We saw Bianca Miller power through Series 10 of The Apprentice right until the finale. Although she didn’t end up being Lord Alan Sugar’s next business partner, she’s moved through life with the zest of a winner.
However, what we didn’t see much of on our television screens was Miller’s long-standing career as a life skills trainer. Artefact spoke to Miller in a candid interview about this aspect of her life.
As I was escorted into the pristine conference rooms of Olswang in Holborn, there was a long queue of people waiting to see her; she’d just finished a presentation for an International Women’s Day event, aptly named ‘Climbing Your Career Ladder… in Heels.’
The teens were excitedly snapping selfies with Miller and immediately looked her up on various social media platforms, while the adults had a more professional air.
Everyone in the room was impressed by the well-groomed and smiling woman in front of them. Her motto “It’s nice to be important and important to be nice” rings true.
As the crowd dissipated, we were taken to an interview room. Olswang had thought of everything, from what seemed like an endless supply of nine different tea flavours, right down to the glass bowl of individually wrapped Jelly Belly jelly beans.
Miller walks in, paying no attention to the intricacies of the room, toes off her Nine West court shoes and settles into a chair, leaning back. She remembered me from a networking course I attended in 2013 tailored by her brainchild The Be Group.
The consultancy aims to help people understand and develop their personal brand, whether in a corporate capacity with clients such as Google, or a personal one with individuals looking to boost their employability. The company was named as one of the Startups 100 Businesses of 2013.
Miller’s pitch on The Apprentice for True Skin, a line of luxury tights for all skin tones, is now a full-time pursuit renamed Bianca Miller London. She announced the impending launch on Twitter over the 2014 Christmas break.
“People send me pictures now,” she says. “They see someone in the street who’s got the wrong tights on, saying ‘Help this person!’ But yes, I’m working on it, hoping to launch in October. It’s really, really hard: just generally retailers – the relationships between retailers and buying seasons, products, packaging – that’s all new to me, to be frank. But still exciting!
“With my existing business, I work with a lot of women and those women will most likely be my buyers at the end of the day. So it’s good that I have those relationships from the last three years of having my existing business, and that, I’m somewhat sure, will help.”
It’s hard to believe that Bianca is in her mid-twenties, given her advice is that of a veteran. She recounts experiences of rejection at networking events and in interviews: “Rejection is part of life. Often, you’ll be rejected at some point – be it relationships, friendships, whatever. It’s how you deal with that rejection and that feedback.
“I think in terms of failure, my perspective is to try and fail [rather] than never to have tried.”
“Not enough people go into an interview who don’t get the job ask for feedback. So if you go to an interview and the person says ‘Unfortunately, you haven’t been successful’, say ‘Okay, fair enough, thank you. Would you mind giving me some feedback?’ Then take that feedback and utilise it, so in the next interview, you don’t make those same mistakes.”
The interview with Bianca turns therapeutic, easing my pre-graduation anxiety. “I think that anyone who says that they’ve never had a hurdle or any obstacles is just lying, firstly. And secondly, I think in terms of failure, my perspective is to try and fail [rather] than never to have tried. So if something doesn’t quite go to plan, start reflecting on that: why did it not go to plan? What could I have done better? Was it something I did or someone else did? How can I look at that situation and reflect and use it to better my next opportunity?”
Working with a number of different organisations, whether they are youth-oriented or for older professionals, Miller has very nearly seen it all and thrives on being a driving force for change.
“I like having a mixture of clients; that’s what keeps my life interesting. There are weeks where I’m delivering essentially the same workshop at three different colleges and it’s the same content but it’s interesting because it’s a different set of people, different perspectives, different questions,” she says.
“Often I know what the questions are going to be but they’re still coming from different people who’ve never asked them before, so I love that. But then equally, I can then go to a corporate environment and speak to adults or do a different type of event. I love the variety that my job gives me. Going to schools and colleges is probably where my passion is; I love speaking to young people. I love being the person that could potentially change their perspective on careers, on employability, on entrepreneurship.”
Miller admits the one action plan she has had difficulty nailing down is a “me-plan”: “I think especially as a woman… you know, I’ve got my fiancé who I try keep happy and do things with, I’ve got my family, my friends and I’ve got my business. And at times you have to be a little bit selfish and say ‘actually I need to focus on my business for a while’, or my friends. You have to make that decision.
“I think a lot of the time I leave myself out of the equation, and that’s where I try to re-address the balance sometimes and go on a spa-break, have a massage, go shopping, or do something I enjoy. I think I’m young enough to work as hard as I do without it having too brutal an effect on my life. But when I do get go out I party hard – you know, work hard party harder! I love trying new things. I recently did indoor skydiving and indoor surfing. I’m a scaredy-cat so I like to do these things indoors.”
International Women’s Day was an important occasion for her to make her mark on young British women. She explains how there’s too much pressure on women because of the proverbial maternal ticking clock, pointing out that everyone needs their own timeline and should avoid being guided by what someone else wants you to do: “Just be comfortable in your own journey, and you’re not going to look back and think ‘I wish I’d done that’.”
Featured image by Charlotte Somerville