This year finished big for me, the article I wrote for Ladies Who Launch, a Leader doesn't have to wear Prada, made it into their 5 favourite moments of 2020!
You might not understand how important this was for me, but Ladies Who Launch is guilty, in a way, of everything that I am building, and this milestone with them felt like a sign of things going in the right direction.
In November 2018 I was dreading going to an event that I signed up for on Facebook. I had made the decision to give my book a proper opportunity and this Ladies Who Launch event seemed really interesting. It was pouring with rain so the idea of staying home watching TV was also extremely tempting, but Chris insisted and a taking a break from baby Eric was a winner for me.
I got there with a couple of books in my handbag, hoping to sell them, but with no real expectations and knowing nobody at all in that room full of smiley but intimidating women. The event was AMAZING. We laughed, we learnt, we got inspired... I remember listening to those women on the stage with so much admiration and respect, I remember their stories of successes and their challenges, their tips but mostly I remember the fire in my belly growing, the urgency to leave the room and take over the world. I didn't just want to give my book an opportunity anymore, I wanted to make it big!
This was all followed by a brilliant networking event. A room full of entrepreneurs that I could relate to, willing to make a connection, having so much in common, inspired by each other. I can't explain the vibe, I was so impressed, humbled to be there and welcomed to a group I didn't even know existed. We were even given a party bag!! Can you imagine??
I came home so happy that I couldn't sit down, I was hopping around the living room telling everything to Chris, "and this woman did this, and this other said that, and we all laughed with this other thing". I remember his pride and smile, I remember my ambition rocketing. I felt like I got this. It felt like a beginning.
Because of that night and the people I met, I went to a Lean In Women Entrepreneurs event which, once again, wowed me (and not only because there was again free food and wine!). The people on stage where brilliant, but also relatable. There were giggles and nodding, it was honest but exciting. I joined the group and shortly after volunteered to be a committee member, mostly because I really admired the people and wanted to be close to them. That was my tribe, I could feel it!
They have been my tribe since, along with other women entrepreneurs in different stages of their journey. Successful women that have shared their knowledge with me, other ones also starting out that have filled it all with enthusiasm. In the meantime my idea of a book had to share space with the new and bigger idea of creating an ethical worldwide feminist brand, then came the ambition of writing more books, of doing workshops... I realised that my passion was feminism and the book was only one of the many things that I could do to make an impactful sustainable project with it!
By the time Ladies Who Launch came back to Belfast, a lot had happened. I was literally buzzing, telling everyone that wanted to hear what an amazing event it was and how exciting it was to potentially meet Emma McIlroy, the co-founder of Wildfang! I was looking forward to do it all again, that magic in the room.
And suddenly it all hit me, at once; in that same room and 5 minutes before it all started. I looked around and the people that not that long ago i'd felt intimidated by had become my friends, my support; I knew a lot of people from the different events, accelerators and programs I had gotten into with determination and passion in the previous months; I was wearing our "my favourite position is CEO" t-shirt and Sarah Friar herself liked it and tweeted about and Emma McIlroy hadn't called the police despite the fan girl moment.
(That is Emma, pretending not to be scared...)
Picture property of LWL
I cried. Of happiness. This is what success is made of, moments of pride where you acknowledge how far you have come, looking back to the person you were and feeling that she will love to see where you are now. I know I am not where I want to be yet, and that there is so much exciting walk to walk, but when I am low in energy, when I am overwhelmed, when I am tired... I go back to that first Ladies Who Launch event, I summon the fire in the belly and the pride I felt when I gave myself permission to dream big and suddenly I can't wait to see who I will be and in which step of the journey I will be standing the next time the event return to Belfast.
I think that explains a bit better how important it was for me, not only writing for them, but also being recognised in the yearly wrap up. That explains why I chose it as my happy closure of 2020 (career wise).
If there is something I have learnt, is that behind every great woman there are lots of other great women, inspiring, supporting and cheering all the way; what a pride it is to be part of that crowd!