As March comes to a close, we are reflecting on the empowering insights to come from Trailblazing Women, a month-long event series that celebrated the women in our community that are innovating for social, environmental, and political good.
Gender equality is no longer an issue only affecting women-identifying people, inequality is also at the detriment to the planet, to social impact, and to our health. According to Harvard Business School, ‘women are both conducting business in new ways, and ensuring that more and more businesses have a positive impact on people and the environment.’
It has never been a more important time to empower and inspire women into positions of leadership and influence, and that’s exactly what Trailblazing Women at Plus X has done. If you missed the series of events, here are five empowering insights from the incredible women who took part…
It’s time for women to seek out sponsors, not mentors
“Many men have got where they have because they had sponsors. Women don’t necessarily need mentors, we need sponsors.” – Erika Brodnock, Founder of Kami Kids
Executive-level sponsorship can catalyse a woman’s career development. Yet, the emphasis is often weighted on mentorship, which is great, but less effective. Organisations need to instead be offering comprehensive sponsorship to women to support their career development. Read more on this topic over on the Harvard Business Review.
Erika, founder of Kami Kids, sat on the panel for the first event in the Trailblazing Women series “Innovating for Good” alongside Lucy Hughes (Founder of MarinaTex) and Angel Investor and founder of Alma Angels, Deepali Nangia.
Abandon everything you think you know about entrepreneurship
“I was put off by the classic stereotype of an entrepreneur. You’re always “on” and working 80 hours a week. You have to be ruthless. That never appealed to me. “When I started my business, I realised things didn’t have to be like that.” – Hazel Reynolds, founder of Gamely Games
Hazel collaborated with fellow BRITE member and founder of Hatsumi, Sarah Ticho to bring “Serious About Games” to the Trailblazing Women line-up.
“I think a lot of people are put off by that stereotype, but there are other ways to run a business and you are in charge of your own story. It’s important that we share as many diverse perspectives as possible.” – Hazel Reynolds, Founder of Gamely Games
Find your tribe!
Women – we clearly know the importance of supporting and helping to raise one another up. Something that proved important across the board for our Trailblazing Women.
“Find your tribe. Connect with one, two people at every event you go to and make a genuine connection with those people, connecting with what they need. If you’re always seeking how you can do something for the person in front of you, then them doing the same, that reciprocity becomes easy.” – Erika Brodnock, Founder of Kami Kids
“We’ve got to build allies. Don’t go into the wilderness by yourself. Lean on those people – whether that’s friendships, or families. You can’t build without scaffolding!” – Carolynn Bain, Founder of Afrori Books
“Find your community. You can really find your people. There’s a Facebook group for everything these days. It doesn’t have to be this cutthroat world, where everyone’s racing to the finish. What even is the finish?” – Sarah Ticho, Founder of Hatsumi
Don’t be afraid of new directions
“The Age of New Directions” was the title and theme for the final event in the series, where we were joined by three inspiring women who changed their paths later in life. Carolynn Bain, founder of Afrori Books, Judith Ricketts MSc, MA, FRSA and lecturer in the Arts, and Silvina Di Vita, founder of My PaperCut Forest.
“When you’re in a ditch, a low point in your career, that’s when you ask the question ‘what will make me happy?’ There’s an element of I’ve got nothing to lose.” – Carolynn Bain, Founder of Afrori Books
“What’s my advice to people wanting to change career? Do it. Just do it. It’s more painful not doing it. Find a way. I don’t recommend free falling, leaving your job straight away. But find a way to do it.” – Judith Ricketts MSc, MA, FRSA
Be pioneers for change – but don’t let it exhaust you
“The thing with racism and sexism is that it’s an invisible wall. You’re going to walk into it several times without even knowing it’s there. But we’re going to be pushing all the harder, even when we’re bloodied. Picking ourselves up and smiling. This is the woman’s lot, and it can be exhausting.” – Judith Ricketts MSc, MA, FRSA
Collectively, women are a force to be reckoned with when it comes to pioneering change. Creating change is tiring work though. It’s important to prioritise yourself before you can influence the world around you.
“We should only be investing in sustainable and inclusive business. And I say that as a resident of Earth, not as a founder of a sustainable business. The word sustainability needs to be rebranded to something like “future-proof”. Ventures and businesses don’t exist in a vacuum, they exist on planet Earth within the societies we all live in.” – Lucy Hughes, founder of MarinaTex
OUR TRAILBLAZING PARTNERS
Plus X has partnered with some empowering changemakers and collaborators on this event.
Found & Flourish is an online membership, media and events platform on a mission to empower women to create and grow incredible businesses. Spring Forward is a month-long celebration of the role of women in digital culture and runs throughout March in parallel with Women’s History Month. All proceeds from Trailblazing Women will go to Brighton Women’s Centre which has been supporting self-identifying women in Sussex for over 40 years. They help women from all backgrounds, facing all kinds of issues, to live happier lives.
In 2022, we celebrated the second year of Trailblazers with Trailblazing for Change. Find out more about the movement and see how you can get involved!