“I learned that my story, and my journey is what defines me and my business and cannot be compared to anyone else’s.” Agnese Petraglia, Founder of Medusa London
With a childhood spent enveloped in the magical surroundings of the Amalfi coast, Medusa London’s founder, Agnese Petraglia’s creative spirit and love for garment design became apparent from a very early age. At age 15 she got her very first sewing machine, allowing her to start altering old clothes and dreaming up new ones – a sign of what was to come. At age 18 Agnese moved to London and fell in love with the capital’s bustling streets and slick, luxurious vibe. Together, these two places have inspired every unique line, elegant bow and striking neckline that threads the entire Medusa London signature aesthetic and bridal collections together. And, with it’s sustainable approach, it’s a label that many a modern bride will fall in love with. I managed to catch up with Agnese Petraglia of Medusa London to talk about her business journey and her version of Taking The Plunge, including the highs, the lows, the first jobs, the worst jobs and the tech she can’t live without…
Name: Agnese Petraglia
Business: Medusa London
Date you took the plunge: Started March 2020 – launched September 2021
#1 In a nutshell, describe your business/brand – what do you offer?
“Medusa London is a sustainable bridal wear brand that offers modern designs made in an ethical and sustainable way. All our designs are made of 100% organic silk and handmade by expert hands in London. Each piece is made to be comfortable and free from constraints, sleek and luxurious, for the cool brides with a minimalist approach to fashion. All our designs are made to either be re-worn after the wedding day or to be transformed and adapted to become a staple piece of a bride’s wardrobe.”
#2 What’s your career background? Has it always been in the wedding industry?
“My career background is quite varied. I started in gymnastic coaching, then retail and ended up in accountancy! I have never officially worked in the wedding industry, but I ‘indirectly’ did. My partner is a wedding videographer and has been in the industry for 15+ years, so I have always helped him in his job and I have been fortunate enough to be present at many weddings as his assistant. This gave me the chance to see what goes on behind the scenes before and after a wedding day and to really learn a lot about the industry.”
#3 What planted the seed of your business idea? Did it strike you suddenly?
“I have always really been into fashion since I was a child. I started when I was about six by making sleeping masks for my family out of old towels or bed sheets and pieces of elastic. Then I taught myself how to sew at around 15 and I would alter some of my dresses and make new ones with scraps of fabric I found. I always knew that I was drawn more to bridal fashion than any other areas of fashion, but when one of my best friends asked me to make her wedding dress, I really had the confirmation that this is what I wanted to do and the industry I wanted to be in.”
#4 Describe the moment you decided to TAKE THE PLUNGE (what did this involve? Handing in your notice?)
“I decided to take the plunge when I got furloughed in March 2020. I had so much time on my hands so I decided to start working on what I have always wanted to do. I took out my book of sketches and started to seriously focus on creating a collection, finding the type of fabrics that I really wanted to work with and everything else that comes with it. This was what helped me get through lockdown without going insane. I had spent so long thinking about starting a bridal line and that moment felt like I was handed an opportunity, so I had to take it.”
#5 Describe how the first day of building your own business felt:
“Extremely scary and exciting at the same time! I am a real people pleaser and an overthinker at times and I just kept thinking about what others would think, how It would be perceived etc. But I also felt so happy and proud that I had finally gone for it. Now, after nearly a year I know that the only opinion I should care about and take on board is the one of my clients and I am not scared of taking chances and trying something new and different.”
#6 The highs – what have they been so far?
“So many in such a little time! I always set myself small goals, but sometimes they really exceed my expectations. From meeting incredible brides, to partnering with incredible suppliers all over the world and of course to getting my new London studio which I am obsessed with!”
#7 The lows – how did you move past them? What did you learn?
“Working on your business can sometimes be extremely lonely and scary, at times when you feel stuck you don’t know what to do and who to speak to and you can fall into comparing yourself to others that are at a different stage or come from different backgrounds. I learned that my story, and my journey is what defines me and my business and cannot be compared to anyone else’s. So now, to move past the obstacles I just remind myself of what I have accomplished so far and that there’s still a lot of time to accomplish everything else I want to, so I enjoy the ride and go with the highs and lows.”
#8 If you could tell yourself three things when you first started the business – what would they be?
No.1 “Without meaning to be repetitive: stop comparing yourself to others! You don’t know the ins and outs of their story so focus on who you are and what you can do.”
No.2 “Use the resources you have: instead on focusing on what you could do that you don’t have the means to do, focus on what you have and how you can use that to your advantage.”
No.3 “You will get there! Things will happen when you least expect it, so don’t sweat the small stuff.”
#9 Your tips for those dreaded lying-awake-at-3am times? (Counting sheep? Glass of water? Get up? Meditate? Read?)
“I normally just try to distract myself for a few minutes by watching some funny TikTok videos or finding some pretty Pinterest inspo pictures (not related to what’s worrying me) and then I either talk to myself like I am talking to a friend reassuring it will be alright or, if I have a pen and paper to hand, I write down what’s bothering me, so that when I wake up the following day, I can find solutions to what’s keeping me up at night. It’s definitely not easy but we have to remind ourselves that we’re humans and we’re for sure during the best that we can, let’s not be too hard on ourselves!”
#10 Your top organisational tip?
“Write down your goals, to-do list, or things to action. It really helps me visualise the amount of work I have and it kind of gives my mind the idea of how much I have to do so I am prepared for what’s coming.”
#11 Who inspired you? Or inspires you in business?
“Women in business who keep it real, really inspire me. The good side of social media is that you can actually connect to people on a similar journey to yours and learn from people who are more experienced. It’s refreshing to see a less polished version of entrepreneurship and business which is very relatable and inspiring.”
#12 An app/piece of tech you now couldn’t live without for your business:
“Emails on my phone! I am always on the go and I would be doomed without being able to use emails on my phone! And of course, all the social Apps which make me able to stay connected to my clients even when I am not at my laptop.”
#13 Your first ever job was…
“Coaching rhythmic gymnastics! It was one of the best jobs I have ever had and I loved my team, we were a big family!”
#14 Your top social media tip?
“Social media can be a lot of trial and error so you have to put things out there at times to see what works for you and what doesn’t. It’s always a work in progress so don’t get discouraged if things don’t really work quickly. Slow growth is better than no growth!”
#15 The brand you’d love to collaborate with and why?
“I Love Camilla Gabrieli’s shoes, they’re gorgeous so I’d love to collaborate with her one day! And she’s a fellow Italian so who best?!”
#16 Name a business/social media account(s) – that have helped/inspired you with your business?
“It has to be Elizabeth Stiles (@elizabethstilesuk)! Her advice is priceless, she is so real and so funny, and following her page really helps me get clarity when I need it. Also, she has an amazing Facebook group which has been so helpful in getting support and advice from other business owners.”
#17 Your fav social media tool: (Pinterest? Instagram? LinkTree? Etc.)
“At the moment is 100% TikTok! It’s just much more real and less polished than Instagram and I am really able to show a more playful and fun side of the business.”
#18 Your advice to those looking to TAKE THE PLUNGE:
“Do it! You will figure things out as you go! You don’t necessarily have to quit your job and jump straight into it, but just start working, do a little bit a day and it will feel already so much better than keeping your idea just in your mind and as a dream you wish would come true!”
RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS | MEDUSA LONDON
#1 Most inspirational book you’ve read:
“Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is my all-time favourite book, because it’s taught me to dream of impossible things. I am a big dreamer and, as Alice did, I grew up told not to think of impossible things. However, like she did, I refused to accept that there are impossible things and I have always gone about my life and my path not caring about what other people defined as impossible. I think it’s the biggest inspiration for my life and career.”
#2 You’re in Starbucks, what do you order?
“Peach Green Tea Lemonade all year long!”
#3 Instagram feed crush?
:Architectural Digest (@archdigest) or anything to do with interior design and architecture. I am obsessed!”
#4 Your worst job was…
“In a very random kitchen shop in London. It was just bizarre!”
#5 If you didn’t do what you do…what would you do?
“I’d probably be an interior designer or I’d still be a gymnastics coach!”
#6 Work day pick-me-up?
“A walk in nature and a 90% dark chocolate bar!”
Main Collection Campaign Shoot Credits:
Accessories Shoot Credits:
Models: @_np_mua_ @mantis.qveen