This week we caught up with five incredible women to chat about what this day means for them. Read on to see where they find inspiration, hear about their challenges & hopes for the future.
Why did you start Nami Creative and what does it stand for?
It all happened through some beautiful serendipitous moments, I always loved taking photos of my friends and in particular women. Women are so beautiful and from a young age, I always looked for beauty in the women I met. Not in my wildest dreams did I think Nami Creative would become my own business and allow me to live a comfortable lifestyle, I feel so blessed and grateful.
Nami Creative is an all inclusive creative space where I create magic through my intimate photo sessions with women. I help women step out of their comfort zone and to celebrate their inner goddess that shines within every woman.
What did you do before Nami Creative and why did you feel it was time for a change?
I was working in marketing for the past 5+ years and had my own fashion blog with my best friend, but I never felt that I was fully aligned with my soul purpose or used my skills to their full potential. I always loved being in nature and connecting with others through creative work. During the first lock down in 2020 I had time to reassess what really matters and what I wanted my life to look like. I simplified things, and realised that life is too short not to take chances and risks. There is an enormous need for women to feel empowered, I felt through my creative work I could help this cause.
How do you want to inspire other women?
I want to inspire women to be more loving towards themselves, to learn to fill their own cup and to take their strength and power back.
I want women to realise that they don’t need permission to shine and that beauty is unique and should be celebrated and embraced in all it’s colours, variations and forms. It is your birthright to be seen, to feel beautiful and to shine.
Why did you start Loudly Quietly and what does it stand for?
I started Loudly Quietly as a response to how I was feeling about the state of the world. I have been blogging since I was 12 years old (I turn 30 this year!) and have moved around blog sites a lot. I’ve had my own domain (jess-molina.com) for the last eight years and the website has grown so much to the point that I was having to bring in contributors to help me with the content. I have been wanting to rebrand it & create something that had the same vibe as my original blog but better. I’ve always said Loudly Quietly was my blog’s natural evolution. I was sitting on a train on April 27, 2019 (yes, I still remember the day!), deep in thought, listening to music. I was thinking about racism, thinking about the Christchurch Terrorism Attack just the month before, and I was just feeling everything too deeply. The news cycle was depressing, I had no faith in most of the op-ed pieces in mainstream media, and I was thinking about what I could personally do to address the issues close to me, to help elevate the voices that I think should be leading these conversations, and what I could tangibly do to make the world better. I think everyone can relate to this feeling of wanting to solve the big issues we face and then feeling absolutely overwhelmed on where to start. Like, I am one tiny voice in the void who wants to help solve racism, help end fatphobia, and help make the spaces I occupy to be not just inclusive but intersectional.
I was listening to Talking Heads “This Must Be The Place” on repeat when I realised I wanted to find a place online that felt like home. That’s how it feels like every time I blog – that I am home. But I wanted a bigger home to fit all of us! And the name came to me just then and there. I realised in order for any progress to happen, we need to know when to be loud and when to be quiet. We need to know when to pass the microphone, when to shut up and listen to people who’ve lived experiences that are different from us. Loudly cannot exist without quietly and vice versa. I liked the idea that these two need to co-exist for change to happen! I got off the train and right in the middle of brunch with my best friend, checked if the domains and social media handles were taken and bought it straight away. A year and a half later, loudlyquietly.com went live and we are gearing up for issue two to go live in March.
What do you want to see shift in the industry ?
In terms of the fashion/beauty/influencer industry, I am really passionate about it, I think the shift needs to be moving from performative allyship to actual, tangible, concrete intersectionality. The way I see it, a couple of years ago we were all about ‘diversity’ and last year we moved on to ‘inclusion’. Which is great! But also not enough.
When we talk about change in this industry, I feel as though these changes are so often commodified and then reduced to just buzzwords and optics, and we seem to settle (and applaud) for the bare minimum instead of demanding for real change.
I’m a plus-sized, able-bodied, immigrant, and Asian woman. I exist in all those intersections. So I want to see intersectionality in these spaces. I want brands and companies to actually change their mindset and WANT to be inclusive instead of treating it as an exercise in political correctness for the fear of being ‘cancelled’. I want brands to go above just adding one skinny dark-skinned model in their Instagram feed to show that they are ‘diverse’ without actually looking at their internal structures, seeing if their physical spaces are inclusive and if not, ask themselves why they have not created an environment that makes other people feel welcome. I want to see brands working with influencers who are actually influential in shaping the world around them. I want brands to be transparent and show me that they are progressive, intersectional, not just post a black square when BLM is trending or suddenly have different skin colours on their advertising.
As a consumer, I want to feel like the brands I love actually care about me, not just say they do. And there’s such a big difference in spaces where you are tolerated and ones where you are celebrated. I want this industry to shift to true celebration and to mean it when they say they care.
How do you want to inspire other women?
I want to inspire other women to show up fully as themselves, to not be afraid to take up space, to not be scared of dreaming big, and not be apologetic for challenging the status-quo. I love that every year IWD has a theme and this year’s #ChooseToChallenge has been a massive reflective point for me.
We grew up being told what it’s like to be a woman – that we shouldn’t do this, or that we should only be that. But the thing is, there is no one way to be a woman.
We are complex, nuanced, and not defined by anything other than ourselves. I want to inspire other women to never back down on what they believe is possible for themselves and to believe that they are – we are – worthy of everything we’ve ever dreamed of. I want every woman I come in to contact with feel like they are infinite and have relentless love, compassion, and belief in themselves.
What does Womxn mean to you?
I recently came across a thread that challenges how ‘womxn’ isn’t actually the progressive word we have all used & thought it to be. It’s a perspective I’ve never really explored and in all honesty reading it reminded me of my privilege. It’s been such an insightful read for me personally and made me question intent vs impact. As always these discussions are nuanced and there are many perspectives on this but I am a cisgender woman and don’t feel like I should be the voice to lead this discussion and instead just be part of the learning and supporting the conversation and giving space to those who should be listened to.
Why does your bio say ‘She/Her’ and what does it stand for?
As a writer, I’ve always been very conscious of the language I use. This is a conversation that I think needs to be led by someone in the community. She/Her in my bio is one simple way to not just be an ally to the LGBTQIA+ community but also normalise how we address each other. She/Her are my pronouns as a cis-gendered woman and I am comfortable with being addressed as a ‘she’ in conversations. Some people use They/Them pronouns, others are He/Him. Using the correct pronouns to address someone is also a sign of respect and I feel like by displaying it so prominently in my social media, in my email signature etc, I am hopefully helping create a safe space for people to feel included and that they can be who they are around me. Again I am a cis-gendered woman and should not be leading this conversation so I encourage everyone to do a bit of research and learning around pronouns and why they’re important. This is a great place to start and has some great research around how using correct, inclusive language can help reduce harm to the people in the LGBTQIA+ community: Understanding Pronouns and this: Mind your language: Rainbow Youth takes new campaign to the streets
Why did you start content curation and what does your account stand for?
It all started with me sharing my love for fashion on Instagram without knowing that it would lead me to become a full-time content curator. I used to balance my phone on a makeshift tripod stand and set my timer on for 10 seconds. It was a frustrating and tedious set-up but I knew that someday it would lead to something greater. I documented my creative process on my Instagram stories, inviting my viewers on a journey to explore my creativity even with the little I had. My heart was to show everyone that they can make something out of nothing. From this, my purpose grew. My account stands for equality & the right that we have as black women to take our craft more seriously; to invest in it & to see it break barriers that have been placed on us by society and by ourselves.
What drove you to take a risk and quit your job to do this full time?
This one is simple. I knew the vision that I had for this was too big to not commit all of my time & attention to, and in addition to this, the motivation was huge to step away from the normal 9-5.
What do you want to see shift in the industry?
I want to see brands shift their thinking about diversity. I’d like to see consistency in the opportunities given to people of colour. I want to see brands being present in the ‘now’. What this looks like is acknowledging that we live in a very culturally diverse society that will require a better level of representation for all peoples in every part of the fashion industry.
What does international women’s day mean to you?
Gender equality, a voice for all women & the coming together of women from different cultural backgrounds, walks of life & generations to unite as women.
Do you think the fashion industry is progressing as society changes?
Not as it should. I want to acknowledge the slow progress that has been made, but identify that there is a long way to go before the fashion industry is one that fairly represents all people & gives equal opportunity to all. There are some in the industry who have identified this and shifted their thinking, however, there seems to still be a big portion of the industry that is ‘comfortable’ with where they are.
How did you fall into starting the Slow Muse Store/ The Mustard Jumper Vintage and your personal IG account?
It all started because of my overflowing closet. I decided to start a new Instagram page to sell some of my vintage pieces and from there it was a snowball effect.
I started sharing my love for conscious fashion and beauty, my struggles with adult acne and a history of emotional abuse and just my day-to-day life. Somehow I attracted a really cool community and from there I was able to turn my passions into a business.
What was your journey to become a Fashion Sustainability advocate?
In 2017 I watched a documentary, one I highly recommend, called The Trust Cost. This opened my eyes to what goes on behind-the-scenes within the fashion industry. I was horrified to see the way garment workers were being treated and became very concerned that I had no idea where the clothing I was wearing had come from. I decided to quit purchasing fast fashion altogether and spent a lot of time not only researching brands that were transparent and had ethical practices but also the impacts fashion has on our world and the people in it. I just became really passionate about it and had to share what I was learning.
What woman do you look up to and why?
Venetia La Manna is a powerhouse when it comes to activism within the sustainable and ethical fashion space. I learn so much from the content she produces on Instagram (plus her various podcasts, articles etc.) Alongside her, I love following Aja Barber – a woman who speaks up about intersectionality within the fashion industry and isn’t afraid to rock the boat in order to voice what truly matters. Aja also has taught me the value of having strong boundaries which I respect. Finally, in NZ I look up to my friend and fellow content creator Jess Molina – she is creative, cares deeply about seeing change within the fashion/beauty industry and I love her tenacity and determination.
What does international women’s day mean to you
Celebrating the women who have gone before us, and will come after us, the women who bring change within our world.
Do you think the fashion industry is progressing as society changes
Yes and no. Over the past couple of years, we have seen the fashion industry wake up to what matters – inclusion, sustainability practices etc. Does this mean we are seeing a change in a practical way? It’s slow and there is currently a lot of tokenism and greenwashing occurring. There are, however, some brands and companies who are leading the way, the ones making genuine efforts to learn and be better and I love supporting them. Let’s hope things only get better from here.
Why did you start Brave Face?
Part of my job is that I lead the New Product Development team for our other nutraceutical brand Clinicians. Our Naturopath suggested we look at developing a Passionflower spray for people experiencing mild anxiety, after getting amazing results in her clinic. Straight away I knew this was something bigger than just another product to be launched into the Clinicians range of 80 products where it would get lost among the crowd.
That night I messaged my girl group chat asking if any of them suffered from anxiety and whether they would be willing to let me ask them a few questions. I knew a couple of them would say yes but I wasn’t prepared for what all six of them said that they suffered to a certain degree.
I started researching and talking to everyone I could about it and realised just how many people were experiencing these feelings and how few evidence-based natural remedies were available to help. This is how BraveFace was born. It is a 3-part system of herbal supplements designed to help tackle stress and worry from every angle.
What does BraveFace stand for?
BraveFace goes beyond the product range and aims to change the conversation around stress, worry, fear and self-doubt. We aim to do this by building a community where we share stories of our struggles and successes and empowering people to be their own drivers of positive change in their lives. As a brand, we are trying to share stories of people from all kinds of backgrounds in the hope that everyone can find something they can relate to because let’s face it stress and worry are in most of us so let’s talk about it. BraveFace is designed to give you the tools you need to take back control.
What does international women’s day mean to you?
International Women’s Day is an opportunity for us to stop and reflect and celebrate how far women’s rights have come but also to take stock of the work that still needs to be done.
It’s a time to be thankful for the women who have been instrumental in driving change and a chance to think about the change we still want to see and influence. Finally a reminder to keep supporting each other and lifting each other up.
Do you think the fashion industry is progressing as society changes?
Absolutely! I think there has been a positive change in three key areas; we are seeing fashion being advertised on a more diverse range of people, brands that are making positive changes to become more sustainable and business models (like rental and second-hand market places) popping up that allow us to consume more sustainably. These are all positive steps in the right direction however I think there is still a long way to go. We need to remember that as consumers we hold so much power. Go rent a dress if you will only wear it once, invest in well-made pieces that you will own for years, back brands that are taking sustainability seriously and buy second-hand where possible. We can vote for the change we want to see with our hard-earned dollars, so let’s back the change we want to see!