It was clear from the beginning that I would end up working in the rug industry (though I didn’t know it). There were obvious signs. I always loved making spaces look beautiful. My happy place was endlessly moving my bedroom around, rearranging my wardrobe, creating new collages I’d frame and put up on the wall. Rugs were always at the heart of this. If I decided the colour scheme of my room was to change, I’d be on the phone to my dad to bring home ‘that pretty rug I pointed out last time I was roaming the warehouse’. Yes, I know, very lucky! The answer wasn’t always yes. Apparently, I always had ‘expensive taste’ when it came to rugs. Another sign!
I followed the norm, and what felt right at the time, to go to University to then onto a career in Advertising. No regrets there, I wouldn’t be where I am today without this path. Before I pursued the world of rugs, I was often put off by the fact that it is such a male dominated industry. Perhaps a big part of this comes down to the fact that a lot of rug companies are family run, and traditionally the son of the family would take it on. That’s just ‘the way it was done’. I’m incredibly lucky that it has just never been this way within my family. My brothers and I have all been brought up with equal opportunities, possibilities and expectations. The sky was the limit. Still is.
Then one day it clicked. Being a woman was actually the opportunity, not the threat. It was the springboard I could use to create something of my own. To build on the family business in my own way, rather than just joining the fold. It was what would make what I built stand out from the competition and be truly differentiated. Since Lilla Rugs was founded in 2017, it remains our aim to make handmade oriental rugs even more trendy than they already are. We want people to understand that they’re cool because they carry stories, and are imperfectly perfect. We’ve in some ways feminised the way in oriental rugs are presented, but also brought in a bit of much needed youth.
I’m sure it won’t all be an easy ride. I’m already facing the common assumption that I’m the office manager or receptionist just because I’m a woman, or because I’m in my mid-late twenties (see what I did there, denial on ‘late twenties’). It’s times like this I take on the Sheryl Sandberg mantra. If you haven’t read her book Lean In, it’s time you do. She rightly acknowledges that ‘we’re holding ourselves back by not raising our hands, and by pulling back when we should be leaning in’. Surprise the people around you that you don’t settle for what’s on offer, you negotiate until it’s right. Lean in and put yourself in the place you have worked to get to.
When you’re young and you’re female in the working world, it’s important to surround yourself by people that believe in you, so you can believe in yourself. It shouldn’t be this way, and we’re getting there, but just Lean in, and rock being a #girlboss. I certainly wouldn’t trade it for the world and now truly believe it’s my biggest asset being a young female. No longer a threat.
Happy International Women’s Day everyone!
Oh and Happy Birthday to me. What a fabulous day to share my day of birth with. Thanks mama.
Here are a few good reads, from things to do, to inspirational women:
- 8 ways to celebrate international Women’s Day this year
- 5 amazing female Interior Designers you need to know about (if you don’t already)
- Get involved with the amazing GIRLBOSS world (whether you work for yourself or not, it doesn’t matter)
- What’s happening in London for International Women's Day
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