Having occurred for over a century now, International Women’s Day is a major fixture in the world’s calendar.
Held on March 8th every year, it’s a day to celebrate all achievements of women throughout history, as well as signifying the continued mission for gender equality. For over a century, women have had to fight for their voices to be heard, and to be visible in a world dominated by men - and while we have certainly taken massive strides since that first celebration of women in 1909, we still have so far to go.
As we celebrate International Women’s Day, we thought it would be important to lift up and celebrate some of our inspiring clients who are all leading the charge in carving out incredible roles for themselves both in business and the charity sector. Their brands have grown from strength to strength, and we are so lucky to be inspired by them every day.
Inspired by her NYC roots, and current London living, Erica saw the need for a brand that went beyond utility when it came to dog essentials and created Westley. With dog owners rising exponentially over the past few years - 11% of all households welcomed a new pet, and a further 10% still plan to do so, according to the PFMA Pet Survey - it only made sense for Erica to fill a hole in the market; creating sleek, high-quality products at an affordable price, while also giving back to the community and donating a portion of every sale to trusted animal shelters. We spoke with Erica about what it means to be a woman in business:
What is your top tip for women in business?
Be confident in your abilities, learn from your challenges, and help others along the way. One woman’s success paves the way for the next.
Who is a woman that inspires you?
RBG - an extremely mission-driven woman who kicked ass in a man’s world. She didn’t sacrifice her femininity and stayed true to herself to create positive change.
Balancing motherhood and business isn’t an easy feat - and for Emma, it was the turning point that led her to become her own boss. “I worked in advertising agencies and global brands for over 15 years and loved it! I enjoyed the fast pace, the community and the late nights. But then I got pregnant with my little boy and after returning from maternity leave, all the things I loved about working in a successful global agency no longer seemed to fit my new lifestyle and quite frankly, I was made to feel a little washed up and irrelevant.”
Fast forward to today, and there’s nothing that this superwoman can’t do. She runs a massively successful Facebook Ads Agency, has written a best-selling book, runs sell-out courses and webinars on Facebook Ads and building a boutique Facebook ads agency, and the list goes on! The age-old battle for women who want families as well as careers is how to balance both, and how to escape or destroy the bias that comes with that. And how did Emma win that battle? By realising that she had a say in how her life should be balanced.
“Being a successful woman in business means that you have the choice to make decisions based on what you actually want rather than what you can afford. A successful businesswoman has options.”
As Hilary says, “all it took was one dog,” and just like that she had found her life’s mission - Barking Mad Dog Rescue was born. Since 2013, over 1,000 Romanian stray dogs have been rescued and rehomed in both the UK and Germany, as well as feeding over 500 dogs a day. As well as saving countless lives, Barking Mad Dog Rescue is also working with local governments in Romania to effect change and to promote spaying and neutering to control stray dog populations. Hilary is the living embodiment of “be the change you want to see in the world.” In fact, she reminds us of the very woman who she looks up to: “I have drawn inspiration from many women over time. Emmeline Pankhurst is one of my favourites. She believed in action and not words. She drove Universal Suffrage and did not give up.”
What does it mean to you to be a successful woman in business?
It can be difficult to reflect on positive achievements when there are still so many everyday mountains to climb, in dog rescue in Romania. Sometimes I need reminding about how far we have come. I wouldn't be anywhere without such a strong and committed volunteer team, past and present, who give so much time, energy and professionalism into making BMDR what it is.
Who is a woman that inspires you?
[Aside from the above] More recently, I have been so inspired by all the women who have started artisan small businesses during lockdown. It is so good to see skills being brought back to life, with quality and individuality to the fore
What is your top tip for women in business?
Find time to be kind to yourself. This is not something I am often good at.
A classical singer and musician by trade turned entrepreneur - Andrea truly is the triple threat businesswoman. Since starting her coaching career just three years ago, she has been named as a ‘Top 25 Inspirational Welsh Woman,’ shared the stage with the likes of Simon Sinek, Sara Blakely, and Niyc Pidgeon (another of our fabulous clients whom you can read more of below!), as well as being named one of Insider Magazine’s Rising Stars and being a finalist in The Great British Entrepreneur of the Year Awards.
“My purpose is to help people recognise that they have a choice, which is my ultimate driver because it’s our biggest expression of freedom…I’m a firm believer that you cannot make people change or do something they don’t want to. But if you remind them of their power and help them master their mindset, they will move mountains.” - Andrea Callanan, Entrepreneur.com
A businesswoman who walked away from her career to pursue a creative dream, Jennifer leverages her time spent understanding her life experience to build a platform of reflection for others. The vision for her podcast was born during a multi-year writing project. It was during the process of writing her mother’s story that she realized if we start at the beginning — reflecting on who our mother was — we begin to share our personal narrative in the purest form.
In a connective way, Jennifer’s story is not dissimilar to client Emma Van Heusen’s above. Part of Jennifer’s reason for leaving her career at a tech company was her creative dream, but it was also the pull of having a young son at home who wanted her home more. So she took the decision to create her own version of “having it all.”
“Most of us are only just beginning this pursuit of it all, and we have so many old rules to undo…Staying at home can mean you now have the opportunity to create the golden mean of “having it all.” You can nurture family while you determine exactly who you want to be, and what you want to do.” - Jennifer Griffith, Entrepreneur.com
A positive psychologist with a BIG mission, Niyc Pidgeon has helped countless people change their lives through entrepreneurship and positive psychology. Not only was she named “Most Outstanding Positive Psychologist 2018,” but she has also built a million-dollar business, launched an award-winning best-selling book and is currently working on her second, spoken on stage with some of the most influential leaders of the industry, regularly led 100+ person live events, ran luxury business retreats in LA for 3+ years, and been appointed as a Onebracelet and United Nations Women Ambassador to end violence against women…just to name but a few, and the list could continue to go on!
A true leader and pioneer for women in business, Niyc truly found her purpose in teaching women how they too can make 6 and 7 figure revenue streams their new normal, all while being stronger, healthier, and happier in themselves. The key to this success? Well, you can find it all through her online training academy, Unstoppable Success, and a few tidbits of advice below:
An award-winning entrepreneur and Uk business consultant, coach, and advisor for top-tier executives and leaders, Marian Evans is also one of only 5 individuals in Wales awarded the Fellowship of the Institute of Leadership and Management. Now a multiple business owner who founded Elevate BC, Marian is known for her unique ability to unlock people’s potential and supports them to overcome the obstacles holding them back.
When it comes to being a woman in a man’s industry, Marian is a pioneer in carving out her own path. When asked whether she faced any challenges along her path; “Discrimination. Including trying to forge my way in a very traditional, male-dominated sector where individuals in management positions were invariably twice my age and male.” To that extent, Marian now looks forward to how she can help inspire and accelerate gender parity for future generations. Part of her mission is now to “Inspire more people to help educate, inspire and support those who are frightened of change. The evidence is clear – diversity in all its forms creates greatness. Failure to embrace this makes no sense, neither ethically or financially”
While it is a day of celebration for women’s cultural, political, social and economic achievements, it’s also a yearly call to action. Part of IWD’s mission is to “lobby for accelerated gender parity,” and this year’s theme is #BreakTheBias.
Bias (noun) : Inclination or prejudice for or against one person or group, especially in a way considered to be unfair.
Bias exists all around us, whether it is unconscious or deliberate, and it makes it massively difficult for women to move ahead. In fact, The Global Gender Gap Report 2021 found that it will take another 135.6 years for women to achieve equality with men. So it is now more important than ever to no longer stand for bias. This International Women’s Day is all about actively calling out gender bias, discrimination, and stereotyping as and when we see it.
If you would like to join the millions of women across the world who are accepting the challenge, then join us in posting a picture of yourself with your arms crossed to show solidarity. Add a link to resources, as we have done, and use the hashtags #IWD2022 #BreakTheBias to raise awareness and inspire others to join you!
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