International Women’s Day Q&A

 In celebration of International Women’s Day we reached out and spoke to fellow female founders and

leaders in the sustainable business community from our favourite, eco conscious businesses and brands.

This years theme for International Women’s Day is Gender Equality Today For A More Sustainable Tomorrow

It was great to get to know these women more and read in their own words how they are building their businesses for good,

what International Women’s Day means to them and how they have stayed inspired throughout a difficult couple of years.

Read on for some snippets of our Q&A with each of these incredible women.

Natasha Ishaq & Jamila IshaqThe Good Store

“All women should be celebrated for their achievements”

What does IWD mean to you? 

IWD is a day that we feel all women should be celebrated for their achievements and courage but it’s also a day to highlight the continued struggle women have in society today, especially women of colour.

Who is the biggest female influence in your life? 

Totally cliche but our mum is a powerhouse and always encouraged us to keep going especially when times were tough. It was important to her (with four daughters) to ensure we grew up to be confident and independent. Other female influencers include Malala Yousafzai, the headstone of girls in education and Wangari Maathai, an environmentalist and women’s rights activist.

What inspired you to create a sustainable business? 

Family and job satisfaction. We work in an environment that not only brings us joy in our everyday lives by reducing the need for unnecessary items and concentrating on our health, but it makes us feel like we are making a positive contribution to the lives of people and the planet. It’s a win-win situation!

Charlotte Figg Purdy & Figg

“It’s an opportunity to raise awareness of women forging change and progress in the world “

How have you navigated your business through the global pandemic? 

As the UK entered lockdown and social distancing measures were put in place, we were facing months of cancelled cleaning workshops. We were even about to launch our own range of cleaning products but lost our entire supply chain capacity to high street supermarkets. We quickly realised there was a huge opportunity right in front of us, to create a beautiful, eco-friendly, natural hand sanitiser as an alternative to mass-produced gels. We have since gone back to our roots to create a range of natural, refillable cleaning sprays.

How important is gender equality in a sustainable future? 

The most important thing for a sustainable future is that gender doesn’t get in the way of any individual’s education, opportunities and progress.

What does IWD mean to you? 

It’s an opportunity to raise awareness of women forging change and progress in the world

Fiona McBryde Soap Folk

“I’ve learnt that you just need to be your authentic self – and that really is good enough.”

Are there any obstacles you have overcome as a female founder?

There has been an almost daily conflict of how to be a good mum and run a business. It’s easier now because my girls are older and more self-sufficient but when I first started out and the business was all-consuming I felt under enormous pressure. My own experience is that there simply hasn’t been a big enough pool of female role models to guide me through the difficult times. We’re still fed a misogynistic view of women in business through TV programmes like the Apprentice. I hope young girls don’t feel they need to conform to these stereotypes. I’ve learnt that you just need to be your authentic self – and that really is good enough.

How important is gender equality in a sustainable future?

Sustainability isn’t just about the environment, it’s about social justice and the economy too. That’s why gender equality goes hand in hand with sustainability.

Who is the biggest female influence in your life?

My Aunty Val springs to mind, as she has battled MS most of her adult life but has taught me resilience, positivity and kindness. I’ve also been really lucky to have been influenced by some strong women throughout my life – from family, friends and work colleagues. It takes a village to not just raise a child but a woman too.

Vicky Charlesworth Jaya Beauty

“Success is so much more than just aiming for profit.”

What inspired you to create a sustainable business?

In my previous life I was an accountant – but I just can’t see how business should be run without giving thought and attention to our people and our planet. The traditional capitalist structure just doesn’t work. Success is so much more than just aiming for profit. Everywhere we look we see human destruction and there really are simple things we can all do to make a BIG difference. We have  to take responsibility for our actions and be accountable for them. We are all on a journey and we need to embrace this – surely this is the only way to run a business?!

Are there any obstacles you have overcome as a female founder?

Absolutely – so I am a single parent during the week as my husband works away, so I juggle my 2 daughters, our home and 3 dogs as well as running the business. I love it and wouldn’t change it for the world. I took time out to raise our family as my husband’s job could support us better and the hours are quite crazy but this meant loosing out on career experience and earnings so its been full on trying to up-skill myself and develop my network. The guilt from trying to balance home life, be a fully present Mum and manage my work commitments feels endless – I know lots of other parents feel this too!

Katy Lim Ohelo 

“Sustainability is about both people AND planet.”

Are there any obstacles you have overcome as a female founder? 

Cultural differences when dealing with aspects of our business in other countries is certainly something I have had to deal with and overcome. Instances where business contacts would rather deal with my Co-founder and husband, Alex, rather than me, solely due to gender have been difficult to navigate. However, by understanding where the sentiment is coming from, staying true to your own ability and knowing your worth you come out of those situations stronger and hopefully with new found respect from the other side. It also helps when you have a partner who rightly calls any such behaviour out and states in no uncertain terms that you are and always will be equals.

How have you navigated your business through the global pandemic? 

Grit, determination, pain and hope with some amazing support from family, friends and our amazing customers.

How important is gender equality in a sustainable future?

It’s critical. Sustainability is about both people AND planet. Social equality is a big part of being a more sustainable world.

Rachel Humphrey RH Brand Building

“It’s a time to create visibility for all different experiences, backgrounds, challenges and wins”

How important is gender equality in a sustainable future?

Sustainability to me is about the world we live in entirely. This is environmental but from a human perspective, it must mean working on social injustice too. Just think about how much more we can achieve in this world if we allow women to rise and show them what they can achieve. We are 50% of the population and have so much to give. Beyond this women of colour have an even higher barrier to overcome, so it is imperative we see sustainable businesses and networks opening up opportunities here too. Representation is key and for us to live in a better world we must include everybody in the conversation and mission.

Are there any obstacles you have overcome as a female founder? 

When working with men I can find I have to often step into my power with intention and be really mindful of building my inner confidence. If you are not on your guard, your opinion and expertise can be disregarded in a way I am sure a man wouldn’t. This can be exhausting so I find I need good support around me, lots of rest and to celebrate myself often so I don’t forget “I’ve got this”

What does IWD mean to you?

It’s an opportunity to celebrate the diversity of womanhood and what it means to each of us individually. What empowerment means for women is totally individual to them. It’s a time to create visibility for all different experiences, backgrounds, challenges and wins – for all women.