#WhenWomenLead: A Celebration of International Women’s Day

On March 8th, 2021, we celebrate International Women’s Day as a time for remembrance, peace and recognition of the continuing need to fight for equality for all in the world around us.

The very first National Women's Day was organized in New York City on February 28, 1909 to show support for workers’ strikes led by female garment workers. 

As of today, roughly 112 years later, we've had the pleasure of sitting down (virtually) with six revolutionary women who are catalyzing change in their respective industries. These earth-shakers are prime examples of the progress that follows #WhenWomenLead. (We will be progressively adding new profiles in March - come back to see more incredible women featured over time....)

Lavinya Stennett
Founder & CEO
The Black Curriculum

Lavinya is the founder and CEO of The Black Curriculum, a social enterprise dedicated to delivering British Black History across the UK. 

“The current curriculum in the UK education system is very Eurocentric, and narrowly focused on aspects of British history, presenting a huge gap in the events of Black British history and experiences of the British Empire. I am leading a social enterprise that is dedicated to changing that.”

Lavinya in our Alani Sweatshirt Dress.

What advice would you give to women who are aspiring to change their industry?

“Seek advice but don’t let conventional ‘advice’ put you off from coming up with innovative ways of making the change that is unique to your perspective and skills.”

We then asked Lavinya to share an impactful experience that she felt made her journey worthwhile. “One day during my study abroad in 2018, I was sitting in my Maori Culture studies lecture led by two Wahine (women). Whilst they were talking about women in their genealogy, they paused and began to cry - which was a beautiful exchange of tears...which made me see that vulnerability has a place in leadership and education.” This is a great representation of what happens when women are placed in positions of power and leadership. 

If you would like to learn more about Lavinya and her work in The Black Curriculum, you can find more information at https://theblackcurriculum.com/ 

Summer Y.L.

Summer in our Esme Blouse.

Summer is the co-founder of Fylí, a peer-to-peer mentorship and accountability group for women entrepreneurs. “We realized women did not have the confidence, network, or start-up resources needed to properly raise funding and build businesses. Female founders only get 2.7% of all Venture Capital funding, which led us to create our own universe for support.” 

She mentions she wanted to create a diverse space where women can be dreamers and feel open, connected, present, vulnerable and safe. Through its mission, Fylí helps female entrepreneurs R.I.S.E. in all aspects of their lives (Renew, Inspire, Support, Empower). 

What advice would you give to women who are aspiring to change their industry?

Fearlessness. Don’t listen to others who tell you that your dreams are impossible. Anything is possible, as long as you decide to work with integrity and mission. 

If you would like to learn more about Summer and her work in Fylí, you can find more information at http://fylinyc.com/

Toni Collier
Broken Crayons Still Color

Toni in our Firenze hoodie.

After seeing a lack of humility within the ministry space, Toni founded Broken Crayons Still Color. This women’s ministry was developed “to remind people that we are absolutely broken and imperfect human beings - but we are still worthy of hope, community, love, belonging, understanding, and empathy. We’re doing this by hosting a 50 video course helping women process through brokenness and get to the other side of hope. We’re doing real, tangible work in the lives of women across the world.”

When we asked Toni what advice she would give to women who are also aspiring to change their industries, she mentions:

“Become aware of your weaknesses and embrace them fully, then find a community that will look you in the eye and tell you you’re worthy of belonging. From that place, use the power of that unconditional love to give you the fuel you need to go and conquer your industry.”

Love and community are a central component to spaces with women’s leadership, and Toni’s work has been beyond integral in bringing that forward in this world.

To hear more about Toni and Broken Crayons Still Color, please visit https://brokencrayonsstillcolour.org/

Diane Lindquist
GURL Museum Day

Diane in our Alani Sweatshirt Dress.

GURL Museum Day is a global initiative to promote womxn artists by physically taking up space in galleries and museums. Founder Diane shares that, “while we may not be on the walls, our bodies can occupy enough space to show we should be.”

“Numbers don’t lie. 11% of all acquisitions (at twenty-six prominent U.S. museums over the past decade) were works made by womxn artists. It's staggering how little representation we have. Even lower is the percentage of works by womxn of color.”

Tell us about the gaps that exist in your industry and how you are bringing about sustainable change with the work you do.

“The art ecosystem is impacted by curators, buyers, historians, and museum directors who have not been representative of womxn. We aim to bridge that divide through our tours, events, and online presence now and as womxn art evolves.”

What advice would you give to women who are aspiring to change their industry?

“One person can change everything. If you have a vision to make things better, the best way to do it is to begin. Your effort does and will have an impact.”

If you would like to follow Diane’s work within GURL Museum Day, you can find more information at http://gurlmuseumday.com/.

Elmira Bayrasli

Elmira in our Firenze hoodie.

After noticing the vast gender gap in the foreign policy space, Elmira founded a newsletter and fellowship program that identifies, nourishes, and unleashes female expertise. She mentions that, “Women are grossly underrepresented in decision making, in senior government positions, and most definitely in think tanks and the op-ed page. In 2014, I decided to push back on all the panels and op-ed editors who proclaim that there are no women who are experts in that. I founded Foreign Policy Interrupted, which is now Interruptrr.”

Tell us about an impactful experience that made your journey worthwhile.

“Departing one job, I sat down with my boss. She asked what I would do now that I wasn't working with her anymore. ‘I might become an entrepreneur,’ I said. ‘You don't have what it takes to be an entrepreneur,’ she replied. True story. That hurt. But recalling something my mother once told me, ‘don't let someone else hold the pen to your story.’ People only see a fraction of who you are. Only you know how you got to where you are and how you can get to where you are supposed to go. It motivated me to prove her wrong. And I did. I wrote a book about entrepreneurs around the world and then started my own organization that has more than 10K followers.” We’re grateful that there are women like Elmira who are persistent through obstacles and who motivate us to push on as she did.

Siyana Huszar
Co-Founder, Creative Director

“From the very start, Marcella was inspired by my mission to create affordable, elevated, designer quality, minimalist fashion for every woman. When a woman feels confident in her own skin, it unlocks an unstoppable inner power that can revolutionize every room she walks into. To this day, each piece is designed to motivate this journey. Years later, Marcella has created a space for women to embrace their beauty, their power, and their style.”

Siyana in our Rosa Top.

What advice would you like to give to women aspiring to change their industry?

“Have strong conviction in your power to disrupt and bring change, along with the ability to accept rejection without taking it personally.”

The booming voices that these women bring to our world remind us that there is power in sharing your purpose. To every woman reading this, we hope these sentiments inspire you to step only more into yours.


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