INSPIRING WOMEN: Alysse Dalessandro

Alysse Dalessandro is new to my circle. As women in small business, we’ve connected over the last year. Through our communication, I have really enjoyed my interactions with Alysse. Not only is she kind and supportive, she is truly someone who aligns herself with a “women supporting women” philosophy.

Alysse is bold, brave, creative, and powerful.  She is the owner of Cleveland-based fashion brand Ready to Stare. A jewelry designer, trained metalsmith, creator and self-empowerment advocate, she handcrafts statement jewelry and bold plus size apparel with an unapologetic confident attitude. Ready to Stare is designed for those who believe in following their passion, loving themselves and inspiring others to do the same. 

 Alysse is talented designer and entrepreneur! And, she recently released a new line that is just amazing. (I have my eye on that fab floral skirt she’s wearing in her photo.)

I haven’t officially announced it yet, so I’ll take this opportunity to do so! On April 19th, Alysse, and I will be doing a trunk show at Blair - a plus-size boutique in Chicago! (Find out more about our event here!)  I cannot wait for this in-person shopping event! It is so wonderful to be able to work on new projects like this in collaboration with other powerful, entrepreneurial women.

 I admire Alysse’s drive, business savvy, body positive passion, and collaborative spirit.  As I expand my networks, I feel very fortunate each time I make a valuable connection with a strong women in small business.  I am thankful that Alysse has taken the time to engage with me and my growing brand.   

 Alysse is a woman full of inspiration! Read about what and who inspire her as well as advice she would share with her younger self. . .

 What inspires you?  

“I think both in my designs and in my everyday life, I am inspired by powerful women. I have always rejected the idea there is one way to be a woman. I believe that gender is a social construction. I find so much inspiration from people who choose to reject society's idea of who they should be and have the strength to live, dress, act, talk etc in the way that comes naturally to them. As a designer, I am constantly looking for ideas and inspirations that challenge the status quo in their own way. I have always looked up to drag culture. Paris is Burning is my favorite movie and RuPaul's books are like my life guides. I also have always loved older stylish women such as those captured by the blog (now book and movie) Advanced Style. And of course, I love powerful women in pop culture such as Beyonce who uses her mainstream platform to subtly challenge norms. I mean that's an obvious one for me.”

“Someone told me once "speaking your mind is like breathing for you; you need it to survive."  I'm not afraid to be a voice for the voiceless.  I've heard some people say that confidence is quiet and I don't agree with that. I think confidence is never silent. Confidence is the ability to speak loudly and clearly who you are and what you care about. I think there's something so powerful about being publicly vulnerable. I don't subscribe to the idea that power means that you hide you feelings and emotions. We associate power with masculinity so power is often also linked to being emotionally guarded as men are taught to be. I want to show people that vulnerability is powerful. I also want to remove the negative connotation of the word fat. We still give so much power to that word. And there's an association that fat equals ugly which also needs to be challenged. Basically I want to challenge societal gender and beauty norms. And I also care deeply about using my platform and voice to encourage self-love. We need to learn to look at ourselves and each other in a loving way. Hate towards others starts from a lack of self-love.”

Who are women in your life or throughout history that inspire you? 

“I am really lucky that I grew up with two powerhouse women in my life. My mom has ran three small businesses and my aunt owned a salon by the age of 30 and now works for the federal government. The women in my life taught me that if I wanted something, I possessed everything within myself to make it happen. They taught me to never rely on anyone else for what you want. Through their example, I really gained the attitude that anything was possible through hard work, persistence and patience. My mom is a beast in sales -- she refuses to take no for an answer. She taught me to never give up, but if you don't succeed the first time, try again and again.  And my aunt is a dreamer -- she believes in the power of learning and that anything is possible. I've never once told her something and had her tell me I couldn't do it. She actually helped me make my first business plan and is still my mentor.”

Some of the other women in my life that inspire me and have been super influential in my own journey as a entrepreneur are my mentor Nikki Halgren who owns the brand, Gleeful Peacock, style and business consultant, Aaja Corinne, author and journalist Jonnita Condra, nail artist and designer Spifster Sutton, and boutique owner Jessica Blair. There's a million people in the plus size industry that I look up to also. This list could go on and on!”

If you had one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be and why? 

“If I could tell my former self one thing it would be that confidence does not concern itself with acceptance. I think self-doubt, insecurity, and not feeling worthy affected my ability to get close to people and for me to reach my full potential. I wasted so much of my teenage years and early 20s hiding behind a front and acting like everything was okay. I believed that pain was weakness. And the front prevented me from really seeing myself clearly. One of the biggest things that has inspired myself love journey is that something that one of my favorite fellow entrepreneurs Myleik Teele said in one of her podcasts: "Your deepest wounds reveal your great gifts." I can confidently say that speaking out about my sexual assault and being upfront about having anxiety has changed my life and been hugely impactful on the work that I do with Ready to Stare.”

Check out Alysse’s brand, Ready to Stare, at! And, on Instagram at @ReadyToStare!

This March, I am celebrating all the amazing women around me! Sharing women who have influenced me and make up my personal history. As the month goes on, you can see all my Inspiring Women posts here!