Sassy Stella English, the winner of the 2010 series of The Apprentice is bouncing back after her employment case with Lord Sugar, and is fashioning a new career inspired by Victoria Beckham.
Mum of two Stella says her plans to create chic dresses, suits and jackets for professional women had a boost after she watched the pop star turned fashion designer give a speech at the Vogue Festival.
Speaking for the first time since facing Lord Sugar in a high-profile tribunal, 34-year-old Stella exclusively tells !: “I”m ready to move on to the next phase of my life. My career is just beginning, not ending.
PHOTO TO ENLARGE
“Victoria said that when she first launched her label, everyone was very dubious about it. But she is one of the world”s most influential designers now. That is so inspiring and it further cemented for me that this is what I want to do.
“She”s also a mother of four, with a teenager and a baby… she says it”s okay to talk about your children, which is refreshing.
“Everything she said, I thought, “My goodness, I want to do that.”” She has now launched the Miss English label “making very good-quality clothes for women aged 25 to 45 who are in business.”
Last month, after a highly stressful 18 months of legal preparation and argument, Stella lost her claim of constructive dismissal from Lord Sugar”s IT firm Viglen.
She says she was left shocked when Lord Sugar launched a personal attack, calling his former employee a “money grabber” and “not a nice person”.
Speaking for the first time since the court case – and just days before the ninth series of The Apprentice began – Stella tells ! she has already put the ordeal behind her and has absolutely no regrets about taking the case to tribunal.
Stella says that she had the strength to survive the challenges of the past three years thanks to her husband Ray, 41, who gave up his job as a plumber to care for their children Edward, six, and Frank, four, at their new home in Whitstable, Kent. “My husband has been such a great support to me,” she continues.
“He”s watched me go through this gruelling process; he has been the one to pick up the pieces. He found it very hard to hear his wife being called a “liar” and a “money grabber” and to watch me go to court. Poor guy, he has got a lot of grey hairs from the last six years of being with me. But he”s very proud to see I”m no walkover.
“My husband has given up his career to look after our children, which is something I really appreciate. I think it”s amazing that he”s man enough to do that.
The tribunal resulted in Viglen successfully disputing her claim that she was an “overpaid lackey”, but despite losing the case and facing a hefty legal bill, Stella says she has no regrets.
“I”m happy, I”m successful and I feel really lucky,” she tells !. “People might expect me to feel “woe is me”, but I really don”t. I went to the tribunal with the aim of being heard, as I felt I didn”t have a voice.
“I wanted the opportunity to say what I was disappointed about and I certainly feel I”ve got it off my chest now.
“I”ve drawn a line under it. It has been a very difficult time and I”m very sorry it ended the way that it did. But I”m now earning twice as much money as I did when I worked for Lord Sugar, so it has worked out for the best.”
To read Stella”s exclusive interview with !, pick up issue 1276, out now.