My top 9 inspiring women for International Women’s Day 2019
To celebrate International Women’s Day I’m reflecting on the women who most inspire me. I was originally just going to talk about other female bakers, but then when I sat down to write this I realised I’m inspired by amazing women all across the board, so I decided to focus on three (rhyming, naturally!) categories: Bakers, Makers, and Movers/Shakers. Even then it was SO tough to narrow it down; it turns out there are dozens of women inspiring me every day (woop!). So, here are just a few of the awesome ladies who make me feel empowered and encourage me to keep going and keep creating.
Top of this list for me has to be the ever-awesome Lily Vanilli who makes running a full-time bespoke bakery and a weekly cafe look totally effortless. I’ve always admired her stylish (and always delicious) baking, as well as her approach to business - Lily actively supports others which has led to her being one of the most loved people in this industry. She really helped me when I was starting out and I’m loving watching Vanilli’s go global - she just opened a whole other bakery, in Georgia!
Next up is Reshmi Bennett of Anges de Sucre, not just for her world-renowned cake designs (which goes without saying), but also as a source of encouragement and knowledge. I absolutely love Reshmi’s positive approach to business challenges (her responses to requests for freebies are AMAZING!) and I’ve shared her blog post on ‘Copy Cat Cakes’ numerous times as it perfectly captures a really tricky issue, explains it in a way that everyone can understand, and encourages people to prevent Intellectual Property theft in the industry. Reshmi is an absolute force for good!
Finally, a massive shout-out to the total goddesses of ‘girl power’, Meringue Girls who are always pushing forwards with their business and have taken the humble meringue to a totally insane level! I have so much respect for them and their amazing team. It’s so encouraging to work in an industry being led by such phenomenal business women.
First up in this category is a fellow musician-turned-maker, the inimitable Kat Flint whose insanely intricate lino print artworks went stratospheric last year and she’s finally getting the credit she always deserved. I’ve been an admirer (and proud friend!) of her since the beginning and her beautiful story-filled designs and distinctive style are a constant source of inspiration and joy.
Next, the original official Queen Of Biscuits, Nikki McWilliams who not only creates the most sought-after biscuit themed merch in the world, but is also an absolute visionary in the making community. She’s constantly learning and teaching new things and providing endless encouragement to makers everywhere. I finally met Nikki briefly last year when we were both judges on Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas - I can’t wait to see more of her on screen in the future!
Finally, in the ‘makers’ category, is Emily Alston - aka Emily Forgot - who I first came across when she spoke at Reasons To a couple of years back. Emily’s work is just incredible and I totally love her eye for colours and materials. I am now full-on obsessed with her wooden architectural assemblages (I have a print of one of my faves in my studio and fantasise about creating biscuit versions of them!); her new work is a source of constant inspiration and if you ever feel stuck in a creative rut, head over to Muse & Maker where she features endlessly intriguing objects and artworks.
This category is for those amazing women juggling multiple endeavours and who are always focused on changing stuff for the better. Super inspirational!
Top of this list is one of my favourite women, Genia Mineeva, founder of BEEN London. Aside from being an all-round fab human being, Genia is an absolute inspiration in setting up and running a brand. Having gone back to uni to study sustainability, she discovered a technology that reconstructs leather from waste trimmings (normally destined for landfill) and has gone on to create BEEN, which turns this material into gorgeous bags and accessories all made in London. She’s taken it from a Kickstarter campaign to a fully fledged business in record time and I’m so proud and excited to see what she’ll do next - totally awe-inspiring!
Next, another Emily, Emily Coxhead of The Happy Newspaper, which celebrates all the good news from around the world. Her boundless positivity and drive to bring smiles to as many people as possible is a source of constant inspiration and something that is much needed in the world right now! I also admire her openness about running a business (definitely check out her Instagram stories) and the way she incorporates her personality into all aspects of her brand.
Last, but by no means least, is Ellie Kime aka The Enthusiast. Ellie is another wonderful beacon of positivity! She’s constantly creating new ways of bringing enthusiasm to the masses, spreading the message of “caring is cool” via her excellent T shirts and “Happy To Move For You” badges to help people with invisible disabilities get a seat on the tube, as well as running multiple side hustles including a new podcast for the wedding industry, The Business Proposal. Just awesome.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading all about my Top Nine! I feel totally honoured to be surrounded by so many inspirational women. Happy International Women’s Day!