Q&A with some of our Favourite Inspiring Women

This International Women’s Day we’re proud to be joining voices all over the world to Press For Progress.  We’re so excited to have asked some of our favourite inspiring women from the UK to share their thoughts on how women can push for change, how they have overcome their individual challenges and who some of their most inspiring female role models are. Here’s what they had to say….

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Naomi Mdudu, Founder of The Lifestyle Edit

Tell us a little about what you do and how you got started…

Two weeks after graduating at the age of 22, I landed a job as a fashion editor of a financial newspaper and worked in newspapers until I left in 2014 to start The Lifestyle Edit. The Lifestyle Edit was born because I wanted to create a platform that firstly, celebrates the incredibly dynamic female founders and executives that make things happen behind the scenes at the many of the businesses we all know and love. But more importantly, I wanted to create a space where these women could talk candidly about their journeys and share actionable advice that our community can take away and immediately action in their lives.

How can women take a seat at the table and achieve success?

First and foremost, show up. For so long we’ve been told that certain roles or industries are too difficult for women to penetrate so we avoid them altogether. Change only comes from us showing up.

Which women do you look up to?

Any woman who is living her truth and using her skills to make an impact.

What lessons have you learnt along the way & what would you want to say to young women just starting out?

Switching off is a challenge as a business owner. To-do-lists are never completed – there’s always something you could be doing and there is never enough time in the day. My advice to anyone just starting out is to practice listening to your intuition – it always knows the way – and don’t allow self-doubt to hold you back.

Get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. Growth means pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone. Remember, your dreams are on the other side of your fears. If I let fear rule my choices, I’d be in London right now working in a job that wasn’t right for me.

What’s something you’ve done that has taken real courage?

Embarking on this entrepreneurial journey. Scariest thing I’ve ever done but the most rewarding.

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Lauren Armes – Founder of Welltodo Global

Tell us a little about what you do and how you got started…

Welltodo was born out of my desire to leave the corporate world and create my life on my own terms. I wanted flexibility and freedom to live between the UK and Australia (my home country), and to be my own boss. It began as an online magazine – documenting the intersection between wellness and entrepreneurship, growing over time into a global industry resource for people interested in the business of wellness. Now we run events for businesses and investors in the wellness space, to discover trends and innovation driving a $3.7 trillion industry as well as offering a range of other business services, including coaching and recruitment – to help people build incredible businesses and careers in the wellness industry.

How can women take a seat at the table and achieve success?

It starts with taking a leap of faith into what is often very uncomfortable and unfamiliar territory. The best way to get comfortable in that space, in my experience, is to cultivate the mindset of a successful person. That means forming new habits, new patterns of empowered thinking, and being confident in your own abilities to learn and grow. Additionally, success means something different to everyone. Defining it first and foremost is what will help you to achieve it – since, if you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll probably never arrive.

Which women do you look up to?

I look up to women who have a strong sense of self. I so admire any woman who has been courageous enough to go on that life-long search and commit to finding an authentic, truthful voice.

What lessons have you learnt along the way & what would you want to say to young women just starting out?

So many lessons. I’ve learnt to dream bigger, to ask for help (and pay for it if it means faster results), I’ve learnt to outsource, believe in myself, and trust the process. I’d say all of this to young women starting out, but I’d simultaneously recognise that whilst it pays to hear this advice from somebody older and wiser, it’s also a lot of fun to learn these life lessons yourself and come out the other side with battles scars to prove it.

What’s something you’ve done that has taken real courage?

Building a business sure isn’t for the faint-hearted. I’ve had to jump over multiple hurdles and step up to the plate with grit and determination to make it a success. Leaving the security of a 9-5 corporate job in order to turn an idea into a thriving business, without outside funding, has allowed me to really develop my character – learn how to sell, negotiate, lead and take huge leaps of faith. It’s a wild ride, but I’d highly recommend it.

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Emma France, Global Development Director, mothers2mothers

Tell us a little about what you do and how you got started…

I was born in Papua New Guinea and attempted to be a project finance lawyer. I soon realised that my heart lay in preventable issues and particularly in working with the charities and those who could create most change, so I retrained, and started by offering my services to anyone that would have me.

How can women take a seat at the table and achieve success?

By believing that they belong at the table, and by bringing other women to the table with them. Success is about believing you have something to contribute, but always realising you still have so much to learn.

Which women do you look up to?

Everyday heroes. My girlfriends, my colleagues, m2m Mentor Mothers who are standing on the shoulders of giants. My godmother was Mo Mowlam which gave me a pretty kickass place to start.

What lessons have you learnt along the way, and what would you want to say to young women just starting out?

Lead with cake and clarity. Cake never goes astray in a meeting, and people need clear, ambitious goals to strive for. Be audacious in your request for the women you admire to be your mentor.  I have always had a mentor or mentors who I have chosen because they are a decade ahead of me.

What’s something you’ve done that has taken real courage?

Some people would say that leaving my legal career took courage because it had been hard won and could have been very lucrative, but that was just a decision for me. Courage has a completely different context for me now I have seen m2m Mentor Mothers and clients climb mountains to achieve survival for their families.

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Jody Shield, Founder of the Tribe Tonic, Author and Inspirational Speaker

Tell us a little about what you do and how you got started…

I’m a high energy, easily excitable, passionate wellness entrepreneur! I’m a self-help author, inspirational speaker, mentor and meditation ambassador for Lululemon. I worked for 10 years as a Business Director in ad agencies before jetting off to Peru, and having several mind-blowing, heart-opening spiritual experiences leading to a total transformation and creating a life and career I could have never imagined.

How can women take a seat at the table and achieve success?

We are already at the table! We created the table! We birthed the men who sit at the table! Having worked in a male-dominated industry I’ve observed myself playing small, shrinking down and being in fear. Yet I also experienced this around other strong and dominant women. I grab my seat at the table and sit deeply in it. I show up and make sure I have a voice. And I ask myself every day: What would I do if I knew I’d never fail? How would I show up today at this meeting / speaking job / blog post?

Which women do you look up to?

Obviously Oprah is a big one. She’s the Queen Bee. And speaking of Queen Bee’s, Beyonce kept me inspiring during the dark days of book-writing. I’m inspired by Danielle Le Porte, Marie Forleo, Malala, Kristina Karlsson, and all of my friends inspire me every day. I surround myself with kick-ass inspirational women, and I’m lucky to attract them in too.

What lessons have you learnt along the way & what would you want to say to young women just starting out?

So many lessons, so many mistakes and many failures. Give yourself permission to shine. Do not ever tone yourself down. Be your badass self and radiant you into whatever room you’re in. Talk to everyone! You never know who you’re sitting next to, I talk to everyone and I have a belief that: “I’m always surrounded by the right people at the right time” and because I believe this, I always am. It’s magic!

What’s something you’ve done that has taken real courage?

Leaving my corporate (well-paid) job when I was about to purchase a new flat. I didn’t even think about it. I just had the “feeling” to hand in my notice one day, and I did it right on the spot. Done. I find decisions much easier to make ever since that day because I trust myself more. I listened to my inner guidance that day and acted on it. And this took courage but was so rewarding.

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Lily Simpson, Founder of The Detox Kitchen

Tell us a little about what you do and how you got started…

Whilst working in the property industry I started a catering company in my spare time and eventually turned it into a company that I ran full time for over a year. Whilst catering I saw a gap in the market for delicious food delivered to your door and Detox Kitchen was born. From idea to inception was about 12 weeks. I worked 18-hour days in the first year but I knew I was creating a product that would have a really positive impact on their health and wellbeing. 6 years on an we now have two central London delis, a market leading home delivery business, a concession in Selfridges, we retail in planet Organic and we have published a best-selling cookbook with another out in May.

How can women take a seat at the table and achieve success?

Firstly we need to believe we deserve to be there. Women have such a diverse set of skills that are totally different to men’s and we need to be proud of our attributes and believe in our abilities more.

Which women do you look up to?

It always starts with my mum who gave up everything to support and raise us, she is the kindest, most patient and resilient person I know. The women in my team are amazing, from our chefs, waitresses and head office team, they all work so hard with such grace, I’m always learning from them.

What lessons have you learnt along the way & what would you want to say to young women just starting out?

I have learnt so much from making mistakes I don’t know where to start so I guess my biggest piece of advice is to not fear making mistakes because if you are able to sort out your mistakes and move on having learnt and developed, you will become better at your job.

What’s something you’ve done that has taken real courage?

Knowing when you have made a mistake and admitting it. I’ve had to do that many times and it takes courage to admit your wrong but it’s always worth it.

Feeling inspired? Don’t forget to join us this week for our Facebook Live for International Women’s day!

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