Meet two inspiring women who are helping girls learn to read and women enter the workforce

There’s so many things we’re grateful for this International Women’s Day.

Today we pay thanks to the suffragettes who fought for our right to vote, celebrate the success of all the wonderful world-changing women and re-live the kick-ass feminist speeches and women’s marches that took place over the past year.

But none of this could happen without support. Specifically, women supporting women. So today, we wanted to shine a torch on two brilliant women who do just that, every minute of every day. Not just on International Women’s Day…

Kate Stephens, Chief Executive at Smart Works

Smart Works is…
A charity that provides two-hour coaching and dressing services for unemployed women before a job interview. Each client has a styling consultation where she is given a complete interview-worthy outfit to help her look and feel fabulous. She then has a one-to-one interview preparation session so she can leave feeling confident. One in two women that Smart Works sees, gets the job.

How I started at Smart Works
I became a trustee of a charity that campaigned for affordable, accessible childcare after I became a mum. It opened my eyes to the charity sector and I couldn’t believe how dynamic and entrepreneurial it was. It got to the point where I wanted to make it my day job, rather than my side job.

A big part of my job is…
Looking after over 150 volunteers in London who give their time every week to style and coach our clients. They are the most impressive group of women, all passionate about supporting other women, all talented and all kind, good people. Our volunteers are our best ambassadors and our secret weapons.

My most rewarding moment
The first time I did a dressing with a client and saw first-hand the impact of our service. I can still remember her, and the way she changed over that hour. Whenever I need any inspiration, I go into the dressing room just to see what they’re doing.

What International Women’s Day means to me
A moment to celebrate our community of women and what we can achieve when we work together. We believe above all that being a woman is not anything to apologise for – we are not ashamed to be clever, capable people who also have fun with fashion and beauty. As our partners at Bobbi Brown say, we are passionate that every woman can be pretty powerful. When we look and feel our best, and when we have each other’s backs, we can achieve anything together.

All proceeds (less VAT) from the Bobbi Brown x Lulu Guinness makeup pouch will be donated to Smart Works.

Nneka Flemming, Founder of Novel Beauty

Novel Beauty is…
A clever skincare and cosmetics brand that donates 10 per cent of profits from their best-selling Poor Man’s Rose Bath and Body Set to Room To Read – a charity which supports literacy and girls education in some of the worlds most deprived countries.

How I started Novel Beauty
A few years ago Chanel started working with young creatives to produce beauty editorials. I was one of those creatives. The idea was born to create new interpretations of beauty. That experience left me wanting more. I remember in school there was the notion that clever girls don’t wear makeup. However, if you look at a lot of powerful and clever women today self care is celebrated as high on their agenda. So I created Novel Beauty – Clever Skincare and Cosmetics to tell your modern beauty story through effective natural skincare mixed with playful but sustainable luxury.

Why I chose to support Room To Read
Being able to read and write is essential. Despite the known benefits of literacy, 175 million young people in low and lower-to-middle income countries are unable to read a single sentence. That’s one out of every four children.

When a person grows up unable to read, their choices in life are limited because their access to information from health to politics is limited. They will not achieve their full potential. They will not have the choice to play. They will only work to cover up how little they know.

Retrospectively, cosmetics were used to cover up similar feelings of inadequacy. Now the tables have turned and beauty is an empowerment tool. We create naturally clever skincare, for smart people who choose to play with their beauty. Room To Read provide education and literacy for girls in the world’s most deprived countries so they can make choices too. In a world ever more connected, we want to create products that feel good and do some good too.

Novel Beauty products are house in books, with refillable ‘chapters’ to help save on waste.

Want more powerful female inspiration? Meet the top beauty bosses who totally changed the game in 2018…


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