Latest Be A Lady News
Nov 13, 2018
ForbesWomen I write about women pushing limits of creativity & entrepreneurship. Share to facebook Share to linkedin It’s just a well-tailored dark grey long sleeved jumpsuit with a tie in the front and some perfectly placed pockets, but everywhere I go other women fawn over it. Men, not so much, but who cares about them. I joke that it’s just my little slice of gas station attendant chic, but that’s part of the jumpsuit's charm. It's unexpected! In the past six months I've worn it to my most important meetings with my editors and television executives, Sunday brunches, keynote speeches and book readings. I delight in telling people I bought it in New Zealand because it makes the jumpsuit seem even more special and exotic. The jumpsuit is made by Kowtow, a woman-founded and led clothing company based in Wellington. I'd traveled to New Zealand six months ago for a heady mixture of adventure and relaxation. I left there wildly impressed by the strength in numbers of their women entrepreneurs and found myself on a female forward journey through the country. During my trip to New Zealand, from Queenstown in the southern alps all the way north to the Bay of Islands, I felt like I was on journey to discover successful women in business. Every winery I popped into for a tasting, every brewery for a beer, every restaurant for a meal—everywhere I looked were successful businesswoman getting it done. "I have felt in my career that there is no differentiation between men and women in business," Kowtow's founder and creative director Gosia Piatek told me. She did add that on occasion she felt judged for choosing to run a business while being a mother. But Piatek says that has changed since Jacinda Ardern was elected prime minister last year and has showed that working mothers can run a country and have a baby. Ardern is something of a rock star and a global icon for women doing it all and since being elected her "women can do it all" ethos has trickled down throughout the country. "There are a rising number of organizations that support females in business throughout New Zealand, female mentoring roles created within our industry are now in place. We are seeing more female guest speakers being asked to address conferences of many previously male dominated industries. All of this is encouraging," says Sarah-Kate Dineen, the co-founder and co-owner of Maude Wines in Central Otago. Sarah-Kate Dineen's love of Pinot Noir bought her back to her home in Wanaka, Central Otago. Maude Wines Maude Wines currently employs seven full time staff and five of them are women. "We relish the fact we have created a workplace environment where family and grape growing/winemaking are much more inclusive. We want our staff to want to come to work, and that means respecting their work-life balance." Smashing Down Barriers It wasn't until Hinewai Hawaikirangi had her first daughter Kaea (her name means the 'leader' in Maori) that she realized she wanted to launch her own touring business. Based in Hawkes Bay, Hinewai Hawaikirangi's Napier Māori Tours blends hunter-gathering techniques, cultural story-telling and contemporary Māori food. TKTKTK "She helped ground me and tie me more closely to our ancestral connections, our stories and my absolute place in this world. As a Māori woman I felt it was extremely important to share my knowledge." A year ago Hinewai launched Napier Māori Tours. They've since hosted thousands of visitors from around the world. "There's nothing I love more than smashing down barriers, and seeing the glint in a persons eyes as they realise that they've got a person in front of them who's smart, articulate, and doesn't take no for an answer. My husband Cameron once said "You have a special way in business my love. You can leave a discussion having got your way, them covered in bruises but with a smile on their face." I'm Just a Brewer' The beer industry here in the states, particularly the craft beer industry, is still very much dominated by men. Jess Wolfgang isn't just the only female brewer at her Wanaka-based brewery Rhyme and Reason. She's the only brewer, the co-founder and the co-owner. " To be honest. I do not really ever stop to think, wow, I am a brewer and I am a girl. I'm just a brewer. It is not a glamorous job. It is a trade. I manufacture a beverage. An exciting one in fact," Wolfgang said. "It's beer and I love beer. I love my job. I love it so much I work for free (at this stage). But being a women making beer. I don't think that is anything special. It is the same as a man making beer." We're Encouraged to Find Our Strength and Independence The Weta Workshop sits on the end of a quiet residential street in the city of Wellington. It's so unassuming you'd have no idea that some of the most creative and innovative special effects in the entire global movie industry are born behind it's doors. Tania Rodger and her husband Richard Taylor launched their first small effects company in 1987 when they were a young couple in their twenties with a shared desire to break into the fledgling New Zealand film and advertising industry. Today the Weta Workshop, where Tania is the co-founder and workshop manager, is a world leading design and effects studio with five Academy Awards under its belt. Weta is responsible for most of the special effects magic you see in movies like the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies, Avatar, Ghost in the Shell and Blade Runner 2049, just to name a few. In 2012 Weta opened a tourism division where guests can actually visit the workshop and interact with the makers. That's how I found them. More than 140,000 visitors walk through the workshop every year. "As a female working in a traditionally male domain – physical effects for the film industry – it was crucial to arm myself with practical skills, cultivate tenacity, and encourage other female creatives to join the industry," Rodger says. "Having built Weta Workshop from the seed of an idea to a thriving, outward-focused business, our values are woven into its fabric. We’re proud to employ a balance of men and women in a broad range of roles. We work hard to foster a culture of inclusiveness; one where respect for diversity of ideas, opinions, and expectations is paramount. In our eyes, to succeed in the creative industries there is no alternative." Rodger added that "being entrepreneurial is about thinking outside the norm. It’s about pushing boundaries and trusting in your decisions, even if they are untested or considered ‘alternative’. New Zealand – isolated as it is, a speck at the bottom of the world – is a country built on those foundations. Its very nature encourages entrepreneurship and empowerment. In this climate, Kiwi women are encouraged to find their strength and independence. New Zealand was the first country in the world to give women the right to vote. That speaks volumes about the value we place on women’s contribution to working life." The Power Sits at Our Fingertips Of course, there's still a way to go. There's always a way to go.By all accounts Deanna Yang's Moustache Milk & Cookie Bar is a success. They've been open for six years. They have two brick and mortar shops , an e-commerce platform and a food truck. Deanna is very clearly the face and leader of the brand and yet she'd been asked about 50 times whether one of her male employees is her business partner, or if she got the money to start the business from her parents. "I wonder if I was a man, would I be asked these same questions? But I'm so busy doing my own thing, there's not enough time to ponder that deeply enough," Yang said. "And I don't think women should. If we are too busy looking for this supposed glass ceiling, then we won't be focusing on the important things to smash right through it. The power sits at our own fingertips to be heard no matter what gender, race or sexuality. We just have to be brave enough to speak." Jo Piazza is the bestselling author of The Knockoff, Fitness Junkie and How to Be Married. Her new novel, Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win, will be released in summer 2018 by Simon & Shuster. Jo Piazza is a bestselling author. Her new novel, Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win , a searing story of political ambition, marriage, class and sexual politics, comes out in July.