Founder & COO
Dessislava is the Chief Operating Officer of Saint and Sofia, the brand she co-founded with her husband Malcolm Bell in 2020.
She’s also one of Ernst & Young’s Winning Women and Management Today’s 30 under 30. Dessislava and Malcolm are best known for starting Zaggora, their activewear brand that they grew to $60 million in sales from 1,5 million customers. In 2012, Dessislava won the National Business Award for E-Commerce Strategy. Previously, she worked as an investment banker at JP Morgan.
Saint and Sofia is a passion project for Dessi and Malcolm, designed to deliver better value fashion in a seriously sustainable way. Dessi and Malcolm believe that quality fashion has become too expensive and too many brands are wasteful in their production and packaging.
After having children, their perspective changed on two key things. Firstly, the potential impact of climate change on their children’s future and secondly, the cost of almost everything. (They suspected this was a common experience for most people after having children). Saint and Sofia offers luxury fashion and accessories at proper prices, with quality items made in family run factories. Saint and Sofia’s operations are designed to offer fast to market, responsive design and manufacturing, minimising waste and optimising sustainability. Saint and Sofia only works with other family owned fabric mills, factories and suppliers who share their values and commitment to better production and sustainability.
In 2019 Malcolm and Dessislava started PLANT - a global initiative to plant trees to reduce the impact of Climate Change. PLANT has the goal of planting 10 million trees in 10 years. On Black Friday they donated all profits to plant over 1,000 Trees in partnership with Trees for Cities. Malcolm and Dessislava also started Not Plastic, an initiative to use biodegradable packaging in the E-Commerce industry.
Dessislava was selected for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneurial Winning Women™️ program, an executive leadership program that identifies a select group of high-potential women entrepreneurs whose businesses show real potential to scale – and then helps them do it. In 2013 she was featured in a Harvard Business School Case study taught to MBA students called ‘18 Months in a Startup: Zaggora.com’. She’s been a contributor to the Huffington Post, Good Web Guide and has recorded Podcasts for Seedcamp, the venture capital fund. She’s been featured in the Financial Times, Sky News, ABC’s Good Morning America, Sunday Times and Reuters.
Dessislava studied at the London School of Economics, graduating with Honors in 2005. Before entrepreneurship, Dessislava worked at the investment bank JP Morgan in the Debt Capital Markets Team from 2006 to 2011. She lives in Chislehurst, South East London with Malcolm and their two young children.