StepTalks x AllBright
Following the success of our first all-female event in November, we always knew that it would be one of many. Our original motive for organising StepTalks x AllBright was always to celebrate women, particularly women in business, so being able to host our second event in line with International Women’s Day couldn’t have been more appropriate.
Our first speaker was Anna Bance, co-founder of Girl Meets Dress. Anna started GMD during a time that may have appeared to be the worst time to start a business – during the Great Recession of 2009. However, it was actually just what the consumer market needed. No one wanted to part with their money unless they absolutely had to. Those ‘big-ticket’ items became a thing of the past. No one wanted to borrow money for fear of economic uncertainty. Which is where GMD came in – allowing shoppers to rent those designer pieces, rather than forgo them completely.
As the economy improved, fortunately for GMD this gap in the market didn’t close. In fact, the opposite was true, and the demand grew even larger. With the rise of Netflix, Spotify and Zip Car just to name a few, the younger generation now barely ‘own’ a thing. Everything is leased, rented or borrowed, and the irony is, no one ever feels like they’re going without.
The focus has now shifted again, from consumers being money-conscious to now being environmentally-aware, which can only be a good thing. Sustainable fashion has never been more popular, with some of the fashion-giants jumping on the rental subscription bandwagon, such as H&M, Urban Outfitters and Bloomingdales all leading the way. Better for the environment and better for the clothing production industry as a whole.
In the spirit of being sustainable, the types of clothes in demand has changed too. Awards ceremonies, black tie events and weddings are still a large part of GMD’s customer requirements, but there has been an increase in women renting everyday items such as work-wear. In turn, people feel like they’re not contributing so much to the environmentally damaging fast-fashion culture of which we have been accustomed to.
So as the sharing-economy continues to grow, what will be next? Perhaps in years to come, we’ll be surprised that we ever thought twice about owning a power-drill – why would you bother when you can just rent it as and when you need to?
Our second speaker was Mika Simmons. Mika is a woman of many talents – an award winning British film maker, actress, founder of the Lady Garden Foundation and host of the Happy Vagina podcast. Mika could have spoken to us about any of the things she’s accomplished in her life and we would have been captivated – but luckily for us she chose speak about something incredibly close to her heart – the Lady Garden Foundation.
The Lady Garden Foundation is a national women’s health charity, raising awareness and funding for research into the five gynaecological cancers – cervical, ovarian, vaginal, vulva and womb.
After tragically losing her mum to ovarian cancer, Mika became acutely aware of the need to encourage women to break down their barriers when it came to talking about women’s health issues. Mika understood that while medicine is making great leaps forward in terms of treating female cancers, there was still a huge amount of work to be done before these cancers had the chance to take hold.
Mika spoke of how mental health is more intertwined with physical health than we might at first realise. The two things overlap constantly; shame often goes hand-in-hand with poor mental health. Shame can play a huge part in the reason why women ignore the symptoms and concerns they have. They delay getting checked, with devastating consequences.
Through the Foundation, Mika has been able to raise awareness around this and simply encourage women to start having honest, frank conversations. But it’s not just those around us we need to start being honest with. We also need to be honest with ourselves – only then will we be able to look after our bodies and our minds in the way that they truly deserve.
A huge thank you to our speakers and our attendees – it really was a powerful, thought-provoking morning, and something that will stay with us long after International Women’s day.
— Posted by The Stepladder Group