The Female Focus

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

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.

THE FEMALE FOCUS SERIES: NICOLA KEMP

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Nicola Kemp, Trends Editor at Campaign

Nicola has been leaving a trail of positive impact behind her in setting a new agenda for the magazine. She’s punching age old sexism and gender equality right in the face of the marketing industry. We find out what drives her to push diversity beyond the soundbite.

I struggle with some of the stories we haven’t been able to tell

You’ve been covering marketing trends for over a decade. What about the industry keeps your attention?

I’ve always been hugely interested in consumer trends and technology, but for me it would be the people that keep my attention.

As a journalist what do you love and struggle with the most?

I struggle with some of the stories we haven’t been able to tell. And like most parents of young children I struggle with constantly feeling like I am not in the right place at the right time. But I love the opportunity to push for progress when it comes to working cultures in the industry and the opportunity to support and celebrate people doing really brilliant work.

What story are you most proud of?

This piece was important to me in highlighting that motherhood should not create a full stop for women’s careers.

And what is the greatest change in the industry you want to see?

I would like to see more honesty, humility and openness in how the industry addresses its challenges. The culture of NDA’s and workplace bullying must end.

The industry has a big pressure to address equality right now. For example, the IPA just announced it will introduce a code of conduct in the wake of the 'Top Five' email. Do you think the industry is doing enough and what, in your opinion, should help to solve this?

I think the industry could absolutely do more to push the diversity agenda beyond the soundbite and there is certainly an ‘action gap’ amongst certain companies when it comes to driving the diversity and inclusion agenda forward. As a white woman I am also very aware of the importance of intersectionality to true progress.

Sometimes I think there is a desire to ‘draw a line’ under bad behaviour as ‘one bad apple’ without properly addressing the underlying culture which enables this kind of behaviour to thrive. Key to this is creating a culture in which employees feel that they can truly speak up and that they won’t be penalised for it - but we are not there yet.

WPP’s horrendous treatment of Erin Johnson is quite simply shameful. Yet all too often it is the women speaking up, the whistleblowers, that are penalised. As an industry, advertising has a business and moral imperative to change this.

I’m confident that this change is coming, largely through the commitment of brilliant people in the industry pushing for change and the hard word of organisations like NABS and initiatives such as TimeTo. As individuals we also have a responsibility to call out bad behaviour and celebrate those who speak up.

Do you think the media have a responsibility to uncover these stories?

Yes, it is an immense privilege to be a journalist and to have a platform to give others a voice.

 Speaking at the Creative Equals conference

Speaking at the Creative Equals conference

You've been demonstrably spearheading the gender equality agenda for Campaign for some time. Have you seen a positive reaction from the male audience as much as the female one?

There was a particularly memorable email in which a (male) reader complained I was trying to turn Campaign into Spare Rib, I keep meaning to frame it and put it in my downstairs loo. But honestly I haven’t seen a big split by gender; there are lots of brilliant men in the industry pushing for change and I don’t think your gender is a barrier to pushing for equality, diversity and inclusivity. Likewise being a woman doesn’t give you a free pass for turning a blind eye to bad behaviour, or worse still appropriating the language of inclusivity and feminism while steadfastly maintaining the status quo.

What do you think has taken so long for us to get to a point where the subject of equality and diversity is gaining a much needed platform?

The fact is that a lot of people in the advertising industry, like many others, have benefited greatly from the status quo, so they have a vested interest in maintaining it. I also see it as part of a broader shift towards transparency in business; we have seen it with the gender pay gap and we are beginning to see the impact of Glassdoor and Fishbowl.

Yet the uncomfortable truth is the marketing director of an agency in which almost every single employee review makes reference to the ‘old boys club for friends’ has no qualms in selling in a story to Campaign about how they are pushing the equality agenda. In this way the idea of change is used as a proxy for tangible change.

There was a particularly memorable email in which a (male) reader complained I was trying to turn Campaign into Spare Rib. I keep meaning to frame it and put it in my downstairs loo.

The rise of #metoo and #timesup has created an important opening in discussion on gender equality but it has also put fear into young women of what they may expect to experience in the working world. What would you say to those wanting to pursue a career in advertising /marketing?

Now is the time to make a difference. There has never been a better time to be a young woman in advertising because it has never been such a business imperative to challenge stereotypes and change business cultures.

What are you reading at the moment?

Silicon States by Lucie Greene and Dogs Don’t Do Ballet by Anna Kemp

Who do you look up to in the industry?

There are too many people to name them all, but Amelia Torode, Helen Calcraft, Ali Hanan, Sulaiman Khan, Robyn Frost, Nat Turton, Dan Shute, Gemma Greaves, Ade Onilude and Jemima Bokaie are always at the top of my list. And of course Cindy Gallop; it is truly incredible what she does behind the scenes; the emails, the support, the encouragement that she gives to women in our industry that have gone through some truly horrific experiences. The industry owes her a huge debt of gratitude.

If you weren't doing this, you'd be....

Pottering around writing books, looking for all the odd socks that have inexplicably gone AWOL in our house and campaigning for flexible working.

Check out what Nicola’s up to at Campaign in pushing the equality agenda forward here and follow here on Twitter @nickykc.

THE FEMALE FOCUS SERIES: ELIZABETH BANANUKA

If you run a business and you understand the importance of diversity but aren’t doing anything about it, what’s the matter with you? To me it’s simple: you’re either the agency of the past or the future.

What drove you to create BME PR Pros?

I started thinking about the diversity issue in 2015 when I attended a panel event on global communications and international development. I was the only black person in an audience of more than 100 white comms professionals. It struck me that there was a real disconnect and underrepresentation of ethnic minorities in the industry. But more than that, a complete irony given the discussion focus – reporting stories from the global south. From there, my frustration snowballed. I went to events put on by the PR community purporting to challenge the diversity problem but I found many were disempowering, vacuous or both. Diversity always seemed to be attached to some kind of reward or CSR initiative. I realised that nothing is going to change through a trickle of quarterly meetings and – in my opinion – some pretty poor initiatives.

I felt I could do better and lift the game on how BMEs are viewed and I wanted to root for talented BME PR professionals. It still surprises me that in such a creative industry, diversity has not been tackled. I suspect a lot of agencies - big and small – don’t want to see change. Don’t get me wrong, I know incredible agencies doing great work where they just get it. But, to me, the Weber Shandwick’s, Golin’s Manifest London’s, M & C Saatchi PR’s, Ketchum’s, Dynamo’s, Cirkle’s et al are the exception and not the rule. I believe far too many don’t show a will for it. And there is such a low benchmark for what we consider to be effective diversity initiatives.

I believe if an agency had a dream client knocking on their door with golden budgets but the deal was pinned to creating a diverse team of people, that agency would find those BME candidates. It’s sad that money could be the rare incentive to change the status quo.

Here’s the thing; the business case for diversity has been pushed for years and years. If you run a business and you understand the importance of diversity but aren’t doing anything about it, what’s the matter with you? To me it’s simple: you’re either the agency of the past or the future.

What's the biggest lesson you've learnt from starting up BME PR Pros?

I’ve learnt the lesson of self-belief. The ability to do something entirely on your own. I’ve worked ridiculous hours, unfunded. I currently pay for every aspect of BME PR Pros including the website myself and with no-one next to me to make this initiative a reality. I’ve made no room for self-doubt, I’ve tried to believe that it’s going to be amazing. It’s not like an entrepreneur setting up a business is eager to fail or launch a mediocre business! I’ve had to force myself to believe I could do something good that would work. I couldn’t afford – financially, emotionally, mentally – to consider failure.

It’s been a very lonely business but I believe there is a whole load of talented BME PR Pros out there and I felt it was important to celebrate them and I felt compelled to do it. I still do. Being a consultant, I have much more freedom to make this work and I can talk uncensored and unfiltered. I am able to be authentic and vocal about BME issues. We work in a vanilla and muted sector, where some employers I’ve had would be very uncomfortable around the topic and wouldn’t have been happy to have me doing what I’m doing with BME PR Pros. I feel I have a responsibility not to censor myself for the good of other BME PRs striving to progress.

What's been the biggest milestone so far?

The happiest moment was on 4th December last year when the BME PR Pros / PRWeek Mentoring Scheme mentors got together for the first time for the PRWeek photoshoot to accompany a feature on the launch. Seeing these passionate, talented, generous, diverse individuals come together, who had taken a leap of blind faith to be part of the scheme and my little initiative, brought it to life for me.

It’s interesting that my biggest milestones around this come down to human interactions. Yes, it’s great the website has now had 100k hits in just over 7 months but to me, it’s the human stuff. It’s having a Skype chat with a BME going through a tough time and getting an email later to find out you’ve made a difference. Or hearing the impact our mentors are having on the careers of the mentees. Or the emails - I can get up to 100 a week- from BMEs saying how inspired they are by the mentors and mentees. Or genuine diversity champions that have heard me and got me, got what I’m trying to do and supported it. Shout out to Colin Byrne and Rachel Friend at Weber Shandwick who were there before I even had a website. That’s the stuff I care for. That’s the stuff that affects me and keeps me going.

The lack of diversity is well-documented in the PR industry. What do you think is the biggest barrier to people of colour getting in and what should businesses be doing to tackle this?

Too many recruitment practices are flawed and old fashioned and too many recruiters don’t get it. It’s a weird sector - we perpetuate the myth of how we see talent and what colour we’ve decided talent must come in. The PR industry wants candidates to assimilate to the cookie cutter profiles made in the past and there is no BME-shaped cutter to use. Too many recruitment processes are subjective. Take the NHS, it’s interesting that when it comes to medical staff and the skills needed being black and white (pun intended) then the staff are very diverse. Then you step into a comms team within the NHS and other healthcare organisations and the comms teams are very white. That is weird to me. How can we have so many agencies and organisations with massive comms teams in a city as diverse as London and yet the sector is 91% white? I think that’s weird and I think anyone that doesn’t think that’s weird, is weird.

Why can a Nigerian guy be a doctor in the NHS but not a Director of Communications? Or a girl with a hijab a dentist but not a Head of News? It’s really simple: if BMEs don’t apply for your jobs then you need to rethink your recruitment practices. If you have a BME retention problem, you need to look at your working culture. I’m not willing to accept that talent is not there. This is not a BME problem but a sector problem.

I am very aware that many of my white counterparts will have access to more opportunities than my BME counterparts. There is also a BME pay gap – not just in PR but across sectors – and it is much larger than the gender pay gap. And it’s not easy being a lone BME in a large organisation.

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The rise of #metoo and #timesup has created an important opening in discussion on gender equality but it has also put fear into young women of what they may expect to experience in the working world. What would you say to those wanting to pursue a career in PR?

Prejudice and discrimination shouldn’t impact your dreams. I always say to BMEs just starting out that they deserve to have the same dreams and aspirations as a straight, middle class, home counties white guy from Oxbridge. Yep, maybe they’ll face more obstacles and their starting line may be further back, but they too are entitled to have the biggest dreams and aspirations.


It feels like female solidarity is slowly starting to crest a wave. Do you think women are feeling more confident to stand up and be heard right now?

I do. We have a lot to thank Twitter for. It’s been a powerful campaigning tool for minorities, women, LGBTQ and many others. And not to mention some vocal individuals (a shout-out to Reni Eddo-Lodge, Afua Hirsch and Laura Bates). Our sector needed it. Women have been on the receiving end of atrocious harassment by some agency staff, journalists and clients – I can tell you some horror stories. I also think a lot of agencies need to be much more responsible for guiding young people. And of course, there’s a strong drinking culture and an expectation on young staff to ‘look after’ clients at client parties and award ceremonies. Young people are vulnerable to the pressures to perform both professionally and socially and I think the sector needs to be kinder to them.


You hold down a day job on top of building BME PR Pros. If this side-project turned into something greater, would you be eager to give up the day job?

I wouldn’t give up my freelance life altogether, but I’d love to get to a sustainable position where I could be working on BME PR Pros in working hours, rather than my evenings and weekends. I don’t want to exploit the format though, this initiative is non-profit making and is driven by a mission to support BMEs in the sector. To me, it’s about ensuring our talented BME mentees get the careers they deserve and the sector gets to benefit from their talent. I want it to be pure. I’ve been overwhelmed by the desire of people to help. Over 130 people have offered to be volunteers just this year and I’ve struggled with the demand. I’m not keen on exploiting BMEs and wouldn’t want anyone to work free.

I need to find a balance. I didn’t get into this to fall into volunteer management but I don’t want to close the door on goodwill and support. I came up with this sitting alone in my flat. Naïve – perhaps – but I just saw myself working with clients and then in my free time organising events, developing initiatives and uploading web content. I started working alone in January 2017 because for years, when I tried to work with others, they either weren’t interested, couldn’t or didn’t want to give the time or they just didn’t get it. So, I worked on it solo and I got used to that. It never occurred to me others would want to get involved and I didn’t plan for it.

Working solo is exhausting but working by committee can be too slow a process for someone like me. I feel a sense of urgency around this and don’t want to waste valuable time on bureaucracy, meetings and minutes.

I also don’t want to create a new diversity echo chamber where the BME issue is dominated by me. My ideal is that others are inspired to create their own initiatives and in 18 months BME PR Pros won’t have to exist and I can finally sleep.

I have a responsibility not to censor myself for the good of other BME PRs striving to progress

What's the one thing that's shocked you in your mission to raise the profile of diversity?

Well, to be honest, it’s the number of people who want to get involved for their own profile or the profile of their business. I’m not for sale. I’ve been careful who I work with and interact with because my integrity is important to me. My primary audience are BME PR Pros. I can’t and won’t sell them out for an agency with an appalling diversity track record wanting to throw money at me. Every diversity champion I shout out has – to me – passed the BME PR Pros unspoken code. They’re beyond the tedious, boring, kill me now “why is diversity important” nonsense. They get it, are doing something and want to do more.

For all the wonderful stuff that has come out of this, I also see and hear some pretty awful stuff. It’s a constant reminder that diversity is far from fixed. PR is still very old-fashioned and for me, there’s a confidence issue. There are far too many people scared to voice an opinion away from the norm and too weak or indifferent to create change.

I don’t think diversity is challenging but I do think lack of opportunity, the gender pay gap, the BME pay gap, inequality, prejudice and lack of opportunity are. If you live in a diverse city like London but find diversity in the workplace challenging, well I think you need to ask yourself some tough questions.


Where do you get your inspiration?

I’ve got lots of good people around me to inspire me every day. My parents are amazing and both very different – a perfect combination of ying and yang. We came over here as immigrants and my mum has worked very hard to put me in a place with loads more opportunities than she had herself at my age. My family is a bit of an oddity as we’ve never really fitted in. Unlike other relatives who are Rwandan, Tanzanian or Ugandan, we are a mix. And unlike other relatives we are the only ones here. I’m aware how freeing it can be to not fit in but also how divisions can lead to such horror. My Dad lost family to Idi Amin (there’s a road in Uganda called ‘Bananuka Drive’ as a tribute to my paternal grandfather) and my Mum lost relatives in the Rwandan genocide. I guess this motley background has shaped my thinking and the fighting spirit of family members inspires me.

My friend Nyree Connell is another person. She always rooted for and respected me professionally and she got BME PR Pros immediately. And Daljit Bhurji has been incredibly generous with his advice - I would have lasted but a day in PR without his unflinching encouragement.

I’m also inspired by grassroots diversity initiatives. I love the work of Women in PR and Ethan Spibey’s work on InterComms. I love what Krish Jeyakumar and Rowan Ellis are doing with Ruckus Retreat and Mercedes Benson with Social Fixt.

And of course, there’s all the positive feedback about the initiative, which keeps me going and inspires me.

Finally a quote which hangs on my wall, “If I knew that the world would end tomorrow, I would still plant new apple trees today”. There are different versions of it and some are attributed to Martin Luther and others to Martin Luther King Junior but this is my favourite version.

What's in store for the cause this year?

The plan is a whole load of new content for the website, a really big initiative which scares me but I need to keep telling myself “you can and will do it and it will be amazing”. And a series of panel events like we did last year. We’ve also got a high scale conference scheduled for spring next year which I am very excited about but I would be ruining the surprise to tell you more about it now!


Find out what the BME PR Pros are up to next by catching up with them on Instagram & Twitter!


THE FEMALE FOCUS SERIES: NATALIE MOORES

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NATALIE MOORES, CO-FOUNDER OF MAC&MOORE

 

 

The latest kick-ass woman for The Female Focus series features our friend and key partner Natalie (Nat). We're big believers in her and the business she shares with her partner Jess. We caught up with her on setting up Mac&Moore with her mate, the art of poetry and the importance of pushing for equality with attitude.

I do really hope that future generations can be inspired by women in all sorts of fields and industries. More representation means more inspiration!

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

 Nat's mum as a young nurse

Nat's mum as a young nurse

There are a lot of strong women in my family, and I’ve always aspired towards being able to take my place amongst the ‘powerhouse pack’. My mum, in particular, always taught me to work hard and that you should always be able to rely on yourself, which has made me fiercely independent and I’m hugely grateful to her for that.

As incredible as it is to find amazing female role models within your own family, I do really hope that future generations can be inspired by women in all sorts of fields, industries and areas outside their immediate network. More representation means more inspiration!

What led you to start Mac&Moore?

I actually never imagined I would be running my own business when I first started out in the world of work. It was something so far removed from my field of vision that I never believed I could do it. Then, after working for a few years, gaining confidence and conviction in my own ideas I realised that there were a lot of things I wanted to do differently. The best way to do the work I wanted without having to navigate internal politics or have someone else ultimately responsible for your career was to start something myself. I think Jess and I met at exactly the right time and we often joke about me being the Yin to her Yang, but it’s true. We realised very early on that we complement each other’s skillsets and working styles and that meant we could bounce off each other and work in a more productive way than I ever had before. A business partnership needs work, just like any other relationship and we’ve always placed an importance on communication in order for us to get the best out of ourselves and each other.

 Jess (Mac) and Nat (Moore) in Amsterdam

Jess (Mac) and Nat (Moore) in Amsterdam

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

I was always a book worm. I remember maxing out my library card every week and then my mum catching me reading with a torch under my duvet way after I should have been fast asleep. I think all those books gave me a real love for language, and a broad vocabulary (and a lot of dark circles under my eyes!). It seems to make sense now that I would be working with words, and I love experimenting with the way things sound when they are put together. I’m a published poet as well as running my business and I definitely think that playing around with words in a poetic format helps me bring something totally different to my clients.

How do you keep learning more whilst building a business?

I am a bit obsessed with learning. I did a Masters straight after my undergraduate degree and would love to do a PhD at some point (Dr. Moores, yes please!). But in the meantime I am always trying to advance my knowledge in some way. Feminism is very important to me and I am always trying to broaden my understanding of the world I live in … and learn how that world fits into the wider world. It’s confronting sometimes to step outside of your own echo chamber but so important to do. We also lived in Amsterdam for six months recently and I made myself go to all sorts of interesting events over there which was great. Jess and I attended an amazing negotiation workshop hosted by SheSays and FinchFactor, also the Creative Mornings were fab!

 Nat, with her mum and auntie, known as 'The Clones'

Nat, with her mum and auntie, known as 'The Clones'

Where do you get your inspiration?

As the creative half, inspiration is vital to my day-to-day work, and I absolutely believe that it can come from the places you least expect. If I need to come up with a new idea I’ll quite often go for a walk. Sometimes being on the move and either trying to clear my head out completely or have a look around me and see if something stirs ends up creating the best work. Reading something that has absolutely no relevance to the project can also be useful so that you force yourself out of thinking in the same way or risking getting stuck on something that’s been done before. T.S Eliot said, ‘good writers borrow, great writers steal’ and I think if you’re stealing from somewhere completely unrelated and rewriting it to suit the goal you’re working on then the output can be magic.

Why do you promote equality with attitude? 

When we first started Mac&Moore we created the hashtag #GirlsDoneGood. At the time, it was a distilled way of describing ourselves, we had overcome a lot to get to the point of setting up our business and we wanted to be confident and celebrate that. As the business grew however, so did the number of other #GirlsDoneGood we wanted to champion and shout about, and it sort of transferred to being the starting point of a mission to go beyond client work and be fierce advocates for female empowerment. Two years on, we feel as though #GirlsDoneGood doesn’t go far enough. There’s deep-rooted injustice, discrimination and prejudice across cultural, racial and gender lines meaning that you can’t simply talk about one issue in isolation. So often the conversation about feminism excludes women of colour, trans women or disabled women, and we’re well aware that we need to constantly continue to learn and listen to ensure we’re advocating equality for everyone, not just anyone who looks like us.

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

I think there’s an element of acceptance missing. That comes from listening. A lot of people know that they ‘should’ be on board with gender equality and diversity now, but I’m not sure everyone actually believes in it wholeheartedly. I’ve seen plenty of conversations online or heard people still disputing the gender pay gap for example, which means there’s still work to do on education. People need to really listen to those around them who can offer a different perspective (whether that’s gender, race, culture or ability) and absorb what they hear without internalising it or getting defensive. That’s where a lot of these types of conversations break down and I think once we can move past that, it’ll be much easier to adopt and we’ll start to see a shift in the tide.

What advice can you give to businesses that want to make a mark through their marketing?

Don’t underestimate the power of great copywriting. A lot of business owners think they can write their own brand copy, and I totally appreciate that if costs are tight, most people can write far more proficiently than they can design, for example. But there’s a big difference between getting the words down on your website and those words persuading someone to buy from you, or get in touch, or even remember you. If you do go down the DIY route, make sure you’ve completely nailed your brand personality and tone of voice before you start so that what you write is reflective of your brand and always consistent. If you do have some budget to invest, get a skilled copywriter on board and you’ll see a big difference!

 Performing poetry

Performing poetry

Name the best piece of marketing in your opinion and why?

I have always loved Guinness’ marketing. The very best ideas are so simple but they just work. The ‘Made of More’ campaign they did in association with English rugby was such a smart idea in its absolute sheer simplicity.

Similarly, The Fearless Girl campaign really packed a punch. That was a great example of the importance of context within marketing. Placed anywhere else, she wouldn’t have had the same impact, but by standing up to the charging Wall St bull, the conversation around gender equality and female empowerment was framed beautifully.

What's your biggest learning so far since starting Mac&Moore?

There have been two big ones and they almost contradict each other.

No one’s going to do it for you. There are so many different elements to running a business that you just don’t need to involve yourself in when you are employed by a big company. Both Jess and I wear a LOT of different hats, and sometimes that can feel exhausting. When you’ve spent your whole day working on a project and have to spend an evening catching up on finances or filing it can feel never-ending. But no one is going to do it for us … and I wouldn’t trade what I’m doing now for the world!

Go with the flow. Mac&Moore has been our sole source of income since day one, so we really took the plunge. That means some pretty scary days when you’re not sure where the next bit of work is coming from, or if a client doesn’t pay your invoice on time. It takes a lot of practice not to freak out in these moments, and remember that the most important thing to do is continue focusing on providing great work… things have a habit of working themselves out and stressing yourself into a stomach ulcer is not going to be useful to anyone.

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

I really enjoy Marisa Bate’s writing for The Pool. I think what that platform has done in general is really inspiring. They’ve changed the game on ‘writing for women’ and proved that you can still publish articles about the best moisturisers without assuming it’s all we care about. The variety of content displayed and the subject matter is engaging, compelling and I usually start every day reading their email in bed!

I also think Amika George has done an incredible job raising awareness and driving action around period poverty. I first discovered her whilst researching our #20GirlsDoneGood campaign early this year and have been following her progress with great interest. It just goes to show that you’re never ‘too young’ to be taken seriously and I think she’s an amazing role model for girls everywhere not to tolerate injustice and to take action when something about the world angers them!

Name the quote you live by.

‘Above all, be the heroine of your own life, not the victim’ – Nora Ephron

‘We must be swift as the coursing river, with all the force of a great typhoon, with all the strength of a raging fire, mysterious as the dark side of the moon’ – Mulan (I know this song is about how to ‘make a man’, but I love flipping it on its head and think it’s a great motivator and basically how I would love to be described!)

Find out more about our most prized partners, Mac&Moore here.

IT'S TIME TO SUPPORT WOMEN ON THEIR WAY UP

“Lack of confidence”…

“Uncertain of my direction”…

“I’ve been lucky, it’s not down to my skills”…

Sound familiar? If you’re a girl or a woman, these feelings might resonate. The imposter syndrome – the feeling that we don’t belong at the decision-making table - is not a buzzword, it’s endemic. And even the most senior and talented women know this from experience. Dr. Pauline R. Clance and Dr. Suzanne A. Imes coined it in 1978 and countless women have reportedly experienced the phenomenon of self-perceived intellectual phoniness ever since. But imagine if we not only had to overcome these insecurities in a man’s world but be a woman of colour too?

I’ve been lucky enough to grow up in a world where I’m surrounded by fierce cheerleaders in family, friends and a supportive network of colleagues. I have had bountiful opportunities to thrive in my education, network-building and career. White privilege has also propped me up to provide me with even more opportunities than I will ever know. In theory, I have no reason to experience blips in self-confidence. But I live in an unequal world. The graded systems, the hierarchies and the patriarchal make-up have created deep-rooted fear in women to rise and believe in their skills, not luck.  

 You Make It mentoring

You Make It mentoring

Unfortunately, the gap we see between genders for employment pay and opportunities is even larger when it comes to diversity – or lack thereof. The joke is that companies are missing a trick if they think that diversity and gender equality don’t matter. McKinsey & Co examined over 1,000 companies across 12 countries and found that firms in the top quartile for gender diversity are 21 per cent more likely to enjoy above-average profitability than companies in the bottom quartile. Companies in the top quartile for ethnic diversity, meanwhile, are 33 per cent more likely to see higher-than-average profits than companies in the lowest quartile. Sometimes we should listen to the experts.

In these difficult times, You Make It is an important scheme that not only provides a safe, nurturing space for unemployed young women, it enables them to tap into the power within themselves and realise their potential.
— Irenosen Okojie, You Make It Alumni
 You Make It mentoring

You Make It mentoring

When I came across You Make It thanks to a fellow PR, Lucy Werner, it was clear that my insecurities pale in comparison with those of women coming through the door. You Make It offers a creative and inspiring programme for young, disadvantaged women of colour to access tools, networks, experiences and the confidence to transform their lives through personal empowerment. These women have very different backgrounds, often complex, of hardship and family breakdowns. But what unites them is their low self-esteem, little sense of worth and being part of a system that is unwittingly letting them fall through the cracks. Without that support network of cheerleaders and the gross opportunities, that I and many others have been given, why would these women have any fire in their bellies to prove themselves and the system wrong? Through the mentoring programme I have joined with fellow You Make It proponents, Mac&Moore, we aim to bang the drum for these women and support them on their way up. Because that’s the only direction they can go!

But the future of this brilliant scheme hangs in the balance. Funding cuts threaten You Make It from carrying on beyond the end of the year. With this in mind, I urge you to do two things – in this order!

1. Give generously to their crowdfunding campaign. Take a second to consider any privilege, luck and support you've had that’s put you here now, and help out someone who desperately needs their luck to change. Please share on your networks. The more people we reach, the more change we can make.

2.     If you’re London-based then attend this inspiring free event with us hosted by You Make It advocates Kiwi GrayWP Engine and Blup alongside You Make It’s founder Asma on the evening of Wednesday 8th August. Please attend and share your stories, thoughts and experiences of the event to help protect the incredible work You Make It are doing.

Join us in creating some positive impact and help these women on their way up!

THE FEMALE FOCUS SERIES: DANIELLE NEWNHAM, CO-FOUNDER, F =

We're big fans of F =, and their GIRL POWER TEES, so much so there's a picture of our founder wearing one on this website. We caught up with one of the women behind the brand to find out more about the online store and empowerment platform for women and children, which recently launched the Our Stories Matter campaign. F = was founded by twins ~ tech entrepreneur and author Danielle Newnham ~ and fashion doyenne Natalie Bardega. They created the platform to inspire, motivate and empower women to rise. They practise what they preach too, with an ongoing GIRL POWER partnership with Worldreader, a global non-profit organisation on a mission to deliver digital books to every child and their family. Check out our conversation with Danielle below!

Women need to take ownership of the sisterhood and come together more
 Thandie Newton

Thandie Newton

What drove you to create F =?

Having spent ten years in tech, I was acutely aware that women were almost invisible in the industry and, after spending a day at a tech conference where all the men were wearing their startup t-shirts, I realised one way to make the women stand out more was with slogan tops. I saw guys approaching others when they recognised the logo on their t-shirt – it was almost a conversation starter so I looked into what existed for females in tech and female founders and saw there was nothing. At the time, my sister was taking a well-earned career break so we came together, discussed the idea of how we could make women more “visible” in general and F = was born! 

With my background in tech and hers in fashion, we decided on the idea of selling empowering slogan tops alongside a site filled with incredible stories from women doing amazing work. We also knew our fashion couldn’t reach everywhere but our message of empowerment could so we partnered with Worldreader to create the GIRL POWER t-shirt with proceeds going to the non-profit which elevates girls out of poverty in the developing world.

What's the biggest lesson you've learnt from starting up F =?

There is an assumption that in the tech world that if you build something, people will just appear – like some mythical pull to your product. That’s just not the case. The same has happened to us – we get big hits when celebs wear our tops but the biggest lesson for us has been around building a community first. All the hard work for us has really been in building up a community who are loyal and engaged. People underestimate the effort that goes into community building through providing great content but, in this day and age, it is one of the most critical aspects of our business. We’re proud to now reach over 100,000 on a daily basis.

How have you been able to turn what was a side project into a mission-driven business?

It really happened organically. We definitely didn’t see it as a full-time thing to start with but it started to demand more and more of our time and because our mission was so aligned with our purpose in life, it made sense. I don’t think I could have committed more hours to a business without really believing in it. I am a mother, I write books – my time is pretty full but there has been a seismic shift when it comes to female empowerment in the last three years since we started. We could never have predicted it but it definitely made our business more necessary.

It has been hard work though – we often talk about the good aspects of entrepreneurship such as the fact you manage your own time but there are also a lot of hard times and that is where having a well-defined mission really helps. It certainly gets you through the more difficult times and helps you put in the hours necessary to build something you really want to see in the world.

 @coral_pearl_ and her daughter

@coral_pearl_ and her daughter

Was there ever a point when you wanted to give up?

There have been definitely a few. When some big brands and well-known TV stars first copied our GIRL POWER tops, I have to say, they were low times. We had built up a brand, and a mission and this was a charity tee so we were devastated - and we felt we couldn’t compete with a high street retailer or a celeb with x million followers. 

We felt like this for a few hours but then our community started posting their anger and disappointment on the celeb’s feed and as well as our own mission snapped back to the forefront again. So we decided to fight and we fought hard. We started emailing those concerned – the brand, the celeb, the agent, the manager explaining the history of our GIRL POWER tees and the charity, and explained our legal rights to the design… and after a while, they accepted it, apologised and pulled the tees. So the lesson here is never give up, never give in and never forget your worth.

What's been the biggest milestone for the business so far?

Our latest launch – OUR STORIES MATTER - because it ties up everything we are about from inspiring girls to empowering women and telling the untold stories of great heroines. And, most importantly, we can see the difference it is going to make.

We only launched recently and we are already selling out. But this launch isn’t just about fashion – it’s about education. It’s about reaching more and more young girls with inspiring stories about incredible women – stories which we know will have impact.

By wearing the tees, we hope you spark conversations around our own stories, and the books that accompany the tees — we ask customers to donate them to local schools and libraries to inform, inspire and empower the next generation with the stories of incredible women which have gone before them. If each school had these books on their shelves and hundreds of thousands of children had access to them, we know what a difference it would make. 

We want to make the books as inclusive and diverse as possible so will be starting with both Vashti Harrisons’s Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History and Kate Pankhurst’s Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World but we will be adding more in due course.

As sisters, does this bring up complications in your business relationship when it comes to making decisions?

The trouble we have is also what works – despite being twins, we are VERY different. Natalie is very logical, uses a lot of common sense and is risk adverse. She likes order whereas I am far more impulsive, “reckless” she would probably say but I always go on my gut. I can’t do something unless I 100% believe in it and when I do, I go for it – feet first. She likes to work out everything beforehand but I think the two different personalities can help us find a sustainable middle ground! 

Why do you think Fequals t-shirts have been so well received by women?

When we started, there really wasn’t anything like it around. Selfish Mother existed but she was firmly in the mother camp and we were more focused on women at work – sharing inspiring stories about women kicking ass in their field. No one was really telling the stories of inspiring women and we like to think we changed that area somewhat.

  Allbright  Founders Anna-Jones and Debbie-Wosskow with Sadiq Khan

Allbright Founders Anna-Jones and Debbie-Wosskow with Sadiq Khan

On the flipside, there has been some discussion amongst women in the media on whether a female empowerment statement on a t-shirt goes far enough to support the sisterhood. What are your thoughts?

I think it depends on the brand and their mission. When high streets stores put vacuous messages on their tops which have been made in a factory filled with underpaid workers then clearly, there is a disconnect. But our mission has always been three-fold and I think this cements our commitment to a “sisterhood”.

Brands need to be more aware that their customers are no longer passive – customers want to know more about their mission, that if they have empowering tops, that this message is aligned with how they treat women in their own company. Today’s world requires much more from the seller. And I think that is a good thing.

Proceeds from each t-shirt sale go to Worldreader. Have you seen positive impact through this?

Yes, we regularly meet with Worldreaders to see the work they are doing and the impact they have on girls in the developing world. We know how transformative books are and the fact that we are able to contribute to that makes us very proud.

It feels like the #girlpowertee is cresting the wave of female solidarity, following the swell of movements such as #metoo and #timesup. Do you think women are feeling more confident to stand up and be heard right now?

100%. When we started designing our tops, it was to make women feel more empowered – we used to get messages from customers about how they wore our tops to meetings under blazers and just wearing them, made them feel stronger. This was our intention but then 2017 was a catalyst and led to our recent launch of #ourstoriesmatter.

What more do think we can do to build action in the sisterhood community and create change?

Women need to take ownership. We talk a lot about what support we need and how our stories need to be told but we also think women need to come together more. We need to share our stories with each other more because they help and they heal. They have the power to inspire and empower and the world needs more of that.

With thousands of people around the world now wearing your t-shirts, what’s next for Fequals this year?

We’re wholly committed to our Our Stories Matter campaign to get more young children reading stories about diverse, female heroines but also to get women talking about their own stories. Our voices have been held back for so long – it’s time for us all to now speak up.

THE FEMALE FOCUS SERIES: JESS MACINTYRE, CO-FOUNDER, MAC&MOORE

If you follow CLO PR at all you'll know that we're fierce cheerleaders of marketing consultancy, Mac&Moore. We have a tight partnership based on a shared vision, attitude and we also share some stonking client work too! We caught up with one half of Mac&Moore, Jess MacIntyre, to delve into why she aims to promote equality with attitude and her perspective on creating positive impact for clients, people and the world.

I don’t want to just talk about the unfairness of equality. I want to do something about it.
 Jess's love of sassy female musicians played out in her teenage years

Jess's love of sassy female musicians played out in her teenage years

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

I was completely obsessed with music when I was a kid and instead of going stir-crazy over boybands I was more interested in singing an angst ridden female anthem a la Alanis Morrisette and Gwen Stefani. In real world terms I was lucky enough to have some kick-ass BFF’s who served as my everyday role models by bucking the status quo with a general “I’ll do whatever I damn please” sassy attitude. This definitely taught me the importance of being a part of the sisterhood and how we’re stronger together.

What led you to start Mac&Moore?

I’d been thinking of going solo for a few years before Mac&Moore was dreamt up as quite frankly I had a perpetual headache from being pressed up against the glass ceiling.

Aside from that, in my 20s I’d always felt like something was missing doing the 9-5 grind and working for somebody else. It became especially difficult when some of the interactions I had in business showed how little integrity and empathy was present. I just wanted to work hard and be nice to people! As soon as I set-up on my own I knew I’d found my calling.

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

As a child I really didn’t understand some of the injustices of being a girl. I was often scolded for being “difficult”, “bossy” and “opinionated” whilst noticing that when boys (or adults) acted the same they were treated differently. It genuinely perplexed me as to why this was the case. I was a really curious child and being silenced when I spoke out had a huge effect on my self-esteem. So I’ve always wanted to prove people wrong and that anger about being silenced initially fueled me to do things differently, take risks and build a huge amount of resilience which is needed in today’s business world. That anger has dissipated now but I’m grateful for where it got me.

How do you keep learning more whilst building a business?

I’ve always been obsessed with reading. However especially in the digital age coupled with my severe lack of patience I struggle to make it through a full book or dedicate daily reading time. So to counteract this I consume blogs/podcasts and Ted Talks which cover a wide range of subjects from philosophy, women’s rights to science. I’m currently obsessed with Farnam Street a blog dedicated to “mastering the best of what other people have already figured out.”

I also love meeting new people especially if they come from a different world than I inhabit. You can learn a lot by asking the right questions and taking the time to listen to others. I try and meet one new person a week – it’s a hard task but I’m all the better for it.

Where do you get your inspiration?

I love the “underdog” so whenever I see somebody who has overcome an incredibly difficult situation/life experience I always feel hugely inspired. I’m currently in awe of Hannah Gadsby and her Netflix comedy special Nanette. Her intelligence, self-awareness and passion to speak out about her story using the vehicle of comedy absolutely floored me.

 Jess with her BFF, Jade

Jess with her BFF, Jade

Why do you promote equality with attitude? 

I’m a strong believer in “action speaks louder than words”. I don’t want to just talk about the unfairness of equality. I want to do something about it. I’ve been subjected personally to sexual harassment in the work place and been undermined repeatedly because I’m a woman. Enough. I want my business to be platform for women and men who want to push for a fairer workplace and world. Working as a mentor for the incredible charity YouMakeIt is another small way I can use my privilege as a platform and create positive change.

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

The total female population worldwide is roughly 49.6% (3.52 billion) and yet most businesses have way less than 50% of women in their workforce – how is this reflective of today’s world? Whilst businesses are becoming more diverse I still believe there’s a long way to go in order to create more equality and diversity at management/board level where most critical business decisions are made.

 Jess, during Mac&Moore's sojourn in Amsterdam

Jess, during Mac&Moore's sojourn in Amsterdam

What are marketing agencies doing right / wrong in 2018?

Being short sighted by thinking more about revenue than about what’s right for their customers, employees and culture. The very best agencies are just being themselves and constantly challenging the status quo. Creative work should be brave and you shouldn’t be afraid to challenge the client.

Also the best agencies nurture talent. Giving autonomy and confidence to young people is crucial if you want to get the best out of them.

What advice can you give to businesses that want to make a mark through their marketing?

I love this quote from Dave Trott: “People buy a product for what it DOES. But they buy a brand for what it SAYS about them.” Think about what your business and customers stand for. Then communicate these values effectively and consistently via all of your chosen marketing channels. I’ve recently purchased a Chilly bottle as I’m super aware of how much plastic I’m using day-to-day and wanted to reduce the amount of plastic water bottles I buy on the move. Reusable water bottles are a bit of a “statement” piece of kit so I chose Chilly as I loved the brands style, ethics and product benefits.

Name a brand you admire and why?

Here’s a few:

Aesop: Beautiful design paired with ethical quality ingredients.

Vice: They saw a gap in the market and gave the next generation a platform and voice. It’s incredible to see how much they’ve achieved in such a short space of time and truly are the voice of a generation.

Bodyform: Two GREAT ads the first a hilarious tactical campaign in response to a Facebook post – check it out here. The second is their latest Blood Normal campaign. We loved the second ad so much Nat wrote a piece for the Huffington Post about it!

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

I’ve always hugely relied on external validation and I’m working hard to change this as I’m aware this isn’t a healthy habit. So practicing self-care and setting up new daily habits/routines such as exercise, good eating, new ways of learning and avoiding toxic people have made me better as a person and at what I do. Also my amazing boyfriend, friends and family who give me that boost of support when I need it the most.

What's your biggest learning so far since starting Mac&Moore?

  1. Stop listening to what other people think. Have the self-confidence to listen to yourself. You’re better than you think you are.

  2. Lots of men will mansplain to you.

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

I tend to look in the real world first than to someone well known. We’ve recently made pals with loads of incredible females in the creative entrepreneur/advertising world so I can give a few shout outs here! Cookie and Alexa from Mellor&Smith, Jana who runs The Completist, Jess Sims, Natalie Cutler, Sophie Livingston and of course our favourite Claudia from Clo PR!

 Friends Anneli, Jade and Jess

Friends Anneli, Jade and Jess

Name the quote you live by.

“For what it’s worth… it’s never too late, or in my case too early, to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit. Start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same. There are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people who have a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.” F. Scott Fitzgerald.

“Stop saying yes to shit you hate.” Unknown legend.