Women and the workplace - International Women's Day

Although Susie and I have been working together a very long time, it never feels that way, as we have a very individual way of working that allows us both to fulfil all our roles, be that of a partner, mother or business owner.

My office is based in London and Susie has her office in Cambridge and we meet up several times in the week - otherwise it is a lot of face time phone calls!

When we first met two decades ago, I was a mum of three young children with a burning ambition to create a new concept in sleepwear, but although I loved product design I was seriously lacking in practical skills!

She was this cool urban Blondie look alike in her Rock chick tee that knew how to cut the best patterns that I tempted away from university with a vision for the future and she listened and she got it!

Being a mother and wanting to work and support the family without compromising on the amount of time I spent with my kids was always the dream.

The problem was, that starting a family very young and without parents to rely on, finding time in the day to do a full workload with a young family.

The other problem in those days was as a female entrepreneur it was hard to be taken seriously – and getting men, who dominated the textile and fashion business at that time, to believe that we could actually make a start up British brand happen and it was no easy task.

I was very fortunate in those early days, our first British factory to make our production, was run by a woman and she took us seriously even though we were making very small amounts.

Being a female designer today is very different to even a few years ago.

Today we have quite a few outstanding female designers that head up either their own labels or design for other brands – However at the time that we started Homebody, it was still predominantly male designers telling women how to dress – Calvin Klein; Ralph Lauren; Karl Lagerfeld, Versace.

Today we have softer, less obvious aesthetic thanks largely to female designers that understand how women want to dress today -

Our favorites include:

Maria Grazia Chiuri

Isabel Marant

Natasha Ramsey-Levi

Stella McCartney

When it comes to womenswear, understandably it is female designers that really appreciate our lifestyle and what we want in our wardrobe that allows us minimum effort and maximum style, helping us to look the best we can, whatever day we are having.

What about women designing for men:

This has been our job at Homebody for the last twenty years and one we take great pleasure in.

We think about what men wear around the home, when they travel and of course what they wear to bed and we try to ensure how they feel the most comfort possible and at the same time bringing a sense of calm and relaxation to their lives through colour and the styles we design.

When I first walked into Harrods all those years ago and presented our first capsule collection to the men’s sleepwear department, it was a woman that I saw, in fact, the first female buyer in the men’s department  – it was she that believed in Homebody and gave us a chance.

That collection sold out immediately and with gratitude to that lovely buyer Torly, we say thank you this International Women’s day and we hope that more women feel able to either return to the workplace after having children or believe in themselves enough to start a new business as I did – today thanks to global communication anything is possible for women in the workplace, it’s all about hard work, dedication and the dream of work that allows balance between home and business  - it is possible!