Two years ago I hosted my very first Ladies Who Impress event at the Groucho Club. I was fretting over so many things. Will the mic work? Will my interviewees arrive on time? Will I actually pull it off? I kept making mental notes and writing lists, I bombarded the Groucho Club with emails, I prepared and rehearsed my speech. There was just one thing I have not thought of: chairs.
It was a cosy room, and I thought chairs would just take up the space and make it all too formal. Of course, it was a huge mistake: just who would want to stand through the show after a long day at work?
And then something magical happened: women in the audience simply sat down on the floor as soon as I started my first interview. Sarah Hyndman, a super creative graphic designer, would not mind me saying that she was a bit nervous. So was I. But we got the nod. It was such a simple but an empowering gesture.
Who was in the audience that night? Only about a third of women who joined that very first celebration were my friends. My wonderful friends helped to spread the word, and tickets were soon sold out.
Every single woman in that room was bright, talented and inspiring in her own right. She was curious, of course. And an ace at multi-tasking. She might have lacked confidence or felt a bit bored at her job. She certainly aspired for more, be it in terms of career, creative fulfilment or just wanting to feel and act more authentic, rather than be constantly juggling hats. Every woman in that room was a Lady Who Impresses.
If you were in that audience, you know exactly how it felt: the room was full of warmth, empathy and support. All of a sudden, everything seemed possible. It’s as if we gave each other permission to dream, to make the most audacious plans, to try new things and lose the fear of failure. It was mind-blowing.
Yesterday Stylist featured the upcoming Ladies Who Impress event in their ‘Outgoing’ section. It’s a bit of a coup since it’s the first time we appeared in the press, and Stylist cannot be a better platform for Ladies Who Impress.However, it’s not because of Stylist that Ladies Who Impress has been growing from strength to strength. Everything we have achieved in the past two years is a testament to our audience – you.
It’s you – reading our weekly newsletters, sharing stories of inspiring women, published on the website, coming to events and creating that special atmosphere every single time is what makes Ladies Who Impress what it is: a community of like-minded women, who aren’t defined by clichés of the day.
Here are some of my ‘favourite’ clichés women (and men) tend to be labelled with:
“If you are successful, you must be a b*tch.”
“If you are a freelancer or an entrepreneur, you don’t have a life. You certainly aren’t interested in anything, other than your business.”
“Every woman will get broody at some point.”
“If you are a young mother, you must say good-bye to socialising in the evenings.”
“If you are a mother of two or three, it’s inconceivable you have interests beyond ballet and tennis classes.”
“And if you are a man, you aren’t supposed to be inspired by female role models.”
This is not what you are about.
What happened at the Groucho Club on that very special night two years ago was magic. You came along and supercharged the atmosphere with passion, ambition, tenacity and genuine sisterhood. You lit up that spotlight that has since shone light on sixty five Ladies Who Impress I have interviewed so far.