Image Credit - Noelann Bourgade
International Women’s Day (IWD) is an annual event to celebrate women’s achievements and spread the message of female empowerment and gender equality globally. It has been recognised for over a century and grows in reach every year.
We dedicate this blog as a thank you for all of the support and love that we’ve received over the years from other female clients, collaborators, and team members - there are too many to count. But if you are reading this, we are grateful to all of you.
This year, the theme #BreaktheBias celebrates the tremendous effort women and girls have put into an international scale. Contributing to shaping a more equal world and recovering from the pandemic for a better future.
Today is a time to reflect on progress, to continue to call for change, and to celebrate acts of fearlessness and perseverance of all women who play exceptional roles in their families, communities, and workplace.
In honor of International Women’s Day on March 8th, we're celebrating women’s empowerment in business. We want to challenge stereotypes that limit women and girls, so to celebrate IWD this year, we caught up with Lilla Rugs Founder Camilla Stannard. She manages, orchestrates, leads, and makes vital decisions. See what gender equality means to her.
Women, this one's for you.
WHAT DOES THE IDEA OF POWER MEAN TO YOU?
You can look at the idea or meaning of power in two ways: external and internal. To me, the idea of external power has a place in the ego. It's about control or getting your own way. Whereas inner power is far more about feeling truly secure, confident, and good in yourself.
DO YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF TO BE A POWERFUL WOMAN?
I consider myself to be a woman with strong inner power. I am very comfortable with who I am and feel in control of myself and my life. Hopefully, that has a positive influence on those around me too.
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN MADE TO THINK THAT ‘WOMEN’ AND ‘POWER’ ARE TWO INCOMPATIBLE CONCEPTS?
Yes, I think the words attached to ‘power’ can also be words one would affix to masculinity. Again, it is all about how you define power in the first place.
I was always made to think power meant physical strength, domination, and control. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Really it’s all about individualism, ambition, and being sure of yourself.
WHICH INSPIRATIONAL WOMAN DO YOU ADMIRE THE MOST?
The women closest to me in life: mum, grandma, and best friends.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF DOING?
I’m so proud to have had the confidence and self-belief to leave one career to pursue another that meant more to my family and me.
I’m so proud that Lilla Rugs has stayed true to the product and all my parents built. Pivoting to make it more accessible and desirable in the modern world.
WHAT DID YOU DREAM OF DOING WHEN YOU WERE A LITTLE GIRL?
My happy place as a little girl was rearranging and reorganising my bedroom. Even slightly moving my bed or building a wall collage would make me excited. So, I think I always dreamt of applying that to an entire house. Building one room at a time. Adding soul, character, and design.
WHY DO YOU THINK IT IS IMPORTANT TO CELEBRATE INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY?
Of course, as women, it is our responsibility to support and elevate one another all year-round. Having one special day dedicated to celebrating women is significant. It acts as a reminder that conversation still needs to happen.
It is an invitation to all women from all backgrounds, genders, and ages to keep having that conversation and celebrating one another.
HAVE YOU FACED ANY BARRIERS IN YOUR CAREER DUE TO BEING A WOMAN? IF SO, HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM?
I’m in a very male-dominated industry and one that is of an older generation. I cannot count the number of times clients (men and women) come into the warehouse and give me their tea/coffee orders.
I don’t necessarily see that as a barrier in my career, just daily assumptions that I need to correct (while happily providing the tea or coffee!).
I just overcome them by always staying calm and kind. Remaining sure in myself that I have the knowledge for my business, and that becomes evident once a conversation starts.
WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PIECE OF ADVICE YOU HAVE BEEN GIVEN?
Always have a person or brand that you admire and look up to. It is important not to think you know everything, and always be open to change and learning.
WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT MESSAGE YOU WANT TO SEND OUT TO YOUNG WOMEN THINKING ABOUT THEIR CAREERS?
If you are passionate about something and have unique knowledge about it. Believe in that. There is only one of you.
Nowadays, careers are far more fluid. So never be afraid to pursue what you believe is right at the time. You can always continue to pivot down the line. You don’t know where that first step may take you.
IS THERE ANYONE THAT INSPIRES YOU IN YOUR CAREER?
My parents. I still can’t believe they built the business from scratch. The core of Lilla Rugs are the rugs themselves, and there wouldn’t such an outstanding selection if it weren’t for their good decision-making over the past 30 years. I’m inspired to keep Lilla Rugs on the same path for another 30 years.
How important is it for women to lift each other up, and what does that mean to you?
So important! The times I have had the most self-belief is when I have felt championed by other women in my life.
My mum was my ultimate champion growing up. I’d come home deflated about something at school, regularly. After one chat in the kitchen with her, I felt myself again.
Similarly, when I worked in Advertising, I felt very championed by my boss and line manager, which helped my progression so much.
To me, it just means celebrating each other’s strengths and gifts, giving one another recognition, and supporting decisions and conversations.
WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES FACED BY WOMEN IN BUSINESS?
I think women still face many challenges in business.
- Bias against women. Women are often not taken seriously, particularly in pitching or funding scenarios.
- Statistically, women worry more and have a greater sensitivity towards failing.
- The biggest one I think is the ability to have a family and juggle childcare with a growing business. Plus, the social pressure that women face around spending enough time with their children/being the one that raises them a majority of the time.
YOU STARTED THE COMPANY 5 YEARS AGO. HOW HAVE YOU GROWN AS A FEMALE ENTREPRENEUR?
Like anything in life, the longer you do it, the more confidence you have and the more knowledge you obtain.
Being a 25-year-old female starting a business, I had imposter syndrome for at least the first 3 years. As time progressed and the business gained more credibility, I felt much more settled and confident as a female entrepreneur.
I have learnt an awful lot, and one of the main learnings is how much support you need to succeed. You certainly cannot do everything, and you are not always best placed to do certain things.
Of course, in the beginning, you are often forced to spread yourself thin, but as time has progressed, I have learnt where my strengths lie and the things I should let others take ownership of. It is a team effort.
THE THEME THIS YEAR IS #BREAKTHEBIAS, WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO YOU?
I think this is an important theme - and one I touched upon as being one of the challenges women still face.
We have come a long way, but now it is vital to get everyone to dig even deeper into the way we think without necessarily thinking about it. That is the hardest thing to change, but I believe we can all work on it.
For me, it means really acknowledging when a stereotype or assumption is made and why it is you think that way. Differences should be a good thing, and we should all try to think more inclusively.