BALANCE FOR BETTER: A MOMENT TO TRACK OUR PROGRESS

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On International Women’s Day 2019

It’s come around again and we know it’s not just about the day itself but how it provides a moment to reflect on how far we’ve come and how far we need to go in the coming year. The theme this year is focused on #BalanceForBetter and we’re taking this day as a chance to track our progress of positive action towards gender balance.

Last year, we launched a joint manifesto in partnership with our positive impact partners Mac&Moore with the aim to support our clients, partners and network to develop structures and cultures, which inculcate genuine equality and diversity. It focuses on ‘thinking is good, talking is great, doing is best’, centred on the three pillars of:

Doing things properly

Doing things differently

Providing a platform for those on their way up

We wanted something that would ensure we hold ourselves to account and that we were actually doing some of the right things. The time for talking has been long overdue, women have (and continue to be) silenced over so many incredibly important topics, but as three people with a lot of in-built privilege, we are in a powerful position to act on those words, and begin to create small but mighty changes which will hopefully start to create some tangible difference across the equality landscape.

We’ve reviewed the three pillar and tracked what we’ve managed to achieve or what areas we still need to work on and then look forward into 2019 to map out how we’ll connect our actions to this year’s theme of ‘Balance’. Perhaps some of these initiatives will give you inspiration of what you could implement to #BalanceForBetter.


GET OUTSIDE OUR ECHO CHAMBER:

“Thank you for an inspiring start to the morning - you girls are great, fostering positive culture for women in work and life”
— Hannah Arnett, Comms Freelancer
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We joined Mac&Moore’s event series in London where a group of likeminded women from the world of marketing and PR gathered around a breakfast table to discuss ‘Levelling Up’ over tea and toast. We discussed how to tackle Learning and Development when you work for yourself, the differences between in-house and remote services, but a large part of the conversation revolved around the importance of getting together face-to-face to provide a sounding board and friendly ear. We’re venturing out of the London Bubble and off to the next one in Leeds next week and more to come!

“I didn’t realise how much I needed the face-to-face time until I was there”
— Indie Foolheea, Unfold Change

The breakfast really highlighted how powerful and supportive women can be with one another when they’re put in a room together and all barriers are dropped. It was a stimulating session of honest conversation of the highs and the lows of work. And what also came through is the power of the human connection - face to face meet-ups make for better relationships that you can value not just in a business sense but personally.

SUPPORTING FEMALE FOUNDERS & LEADERS:

We’re still seeing female founded or co-founded businesses raise less investment than their male counterparts and the percentage of minorities and women on the boards of the largest public companies is only rising slowly. The system is flawed. We’re working next to a host of female founders and leaders in positions of power in sectors such as Health, Tech and the Creative Industries to support them in setting the right tone as a woman for creating change for themselves and others.

It goes without saying that we go over and above to support our fellow supporters and partners like Jess and Nat at Mac&Moore, Jess Sims and Laura West at The Doers and a host of incredible freelancers we work with on behalf of our clients and initiatives, to share notes on how to do better at work and support eachother on the way up.

REPRESENTING & PROMOTING FEMALE TALENT:

Changing the landscape for women means promoting female talent. We build bespoke teams with best-in-class freelance PRs and marketers to plug into businesses and organisations. Together with a strong network of freelancers and our skills we deliver stellar results for our clients. We have begun a new journey with Athena Stevens, national spokesperson at the Women’s Equality Party to provide advice and guidance on greater gender equality in the media.

Our joint content series, The Female Focus, is our beloved platform to promote women at all stages of their careers to show us their worth and talent and prove that there’s more than one way to get there. Success looks like so many different things!

MENTORSHIP:

We’re really passionate about mentoring and supporting those on their way up. Last year from September to December we took part in mentoring for You Make It, a programme to support underprivileged BAME women to succeed in the world of work. The work that the YMI team do is incredible, and as is often the way with this kind of set-up they are always in need of additional funding or mentors, so if you’ve considered sharing some of your time to help others in the past, check them out!

We also uphold reverse mentoring relationships with two incredible women. Clo mentors and receives advice from Lynne Parker, founder of Funny Women, the UK's leading female comedy community helping women to perform, write and do business with humour, as well as with Judy Claughton, freelance PR star and founder of BalanceTime, the creators of mindfulness meditation workshops, retreat days, one-to-one coaching and tips. We gain so much from mapping out challenges and routes to success and vice versa! It’s such a useful level of support that cannot be underestimated.

We’re looking towards 2019 as the year to embed even more ‘Balance’ in everything we do and support our male clients and partners to take meaningful steps forward too. With the support and energy of friends and colleagues and our excellent Mac&Moore partnership, we will try and balance the scales to deliver greater representation of women into the mix. We look forward to sharing our progress with you this year and if you have any comments or suggestions on how we can do better, shout! We want to hear from you!





THE FEMALE FOCUS: EMMA SEXTON

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Meet Emma, Serial entrepreneur and Connector

She is the epitome of the word ‘entrepreneur’ and we’re never sure how she makes time to run her business MYWW™, present on talkRADIO for The Badass Women’s Hour, advise at board level on design strategy to brands and businesses, feature as Creative Pool Top 100 Influencer 2017 & 2018 and take up the post of Creative In Residence at King's College, London, Entrepreneurial Institute. Phew!

I am a bit tired of businesses who decide on a set of values to operate by and decorate them onto a wall but in reality they never get authentically lived

Did you have a female role model or someone you admired as a kid?

I can’t remember anyone specifically but there were lots of people I admired for different reasons. There were those who intrigued me and had attributes of the person I wanted to become. I suppose I was drawing up my own human Pinterest board. I don’t mean celebrities, I mean people I looked up to and thought, “I want to do that one day”. I was aware of a theme I was drawn to and it was those running a business or a person’s mindset towards life.

How do you think your early years have influenced what you do today?

As much as I had a great upbringing I don’t think I was exposed to enough of the world as a child. I lived in a very comfortable bubble. My desire to go to London and then to finally move here really opened up my world. I had never felt like I fitted because I know I wanted to experience a very different life than what I was seeing around me. I couldn’t identify with them in many ways and I really struggled with that. I sometimes wonder what I would be doing differently had I grown up around more diverse people, lifestyles and culture, for instance.

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You’re a business founder, a broadcaster, a speaker and connector and you don’t have an office. How do you create a culture amongst the people you work with?

I can’t count the times I’ve heard people say, “if we don’t have an office, we don’t have a culture”. This couldn’t be further from the truth. At MYWW™, our culture is built on the way we communicate - it is about how we interact with each other, be that face-to-face or via a smartphone. I am a bit tired of businesses who decide on a set of values to operate by and decorate them onto a wall but in reality they never get authentically lived. From the very first day I started my business the culture has been focused on being respectful to one another. We embrace candour and honesty and make sure we have the difficult conversations. We also just get the fucking work done while weaving our lives around our client’s needs. There have definitely been some learnings mastering this approach but it works. It’s a culture we can sustain because it is authentic and people can thrive as individuals.

You’re a propagator for pushing real women’s conversations into the mainstream and redesigning ‘business as usual’ to make it better, not just for women but for everyone. What would be the first thing you’d do in your redesign?

I feel like I am doing it all the time by allowing people to weave life into their work and challenging our traditional ‘masculine’ approach to business. As an employee you are often a resource - there to make someone else more money while the business interest is in paying you the least. I stand by a people first, business second principle. I do not have a business without great people so my job is to keep my team content so they can do the best job for our clients. Happy team = happy client!

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What do you think is missing from businesses in building true diversity?

A lack of consciousness. It’s about consciousness versus unconsciousness. If you’re unconscious you’re only seeing the world from your point view. If you’re conscious you learn that there are things you haven’t experienced that others have and you try really hard to understand this as best you can. We have lived in a very one dimensional society for so long and it’s high time we all listen more, raise our awareness and massively dial up our empathy.

What does ‘badass’ mean to you?

For me, it’s about living life on your terms. It’s about being authentic, seeing multiple dimensions to one thing and choosing the one that fits with you and how you want your life to be.

You are positive impact personified! What have been some of the most positive results you’ve seen from the work you do?

It makes me happy that I can make my staff happy. Recently, one of my employees told me that MYWW™ has changed her life. She’s always worked agency-side and was never able to balance work with looking after her child. Now, she can do pick-up from school, work at home when she chooses and vary the times of days she works. She’s happier, less stressed, and no longer feeling like she’s torn between two worlds. That’s important to me. The more money I make the more I can help others live happier work lives. Work has become such a cumbersome thing where people end up self medicating at the weekend and head towards extremes to escape their working lives. It doesn’t have to be this way. I had read so much about better ways to work and what we need to be happy human beings, now I am practicing it rather than talking about it and always happy to share my learnings with anyone else who wants to know how to make it work for them.

(Being a badass) is about living life on your terms

How do you keep learning more whilst on the many jobs you have?

I think having a mindset that the more I know the more I realise I don’t know! And you don’t have a choice to keep learning if you want to have a successful business! I am a work in progress and want to keep evolving even if I am 90 years old. As the business changes, I change with it. As I change, the business changes. The day I don’t want to learn is probably the day I am done with life!

What have been the essential factors that have enabled you to get to where you are today that you think you'd struggle without?

Resilience; overcoming fear of rejection; sheer bloody mindedness!

Where do you get your inspiration?

People always inspire me. There are lots of different sources and I keep it varied in the types of people I interact with. Working with the ventures at King’s in my role as Expert in Residence on their award winning accelerator scheme has opened up my eyes to new ideas, technology and fresh business perspectives. Every year, through the initiative, I meet over 40 of some of the smartest entrepreneurs from all the over the world - I gain so much from my sessions with them.

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You’re constantly interviewing interesting women on a weekly basis as part of the Badass Women’s Hour. Who's a woman to watch or someone you admire in 2019?

We had an amazing author on, called Tomi Adeyemi, who is the author of the very successful book ‘Children of Blood and Bone’. Her interview was so inspiring so she was one (of so many guests) who really stood out for me. Tomi is only 21 and tipped to be next JK Rowling. She had always really wanted to be an author and hearing her journey of how she went from quitting her job to getting the book published was really special. As a teenager she’d been fixated with fiction but could never identify with it because of her African heritage. She’s rewritten for the genre from her perspective.

 

Name the quote you live by

“The world will not invite you to the feast. You must burst in, demand a seat, and take it.” John Carlton

I realised early on that no one was going to go, ‘here you go Emma, here’s all the opportunities you are waiting so patiently for’, so I got my head down, decided what I wanted and worked bloody hard to get them all - but I am not stopping yet!

Keep up to date with what Emma does next (we’re sure there’ll be something exciting) on Twitter and Instagram.



THE FEMALE FOCUS: CAROLINE HAILSTONE

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Meet Caroline, a Content Writer, Journalist & Producer at The Fable Bureau and Pioneers Post

She’s a multi-hyphenate of our era, straddling roles at both the creative agency for social ventures as well as at the mission-driven magazine. She’s also an incredible musician, roaming the streets with her street orchestra collective. She’s an old colleague and we love what makes her tick. Read on!

Did you have a female role model or someone you admired as a kid?

My mum. As long as I’ve been alive she has always helped people in the community. She runs the local soup kitchen and always takes the load of everyone else. My friends at school too - they are ambitious and go-getting and still are.

Caroline on location for a production job

Caroline on location for a production job

How do you think your early years have influenced what you do today?

Studies show that older siblings have more traditional roles, paving the way for their younger siblings to often do more creative things. That’s certainly true in my case. From a young age, my sisters and I were always encouraged to do everything drama to music. I was encouraged to do what I enjoyed. When I was at school, I realised early on that I was quite good at writing because my teachers would ask me to read out what I’d written to entire classrooms. I got to know that with writing you can tap into your non-thinking brain and not overthink so good stuff comes out.



You started your career in a marketing agency doing PR and social (with Clo)! What experiences did you develop there that have helped set you up for your role right now?

Loads of stuff - I definitely learnt the basics! I learnt to be strategic and I remember thinking, ‘why are we doing this campaign?’, ensuring that everything we did had an outcome. I also learnt how to do things on a smaller budget and the beauty of being creative with it, which has stood me in good stead in the area of social enterprise!

Caroline in action recording a podcast

Caroline in action recording a podcast

Pioneers Post is setting the agenda for the new wave of responsible business leaders and social entrepreneurs. What businesses have peaked your interest lately?

Hey Girls, which tackles period poverty, for sure. It’s a good reminder that strong branding and marketing are important in creating social change. The brand is beautiful, it’s got a cool edge, it sells really nice products and has an ethical supply chain. The CEO Celia Hodson is really cool too - she used to be deputy Chief Exec of Social Enterprise UK - and she’s created a family business heaped in purpose.



What are the main barriers for businesses and social enterprises creating positive impact in the UK?

Standing out. Brands like Innocent, who launched the very successful Big Knit campaign to raise money for Age UK, give knitted hats to old ladies, have tapped into the social change bit but are not a social enterprise. So some social enterprises struggle to stand out from commercial brands doing good.



What do you think is missing from business in building true diversity?

It was interesting visiting the Diversity Forum recently. It’s a collective with a mission to drive inclusive social investment in the UK. Danyal Sattar, CEO of Big Issue Invest as well as John Bird, founder of the Big Issue spoke there. They told us about how the Big Issue was set up by the children of working class Irish immigrants, who saw themselves as diverse, but actually when they eventually looked around they realised they were full of white men.


You are positive impact personified! What have been some of the most positive results you’ve seen from the work you do?

Being part of the WISE 100 - Women in Social Enterprise Awards - has been really impactful in seeing change. WISE 100 brings 100 women together in a room and it’s like the FTSE 100 but for those in social enterprise. You see how passionate these women are to be a part of it and immense pride for being a woman in the space. I want to be a part of keeping these awards going, along with the passionate team I work with.


How do you keep learning more whilst on the job?

Sometimes it’s easy to keep a job easy when you know it inside out. But what keeps me on my toes are the monthly impact analysis meetings we have in place at The Fable Bureau / Pioneers Post. When we’ve made a film we will sit down together and assess as a team how we can make it better. It’s changed the way I think about doing my job and I am more conscious of how we can improve and get better.



Where do you get your inspiration?

At work I can get it from anywhere. In our meetings, we’ll bring films and documentaries that inspire us. I regularly go to galleries and concerts, which keep my mind ticking. I also play in Street Orchestra Live, where we play in hospitals and random places rather than concert halls. It takes away any sense of ego or any nervousness about making music, because it makes you realise that at the end of the day it should be about bringing people joy.

Street Orchestra Live

Street Orchestra Live


Who's a woman to watch or someone you admire in 2019?

All my teammates are cool, strong women. All 7 of us are women apart from the CEO and we keep our boss on his toes. We also work with Ealing Community Transport, which is a really important service for those who are immobile and would otherwise be stuck at home. Their CEO Anna Whitty is very cool and she stands her ground in what is a male-dominated industry.



Name the quote you live by

There isn’t one particular quote I live by, though recently I like the song ‘Make Love to Your Mind’ by Bill Withers...it’s cool to think about people you meet that make you intrigued with their minds.

 

And if you’re a social enterprise reading this, get on board with Caroline and the Pioneers Post team for a day of marketing and communications workshops, including a key note from the awesome Sam Conniff Allende. It’s on 26th February, with more details here. Follow Caroline and the teams at Pioneers Post and The Fable Bureau on Twitter.

THE FEMALE FOCUS: GEORGIE POWELL

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Georgie Powell, Founder of SPACE

We’ve been lucky enough to work with Georgie and SPACE, the app she founded to encourage us to have more tech/life balance and less mindless phone scrolling. Georgie tells us why her own tech overdose led her to create SPACE and why millions are downloading it.

(Having kids) made me realise more than ever that if I am to be working away from them, I need to care about what I do.

Did you have a female role model or someone you admired as a kid?

My first headmistress. Her motto was to always make a difference. She had gravitas, poise and purpose.

How do you think your early years have influenced what you do today?

Both of my parents showed me how what you put into life you get out. They both worked hard and I lived abroad for much of my youth, experiencing different cultures whilst living in different places.

What led you down the path of building Space and what has surprised you most about the process so far?

I had been thinking about my relationship with technology for a while - how it didn’t always make me feel great. I had a wakeup moment when I became a new mum, whilst breastfeeding my child, that I was scrolling through photos of her on my phone. She was right there in front of me and I was missing the moment! I instantly became interested in the technology overdose that so many of us are experiencing.

I never anticipated that startup life would be such a rollercoaster. One of the things that put me off corporate life is that success is often based not on what you do, but how you communicate what you do to your peers and bosses. I know I’m having an impact in making this app, but communication is still so important. I have learnt I need to make storytelling present in everything SPACE does. I know I need to find the right way to communicate our successes, our vision, our impact. If this business was run by guys they would spin it into something bigger. I’m conscious of this but haven’t found the solution yet.

Georgie and her baby

Georgie and her baby

How do you keep learning more whilst on the job?

I care so passionately about the issue of tech/life balance and am constantly on the hunt for more research and findings on how it’s impacting people’s lives. It was really important for me to choose a business I really care about. I learn a new skill every day, from building a new email template, to understanding how PR works. There’s an element of enforced learning with start-up life.


What have been the essential factors that have enabled you to get to where you are today that you think you'd struggle without?

Having kids. They gave me the impetus to make this a reality. They made me realise more than ever that if I am to be working away from them, I need to care about what I do. Technology and social media is going to have an impact on their future too.

SPACE has had a lean model from the outset which has allowed for flexibility. I was able to have a day job and launch the venture alongside it, which was great. This meant that I learnt whilst still on the job and we didn’t have upfront fixed costs. I was looking for partnerships from the beginning to avoid capital risk.


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Where do you get your inspiration?

I have a few things. A close friend who has a very successful startup - Messly, an NHS recruitment service - definitely inspires me. He has amazing tenacity and drive. I get ongoing inspiration from my kids and I continue to be inspired by the sector I’m in. Having a flexible lifestyle keeps me alive too. The thought of being back in corporate life makes me feel grey.


You led YouTube’s content business in Australia and New Zealand. Do you think businesses of such a large scale can have a grip on staff work life balance? And if they don’t, what can they do about it?

They can. Google did it really well. For them, it’s not about having staff face-time but about deliverables - it’s on you to make it work. It’s a fine line to make sure people have enough work; complex enough but not too stretched so they don’t lose their balance. And it’s about ensuring it’s flexible enough so that time is carved out specifically not for work.


What do you think is missing from businesses in building true diversity?

There’s still a lot of unconscious bias out there in the way people are hired and promoted. Business leaders often hire versions of themselves and it’s evident particularly in tech.


Who's a woman to watch or someone you admire in 2019?

Women in my daily life inspire me - friends, family and other mums who give so much to everything. And this might be controversial, but to be honest, at the moment Theresa May is also a huge inspiration. The way she has conducted herself with class and tenacity throughout the Brexit process and how she took on a job that was always going to be a poison chalice is impressive.


Name the quote you live by

Always make a difference, as my headmistress taught me, and what you put in you get out, following in my parents’ footsteps.



Check out Georgie on LinkedIn and if you feel you need more time away from your phone but are unsure of what to do next, find out more about what SPACE can do to help here.



THE FEMALE FOCUS: SOPHIE HOBSON

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Sophie Hobson, Head of Comms at the School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE)

SSE helps 1,000 people a year develop the skills, strengths and networks they need to tackle society’s biggest problems. We caught up with Sophie on fangirling Esther Rantzen and her passion for creating opportunities for the people society has left behind.

Most organisations do not reflect the society they serve. We need to ask difficult questions of ourselves, if we want to counter our biases and become more inclusive.

Did you have a female role model or someone you admired as a kid?

I was obsessed with Esther Rantzen as a kid! I learnt about Childline when I was quite young and thought it was an amazing idea for supporting children who were having a difficult time. As the founder of that charity, she could do no wrong in my little eyes. A pretty unusual role-model for a seven-year-old, I suppose, but there you go!



How do you think your early years have influenced what you do today?

My mum has volunteered for Cancer Research since before I was born, and is always organising fundraising events that seem genuinely fun. That – along with my fangirling Esther Rantzen – definitely sparked a commitment to charitable causes and social change. There was a lot of campaigning going on about greenhouse gases and protecting endangered species that reached me as a child, too. I remember I had a children’s book created by Greenpeace about the Rainbow Warrior, and another by the Vegetarian Society that was a kind of survival guide for vegetarian teenagers. I guess all those things wiggled their way into my identity. (And made me annoyingly self-righteous as a teenager... sorry, everyone.) And I’ve always loved writing and drawing, which explains the communications bit.

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You have helped build several startups in the past. What led you down this path and what were some of your biggest learnings?

It’s so exciting to work at a start-up. I loved feeling like I was genuinely helping to shape the direction of those businesses, and how quickly I could make ideas a reality. It’s very fast-moving, and I enjoy wearing lots of hats. It is also – as everyone says – an emotional rollercoaster. You have to be prepared for the days when everything feels frustrating and desperate, sometimes just days apart from the successes - when it feels like you’re going to take over the world! I think my biggest learning is how important it is to be working with a team that you trust and you like, when you’re in that environment. You often have to go above and beyond the call of duty to make things work, and that only feels worth it when you respect your team-mates. In a small team, mutual respect and a shared vision are essential.



How do you keep learning more whilst on the job?

Talking to people in similar roles to me at other organisations, reading and doing regular training to develop my skillset, and keeping an eye on what other sectors and organisations are doing to innovate in my field.

I have had a relatively privileged life. I would be an idiot not to recognise how that has opened certain doors for me.

What have been the essential factors that have enabled you to get to where you are today that you'd think you'd struggle without?

I have learnt how to keep my work-life balance in check. I love talking to people and I am creative. Overall, I feel okay about myself… apart from the inevitable imposter syndrome sneaking in from time to time. Also, I have had a relatively privileged life. I would be an idiot not to recognise how that has opened certain doors for me. For example, I have had a good education, a loving family, generally been in good health, and always had a roof over my head. I believe it is completely random that I have ended up with that amount of luck, and it’s not fair that people in other circumstances might find it more difficult to find meaningful employment or support. I guess that’s why I spend my working life supporting social entrepreneurs and social-sector leaders – they’re tackling injustices and creating opportunities for the people society has left behind.


Where do you get your inspiration?

Trying to take in a diverse range of media, observing other people’s behaviours, and finding out what other people are excited by and geek out on. Also, walking among lots of plants helps clear my mind.

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What do you think is missing from businesses in building true diversity?

Inclusivity, and shying away from difficult questions. Most organisations do not reflect the society they serve, but the people working there are afraid to ask why some people have ended up excluded. We need to get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. It takes hard work, self-reflection and challenge to our own beliefs to understand why we are prejudiced towards certain people. We need to ask difficult questions of ourselves, if we want to counter our biases and become more inclusive.



Do you think social entrepreneurship is opening more doors for women to come through?

Absolutely! The majority of social entrepreneurs we support at SSE are women. Across the UK more broadly, 40% of social enterprises are led by women, according to research from Social Enterprise UK.

SSE Global Team

SSE Global Team

You now work with the School for Social Entrepreneurs. How can businesses help make social entrepreneurship a success in this country?

Loads of ways! Businesses can work in partnership with social enterprises, get them in their supply chain and buy from them (this directory will help). Larger corporates can provide funding to the social-enterprise sector. Of course, the ideal solution would be for businesses to become social enterprises themselves! Even big businesses can make this change, as Cordant Group proved last year.



You’re an expert in content marketing. What brands are on your radar right now that you believe are pushing the boundaries in this space?

I’m more interested in how organisations are using technologies like virtual reality (VR) and voice to create more powerful communications. For example, the National Autistic Society’s Too Much Information film gave me an insight into autism that I don’t think would have been possible without the VR element. It’s a great example of using technology to improve story-telling, rather than using tech in a novelty way that feels clumsy.

Who's a woman to watch or someone you admire in 2018?

I think June Sarpong is doing brilliant work to promote the diversity and inclusion agenda. Also, all the women in the recently announced Women in Social Enterprise 100 are well worth watching (and SSE’s managing director Nicola Steuer is among them!).

Name the quote you live by

“Unless you catch ideas on the wing and nail them down, you will soon cease to have any.” – Virginia Woolf

Chat to Sophie on Twitter @sophiehobson

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A POSITIVE ROLE MODEL IN 2018 AND BEYOND?

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The theme of International Men’s Day this year is ‘Positive Role Models’

We wrote a blog post last week that you can find here about why we decided to team up with Mac&Moore and chat to some pretty incredible men about this topic. We’ve been so excited to share the responses we asked to the following three questions and feel as though there were some powerful common themes, despite the participants working in the worlds of sport, education, advertising and beyond which has been both refreshing and encouraging in the midst of all the media misery we’re enduring at the moment. So with no further ado, let’s dive right in!

Phil Bartlett – Managing Director, CDM

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- What are the qualities or most important elements of being a positive role model?

Authenticity, consistency and tenacity. People will forgive your (inevitable) weaknesses and failings if they can see you’re sincere about your beliefs and efforts.

- What actions do you think need to be taken to ensure that men can thrive without being restricted by patriarchal structures?

First, it’s down to the individual to take the first step: just let go of all the old bullshit and there’s a real freedom and poise that can come with that. “There’s more courage in truth than there is in pretending to be strong.” But the long game is all about teaching our sons about empathy and the importance, and huge value, of vulnerability in building trust.

- How do you think men can be positive role models for women?

I don’t think women need men to be positive role models for them. I think people need to decide they’re going to be positive role models for other people. Like-minded, forward thinking and open-hearted individuals will always find and support each other. (Find Phil on Twitter and LinkedIn)

Nick Bridge – Founder, Girls are Awesome

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- What are the qualities or most important elements of being a positive role model?

I really think just not being a dick helps. I try not to be a dick as much as possible. I’m not always successful because working with people is a dynamic thing and sometimes life is frustrating. Thank goodness we’re not robots and we’re forced to navigate and be diplomatic and empathic. Strategies are great because they forget the people have egos and fears and ambitions and interests. I really think just trying to try to see things from as many different points of view as possible helps. And being large enough to admit to your mistakes, shift perspective and not always have to be right. That’s something I work on every day. I’m not the expert though.

- What actions do you think need to be taken to ensure that men can thrive without being restricted by patriarchal structures?

Wow, big question. I’m not ‘strong’ or unemotional so I can’t speak to those particular traits, but I think somehow showing and experiencing success through failure can go a long way. I also don’t necessarily think that being strong or unemotional needs to be a restriction - we just need more females in all levels of business, government and society, and especially at the top. I also don’t believe in a total revolution either, obvious big things need to happen and the scales need to tip for women in order for dudes to shut the fuck up for a second and stop being protective and mean and greedy. There’s only one way to find out if power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely regardless of gender, or not.

- How do you think men can be positive role models for women?

I really only think about how to be a role model for my kids, how I have to show my son and daughter to be respectful people - and to be honest, there’s so much Girls Are Awesome in our lives at home as well as the studio that I have to try to figure out how to raise my boy amongst this societal shift - if you know what I mean. There’s a lot of positive encouragement for young girls and women right now but we mustn’t forget that might leave the boys to figure it out for themselves, again - and it will be interesting to see how that goes. Not saying it’s not about a shift, and that after thousands of years of oppression that women deserve what’s coming through this movement, but the overall goal is equality. (Find Girls Are Awesome on Instagram)

Chris Wyles – International Rugby Union Player and founder of Wolfpack Lager

Source:  Sky Sports

Source: Sky Sports

What are the qualities or most important elements of being a positive role model?

I believe the most important element is to lead by example. It's easy to talk the talk but you need to walk the walk.

- What actions do you think need to be taken to ensure that men can thrive without being restricted by patriarchal structures?

In this case it's all about communicating. We need to make sure men feel comfortable to share their thoughts and concerns and open up. This is an important step to allowing men to look for help and guidance rather than internalising emotion.

- How do you think men can be positive role models for women?

It's all about being respectful to people rather than making it about men or woman. If you are respectful and considerate you can be a role model to anyone! (Find Chris on Twitter and Instagram)

Dr. Kerry Featherstone – Lecturer in English and Creative Writing, Loughborough University

Credit: Suzi Corker Photography

Credit: Suzi Corker Photography

Firstly, I have a strange relationship with gender. My first name is asexual, and many people have assumed that I’m female. Mobile phone providers have refused to allow me to change contracts on behalf of Kerry Featherstone. I get asked what my relationship is to the patient when I pick up medication at the pharmacy. And I’m not particularly macho: as a teenager I was beaten up for being gay on more than one occasion (I’m not gay). Should I have made it clear that I wasn’t gay in order to avoid the beating, or would that be tacitly acknowledging that if I had been gay, the beating would be understandable? So, as we know, gender can be a pain in all sorts of ways, petty or horrific.

- What are the qualities or most important elements of being a positive role model?

I think it’s something like a combination of integrity and empathy. In practical terms, be kind to other people. Try to help them to get where they want to go, rather than helping them to be more like you. For me, the ability to be generous with your time and energy is a sign of strength. That’s about empathy. Also, try to live according to standards that you set yourself, and are happy with, regardless of how other people behave towards you. For me, a role model has self-respect that doesn’t rely on the response of other people. In order for it to become a model, you have to do it publicly: show that other people’s behaviour doesn’t diminish your belief in your values. That’s the integrity bit.

- What actions do you think need to be taken to ensure that men can thrive without being restricted by patriarchal structures?

I think you have to be prepared to ask yourself some questions! “Why am I behaving like this?”; “Why do I feel I have to do or say certain things?”; “Why can’t I do or say certain things?” If you start unpacking the reasons for behaving in certain ways, there’s no logic to or need for it. So that might be a sign that you should let it go. That’s personal interrogation, I guess. At societal level, we need to let go of the idea of ‘growing a pair’: it’s ridiculous and harmful.

- How do you think men can be positive role models for women?

By showing respect regardless of gender. I’m fortunate to work in an environment where women have as much expert knowledge as their male colleagues and – as far as I’m concerned – are valued accordingly. That should be true anywhere. If, as a man, you behave differently towards the people around you because of gender, you need to be asking yourself why you’re doing that. Perhaps part of the answer is to accept that, as a man, you can have female role models. I certainly do. (Find Kerry on Twitter and Instagram)

Josh Uwadiae – Founder, WeGym

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- What are the qualities or most important elements of being a positive role model?

I think one of the most important elements of being a positive role model is a mixture of vulnerability and optimism. People should be inspired by your optimistic views and actions but equally grounded by the candour at which you articulate the bad and ugly, which complements the good work you’re doing. A good example is the book Shoedog - the autobiography of Phil Knight the Founder of Nike.

- What actions do you think need to be taken to ensure that men can thrive without being restricted by patriarchal structures?

I think men need to be given the liberty to be both macho masculine and feline feminine. Being too manly is judged and vice versa with femininity so I believe the modern man is lost in today’s climate. In terms of action I would first start with spreading awareness to the traditions which have been handed to us as men as we are often acting these out subconsciously... my dad hated talking about my emotions and I found myself growing up similar so it’s about breaking the cycles publically as well as at home!

- How do you think men can be positive role models for women?

I heard a great talk by David Wade where he said, ' we're all sexist, even the good people ' and that really resonated with me. I think I'm a good person and therefore I'm really not sure the specificity of male role models to women in a general/societal setting but I do feel a responsibility to manage my own sexism, bias, discriminative opinions and make other people (including men) aware too. (Find Josh on Twitter and Instagram)



Paul Mellor – Founder, Mellor & Smith

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- What are the qualities or most important elements of being a positive role model?

  • Listening. As the old adage goes "you've got 2 ears and 1 mouth" so shut your mouth and pin your ears back.

  • Humility. It goes a long fucking way.

  • Empathy. Having compassion for another person’s life, problems, hopes and dreams is incredibly powerful.

  • Having a backbone. Displaying the guts to stand for something or someone, especially if that opinion costs you.

  • Being fucking real. Having the confidence to show weaknesses as well as strengths.

  • And remember, nobody likes a dickhead.

- What actions do you think need to be taken to ensure that men can thrive without being restricted by patriarchal structures?

Suicide is the biggest killer in men between 20-45. How the fuck did we, as a civilised world, get to the point where the biggest thing killing young men is themselves. It would be laughable if it wasn't so serious. It's definitely connected to society's demand for men to be strong and unemotional. But I reckon it's bigger than that; patriarchal structures don't actually work for anyone apart from the one fella at the top. Equality isn't women superseding men, it's men and women thriving together.

- How do you think men can be positive role models for women?

By calling out bullshit, misogyny and inequality at every opportunity. The people who’ve been to our Take Fucking Risks events know I call out the problems in the advertising industry whenever I can: "Fuck white, male creative directors”. I've got 3 kids at Primary School: 2 daughters and a son. I despair that my daughter’s opportunities will be hindered as they grow up, whereas my son will afforded baked-in privilege. Fuck that shit. It’s time for change. (Find Paul on Instagram)

Matt Boyles – Founder, Fitter You and Wireless Fitness

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- What are the qualities or most important elements of being a positive role model?

Always challenging and calling out sexism, bias and privilege. Plus continually challenging my own prejudices and biases and catching myself when this happens, as embarrassing as it might be. This can start on a micro level, ie. with your friends, as well as in the wider field. Carefully thinking about the language I use in real life and online and also ensuring I don't do anything that might be construed in any way as intimidating. Not to mention supporting the women I know in all their endeavours, both personally and professionally.

- What actions do you think need to be taken to ensure that men can thrive without being restricted by patriarchal structures?

Listening to the amazing women in our life as much as possible - really listening. Calling out people who are consciously (and unconsciously) supporting the current toxic structures. Having the awareness to notice and work on when we do fall into the old traps. eg. even though I'm an out gay man, I occasionally find myself hiding or disguising who I am in order to appear more manly or fit in with certain groups and it's not doing anyone any favours. Being more 'masc' or manly doesn't mean you're stronger in any way, it just means you're still subscribing to ridiculously outdated notions that are holding all of us back.

- How do you think men can be positive role models for women?

With the consistency of our language, support and approach. By listening more. By not assuming we know everything. By staying open and grateful to the women in our life and wider circle for everything they've done and will do for us and with us. (Find Matt on Twitter and Instagram)

Luke SturgeonFounder, GreySpace

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- What are the qualities or most important elements of being a positive role model?

I believe a good role model will frequently find moments to reflect on what they’re doing and whether their actions and opinions can be improved. I enjoy seeking out critical feedback from others and encourage criticality. I’m most happy when someone asks me why I believe x is a good idea versus y.

A) it forces me to articulate my thinking clearly

B) whilst trying to explain I’m also deciding if I agree with my old opinion

C) we can compare and imagine alternatives.

- What actions do you think need to be taken to ensure that men can thrive without being restricted by patriarchal structures?

I think men already thrive in many areas. The challenge here is a broader one of changing gender stereotypes. I’m aware when I’m speaking to mostly male, mostly female, or mixed groups. But the moment someone speaks to me - regardless of gender - I’m listening to a person with a different background, experiences, education and interests to myself. That’s always fascinating and rewarding. Women are underrepresented in many areas of society. Work being an obvious and important one. I believe we need to create more opportunities for underrepresented people to excel. But I also don’t believe someone should be empowered just to fill a diversity agenda, we should see and celebrate the value each person offers on a case-by-case basis.

- How do you think men can be positive role models for women?

I don’t think men should be role models for women specifically. I think someone who’s intelligent, passionate, articulate and interesting can be a positive role model to someone else who’s looking to better some aspect of themselves and grow in new ways. I think people should surround themselves with a diverse set of interesting men and women, younger and older, who will encourage them to challenge their assumptions, develop their own opinions, and take their own action. We all need to support others who are on this journey of growth and self-development. I think most people would be proud to discovered they positively impacted someone else’s life.

Adam Jones – Policy and Advocacy Officer, UK Council for Psychotherapy

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- What are the qualities or most important elements of being a positive role model?

Speaking generally, I think positive role models are those who lead by example, and think very carefully about the effect that their actions have on other people, particularly those who may be looking up to them for guidance. In terms of men, I think positive role models are those who are brave enough to challenge patriarchal values and traditional ideas about masculinity. Men who use their position or platform to show others that it’s OK to break away from typical notions of “manliness”.

- What actions do you think need to be taken to ensure that men can thrive without being restricted by patriarchal structures?

The feminist movement needs to continue to grow. Many men are terrified of the “fem” part of feminism, but a movement to dismantle patriarchal structures and end sexism and oppression stands to liberate us all. That is what is needed to create a world where men can thrive regardless of whether or not they conform to traditional notions of masculinity.

- How do you think men can be positive role models for women?

Of course there are many wonderful men who can act as positive role models to people regardless of their gender. But, in a society where the achievements of men have long been put on a pedestal and the achievements of women diminished, I don’t think men should be motivated by being role models for women. They should do what they can to help to break down the barriers that so many positive female role models face – and that sometimes includes stepping aside. They should also shun the patriarchal values that have so often belittled women’s status and achievements. Follow UKCP on Twitter and Instagram)



We'd like to say a huge thank you to all the men who spoke to us so honestly and candidly on this topic, we look forward to hopefully having many more conversations to come!

OH HI BOYS

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As many of you will know by now, we’re kind of keen about women.

Talking about them, celebrating, chatting with them, swooning over their brilliance. Following on from International Women’s Day earlier this year, we teamed up with Mac&Moore to create an action plan on how we’d #PressForProgress and make our contribution towards ending gender inequality. So you might be wondering why this blog is all about men? 19th November is International Men’s Day, and far from believing that we should be in any way threatened by this event, we’ve instead decided to offer our thoughts.

We know so many incredible men in our lives, and often the discussions around feminism or gender are very black and white, men OR women, which is not only incredibly limiting, but it excludes so many others from the conversation such as trans or non-binary folk and other intersectional issues. We’ve never believed that the discussion around feminism should be exclusively limited to ‘female-only’ spaces. As individual businesses, we work closely alongside a whole range of different types of businesses made up of different people. We’re committed to creating change within the infrastructure of the working landscape by partnering with companies who share our values, and believe that more diverse and inclusive working spaces benefit everyone. We can achieve better work, build better businesses and foster greater creativity by challenging the ‘norms’ that we are all guilty of becoming comfortable in, and we believe the best place to start is by listening to each other.

The theme of International Men’s Day 2018 is ‘Positive Role Models’, an important topic in today’s world. We have been thinking a lot about what it means to be a role model in 2018, and ways in which we can remove gender from the equation altogether to achieve both more representation and more access to role models for all different types of people, from all walks of life. To coincide with International Men’s Day we’ve spoken to some incredible men who are all influential in their own respective fields on what the phrase ‘positive role models’ means to them.

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We’ll be revealing the answers very soon (watch this space!) but in the meantime, and so that we can be absolutely clear, here are three reasons why we, as a collective, feel this is an important conversation to be a part of…

1. The patriarchy is most of the problem. Men are part of the solution.

The patriarchy and its terrible terrible structures are a problem for everyone. In that, at least, it does not discriminate. We strongly believe that the only way in which we’ll create long-lasting, positive change is by engaging men in the conversation, not isolating them. We want them to listen to us, understand our perspective and our experiences, so we need to encourage conversations, open communication channels and create dialogue. Caitlin Moran demonstrated a sterling example of this recently with this Twitter thread which prompted some amazing learnings and insights, off the back of conversation. We think that more of this can only be a good thing, so we wanted to ask men both in our lives and that we admire about role models, and we cannot wait to share the responses.

2. Privilege and perspective

Due to the aforementioned patriarchy, there are many ways in which men (particularly white, middle-class, able-bodied, cis men) are afforded preferential treatment and privilege in this country. Recognising that we are all part of a system of oppression and supremacy and knowing and acknowledging our place within it is very important to avoid conversations around certain issues being misunderstood. We three, as white, straight able-bodied cis women, are no exception. Once that has been understood, we can drill down into some of the specifics facing certain groups without feeling as though the raising of these issues are monopolising the conversation, or taking it away from others.

Suicide is the leading cause of death of men aged between 20 and 45 in the UK. That is an absolute tragedy. The fact that men often don’t feel able to reach out for help, be vulnerable and show their emotions is not just unfair, it’s dangerous. Toxic masculinity and its effects are a problem of the patriarchy, and that’s why we should all be trying to get rid of it.

3. Behind ‘enemy’ lines

If you do a Google search of ‘positive role models for men’ or ‘positive role models for women’, literally all the suggestions or for people within the same gender. We think that’s just weird. Traditionally, we only really had access to white male role models that were beyond the home, but as times have now begun to change, we need better representation of role models for everyone. We need people within minority groups to be able to see themselves as leaders, Olympic champions, award-winners, innovators and entrepreneurs…. because that’s what will make the world a better place. Fact. So we started wondering whether we can break down the idea of a role model, take it away from gender… and focus more on the qualities and attributes that make up a great person, and we’re going to take it from there.

So keep your eyes peeled for our interviews coming up next week. We’re really excited to share the conversations we’ve had and hopefully start some new ones. These kind of topics and discussions can be a little uncomfortable at times, but in discomfort, change can occur and we’re interested in pursuing that. Also, please do get in touch… we would love to have more conversations on this and hear your perspectives, even if you disagree… just no trolls please!


Check out what the girls at Mac&Moore are up to here.

THE FEMALE FOCUS SERIES: LACEY HUNTER-FELTON

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Lacey Hunter-Felton, Founder of Hunter Collective

Hairdresser Lacey saw an opportunity to build a space for beauty and fashion people wanting to be independent and work flexibly. Hunter Collective is an incubator for the mums who still want to work and the next generation of tastemakers who want to forge their own path. We caught up with her on why the co-working salon studio and event space is filling a dying need for change.

If I can give women flexibility and independence through the business, I am doing what I set out to do. And even if it’s helping just me and one more woman, Hunter Collective is giving us another option.

Did you have a female role model or someone you admired as a kid?

Very much so. From a young age I was surrounded by strong female cheerleaders throughout the generations and into my adulthood. My mother, grandmother, friends, my hairdresser, Cheryl, who inspired me as a kid to become a hairdresser. I’ve taken different things from each of them and carried them with me. For me, it’s so important to have strong female influences and keep gathering them. And there’s a couple of my clients too, who are powerful, articulate and beautiful women who have been following my career and invested time in me. When I was mulling over the genesis of Hunter Collective, I realised that they were stepping up and motivating me to do it. And since the birth of the business they haven’t steppedback. For me it’s not a gender thing. The women in my life are strong influencers with my priorities at heart. I’ve expanded my network as an adult and have tried to bring others into it - to inspire back.

A pic of Lacey with her grandmother May Ivy Hunter. She takes the name from her and she symbolises the amazing women who have influenced Lacey’s upbringing.

A pic of Lacey with her grandmother May Ivy Hunter. She takes the name from her and she symbolises the amazing women who have influenced Lacey’s upbringing.

What led you to start Hunter Collective?

I needed to. I had to. Hunter Collective was born out of waking up and looking around, thinking ‘where do all the women in my industry go?’ It’s crazy but 70% of women drop out of the industry by the time they’re 34 years old. In hairdressing, the strongest influencers are men and they’re usually the owners of the salons, while women are the mentors. In my experience, women were having kids and not coming back. I was working in central London and the chance of having a long career in hair as a woman wasn’t sustainable. I kept in touch with my mentors, who went on to diversify their careers, which was great, but in reality they didn’t have a choice. Classic salon life did not accommodate them and their families.

I definitely learnt from these mentors before deciding to potentially have a baby myself. (Lacey had her baby Gene last year). I thought to myself, ‘if I become pregnant, I can’t wait for these barriers to move as I could be waiting forever.’ Instead, I built my dream of what I wanted for my career and as a mother. I quit my job, feeling very frustrated with the situation. I set about spending two years collecting and building what is Hunter Collective now. I am a creature of consistency and cosmic ordering so it was ultimately fear that put a rocket up my arse.

How do you think your early years have influenced what you're doing today?

My mother raised 3 children on her own. The stability my mum created in a tough situation is a cornerstone that I have replicated for myself. She supported me to become a hairdresser at the age of 16. We couldn’t afford for me to train at Vidal Sassoon London but she encouraged me to learn the skill and do it well. Hairdressing gets a bad rap outside the industry but not everybody can be a hairdresser.

I learnt a skill rather than studying a skill, one which I could use anywhere in the world. This gave me loads of confidence. I moved to London, which was the making of me. I wouldn’t have had the career opportunities, I wouldn’t have met my husband and friends, and built my aspirations of how I would raise my child. London’s vibrant diversity and beautifully complicated way was oxygen for me.

The Hunter Collective space

The Hunter Collective space

How do you keep learning more whilst building a business?

Listening. Simple as that - I listen all the time. I’ve made it my job to take every person I work with for coffee and get feedback. I’ve also learnt to say ‘I don’t know’. This was difficult at the beginning but it’s massively rewarding now. I work with interesting, dynamic characters every day and I always ask them to tell me what they’re doing. I have realised that asking for 5 minutes of their time to listen, people will share.

Where do you get your inspiration?

Where to start! My connections from Hunter Collective - our members, my son – are massively inspiring. Through the business, I meet people with diverse careers and backgrounds - that’s inspirational enough. These are the people who I wanted to build Hunter Collective for and help them build their own businesses. And Nico, my co-founder, is inspirational - he took on a major risk doing this. Ultimately, inspiration is people.

It was ultimately fear that put a rocket up my arse.

What do you think is missing from businesses in building true diversity?

Awareness. Businesses don’t understand bias. A lot of businesses remain unconscious. Many of us are guilty, including me. I was always conscious of culture and diversity but even I was complacent. Hunter Collective, alone, has proven to me how everyone has a responsibility to take diversity seriously and actively take part in building a diverse society around them. In some parts of our lives we’re just cruising to be happy and support ourselves. But some businesses need a reality check and structure within so that diversity becomes second nature and part of everyday life. We’re not there yet.

What brands are on your radar right now and why?

We’re always looking at brands to partner with and inspire us. They won’t interest me if they don’t back themselves up ethically and sustainably. At Hunter Collective, we build long term relationships with partners so it’s in our culture to work with businesses who celebrate ethnicity and address waste and pollution, which is a big issue in the industry. We’re trying to set an example so we can influence others and create a knock-on effect. We’re quietly encouraged that brands are being more responsible and future-proof.

What have been the essential factors that have enabled you to be an entrepreneur that you'd think you'd struggle without?

The knowledge that it takes a village. I didn’t know what the phrase meant until I needed a village. When s*** gets real you need people around you and a support network cheering you on. I thank my family and husband on a daily business as I couldn’t come to work if my family couldn’t look after my child and I couldn’t have done it without my husband financially supporting me. Their commitment is still high even a year after my son was born. This pushes me forward as I’m determined not to let them down.

The Hunter Collective meeting room

The Hunter Collective meeting room

What's your biggest learning so far since starting Hunter Collective?

I have learnt a lot from working with Nico. That everything we want do we’ve got to do ourselves. From the structure and framework of the business, to how it’s run. It’s endless and I’m still learning. I still have confidence wobbles but I know that as long as I keep going, it will get better. Being a hairdresser has given me a good basis for knowing how to treat every meeting with a high level of customer service. And then there’s the stamina. Fourteen hour days standing on my feet has taught me what a hard day’s work feels like.

How has work changed since having a child relatively recently?

It was the best thing that ever happened. I was treading water and not really sure about whether to set up Hunter Collective. In my mind I was an unemployed girl with an idea and I couldn’t do anything with it. When I got pregnant, my mindset changed. I needed to step up and look after my family and future. My son, Gene, was a ticking time bomb – and kicked me into getting some funding and a location. I met Nico when I was already 6 months pregnant and 12 days after the birth, together we signed the lease. By week 3 of Gene being born I was working full time and by week 7 Hunter Collective opened.

If I can give women flexibility and independence through the business, I am doing what I set out to do. And even if it’s just me and one more woman, Hunter Collective is giving us another option.

Who's a woman to watch or someone you admire in 2018?

Well, two that I need to name are my clients and they’ve been quiet pushers for me to grab life. Firstly, Nishma Robb, Marketing Director at Google, who is someone whose career I see getting bigger and bolder. And Emma Sexton has been a massive influence on me. I can only thank her and keep beating her drum. She is the ultimate badass. Emma was one of my first clients and she ignored the fact that I was on gardening leave when I left a former salon and took me for a drink. These are two women who I want to be even more publicly successful so that they can inspire lots more women.

Name the quote you live by

“You have as many hours in the day as Beyonce”, which is on the side of a mug my husband bought me. Otherwise, it has to be “It takes a village”, which I constantly cling to as my guiding prophecy. My husband, Liam, is the best man and he’s been in this 100% with me. I feel that men are often taken for granted these days because equality has shifted. Liam and I both co-parent our son. He’s never told me not to go to work so he can prioritise his work. He has not let me down when I’ve needed to push harder. But beyond my husband, the quote reminds me that I need everyone. It’s not just about having a husband and girls squad around me, it’s about everyone who has a genuine impact on my life. We’re all in it together.


Find out more about this incredible woman’s creation here and follow Hunter Collective on Instagram.