether it is fine art advisory, real estate advice on inserting below-ground wine cellars and embedding swimming pools or interior design queries about finding the right designer to provide a timeless and curated design.
I truly believe that any luxury service provided, whether it is travels, the art of interior design or fine art must be seamlessly integrated with the luxury lifestyle experience and tailored to each individual’s taste for the best outcome. The key is to remain flexible and innovative in order to satisfy the unique lifestyle and tastes of each client. To deliver the very best in bespoke services in the luxury industry and to differentiate from your competitors or exceed expectations, it is fundamental to gain an innate understanding of the desires and needs of your clients. My clients are certainly grateful for the extra miles we take, in order to secure the seemingly impossible; luxury clients will always appreciate and value the professional and bespoke connections you make to provide them with an enhanced luxury lifestyle.
What does the future hold for you?
Never stop dreaming. Society needs entrepreneurs, people who take risks and don’t feel the fear. I would like to scale up with Sigillus and expand to both Dubai, New York and China within the next couple of years.
To find out more about Paola Diana and her companies: