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Interview with Nicola James - Founder of Iris Dares Designs

Nicola is a feminist mum, a passionate entrepreneur and an ethical business owner...it was only a matter of time before our paths would cross! And as feminist mums and entrepreneurs we love supporting each other, collaborating and recognising the time, energy and effort behind the scenes.

There is a very powerful alliance; a silent "I totally get it" in the women entrepreneur's community and it is a pleasure for me to showcase her feminist voice!

Her designs are full of sparkle, unicorns, rainbows and tulle and she owns the joy it sparks within many kids and parents! Iris Dares Designs is determined to change the narrative that tells us that you can't be badass just because you are wearing a tiara. You don't have to like those things just for being a girl, we all agree, but it is also unfair to undervalue those who do, it only reinforces the stupid idea that anything perceived as "too feminine" means weak.

What is Iris Dares Designs?

It’s an online shop for fierce and feminine girls. I sell beautiful dresses, capes, wooden wands and bags.

What is the biggest impact of your business?

Allowing little girls to be THEM. If they want to wear a dress AND love tractors, then why stop them? So, we sell tractor dresses, spaceman dresses, bees, unicorns – lots of sparkle and glitter and love!

What is your biggest challenge as a feminist mum?

Where do I start? Getting people to see I’m a business women AND a mum, and this isn’t a ‘hobby’. I want my girls to see their mother was there for them as much as she could AND worked. It’s VERY hard. I want the girls to feel happy in their own skin, and that they can dress up and it shouldn’t make them be treated any differently. It’s hard to fight the ‘oh isn’t she pretty?’ comments from strangers and even friends – and I hate them being called ‘princess’ – I’d rather they be called Goddess! Don’t tell them they look pretty – ask them what their favourite book is! Grr!

 

How did you start and where are you going, what is the big vision? 

To spread the word and change the narrative around girls who are strong and powerful don’t HAVE to wear dungarees or brown unless THEY want to (sorry, I do love dungarees – but you get my meaning!). Girls should be allowed to embrace their femininity AND be regarded as clever, strong and capable. There shouldn’t have to be a compromise. So, I sell both the most feminine dresses I can find, as well as dresses for individual personalities (spacemen, tractors, aeroplanes…). I want to grow the business into a force to be reckoned with and parents of strong girls buy our dresses and shine!

 

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And our questionnaire for everyone

 

What is Feminism for you?

It’s being treated equally to men. It’s about respect for women, about not labelling a job as for a man or women – it’s about breaking down those walls. Changing lives and making women speak UP for themselves! They are NOT second best.

Which “everyday sexism” really bothers you?

Mansplaining. Whether it’s from the boiler man or the man at the petrol station. Please stop. I have a brain.

Do you remember when you start identifying as a Feminist and why?

I’ve always been surrounded by strong women; my mother is one of the fiercest women I know – nothing stops her. It maybe wasn’t until I finished University and went out into the working world, I started seeing the inequalities. Since having children and being a mother has made the issue like a big shining beacon to me. I’m determined my girls will be happy and not be seen as ‘less’…that they don’t get paid less, that they should be encouraged to try everything and that being female is an asset as should be celebrated for not punished for! I’m also passionate about women being able to raise their children and work around that. And not be penalised for taking time out to raise them but helped back into work.

Who is your biggest feminist role model?

Oh, where to start! SO many – but I really admire Oprah Winfrey. She went through incredible adversity through her childhood, was abused, poor and black in a time when this would have meant no way out of the poverty trap – and she not only excelled, she killed it and continues to. She is amazing – self-made women and one of the most powerful in the world. As a businesswoman – she is someone who is very inspiring and incredible.

 What is your favourite Feminist quote?

“You educate a man; you educate a man. You educate a women; you educate a generation” Brigham Young

 What is your proud feminist victory?

When my little girl told me, after dressing up in her finest, that she was not a princess – but a leader. I’m doing my job!

What is your feminist recommendation?  

  • Book:The Handmaids Tale (if anything will make you a feminist, this will!)
  • TV show: Killing Eve
  • Film:Alien!

What is your feminist call of action to whoever is reading?

Be you. Be uniquely YOU! If you want to wear a glittery tiara – you can still be a CEO. Don’t ever feel less than you are.

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