What women support and inspire you on your career path or in your business?
For me, I am inspired by the people that I work with to help grow my company, from Kaja of Kaja Photo and Jack Loves Mary, an incredible local photographer who has taken every Copious picture and has helped me build my brand, to the amazing women who model and collaborate with me. This year I have been lucky enough to work with influencers and business women from all over Ottawa to help launch The Femme Sweater.
What gender specific challenges, stereotypes or barriers have you had to overcome during your career (or in your business)? For me I have to say none, the maker community is highly female driven so if anything I feel so lucky to be in a community of incredible women who support, inspire and continually put community over competition first. As a woman I have faced sexism in other fields and jobs I did to support my company, but as the designer and owner of Copious I have felt nothing but love from my fellow male and female business owners. I think the tone of this particular community is if you succeed I succeed and I try and pass that forward to new people joining our community.
Where are you feeling empowered (or disempowered) in your own woman's story?
... and has covid19 amplified this for you? Right now I feel more at one with my company than ever before. Each season I feel more sure of what my clients want and I have gotten better at communicating what direction I want the company to go in. All of this helps me feel empowered in my decisions for Copious. Covid19 hit everyone differently, but for it opened me up to have time to try out designs I had always wanted, it also pushed my company into the direction of being even more eco-conscious. I started using more recycled fabric and secondhand pieces in my collections.
How have your female networks and companionships supported you through the past year? These are everything to me! At my first OOAK show I had 3 amazing women around me and from day one they were supportive. I still go back to them when I have questions and I love that even though we all work alone, we know we can always go to each other to bounce an idea off of, or get help with where to find a certain fabric. Each show I do, I get to meet more and more incredible women and I love that they are a part of my support system and I, a part of theirs.
How has owning your own business changed your life and how you see gender equality? Owning my business has been the hardest and best thing I have ever done. The thing I have loved most is that all your hard work is for yourself, which makes it worth it. When it comes to gender equality obviously there are huge discrepancies in many many industries, but for me I have never had to battle this because I have worked in female owned and driven companies, I feel extremely lucky to have worked for women that not only valued myself and my opinion, but also helped mentor me along the way.
2020 has big momentum in gender equality, only to have the pandemic derail it. How do you foresee the impact of those movements in our communities in 2021? Much like any derailment it will take time to get that momentum back, but I know the women around me are still very vocal about inequalities that are present. The more we speak up and talk about our experiences with sexism or inequality the better it is for all women, we are stronger together!
How can we contribute to these movements on a day to day basis? How can leaders and people of influence contribute to these movements? For me social media is huge! So many women I follow are the ones who expose me to other women doing incredible work, or showcasing charities doing incredible work. We just have to keep spreading the word and showcasing other women and companies that are supporting women. For me, that was what The Femme Sweater was all about, allowing my clients to choose the females that empower and inspire them, and along with them getting this sweater, a donation was made to Shelter Movers that helps women relocate to apartments when fleeing abuse.
What would you tell your younger self (in career or business)? What do you wish you had known or not spent so much time worrying about? I don't love when people say "You can have it all if you work hard enough" I think this is a total fallacy. Once I really came to terms with that it made it easier for me to put what was most important to me first!
We've all had that moment in our business where we wanted to quit... what was that moment for you, and how did you keep going? I have had SO many. Honestly I have a great circle of support, but my mom was definitely the person I put in charge of telling me when to stop. I felt like I would never make that choice myself and might just keep going and going. Thankfully she saw what I was trying to do and kept pushing me forward, she was always my sounding board for those times I was really low and not sure I would make it.