International Women's Day at Ickle Bubba
To celebrate International Women’s Day, we spoke to women across the business to find out what this empowering date means to them and to learn which women inspired them to be the women they are today.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
Olivia: I think it's a celebration of respect and equality amongst all people regardless of gender or age but also an opportunity to recognise that there's still more to do to achieve equality amongst everybody. It’s a nice way to celebrate the efforts that have taken place over the last 100 years, the sacrifices and bravery that has been faced to put us in a much more privileged position today.
Dominique: It’s about celebrating women across the world, which actually should be everyday!
Carys: I think it is a great chance to celebrate women’s history and recognise everything women have gone through. It is a reminder that we still need to work on gender equality between the sexes. There has been a lot of improvement over the years however, it will still take around 130 years for the gender pay gap to close for example. Women have to go through a lot on a day to day basis. This day is a reminder that there is still a lot of work to be done.
Do you consider yourself to be a powerful woman?
Carys: Yes. I’ve built up a lot of resilience over the years and I am extremely independent. I have lived in various major cities by myself and even went to work on a Caribbean cruise ship for 5 months, so I’ve had to adapt to new surroundings quickly. I’m not afraid to make new connections - I think when you meet people from all different nationalities and all walks of life, it enriches your knowledge of the world and you can learn a lot more about yourself in the process.
Olivia: I'd say no but I feel fortunate to be in a position where I have many opportunities to have a voice for women in an industry that is very male dominated. I guess it depends how you perceive a powerful woman really. I make sure that I stand up for myself and what others believe in, so wherever I can, I take advantage of the role I'm in to use my voice.
When I was growing up, my dad had his own company and he always invited me along to business events with him. I was always the youngest and the only female in that situation. He's always taught me not to be afraid so equality has always been instilled in me. He always said to me, whatever you want to do, it's achievable.
Dominique: Yes, definitely. I feel like I'm not afraid to speak my mind and put myself out there. From an early age I moved schools quite a lot so I had to be quite confident to make new friends. I’d say this made me quite good at being thrown into new situations. Having spent most of my career in the fashion industry, it’s very female dominated and I’ve found having a lot of women around has made me feel at ease. If I don’t agree with something, I’ll speak up and I’m not afraid to give people feedback. Having said that, I hope I would be just as strong in a massively male dominated workplace.
Which women have inspired you and why?
Dominique: For me it’s mostly my friends. Having lived all over the place, I’m lucky to have a wide circle of female friends. Several have PHDs whilst quite a lot of my friends are teachers, so I was in awe of what they have to do during lockdown. On a more personal note, one of my best friends is a year younger than me and had her first daughter when she was 24 – it wasn’t planned but she just ran with it and she’s an amazing mum. If I ever have kids, I want to be like her. Lastly and most definitely a huge one is my own mam, she was a podiatrist and then decided to take on a Textile Design degree in her late fifties. I guess that’s where I get my creativity from!
Carys: My Grandma who passed away last year to Covid was a very influential woman in my life. Everything she did in life had be creative and quirky. For example, she would make her own Elf costume to wear to our house for Christmas day when my sister and I were younger. Then she surprised us one Christmas day when we were around 25 years old. She never took life too seriously and had an authentic outlook on life and loved the outdoors, dogs and cooking.
When it comes to women in my professional career I have tried to pick up positive habits from different women I have worked with to then make a positive influence on others in my own working environment. The best advice I received was that you need to give people a chance to get to know you, as well as you getting to know them.
Olivia: My mum and my grandma. My Mum is without a doubt the strongest person I know but she’s also not afraid to show her vulnerability. She's always taught me that life's too short to waste it being unhappy so I just need to follow whatever it is to be happy. Growing up knowing that she'd always be proud of me, regardless of superficial successes is inspiration in itself.
What did you dream of doing when you were a little girl?
Carys: I have always wanted to have my own fashion related business where I can be creative on a daily basis. Now I run my own swimwear business alongside my role as Customer Care Manager – it’s great to turn my hobby of swimming and fashion into part of my career.
Olivia: Actually, not finance. When I was in Year 6, we did a leaver's presentation and we had to dress up as what we wanted to be when we were older. I was in my athletics kit! Funnily enough, this is now my other passion as I also run for Wales.
Dominique: Working on the tills at Asda. I did always make outfits for my toys though so I guess that ties in with what I do now. It’s also funny to think I’ve designed collections that now sit on the shelves at Asda too!
What are you most proud of doing?
Olivia: Running for Wales, especially with the role that I'm in, juggling my busy work schedule and training can be tough but it’s so rewarding. From a professional point of view, I’d say qualifying as an Accountant has to be up there. I also recently got promoted to Head of Finance at 26 years old, so I'm pretty proud of that.
Dominique: Making a last minute decision one night in between Sixth form and university. The plan was to do a year-long Art Foundation course but I woke up and had this sudden urge to write a personal statement to apply for a late University place. To my surprise, I got into Leeds University to study Fashion Design. The part of my degree that I dreaded the most saw me get my highest score – a 1st Class Honours in my dissertation! From a career perspective, I’d say my most empowering moment was going freelance in between my role at Ickle Bubba and a previous job. I was so nervous to put a cost to my time but it was great to know my worth and believe in it.
Carys: My Caribbean cruise job was cut short due to the pandemic and upon returning home I made the difficult decision to step away from the retail management job I’d returned to. I decided to start my start my own swimwear venture by launching a crowd funder. My target was £7500 but I managed to raise £7800 to get my business off the ground. I am so proud of what I have achieved so far because I am learning along the way and due to the flexibility of my role at Ickle Bubba, I can enjoy the best of both worlds.
What advice would you give to other women who may experience self-doubt or lack confidence to do what they desire?
Dominique: I always say to people when it comes to your career, only apply for things you really want to do. Know your value, know your mind and know what you want to do. Speak up when you're passionate. Be there for people and they'll be there for you. Be empathetic to people, you never know what someone's got going on. If you're an open book, people have trust in you!
Carys: I would say it’s so important to remember it’s never too late to change your career, relationship, home or anything that no longer serves you. Life is too short to be stuck doing something you do not enjoy. You will never know if you do not try.
Olivia: Anything's possible as long as you put your mind to it and believe in yourself. You've got to fight your own corner a lot of the time. Never be afraid to ask for help or advice. No question is ever too stupid. Nobody knows everything. You have to bounce off each other. Do what makes you happy! If you're happy, you'll naturally achieve success in that thing.
Thank you all so much for talking to us!