I’ve been thinking a bit about who inspires me recently – the women who I look up to, who I’ve admired in some way or another over the years. #MakeLikeAWoman is all about shining a light on the work of the people that we find inspirational, so here is a list of my top five inspirational women, past and present:
Have you heard of Elizabeth Suzann? No? Go and check them out. They were set up relatively recently by Elizabeth Pape and are blazing a path through the fashion industry with an impressive and inspiring approach to production. Beautiful clothes, made under the same roof as the design and pattern making. They give me hope that it can be done (in a financially viable way, no less). If I lived in Nashville I would 100% be applying for a job as a seamstress there. They treat their staff exceptionally well, offering them yoga classes and retreats and they always look like they are having the most fun! Of course, their clothes are beautiful too. Elizabeth Pape (like me) doesn’t come from a fashion background, which I find intensely reassuring.
It wouldn’t be fair to talk about my inspirations without mentioning Jenny Gordy of Wiksten. If I’m honest, reading her beauty uniform on ‘A Cup of Jo’ blog was a bit of a pivotal moment for me. Here was this beautiful, funny, smart woman sewing for a living – my handmade idol appeared before me. Jenny’s writings make you feel like she’s an old friend and she creates the most beautiful knitting and sewing patterns, all with a scandinavian edge to them. I really admire her and absolutely love her style.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has a really refreshing, practical approach to feminism that I wholeheartedly subscribe to. Her essay We Should All Be Feminists, adapted from her 2013 TEDx talk, was distributed to every 16-year-old high-school student in Sweden. One of the reasons I admire Chimamanda is that she presents a completely logical, eloquent and accessible perspective on feminism. I particularly like this quote:
“The problem with gender is that it prescribes how we should be rather than recognizing how we are. Imagine how much happier we would be, how much freer to be our true individual selves, if we didn’t have the weight of gender expectations.”
In addition to her fantastically refreshing views on feminism, Chimamanda is an accomplished writer. ‘Half Of A Yellow Sun’, her most famous novel, is also brilliant. I would love to have dinner with her, I bet she has the best stories!
I came across Brené Brown’s at the perfect time. I had just started Line Cut Supply and was feeling intensely vulnerable. In my quest to understand these uncomfortable feelings I stumbled across Brené’s work. Brené is a researcher and has spent the past 13 years studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame. We don’t talk a lot about shame as a society, which is odd because it’s such a destructive emotion. I always come back to her talks on vulnerability, shame and courage when I feel unsure or low on self confidence.
Every time I go to the Hepworth museum in Wakefield I’m struck with a real sense of awe. Barbara Hepworth was an English artist and sculptor and one of the few female artists of her generation to achieve international prominence. Her sculptures are instantly recognisable and almost sensual in nature. I imagine she was a real character. Here is a quote from her:
“At no point do I wish to be in conflict with any man or masculine thought. It doesn't enter my consciousness. Art is anonymous. It's not competitive with men. It's a complementary contribution.”