International Women's Day: My Journey & celebrating our female force!
Happy International Women’s Day! It’s been quite a while since I graced our blog so thought what better time to say hello to you lovely lot than a day to celebrate us ladies. As a mother and business owner I have lived and learned quite a bit over the past 5 years since starting Avery Row. Along with three little ones in tow it has certainly been interesting so thought I would share a little bit about my journey as a woman in business.
My career started in 2000 on a graduate training scheme with a large accountancy firm. I remember choosing my first suit before the big day. Feeling like I couldn’t turn up in trousers, I chose a charcoal grey pencil skirt suit. It feels unimaginable now that that would have been the norm. After qualifying as a Chartered Accountant, I stayed in Finance and worked in some interesting roles and got the chance to live and work abroad. I was so grateful for those opportunities. I travelled to all sorts of clients far and wide and found myself in the strangest places. From overseeing a stock count at Bvlgari on Bond Street to counting screws in a factory! Once I was parked at a tiny desk in a small kitchen in the Bloomberg offices in Manhattan while the staff came and made their coffee. I later went on to work in a Mergers & Acquisitions role for an Information Intelligence agency. I had a lot of trips to Washington and looked in to buying various companies but we never truly knew what they did because so much information was classified. That was quite challenging!
In 2005, I made the move to retail, opening stores and managing store performance and teams across the UK and Europe. After working in some very male dominated environments, it was refreshing working in a largely female industry. When I worked for a sports brand in the Netherlands, my team was a mixture of age, gender and culture and that was really enriching. Just before our first daughter came along, we made the move back to London so for me, there was no decision about returning to my job after maternity leave. I also didn’t feel ready to return to work straight away, and was lucky enough to have time to think about what the next step could be.
Starting Avery Row with Fiona was born out of a mutual love of textiles, interiors and doing something creative. Whilst I had worked in Finance, Operations and Retail environments, setting up a business from scratch was a whole new world. What an adventure the last 5 years has been. Working in the Baby & Kids industry for the last 5 years has been a great experience. It is also a predominantly female, and a very supportive industry. There are so many small brands out there like ours, where the woman at the helm wanted to explore a more creative challenge, and be more flexible around her family.
Working whilst raising small children is a challenge and in many cases, it still falls to the mother to do the lion’s share of the childcare. As working mothers, we want to be the best at everything, we want our intellectual fulfilment and to challenge ourselves, but be there every step of the way for our children. It’s hard and we feel like we’re not doing either very well sometimes.
This feels even more apparent lately during the pandemic There has especially been so much pressure on women to manage homeschool and childcare on top of their own jobs. I have been getting up at 6am to get an hour or two of work in and catch up with my team before the kids appear bleary-eyed and looking for breakfast. I’m then working alongside them during the day, and into the evenings just to keep on top of it all. It has certainly had it’s challenges, but I am also proud that they see me working alongside them and that they are hugely excited about Avery Row. They always want our products for their own rooms, and each has a favourite print.
I have huge ambitions for Avery Row and with a bunch of fabulous women around me, I am so excited for the future. Today we are celebrating. Celebrating the Avery Row female workforce! All of these wonderful ladies are what makes Avery Row what it is today and each of them is helping to build our future in their own way.
Loved reading this blog! And learning more about your background Helen, as well as seeing the smiling faces of the inspiring women in your team on this international women’s day 2021! Wishing Avery Row all the best for further growth and success xx