Since starting tommy and lottie I have met so many inspiring women that have created businesses and who are so passionate and hard working but also juggle that with being a Mum. So to celebrate International Women’s Day I want to showcase just a few of these ladies I admire and have had the pleasure of knowing. Each one of us is different in how we do things which makes our businesses unique, no one is the same , we all experience different journeys. So read on and lets embrace International Women’s Day, celebrate our successes and realise that it is possible to turn your ideas and dreams into a reality.
Jen Roffe – St Albans based designer specialising in hand lettering and illustration.
Where did you get your love of typography from?
I’ve always been fascinated with letters and the art of creating words in different styles, whether it’s graphic, decorated or capitals. I believe there is beauty and personality in the written word; the way letters are portrayed can be a very powerful and emotive thing. From around the age of 10, I began noticing graphics and trying to recreate them at home – experimenting with 3-D writing and designing my own t-shirts. I remember spending more time drawing the letters of my ‘brand’ name on the label than on the t-shirt itself, so my passion was clear from the start!
For my 14th Birthday, my Auntie Margaret bought me ‘The Calligraphy Source Book’ and on the inside cover she wrote, ‘Jenny, we hope you find something within that you will enjoy’. It’s a testament to her impeccable choice of reading material (and her instinct of what would inspire me) that this book, filled with page after page of beautiful lettering, still sits on my shelf today.
What are your top tips of juggling your business and being a mum?
This is a tricky one – juggling is definitely the right word for managing these 2 most very time consuming parts of my life, and I don’t always manage to keep all the balls up in the air!! However, writing lists helps greatly and no, not big ‘to do’ lists with everything I want to achieve ever, but easy to digest lists – with real life actual things I need to achieve THAT day. There’s such a sense of achievement being able to tick off all those jobs! I usually write a list at the end of the day for what I need to plan and to do the following day – it gives me greater purpose, and also helps me sleep at night – not having to listen to the little voice in my head saying ‘ don’t forget me!
Who is your favourite artist?
Even trickier! Not one artist – but lots, spanning over centuries. Looking at artists that have influenced me I can see that it’s detail that appeals to me rather than the subject matter. My earliest memories of loving art relate to the 1920’s arts and crafts movement and art nouveau posters (think Alfonso Mucha but also Charles Rennie Mackintosh) – it was always the images with fine detail and of course, styled lettering that caught my eye. Currently though I’m a sucker for a modern portrait – I’m in awe of those that can paint detail with such skill – my favourite exhibition is the BP Portrait award, and I’m coveting a print I’ve just framed from Alice Patullo – an illustrator from Londnon who explores British traditions, folklore and superstitions with such details and whimsy that I’m smitten.
Hayley Southwood – founder of Southwood Stores and Southwood Social Hub – empowering women.
Tell us about Southwood Social Hub and why you started it?
I started SSH because I was so uninspired with all the local networking groups I tried. I often got invited to speak at these local events but they just didn’t feel like a fit for me and my business. I wanted to create a modern type of networking community like no other, so that is just what I did!
SSH is aimed at dynamic, passionate female entrepreneurs who really want to lift and support one another. It has evolved into the most incredible community.
What podcasts or inspiring books do you recommend?
I don’t really listen to podcasts but I have a serious obsession with buying business books. I love Lisa Messenger. I also love The Revolution of the entrepreneur. I also have a ‘thing’ for stationery and I am loving the Fearne Cotton happy journal.
What advice would you give to a woman who was thinking of starting a business?
My advice to anyone starting a business is ‘JUST DO IT and don’t wait for it to be perfect, it never will’. Change and evolve with your business as you go!
Ruby Raut – founder of a sustainable sanitary product WUKA wear.
What is WUKA wear and why did you start it?
WUKA is a reusable and machine washable period underwear designed to replace disposable, single-use tampons, pads or panty liners. I grew up in Nepal using sustainable but super uncomfortable menstrual product. Menstruation is still a strong taboo subject not just in Nepal but in most countries in the world. My mission with WUKA is to recreate a sustainable menstrual product that would substantially reduce the waste generated by single use plastic disposables, but also super comfortable, luxurious and hygienic menstrual product. I wanted to create something so nice and so comfortable that you look great in front of the mirror. I would like to break these social and cultural barriers of menstruation all round the world. WUKA stands for Wake Up Kick Ass, a bold attitude changing a taboo subject.
Where would you like to be in 5 years time?
I would want WUKA to be available to all menstruating women in the world at a reasonable cost, so anyone menstruating can manage their period in the most sustainable and eco-friendly way as possible. I would also love to be that brand where women feel empowered just wearing it ending the taboos around periods.
If you could change one thing on this planet, what would that be?
Well, that would be by making people appreciate the nature and bring back wildness, for instance, more forests. I would love to have my children grow up the same way I did, being surrounded by green forests, playing in an outdoor environment and surrounded by amazing communities. This is only possible if we live in a more sustainable way. Reducing plastic usage, using a sustainable transport system, eating locally and organically grown produce, cutting down food waste, every small effort will help us live a better, happy and healthier lifestyle.
Sarah Cooke – founder of Halia Rose – Teething Jewellery which is baby-safe, toxin free and versatile.
Tell us about Halia Rose?
When I had my first baby I wanted to feel like me again and being able to wear gorgeous jewellery was part of this. I also noticed that colour had a real impact on my mood and I recognised other Mums were in the same boat. Halia Rose is a baby-safe, ethical jewellery collection that is stylish but also practical and durable for busy mums. Made from 100% non-toxic and BPA free silicone which can be tugged, pulled, chewed etc and won’t break ( the jewellery is also dishwasher proof so you can keep them clean and good as new every time you wear them!). Not only gorgeous as a statement piece day or night, they are ideal as teething accessories or fiddle beads when breastfeeding. I also have a range of baby teethers and childrens accessories to cater for all ages.
The name Halia Rose comes from a mix of my inspiration and roots…. both my children were born in Singapore and I wanted something to reflect this as they were (and continue to be!) my inspiration plus also my English roots. Halia is the Malay translation for Ginger and Rose is the flower of England…. my daughter also has ginger hair and her middle name is Rose!
What are your best sellers?
Our Kata necklaces are really popular. A mix of different shaped beads creates a lovely statement piece plus the different textures makes them ideal to soothe babies’ teething gums as well as keeping them engaged when nursing!
Our Mum & Baby Gift Sets as they make an ideal gift for Mothers Day or for a Baby Shower. I hand pack all of the gift sets with lovely tissue paper into a gorgeous gift box. Customers can choose their own colours, making them truly bespoke to suit your preference. You can also add a personalised message which I hand write and include with the Gift Set.
What is the hardest thing about being a Mum?
Juggling everything and finding time just for yourself! There are only a certain number of hours in the day and carving it up into everything I want to achieve is a constant juggle! I love my work is flexible around my children and I can be there for them when they need me but when you have your won business you can never really switch off as there is always something to do.
Thanks to all the ladies who took part in this article you truly are inspiring just like the ones reading this.
Happy International Women’s Day.