International Women’s Day: Meet the Inspiring Women at Accessorize

This year, International Women’s Day’s #BalanceforBetter campaign is calling for a more gender-equal world, especially within the workplace. To celebrate and support their message, we’re introducing you to some of the inspiring women at Accessorize – read on to see what makes them tick and how they’ve shaped their careers, plus find out more about the women who empower them to be the best version of themselves.

Colette Wells, IT Project Manager


What empowers you as a woman?

I am very competitive. It must be in my genes as my whole family loves a good challenge. I feel empowered using my own competitiveness with myself to always be a little bit better than I am the day before, whether that’s personally or professionally. I’m big on self-reflection, some say I’m too hard on myself but I do practice self-care. Those combined make me who I am. I learnt a long time ago to own my mistakes and learn from them and be proud of my achievements and celebrate them. My anxiety comes in sometimes which knocks confidence, naturally.  Each time this happens, I try not to worry too much about others judging me. It doesn’t matter if they are because that’s their issue, not mine. I’m trying to keep it simple and be a little better each day. Finding what drives you to be you is key.


Do you have any tips for women wanting to enter this field of work?

Traditionally, IT is a male-dominated environment therefore preparation is key. Ask for the agenda first to understand the topics. If you don’t know an area being covered, look it up. In a meeting, always ask questions if you don’t understand something. If someone listens and give you an honest answer, they’re going to be a valuable colleague. If they talk over you, others in the room will notice. People, both male and female, often assume that women can’t be interested in tech or be ‘techy’. They view technology as working in a dark room with computers and games which it really isn’t! Understanding technology empowers us to understand our environment and progress forward. In every meeting where I don’t know something, I’ll ask the questions and learn from them so that in the next meeting or on the next project, I’ll be that bit more prepared.


What’s your greatest achievement?

When I was 16, I was training to be a professional dancer. I then went on to perform in musicals and teach ballet. Due to the demands dancing puts on your body and a few surgeries, I had to retire early and change my entire career. At 26, I was retraining to become a project manager in IT. I’m thankful that from the years of discipline and dedication that dancing teaches you, completely changing my career wasn’t as scary. I knew I could start at the bottom as work up again. Five years on, I’m an accredited project manager working in an industry I love, doing something I’m good at. My advice to anyone thinking of making a career change? Yes, it’s scary but embrace it because it’s possible – you just have to want it.


Rebecca Thompson, Assistant Buyer


Which women have inspired you most in your life and why?

As cliché as it may sound, someone who has always inspired me, even from a young age, is my mum. Her unconditional selflessness, patience and kindness to everyone around her is amazing and inspirational. If everyone could be even half as lovely as her, the world would be a far more positive place.

I also find women in the public eye using their platform to spread positive messages extremely empowering. Jameela Jamil is a great example of this. Her ongoing @i_weigh campaign promotes body confidence and challenges us to see beyond how we look, how much we weigh and to stop judging ourselves and each other on these trivial attributes. She also speaks out about the harmful effects of Photoshopping and airbrushing, and urges the media to stop promoting unrealistic body standards. She talks openly and honestly about her own painful experiences and is brave enough to challenge what we, as a society, have come to accept as the “norm”.


Why do you think it’s important that businesses strive for gender equality?

Gender inequality is dated and backwards. Why wouldn’t your business want the most qualified and personable employee they can find? Whether that is a woman or a man, it should make no difference and they should be paid based on their skill set, not what gender they identify with. Everyone on this planet is equal and everyone deserves the same opportunities.


What advice would you give to your younger self?

Comparing yourself to others is not only unproductive but also completely inaccurate. You can never be sure what someone else’s situation is, what they are going through and what they’re intentions are. Also friendships are everything – nurture them and never take them for granted.


Omotola Olaoke, E-Commerce Developer


Which women have inspired you most in your life and why?

Nearly every woman I know. As corny as it sounds, a lot of the women around me have inspired me in many ways and for different reasons. My close friends who are like my sisters have been a wonderful inspiration and still are. My biological sisters too, even though they are younger than me. But I have to say that my mum has inspired me the most. Her hardworking and ‘there’s-always-a-way’ attitude gives me every reason to try my best to achieve whatever I want in life.


Why do you think it’s important that businesses strive for gender equality?

It’s important, not just for the success of the business, but for working women to know that they belong. Where there’s a lack of equality in the workplace, women aren’t attracted to apply for certain roles meaning that companies are missing out on what the female voice brings, and problems can’t be approached from a wider set of perspectives without them. When women are represented fairly and equally, they perform better, which overall improves their role and quality of work.


Kitty Lawrence, Stylist


What do you like about working in a female-dominated company?

It’s empowering and inspiring to be surrounded by so many talented women of all ages striving to do their best! It’s also very relatable, working with creatives that share the same interests as you. And it’s a lot of fun!


What advice would you give to your younger self?

Never get a fringe!

What motivated you to pursue this career path?

Project Runway – is that lame?! But also my mum. I’ve loved fashion since I can remember and my mother has incredible style that always seizes to amaze me (she’s forever telling me not to wear so much black!). I was given a small sewing machine (it could literally fold up into itself and be carried by one hand) when I was younger and I taught myself to sew and then went to design school in New Zealand and loved it! There is so much incredible talent and passion in the fashion industry and I wanted to be a part of it.


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