Work Hard

Girl crush alert!

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we asked a collection of local businesswomen and High Life North’s contributors to explain which woman inspires them, and why…

Written by High Life North
Published 06.03.2020

Compiled by Megan Johnstone and Jo Dunbar

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.”

Who inspires you?

Faith Richardson, Editorial Assistant

I think one of the women I most admire is Lauren Bravo (@LaurenBravo). She’s a journalist who authored What Would the Spice Girls Do? and How to Break Up with Fast Fashion. What I admire most is her ability to tackle really serious issues such as feminism, the environment and the harm fast fashion does to our planet in a way that is funny and accessible. She’s a real pioneer for modern women and gets you to think about how we’re living life, managing to do it in a way that’s inclusive and encouraging. Not to mention she’s hilarious and an excellent writer!

Gail Curry, Happy Planet Art

My choice is Alison Lapper MBE, who is an artist from Brighton, who works with no arms, so paints using her mouth or feet. People may remember a sculpture of her from 2005 that was placed on the fourth column in Trafalgar Square. What I admire about her is that she does not consider her disability to make her less of a person. She teaches, she challenges, she educates: for me that is inspirational and why I admire her as a woman. 

Kerrie Patterson, Vintage Vamped

One of the women who inspires me is Katie Piper. She has overcome such adversity with life-changing burn injuries. Even in her early stages of recovery, she set up her Foundation to help other burn survivors. I think she is such an inspiration and role model in a world where looks are considered so important. 

Sharon MacArthur, Miss Menopause

This might sound like a cliché, but it has to be my Mam. She quietly goes around helping her friends and family without fuss or fanfare. She is kind beyond compare and nothing is ever too much trouble.The greatest gift my Mam gave me was the ability and confidence to be myself. In my teens when I wanted to stay out, she bought me a toothbrush, when I wanted to shave hair off, that was okay too. She didn’t always actively encourage me, but I knew whatever I decided was okay with her. To feel supported and loved by my Mam is the greatest gift of all. 

Sarah Waddington,

I’m inspired by Lady Brenda Hale. Dubbed the ‘Beyoncé of the law’, Lady Hale may be best known for halting the unlawful prorogation of parliament in 2019 but she has been smashing down glass ceilings for years, fighting for gender equality. At the age of 75, she’s still going strong. I’m in awe.

Jenny Brownlees

I continue to be inspired by the writer Virginia Woolf. I love how passionately she fought against the rigid restrictions put upon women in the 19th Century, and how forward-thinking she was on a broad range of subjects. Whilst she was obviously privileged in her education, skin colour and social class, she was considered radical in her feminist views of woman in society – something she fiercely challenged throughout her life, work and most famously in lecture-turned-essay A Room of One’s Own. It’s a book I think every woman should read.

Jo Dunbar

She didn’t live long enough to be a woman but in her 15 short years, I believe Anne Frank managed to accomplish more than most of us do in a full lifetime. Her words, her diary and her legacy still resonate today, especially in a time where things can seem precarious politically, and I think she should be celebrated as a woman who never was.

Helen Bowman

My inspiring woman (and guilty pleasure) is Sophie Hinchliffe (Mrs Hinch). I follow her on Instagram and she has changed my outlook on something that used to cause me stress. Cleaning, for me, used to be a chore – something that had to be done on a weekend and took up valuable time. Since following Mrs Hinch on Instagram, it’s become a kind of therapy. I’ve started really taking pride in my home and I enjoy doing little and often. It sounds an overstretch to say that she has changed my life, but she has inspired me massively to change my approach to one of life’s essential jobs.

Beverley Park

Whilst Kate Middleton may be married to the future King of England there is no doubt she, in her own right, through hard work, self-development and sacrifice, will make a strong, resilient and historical Queen.  Kate is flawless in her delivery of public duties, hardworking and committed to the charities and the work of the monarchy.  I see a young woman conduct her private and work life with elegance, grace and unwavering commitment.  Striving for the balance of royal and normal life.  Not to mention her style! Kate will make the perfect Queen.   

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