Dani Wallace, 36, an ambitious entrepreneur who has risen from the council estates of Preston, where she experienced the depths of domestic violence and homelessness is now a highly sought after international speaker and speaker coach, as well as a professional singer. She has taken control of her life after investing her last £200 on flights last year to hang out with the global business coach, Lisa Johnson in Malta – an experience that changed her life. Since then she has mastered the art of running an online business which is set to make 6 figures this year, launching new sold out programmes and making money she could only have dreamed of.
Dani now runs a community that supports other women to ‘Show up, wise up and rise up’ and is keen to support those who are feeling despair during the Covid-19 crisis, as she knows how it feels to have the odds stacked against you. She is currently organising ‘The Big Festoon’ – a 12-hour charity event packed full of free advice for business owners, featuring some of her entrepreneurial idols, which will also fundraise for domestic violence charities Women’s Aid & galop. She has called it The Big Festoon as she is encouraging the business community to link arms, like bees do, when building their comb, to support those in need.
Welcome Dani, thank you for taking the time to share your story with us, can you introduce yourself to us?
I am Dani Wallace, 36, I am an international speaker and speaker coach, as well as a professional singer. Having overcome homelessness as a single parent, domestic violence and years of self-sabotage, I am now a motivational speaker and coach and fearless leader of the I Am The Queen Bee Movement helping women across the world Show Up, Wise Up and Rise Up.
Can you tell us about your passion for wanting to help women in business find their voice and share it on stage?
Having grown up on the council estates in Preston, my early life was full of adversity, an alcoholic father, life on the bread line and the comings and goings of various cousins as my Mum tried to help them when, they too, fell on hard times.
In 2008, just a few months after ‘settling down’ and having my first child – I was all excited for our forthcoming wedding and just a couple of weeks after sending out the invites, my partner called time on the relationship leaving me a lone parent on one income at the start of the recession… I remember feeling so unlovable and feeling very vulnerable and was so surprised when I was pursued by someone at work and so began a relationship that spiralled into a rollercoaster of domestic abuse.
As is quite common in DV situations, I became pregnant with my second child and when I was 4 months pregnant, the relationship came to a violent head and after one particular incident whereby I was almost strangled, with the help of DV services, I was able to escape the relationship.
Now a single mum of two and barely able to afford both my mortgage and nursery fees for two under-threes, I was forced into homelessness with my children and survived by sofa surfing at my family and friends until I was able to find a home that I could afford.
I then spent the next 5 years rebuilding my life, accessing support, engaging with personal development and made the jump to self-employment some six years ago when I realised the only place I sang anymore was in the kitchen doing the washing up I decided I’d like to get back on stage.
I met my amazing husband and with his support, I now perform on stages nationally for multinational companies and private clients – doing something I love singing, motivating and inspiring others….
Alongside this, I was set on a personal mission to give back to other people who may not feel good enough, who are victims of their own self-sabotage or who are hiding their talents from the world because they were fearful.
One day whilst watching TV with my 3 children, inspiration took the form of a quote from a children’s film. At the start of Bee Movie (2007) the Narrator declares: ‘According to all known laws of aviation, there is no way a bee should be able to fly. Its wings are too small to get its fat little body off the ground. The bee, of course, flies anyway, because bees don’t care what humans think is impossible.’ – It is from this, the I Am The Queen Bee Movement was born.
Ever since that day I have been determined to show people, and to be honest, to show myself, that we cane achieve so much more than we ever thought was possible if we choose to.
I now run a global online community that supports other women to ‘Show up, wise up and rise up’
I am passionate about giving more women the platform and encourage them to grab the microphone! The speaking world is still very male-dominated and we need more women to come forward and share their stories, knowledge and expertise. I even wrote a book on it last year called ‘Closed mouths don’t get fed’ – public speaking is the number one fear in the world! That means, for many, they’d rather be in the casket than reading the eulogy! If you don’t get to grips with being able to SPEAK your message, you’re leaving money on the table and a whole raft of your ideal clients without your help.
Congratulations on the launch of The BIG Festoon, which originally stemmed from wanting to raise awareness of domestic violence. Let’s talk about this Coronavirus charity initiate backed by influential industry leaders and entrepreneurs and what it entails…
I am currently organising the final finishing touches to my mammoth online event – ‘The Big Festoon’ (5th June). This will be a 12-hour charity event packed full of free advice for business owners, featuring some of my own entrepreneurial idols, celebs and incredible global speakers.
This event will fundraise for domestic violence charities Women’s Aid & gallop and we’ve already nearly hit the £5K mark before the event has even begun. I have called it ‘The Big Festoon’ as I am encouraging the business community to link arms, like bees do, when building their comb, to support those in need.
As a domestic abuse survivor myself, on seeing the devastating DV statistics of lockdown, I felt led to ‘do my bit’ during Covid-19. I am so excited for the day and seeing celebs and entrepreneurs coming together for a 12 hours chat-a-thon packed full of real talk, motivational pow wows, business inspiration, power ballads and awesome DJ sets as celeb guests and business leaders come together to lift the spirits of the nation’s entrepreneurs and raise much-needed funds and awareness for domestic violence charities at the same time.
Not your average business event, The Big Festoon has drawn colourful characters who really pack a punch with their messages, as I set out to shake up the tone of business advice that is swamping the internet.
The line up includes; the UK’s #1 Motivational Business Speaker Brad Burton who clawed himself out of £25K of debt to build the UK’s fastest-growing business networking organisation, Dan Meredith, serial entrepreneur and author of ‘How to be F*cking Awesome’, Lisa Johnson, self-made millionaire business coach known as ‘The Passive Income Queen’, Emma Sayle, one of the UK’s leading ‘sex-entrepreneurs’ who launched the elite global adult-party brand Killing Kittens.
As well as; Nicole Jacobs – the UK’s first Domestic Abuse Commissioner and BBC Eastenders’ Toby- Alexander Smith who is currently playing a perpetrator, BBC Radio’s Alix Fox & Stephanie Hirst, Apprentice star Jessica Cunningham, Atomic Kitten’s Natasha Hamilton and TV’s Jenny Powell to name just a few, the full line up is on the website.
Taking place on my online TV programme, Show Up, Wise Up Rise Up, via Facebook, The BIG Festoon will run from 8am to 8pm (UK Time) to capture as many time zones as possible so I can serve my global audience.
What kind of growth, expansion or changes in direction have you seen over the past year for The BIG Festoon?
The BIG Festoon was an idea that came from the realisation that during the lockdown, for those experiencing DV were going to really be stuck and also the business communities that I am a part of, may people were feeling fearful and apprehensive so I wanted to do something to help. In just 5 short weeks, The BIG Festoon has gained so much more traction than I could have ever imagined. We are on target to raise in excess of £50000, I’m just blown away. I am a massive believer in collaboration and not a competition and this is what my whole business ventures are about. The Big Festoon encourages us all to link arms and come together – not just to support Women’s Aid and galop, but also to offering fun, relevant, inspiring advice for small business owners & entrepreneurs globally whose livelihoods are being threatened due to the recent pandemic.
What are your ultimate overall missions, visions and goals for The BIG Festoon?
My goal is for this to become a yearly event getting bigger year on year. I see The BIG Festoon as a celebration, a linking of arms in the entertainment and business communities and will complement the charitable leg of my business The Fly Anyway Foundation that will be launching later on in the year. We will support survivors to create businesses and build on their strengths so regardless of their past, they will truly be able to fly anyway.
As an entrepreneurial mum of 3 from Preston, and a domestic abuse survivor, what has been one of the most valuable lessons so far throughout your personal journey?
Reach Out and Link Up – Throughout my life – both personally and professionally – I have had many many people who have shown their support and linked arms with me. It is not just my own mental strength that helps me ‘achieve the impossible’ but the mental strength of those around me who I rely heavily upon.
To know my worth. I have to consciously remind myself that I am worthy of the work, opportunities and pay I receive. One of the hardest things at the beginning was charging my worth and not compromise on my value and expertise. That, even as I grow still is a sticking point…
Step Out – “I moved out of the ‘safe’, well-paying corporate world to work for myself as a singer 6 years ago and every day I still step out and take a risk and embrace the challenges. A few years back I invested my last £200 on flights last year to hang out with the global business coach, Lisa Johnson in Malta – an experience that changed my life. Since then, I have mastered the art of running an online business which is set to make 6 figures this year and launched new sold out programmes and making money I could only have dreamed of.
Who have been the people that have influenced you on your journey? Have you had any mentors guide you along the way? Either personally or professionally?
I have been personally mentored by the most incredible business minds in the UK, Brad Burton and Lisa Johnson most recently. Learning from those who are doing the thing you want to be doing is that savviest way to learn quickly in my experience. I’m so lucky to have found mentors who truly believe in me.
Even during this event, there have been a million times I have had to have a chat with myself to convince myself I can do this. Who am I to reach out to celebrities? Who am I to ask global entrepreneurs worth millions to give up their time to chat to me? Who am I?
Then I remember what Will.i.am said to me when I auditioned for the Voice, didn’t make it and was so crushed I thought about jacking it all in –“Who are you to not share your gift with the world?” I thank him for linking arms with me, to give me that real talk I needed!
Throughout my life – both personally and professionally – I have had many many people who have shown their support and linked arms with me. When my imposter raises its ugly head, and it still does, I am now able to give it a big kick in the shin- but what helps me do this is my network.
It is not just my own mental strength that helps me ‘achieve the impossible’ but the mental strength of those around me who I rely heavily upon. I have worked hard to create a network that means a lot to me, both in followers I attract and in peers I admire. Being surrounded by like-minded people is everything to me and linking arms and coming together to create an impact is what I love doing the most.
What does #BEYOUROWN mean to you?
To me, #BEYOUROWN is all about being yourself. Unapologetically. When you are breaking through, it is easy to look to those who are more successful or who have been in the game longer and think yourself inadequate. In actuality, there is space for everyone. People will come to you for being you! It is here that lies your power.
What is on the agenda for the rest of the year?
The business climate currently is like nothing we’ve ever seen before – so my response to its challenges also needs to be unique. As someone very active in the online business space I hope to continue to grow my reach via the I Am The Queen Bee Movement where I mentor women delivering my message that despite what we have faced we can all; step up, grab life by the nuts, and continue to fly anyway.
Between my course launches, online workshops and 121 work I am also excited to launch the Fly Anyway Foundation later in the year too. I also can’t wait to host my live events again, fingers crossed we have the 10th September scheduled for the next big live event Bee Inspired. All told, I’m going to be one busy bee!