Independent Women

Destiny’s Child really led the way in 2001 with their era-defining song Independent Women, Pt.1. Though Beyoncé, Michelle, and Kelly have parted ways, their infectious tribute to female independence lives on, feeling all the more relevant 17 years later with so much conversation happening around women.

Two months in, 2018 is shaping up to be an important year for women; February saw the 100 year anniversary of women getting the right to vote, and in March we’ll be celebrating both International Women’s Day and Mother’s Day. So, what better time to amplify the voices of the many creative, talented women who are part of the Trouva network?

Meet four one-of-a-kind women each at the helm of a one-of-a-kind independent boutique as we talk to them about life as a female business owner and their hopes for what will have changed by International Women’s Day 2019.

Emily Grace Wright from T&Shop

A former visual merchandiser and stylist who was brought up holistically, Emily opened T&Shop in Stoke Newington as a tea emporium, design shop and cafe. Inspired by Frida Kahlo and contemporary female creatives, mother-to-be Emily believes countries like Sweden are leading the way in terms of childcare and maternity support.

Emily and her Frida Kahlo vase

What are the benefits of being a female business owner?

I have found the willingness of other women who own businesses to talk frankly and support each other invaluable.

Who inspires you?

My mum, she ignited my interest in the body and has the most incredible capacity for caring, always seeing the best in everyone.

Also other women in the industry, seeing Rossana Orlandi’s space in Milan made me come back and paint the shop floor Yves Klein blue immediately.

Zoe Anderson who spoke on the panel last week about starting W.A Green with so much enthusiasm it made me go home (we’ve just moved) and think about what shades to cover our white walls.

What do you hope will have changed for women by International Women’s Day 2019?

I wish childcare and maternity would be better supported, as it perpetuates gender inequality in the workplace. The UK could look at countries like Sweden and Germany for inspiration, to give more women the same freedom of choice here.

Tell us about the item you chose to be photographed with.

It’s a vase of Frida Kahlo made by a friend and local maker, Janneke which is filled with flowers by another friend Duen at Posy & Pot, all sold on Trouva. I have always admired the vigour of Frida Kahlo who lived so passionately despite the adversity she experienced throughout her life.

Shop T&Shop on Trouva

Zoe Anderson from W.A. Green

Inspired by California’s carefree and crafty aesthetic, W.A. Green is a showcase of colour and contemporary design. Located in Shoreditch and run by former advertiser Zoe Anderson who named the shop after her grandfather, this bright boutique presents an edit of homewares from an array of exciting brands. Passionate about working with female designers, Zoe ran a series of events during Shoreditch Design Triangle called Women Making Waves In Design.

Zoe and her Silken Favours cushion

Who inspires you?

I never set out to work with so many female designers but when I looked at the individual relationships I’d created with makers it dawned on me that a huge number were female and I gained inspiration from them all in so many different ways.

All women inspire me. My grandmother is 97 and she has really lived through so much change – I’d love to be as interesting and agile at her age. My daughter inspires me every day, the way she works so hard at her A levels is amazing, and I’d love her to be as proud of me as I am of her. I think it’s a very exciting time for women in work and I’m so grateful for people like Ruth Chapman from Matches Fashion for showing what can be achieved.

What are the benefits of being a female business owner?

I don’t think there are any benefits to being a female business owner. It’s hard work whichever sex you are! My personal experience of working and raising a family means I came into contact with lots of different types of people and fostered lots of different relationships with them all. I think this has helped me run a business that involves everybody from employees to accountants, delivery drivers to suppliers and of course, every type of customer you can imagine.

What do you hope will have changed for women by International Women’s Day 2019?

A complete change in how sanitary products are sold, making them free to anyone who can’t afford them and removing the VAT for those that can. It’s ludicrous that women are taxed in this way.

Tell us about the item you chose to be photographed with.

Vicky Murdoch from Silken Favours is so talented and the way she uses colour and wit is exceptional. I found her scarves first in Liberty and just knew we had to stock her at W.A.Green. This cushion is part of three exclusive designs we carry from her collection and they help give us real stand out and uniqueness. They’re also hand-stitched together by a women’s group in Walthamstow and I think that’s huge part of what makes them so ace.

Shop W.A. Green on Trouva.

Cassie Deborah from Room 356

Cassie opened Room 356 with her mother Bev in October 2014. It was not the first business venture for Cassie and Bev, who owned an espresso coffee bar where Cassie and her sister worked part time from the age of 14. Cassie went on to successfully manage the business for a year at the tender age of 18 before moving to London. Her experience as a female business owner means she hopes to see more women working higher up in male dominated industries and to see the gender pay gap shrink in the next year.  

Cassie and her earrings made by her friend Ciara

What are the benefits of being a female business owner?

Ultimately for me it’s being able to work with fellow female business owners, makers and creatives that are hugely talented, intelligent and passionate about what they do. I have really been able to form a network of like-minded female business owners that are just so amazing to work with. I could write a list as long as my arm, they are all just incredible. I know that without having the business I would never of even met them, so that has been a major factor in shaping me as a woman in business.

Who inspires you?

I am inspired by the women closest to me. My family, friends and the talented women who I have met along the way. They inspire me daily in so many different ways. Many have their own businesses and are career minded, it is such a privilege to be able to receive support and guidance from them. I feel so lucky to have so many positive women in my life, full of strength and determination.

What do you hope will have changed for women by International Women’s Day 2019?

I would like to see more women in much higher roles, especially in more male dominated industries. I would also hope that the pay scale is exactly the same for male and females in all industries, I can’t understand why it should be any different.

I would like to see females being given opportunities from different social classes. I watched a documentary recently about underprivileged girls at school, who were exceptionally clever and creative but due to their circumstances they were unable to afford University fees and deemed as not ‘fitting in’ at grammar schools because of the area they came from.

Ultimately, I would love to see women being given the same opportunities and not being judged or labelled for any reason other than the people that they are inside and the strengths and talents that they hold.

Tell us about the item you chose to be photographed with.

I chose to wear the earrings that were made by my friend Ciara Clark. I met Ciara through having a stall at Altrincham Market and she really is a female with many talents and passions! She has built and designed props and shop displays for us as well as doing all the styling and set design for our latest photoshoots. As well as doing that she runs her own photography studio in Manchester alongside being a project worker for ’Safer Streets’ at the Children’s society. Ciara works with children and young people at risk of exploitation,  which she is so passionate about.

Rachel Richards from The Wearer

Based in Islington’s Camden Passage, The Wearer was founded by Rachel, a former accessory and jewellery buyer. Inspired by creative local talent, she focuses on supporting London-based designers and offers an cutting-edge collection of jewellery and accessories. Naming Iris Apfel as a source of inspiration for her, it’s clear to see the influence of this maximalist icon in many of the pieces that Rachel stocks in-store. 

Rachel and the book In The Company of Women by Grace Bonney

What are the benefits of being a female business owner?

I think in more general terms its a really positive time to be a female entrepreneur. It’s recognised that there needs to be more gender balance in business, particularly in the more traditionally male areas of tech and engineering where there is a huge amount of access to support and mentorship for women starting out.
From a more personal point of view within retail, the benefits for me are working with some amazing female designers makers creating their own brands and selling their beautiful product to a mainly female market with who I have a strong connection. I’m also lucky to have a network of other local female boutique owners, many of them on Trouva, who I can reach out to for advice and support.

Who inspires you?

There are a lot of high profile women that I’m inspired by. In business it has to be Anita Roddick. She had a very clear mission statement that she stuck to no matter how successful the Body Shop became; ‘To dedicate our business to the pursuit of social and environmental change.’ She really changed the way we think about social corporate responsibility and the impact of consumerism on the environment and forced many big established brands to respond and adapt likewise.

When to comes to fashion it has to be Iris Apfel. She’s an entrepreneur who’s done things on her terms all her life and its paid off. If I live to the ripe old age of 96 I only hope I have that much style and joy for life.

I also believe that we are inspired the most by the women we surround ourselves with and I’m so lucky to have friends that constantly amaze me with their emotional strength and perseverance. I think its difficult owning one boutique but my friend Holly has two shops (both on Trouva) and two young children. I have it quite easy in comparison!

What do you hope will have changed for women by International Women’s Day 2019?

A year is no time at all. It’ll be a long time before we see real gender parity but I think the important thing will be keeping the momentum of the past year which has been such a positive step forward in recognising issues such as the gender pay imbalance and sexual discrimination. Hopefully feminism will continue to become more mainstream. Despite everything there still seems to be a slightly negative association with the word. I think being a feminist is pretty simple, it just means you think men and woman should be equal.

Tell us about the item you chose to be photographed with.

The book In the Company of Women was a gift from my oldest friends when I decided to start the business. That in itself means a lot to me but the pages are full of positive advice from female leaders across a really diverse range of races, ages, backgrounds and industries. It’s a reminder of what you can achieve if you work hard and support each other.

Shop The Wearer on Trouva.

Eleanor Middleton

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