CEO of The Trading Circle a not-for-profit organisation empowering women from around the world to gain economic independence and Founder of Four Brave Women
The ‘Answers to Thriving' is an interview series that takes a look at the women who have created a life of self-success. We uncover key moments, lessons and habits that have influenced the life they lead today.
YOU can’t start the day without:
A cup of tea. Meditation - I don't get to do this every day however when I do my days flow better, I am more at peace and I find the answers I am searching for both professionally and personally.
A favourite quote is:
I have many! My newest favourite is, "When you have more than you need build a longer table, not a higher fence." I cannot find who said it but it sums up exactly what we do with Four Brave Women and is how I think we all need to view the world. Everyone needs to start building longer tables.
The last inspiring podcast you listened to and what makes it worth a listen?
I only listen to a few and Sam Harris is my favourite. He is worth a listen because he is very broad in who he chats with and what they talk about - anything from gender politics, religion, meditation, artificial intelligence, society and culture, psychology and more. His guests are intriguing and intelligent and offer experiences and opinions that differ to his at times which is challenging and mind-opening for the listener.
A recommended read for personal growth:
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho or The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. Both make you shift your perspective, give you a deeper level of understanding of yourself, others and the world and are both full of enriching wisdom, nuggets of truth and the strong message that all you need in life you can find within yourself.
How do you go about self development?
A lot of self-reflection, journalling, reading, constant learning and challenging myself to look at and work on the difficult and confronting things in my life. Deep and honest chats with friends and sometimes a solid counsellor or mentor also helps - especially when they offer you insight or advice that is hard but needful to hear.
Which business or person inspires you right now and why?
Julie. She was my first boss and took me under her wing when I was 14. She could see that my life was chaotic and that I was not in a good place and she gave me a job and taught me everything I know. I worked for her for ten years on and off and we are still best of friends 22 years later. She is one of the strongest business women I know - juggling two businesses, children and more and still took the time to patiently mentor me. I can honestly say that I would not be where I am today without her. Further to that, she is a big part of the reason why I do what I do now - she could see a creative entrepreneur in me, drew those qualities out of me, gave me a safe place to learn and grow and believed in me enough to allow me to manage her store at the age of 17. She empowered me and gave me the right tools. Having been fortunate enough to experience this myself it has inspired me to do this for as many people as I can as well.
What has been the most defining moment in your career to date?
Deciding to pursue passion over profit. We all need money to live obviously however in my twenties there were a couple of defining moments that made me realise that I could no longer work purely to make a good income.
One moment was when I decided to 'live by faith' and did volunteer youth work for two and a half years. I had no regular job and relied on the fact that I knew I was pursuing something that was helping others and that somehow I would be taken care of. It was a strange couple of years with odd jobs being offered to me at just the right time to pay the bills and small miracles or coincidences that kept me afloat. It was this period in my life that I realised how little I actually needed to live in terms of material objects and what made me happy was being able to daily extend kindness, compassion and love to those who needed it most.
The second moment was when I had just left a longterm job that had burnt me out and where I had felt exploited financially and the state manager of a bank called me to offer me a job in management. I took it thinking, great - now some time to earn some money for me and get ahead! Maybe I should just pursue money after all! I lasted three months - nothing against banks or the corporate sector however this particular work environment was toxic and the staff were in great anxiety each day due to certain policies. I was earning a lot of money and there was a ladder being offered to me to climb easily however I just couldn't do it. I left and became a cleaner because I needed time to clear my head and I felt more ethical cleaning peoples toilets than selling a brand and products I didn't believe in.
After that it was all over - as cheesy as it sounds I work for love now. While I could get a job that pays more I feel ridiculously fortunate to be able to come to work each day, work with a kick-ass team and together be able create a strong community whose focus is simply to empower women, spread kindness and act with compassion each day.
A fear you've had to overcome to pursue your ambitions:
Fear of other people's opinions and expectations of me. As soon as I realised that it doesn't matter what people think of me and that I have the right to put forth my full self and (often crazy) ideas, life became a lot easier, exciting and more fulfilling both personally and professionally.
Your standouT achievements to date
On a personal level, working through serious mental health issues and being able to grow stronger through that process. Professionally, being part of tangible change in people's lives and knowing that each day I wake up and go to work that someone, somehow, somewhere is experiencing a better day and hopefully life from the work I do.
Life/career advice you wish you'd been given in your early 20s:
Stop caring about how others see you or what people think of you. Take risks. Do what feels right for you personally even if it means going against the grain. Get to know exactly who you are, what you believe in and what you stand for and do not compromise. Take no shit and assert yourself without treading on others. And for goodness sake, stop apologising! (As women we apologise far too much. My colleagues and I have found a humorous way to deal with this at work and have replaced "I'm sorry" with a very different phrase.)
Get to know exactly who you are, what you believe in and what you stand for and do not compromise.
For women who want to make a positive change in their life but don't know where to start, what advice would you give them?
Go with your gut and don't ignore your instinct. Some of the best decisions I have made have been made purely by gut and often counterintuitive to what would be a more logical path or decision for myself. Deep down inside us, we know. Just start with a small step and if that step organically leads you to take another without struggle or pushing too much then you know you are on the right path.
Some of the best decisions I have made have been made purely by gut and often counterintuitive to what would be a more logical path or decision for myself.
What does thriving mean to you?
Thriving for me is not necessarily about being in a good place or feeling happy. Thriving to me is about allowing all of life's circumstances - good, sad, challenging or otherwise - to create freedom and growth for ourselves, and others and to be in a constant evolution of who we are. At every moment we are being birthed, living and experiencing death - we are in constant flux and thriving is a result of going with this natural flow of life and continuing to be rebirthed anew.
Anything else you would like to share with the Thrivhers community?
We have two stores side by side in Summer Hill that host a refugee-run kitchen and ethical retail store. We work with women and their families who are facing financial barriers both in Australia and in the Asia Pacific. In the past month we extended this space to provide a workshop area for the community to hire at affordable rates for talks, classes, events and more.
Recently we hosted a catered event for Urbanistas. To have that many women in our space all sharing their experiences and uplifting one another was truly inspiring.
The space is available to anyone who aligns with our values however I would love to see more women groups use the space to grow and learn together and to have a space where they are able to empower one another.
The Trading Circle is a not-for-profit organisation that hosts a diverse and collaborative community space that exists to work alongside groups of women and their families who face barriers to gaining economical independence, a sustainable income or training. Through our programs we create lasting and tangible change and are able to connect people from all over around the world in one inclusive space.
Within our space we operate three areas:
An ethical gift store that sells a range of unique products which are hand-crafted by artisan women living in developing countries. Through the sales of these products, are empowered to earn a sustainable and fair income and also have access to range of services including education, counselling, accommodation, crisis care and schooling for their children.
A refugee-run kitchen also known as Four Brave Women. Our team mentors the chefs to be able to operate and grow their own small business within a well-supported environment. The aim is to give those of refugee or asylum seeker background a live experience of working in a commercial kitchen, serving customers and managing the day-to-day running of a small business and to walk away with profit to invest into the building of their business.
The Yard is a space which allows the community to come together to learn and grow through workshops, talks and community events. We provide a space which teachers, organisations and community members can hire at an affordable rate because we believe that learning new skills, gaining more knowledge and sharing our collective experiences is an integral part of a communities vitality and success.
Contact us if you would like to find out more about the space or if you would like to drop in for a meal or some retail therapy: 02 9798 0373 24 - 26 Lackey St, Summer Hill, 2130, NSW firstname.lastname@example.org www.thetradingcircle.com.au
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