Dulcie Pryslopski

From as young as I can remember, I was always accompanied by a sketchbook and box of colouring pencils.

The gift of being creative always came naturally to me and would enable me to shine afar in school, earning extra house points for my “beautifully presented” homework, although being a factual catastrophe! What I never understood was why despite entering all the Art competitions at school and aspiring to win a Blue Peter badge, I always somehow missed out and never won anything. What I soon realised, with the encouragement of my number one fan Mum, was that it was not about the winning but about my own personal gains from these experiences. Winning would one day, hopefully arise as a result of my hard work and positivity recognised by inspiring others which is why I’m so pleased to be nominated for the WATC Rising Stars award.

A fond memory is my preparation for non uniform days at school. Feeling restricted by wearing the same clothes each day, non uniform days were like birthdays to me. I would edit my outfit the night before and feel excited to showcase my favourite jeans and accessories to the world the following day. I never conformed to the trends and would often stand out like a sore thumb with my hair horns and sunflower jeans but I felt special and felt like the real me. It didn’t go a miss either as people would start to enquire what I planned to wear next much to my dad’s dismay when I demanded I needed to buy something new for each occasion to make my fashion statement. It was nice to be recognised for my fashion flare and use this as an opening conversation piece with people I wouldn’t normally speak to due to the social hierarchy at school. It somewhat helped me to find my place at school and gave me an identity which is something I aspire everyone to have today through their clothes.

A milestone moment was my acceptance as a student at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. I remember so clearly filling in my application and my teachers telling me just how competitive it is to earn a place there. This was reinstated when I dropped my huge, heavy portfolio off on the top floor having walked up 5 flights of stairs to get there. As a large group of us waited eagerly, we were informed to “not get our hopes up as only one person out of every forty candidates will get in”. As others looked away in dismay I thought to myself that someone has to get the place and why shouldn’t it be me when there is no reason for why I shouldn’t! I have the work ethic, skills and evidence to show that i’m suitable – it’s just down to the opinion of the judges which could go either way quite frankly. I decided in that moment that after years of lacking confidence and doubting myself that actually I was at a point of my greatest self appreciation and happiness. I finally valued myself confidently as a creative and whether I got in or not was just a bonus – even if my further education depended on it! Thankfully the judges acknowledged this and believed in me enough to offer a place to start the foundation course at CSM. This was sealed with the recognition from my school that I also achieved 100% both years for my A-level art work placing me in the top 10 students in the country for Art. Against all odds, my journey as a fanatic art student began and it was here that I discovered my passion for Graphic Design and later graduated with a degree in this at London College of Communication.

As I approached my final weeks as a student, I was contacted out of the blue by my Photography teacher from my secondary school about their troubles to fill a maternity cover position. She asked me if I would apply as they thought that I could be the answer to their problems. It then occurred to me that I hadn’t studied for a teaching degree and therefore wouldn’t stand a chance at getting past the interview but apparently this wasn’t the case. Aged 20, having had no experience with working with children, I found myself CRB checked, now interviewing for the role. I knew I had the artistic knowledge and dedication needed plus the belief from the Arts department so decided to go for it. I interviewed alongside 5 qualified teachers for the position but defied all odds once again and was offered the position of Art and photography teacher at St Martin’s Secondary School. I began this role just three days after finishing university, with all my prep time squeezed in over the weekend! What’s more, my three month contract extended to a complete school year and I raised my previously slacking GCSE Art group’s grades by two levels to achieve their target. This was my greatest achievement, knowing I helped to inspire such a young group of people and help them to achieve their goals to help cement their future.

Fast forward to my role now as Creative Director at Maggie Semple Ltd where I get to achieve great things on a regular basis with a whole network of talented, inspiring women. I swap and change daily between my two loves, Fashion and Design; conjuring up anything from the latest window display to new designs for the Semple Collection. I have a love of anything that sparkles or oozes colour and it’s great to know that now, our clients do too. Time and time again, I listen to how our clients feel that they should hide their bodies and blend in by wearing black to conform to their corporate environment. But why should they? We live in a modern world where we are encouraged to be the best we can be and if that’s done by presenting on stage in a powerful pink dress, then so be it! We should be supportive in allowing women to feel confident in what they wear and move past the stereotypes which often suppress our ambitions. We are here to go against all odds and make our mark in the world as individuals. I certainly have and it’s great to know I am here making a difference to help grow women’s confidence to unleash their achievements too.