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International Women’s Day – celebrate in the North East

Here at HLN, we wanted to find out what International Women’s Day means to a few local businesswomen. Find out more, plus our round-up of IWD events in the region...

Written by High Life North
Published 28.02.2020

By Megan Johnstone

Empowered women are everywhere, and modern culture has presented us with a diverse range of high-profile female successes – and this applies here in the North East too.

Here at HLN, we wanted to find out what International Women’s Day means to a few local businesswomen. We caught up with Lauren Wedderburn, Samantha Vassallo, and Lisa Eaton for their thoughts on the celebration.

Lauren Wedderburn, Founder of Something Good Newcastle.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

“At Something Good we’ll be marking International Women’s Day this year by celebrating all of the fantastic women who produce so many of the wonderful products we sell – women are leading the way when it comes to sustainable product innovation! We’ll also be celebrating what we’ve achieved so far as a female-led, independent business.”

Why is it important to celebrate the impact that women have when it comes to shaping modern business culture?

“I hope that by celebrating women’s achievements in business, we can continue to develop the conversation around the challenges that women often face in accomplishing their goals. I feel lucky that my gender has never really affected my career (either in my previous role as an architect or in launching my business), but I know that this isn’t the case for everyone. It’s great that International Women’s Day provides these discussions with a global stage!”

What advice would you give to any woman looking to get started on her dream business venture?

“Just start! It’s important to know your product/service/sector inside out, so invest time in some thoughtful research and careful planning, but then just start. You’ll never feel ready, there’ll always be an excuse to stay right where you are, and there’ll always be so many unknowns. You’ll never have the perfect business from day one, so you have to accept that you’ll learn and change as you grow (something I’m trying to remind myself every day!).”

Samantha Vassallo, Managing Director of Horizon Works Marketing.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

“To me, it’s about celebrating female pioneers – women who have led the way in breaking glass ceilings and who have made an impact in traditionally male-dominated industries. Women who have changed perceptions and inspired young women to be who they want to be.”

Why is it important to celebrate the impact that women have when it comes to shaping modern business culture?

“Celebrating the impact of women is important as we need to ensure that talented young women – who could potentially be the inventors and innovators of the future – aren’t deterred from entering those industries and making a difference.”

What advice would you give to any woman looking to get started on her dream business venture?

“Plan! Time spent on building a business and marketing strategy will provide the building blocks for growth. Follow your heart, yes, but don’t leap into anything without doing the research. Running a business can be a rollercoaster – but good prep and a focus on your objectives will help you through!”

Lisa Eaton, Managing Director of Unwritten Group Creative Communications.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

“It’s a day to celebrate all we are and all we’ve achieved. It’s the opportunity for a conversation on gender equality and for us to highlight what still needs to be done to drive change.”

Why is it important to celebrate the impact that women have when it comes to shaping modern business culture?

“Women are hugely under-represented in the business world and this absolutely needs to change. There are still monumental strides to be made with regards to the Gender Pay Gap and seeing women in leadership positions. By celebrating the impact women make, their successes, and progression, it raises awareness of how important a diverse workplace is.”

What advice would you give to any woman looking to get started on her dream business venture?

“At Unwritten, we champion each other across the team and instil that anything is possible. My advice is just to take the leap! Go for it – you’ll never look back. Seek support and help from those around you. Build a strong network of trusted advisors you’re able to call upon when needed – they’ll be invaluable to you. Prepare to put your all in – it will be worth it.”

Events in the North East

To find out what International Women’s Day means to you, head along to one of these brilliant events happening around the North East – there’s everything from creative workshops to conferences on a wide range of thought-provoking topics. 

High Life North x NatWest x Miss Menopause – Together

Here at High Life North, we’ve joined forces with NatWest and Miss Menopause to create an evening celebrating the notion of collective individualism. Together will celebrate female empowerment with talks on real topics. We will be discussing everything from menopause and therapy to overcoming adversity and starting a business. All ticket sales will go to Smart Works Newcastle, a local charity supporting local woman to help them get back into work by providing interview clothing and coaching, with an excellent success rate.

#EachForEqual International Women’s Day – Leadership Special  

There’s a historic disparity between women and men when it comes to occupying a role in leadership, and this has affected almost every professional industry. It’s time to drive change, so join the conversation surrounding female leadership with this inspiring event held by the NatWest Entrepreneur Accelerator and Unwritten Group. You’ll have the chance to share your own thoughts with like-minded people, and you’ll leave the idea-sharing session fully equipped with a mantra on how to achieve your own leadership goals.

A Celebration of Women in STEM

STEM careers (science, technology, engineering, and maths) experience some of the largest gender imbalances of all modern workplaces, and International Women’s Day is a great opportunity to share ideas on how we can tackle this. Female scientists have shaped our daily lives and this talk will outline some of the most important work carried out by women in STEM professions. The event will be an encouraging, expert-led discussion on the value of encouraging new generations of women into STEM based roles. Register for your tickets and learn how young women can truly shape the future.

Women’s Art Therapy Workshop: “CREATING SPACE” on International Women’s Day

Let your creative side take the lead at this art therapy session ran by Fiona Fitzpatrick, an expert in unleashing self-expression. Take the opportunity to use International Women’s Day to reflect on what it means to be a woman and make a statement with a painting or collage. Experience in art isn’t essential for this workshop – simply come along and unwind through the creative process and create something that is totally unique to you. 

International Women’s Day: Writing Your Feminism

Channel your girl power into words this International Women’s Day with Florienne Murphy, a renowned North East based author. Join Florienne in Durham for a workshop which delves into the art of creating feminist fiction. Writing has been one of the most important tools for women throughout time – from Emmeline Pankhurst’s writings on the suffragette movement, to Margaret Atwood’s popular dystopian works on the female status. Whether you’re an experienced writer or a first timer, this could be the perfect way to express yourself this International Women’s Day – get your tickets and find a new hobby.

Women Are Mint Festival 2020

Of course, every day should be an opportunity to celebrate all things female. Later in the year, the quirky Ouseburn event space Cobalt Studios will embrace an all-girl takeover to mark the 2020 ‘Women Are Mint’ festival, in true Geordie style. The 3-day programme has a vibrant selection of events going on, from workshops covering a range of skills, to family friendly yoga sessions and music late into the evening – let your hair down and live up to the fact that women truly are, ‘mint’!

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