Happy International Women’s Day! I’m celebrating this year by heading to a Women in Business event tonight, with the hosts of Badass Women’s Hour, as well as listening to select talks tomorrow at Southbank Centre’s Women of the World Festival. Expect lots of live tweeting and Instagram stories!
Did you know…
…International Women’s Day (IWD) started off as a garment protest? I learnt that tidbit of information from Sophie Slater, Founder of Birdsong London, at the recent eco fashion event run by Advaya Initiative. It’s made me re-evaluate the IWD all over again, and know that pursuing ethical fashion (alongside the other ethical industries that I positively purchase from) is incredibly important, both for the planet and for the people who make my clothes. And as Orsola de Castro said – 90% of garment workers are women.
I feel incredibly privileged to lead a life almost free of disadvantage because of my gender, and yet I know that the vast majority of women don’t feel this way, and that I also shouldn’t be happy with “almost”.
That being said, I won’t be happy until it is completely free of sexism, for every woman.
And I don’t mean an elevated platform, I mean equality and feminism. I want gender to take a back seat in the majority of things; boys should cry, girls can like cars, and no it doesn’t matter what’s in my pants as to how well I can perform my job.
Women Who Inspire Me
So, onto the list. I’ve been compiling this over the last few months as I’ve been bingeing on podcasts and learning about powerful women who are making change happen in the careers they’ve chosen. I’m not listing your traditional feminists – although I imagine everyone here is one – but instead I’ve chosen women who inspire me to continue on my own journey and ethical direction.
Let me know if there’s anyone who should be on the list, and if you have any podcast recommendations!
1. Alexa Chung
Alexa isn’t your typical feminist hero. She is, however, the first fashion muse I ever had (no matter how badly I emulated her shaggy do and iconic dress-down-to-dress-up vibe). She inspires me by the way she has created her own style in a world so strictly regimented by trends, and in her discussion on Refinery 29’s Unstyled podcast she reveals her wish to incorporate sustainable fashion in her eponymous label.
2. Amika George
You may remember me going along to the Period Protest outside No. 10 Downing Street in December last year. I became part of a movement that is calling upon our government to provide free period products to girls who receive free school meals (i.e. girls in poverty) – all because of Amika George. She started the real, rambunctious #FreePeriods movement, and all before finishing high school. Listen to her speak up on Episode 77 of The Guilty Feminist podcast.
3. Amy Ann Cadwell
Amy Ann Cadwell is the Founder of The Good Trade, a website I swoon over every time I visit it. Combining Kinfolk Magazine’s slow living feel, and fair trade, she’s created a beautiful place to discover beautiful ways to live. Her interview on the Conscious Chatter podcast goes into more detail about how she’s carefully curated the site, and with it, her team.
4. Carrie Brownstein
I first came across Carrie Brownstein in St Vincent’s music video, Laughing with a Mouth of Blood. Back then, I had no idea who Carrie or her Portlandia co-star Fred Armisen were, but I knew they made me laugh. Now, after I’ve consumed the entire Portlandia series twice over, I love Carrie’s humour as much as her spirit on stage with her band Sleater Kinney and as a feminist. Get to know her on the JCCSF podcast.
5. Cheryl Strayed
You’ll probably know Cheryl Strayed as the protagonist of the book (and now a film) Wild. Wild really touched me when I first watched it – that bittersweet loss of familial connection, those delicate first steps becoming your independent self – and even now, I’ll cry when I watch it. But Cheryl’s life encompasses more than her Wild journey, having written five books, and many essays – a great introduction to her is her interview on the Ctrl Alt Delete podcast.
6. Deborah Francis White
How could I do a podcast on International Women’s Day without including Deborah Francis White? Her podcast, The Guilty Feminist, has been something I’ve been listening to for years now, and her storytelling along with the other guests on her show keep me laughing and informed too.
7. Emma Gannon
One of the first people I followed on Twitter was Emma Gannon (goodness knows how I found her, but I’m so glad I did). She used to write a blog called Girl Lost in the City, and it has since led to her book Ctrl Alt Delete, her memoirs growing up in the new internet world, and alongside it, her podcast, and a new book too. I love how career-driven, and knowledgable she is, in the most unthreatening manner possible. She’s best listened to via her own podcast, or for a great introduction, on the How To Curate Your Life podcast.
8. Evelyn Mora
The powerhouse behind Helsinki Fashion Week, Evelyn Mora is creating real, sustainable change in fashion. The week focuses only on ethical fashion, and it all started with her own entrepreneurship to create a fashion week for the Finnish capital. Listen to her on the Conscious Chatter podcast.
9. Fiona Humberstone
I received Fiona’s book, How to Style Your Brand, for Christmas 2016 and it’s been a guiding light when it comes to Curiously Conscious’ values, look and feel. The mastermind behind it is Fiona Humberstone, a brand stylist and consultant, who explains why you need to curate a strong brand from the start in this episode of the Blogtacular podcast.
10. Garance Doré
Garance has one of those names that you hear once, and you never forget. I stumbled across her blog a long, long time ago, back when I was first becoming aware of blogging, and thought she was the epitomé of chic. Listening to her open up about her journey to fashion blogging, photography and illustration on the Girlboss Radio was a grounding experience, showing everyone starts somewhere and can also be shot to the moon!
11. Gizzi Erskine
With her iconic beehive and winged eyeliner, Gizzi revolutionised cooking shows for me in my late teens. To this day, I don’t get on with food tutorials (from Jamie Oliver to Nigella Lawson, it’s all a bit too quick and sickly) but Gizzi makes it seem fun, and she always puts a playful twist on things. Her chat with Dawn O’ Porter on the Get It On podcast delves into her style as much as her career.
12. Grace Bonney
While Garance Doré may have been one of the first blogs I ever came across, Grace Bonney’s blog Design*Sponge was the first. I’ve probably been following the site for over 10 years now, and I get interior envy to this day! Grace is both a design and digital entrepreneur, and she opens up about her personal life and her book of interviews with over 100 female makers, artists and entrepreneurs in this great episode of the Design Matters podcast.
13. Gwyneth Paltrow
For all the complaints that Gwyneth Paltrow’s site Goop generates, I’m still a fan of her movement. The site has been an inspiration for Curiously Conscious for a while, and well I don’t go all in for horoscopes or jade eggs, I do appreciate Gwyneth’s foresight for the wellness movement. Her interview with Sophia Amoruso on the Girlboss podcast is both revealing and inspiring.
14. Jameela Jamil
Jameela Jamil heralds from the same background as many of the women on my list – a presenter, model and actress, I first saw her on TV in my teens and I was awe-struck by her confidence and unique style. To this day, those are both things I’m still working on! Her episode on the Get It On podcast really showcases that, and how she’s gone on to build an acting career for herself now too.
15. Jess Phillips
I rarely talk politics on the blog, but Jess Phillips transcends her role as an MP and embodies a woman in power that is not only standing up for other women, but putting up with routine sexism in one of the most powerful places in the world, the Houses of Parliament. I first saw her on the panel of Have I Got News For You, and her quick wit and logic makes her a great MP – if only there were more like her! Listen to her on the Ctrl Alt Delete podcast here.
16. June Sarpong
Over the last few months, I’ve started to seek out June Sarpong’s work more and more. She’s a brilliant orator for feminists and women of colour alike, and she really gets down to why both are so important when chatting to Emma Gannon in this episode of Ctrl Alt Delete.
17. Laura Bates
Like Deborah Francis White, Laura Bates was one of the first people who really lit my feminist fire, however wrong that sounds. Laura founded the organisation Everyday Sexism, which calls out unnecessary sexism in ordinary situations you might not spot. I really respect the way she highlights the need to teach the idea of consent with sex education too. Hear her on the Ctrl Alt Delete podcast.
18. Lauren Laverne
Radio DJ, Presenter, and most importantly (to me!), Founder of The Pool, Lauren Laverne is a real inspiration for representing women and creating a platform for women’s media. Plus, I stood in the coat line with her at the Glamour Awards last year… Listen to her on the Ctrl Alt Delete podcast.
19. Leandra Medine Cohen
On the upper echelon of the blog world lies Leandra Medine Cohen, creator of Man Repeller. I’m inspired by her journey – we share the same start in the blog world, after sabbaticals in Paris – and her writing is both iconic and always with a moral to learn. Her site obviously now has multiple contributors, but that just makes it even more fun to read. This episode of the Unstyled podcast with Leandra is one of my favourites.
20. Liv Purvis
Liv Purvis writes the wonderfully pretty, unashamedly real blog What Olivia Did. Hers is another blog that stuck with me from the first time I visited it, and I love that she occasionally dabbles in ethical fashion, especially with Reformation. I really enjoyed listening to her chat with Emma Gannon on Ctrl Alt Delete.
21. Orsola de Castro
Founder of Fashion Revolution, Fashion Designer and Lecturer at Central St Martins, Orsola de Castro is a fountain of fair fashion knowledge. I was so inspired by her at the recent Toxic Threads event where she recounted ways we need to change the industry, and her interview on the Spirit of 608 podcast makes for a brilliant recap.
22. Ruby Wax
Up until last year, I’d lost tabs on Ruby Wax. That was until I went to The Gathering hosted by Will Williams Meditation, where she spoke about her own anxiety, depression, and mental health, and what she’s doing to help others in her position. It felt like she had traveled down the same path as Russell Brand, and lo and behold she has since been interviewed by him on his podcast, Under The Skin. This hour makes for great laughter and learning alike.
23. Sian Conway
As you may well know from our interview, Sian Conway is the founder of Ethical Hour, a collective online movement promoting ethical living and business. I stumbled across her movement last year, and am in awe at how well she provides and nourishes her community, with weekly Twitter chats, two Facebook groups, and consistently high-quality guides for ethical entrepreneurs and enthusiasts alike. Listen to the Ethical Hour podcast for her expertise.
24. Stella McCartney
Another leader in sustainable fashion, Stella McCartney has been proving style and substance are possible for years. Her insistence on vegetarian values is what inspires me most; that she refused to drop her morals in the face of traditional business and fashion. Her appearance on Desert Island Discs is well worth a listen.
25. Tavi Gevinson
When I was growing up, I dreamt of creating my own magazine that really spoke to teenagers. Tavi did just that, and more; she created hugely successful Rookie Magazine from truthful coming-of-age accounts, advice from “grown men”, and her trademark style. Her own podcast is well worth a listen, or this interview as an introduction.
26. Teri Muncey
The only person I know “IRL” from this list is Teri Muncey, creator of The Lovely Drawer blog and workshops. When I first met, I didn’t know of her beautiful style, or brush lettering prowess, but I sure did marvel when I looked her up! It seems apt that she was interviewed on the How To Curate Your Life podcast as hers – and her small family’s – life looks just peachy.
27. Vivienne Westwood
Finally, Dame Vivienne Westwood. The flame-haired goddess of activist fashion may still seem sometimes a little out of my grasp (I just can’t afford anything) but it’s her recent work against fracking, and for saving the environment, that really gives me hope. We can all make a change, no matter what our background, career path, or perceived reputation. Here her speak on the LSE Public Lectures podcast.
Photo credit: Liana Mikah