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WOMEN IN CHARGE PART TWO

AQ/AQ was founded by Julie Lingard in 2002. She had a discerning eye for
not only what she liked, but for what other women liked too. Clean lines,
clever design, modern elegance with edge. Today, we create clothes for
women all over the globe. We think it's important that successful women
champion other successful women, so here's part two featuring Apphia
Michael, Caroline Towning and Kelsie Hayes.

Read the AQ/AQ spring campaign story
Apphia Michael is a journalist, writer, stylist and mother of two. For
many years, she was a journalist for Wallpaper magazine, but when she
had her first baby, Tallis, she decided to go freelance. When we spoke
on the phone, she was just about to leave the house with her two children,
but kindly held back to speak to us. This speaks volumes about her
flexible approach. Apphia tells us what it’s like being an in-demand
working mum while raising two children under five.
Read More
After Wallpaper you decided to go freelance. Why?
I worked as a journalist at Wallpaper, my dream publication, for years,
but when I gave birth to Tallis I sat down and thought long and hard about
whether to go back, and I wasn’t ready. I decided to readjust my working
life to something I was more comfortable with – which meant freelancing
and working lots of evenings and weekends. Lots of fellow mums were going
back to work full time after a year’s maternity, which I have an enormous amount of respect for, but I did what was right for me.
Do you think there are still barriers to break in terms of the way companies
treat women who have had or are going to have children?
Yes, women turn to running their own businesses because they need more
flexibility. The onus is on mothers to be able to manage everything. There
isn’t a huge amount of support. Either you go back part-time or you go
back full time and have to spend your entire wage on expensive childcare.
There needs to be a shift in mind-sets among people at the top of businesses
– in the shape of paid maternity and paternity, which is becoming a reality.
It must be more acceptable for parents to share childcare.
Which women do you find inspirational?
I find other working mums – all mums actually – inspirational. Especially
those who do it on little or no childcare. Mothers have to put on lots of
different hats – you have to be professional, but also be able to know when
to switch off and devote time and attention to raising your family.
What is your advice to other women who are mums and would like to set up
their own businesses?
Don’t be so hard on yourself; people judge working women very easily – so
it’s best to play by your own rules. Go with what is right for you and your
family and be open to being flexible and working around your children’s needs.
Grow your business organically, don’t view it as an insurmountable task that
takes a bank loan and uninterrupted, dedicated time, or as something to
complete immediately. Start small and use social media. These platforms are
ready made and allow you to try things out and test the receptivity of your
audience.
Read Less
Read the AQ/AQ spring campaign story

APPHIA'S PICKS

CAROLINE TOWNING

Read the AQ/AQ spring campaign story
Caroline Towning is a fine artist and illustrator who has been drawing
since she could hold a pencil. As a dyslexic child, art became a very
important tool for expression. She started her career as a digital
animator and now works solely on fine art commissions from her London
studio in Hampstead. She tells us what it was like working in a male
dominated field and why she loves drawing the female form. Read More
You started out in television and film as a television animator. Can you
tell us a bit about your experience as a woman in animation?
I studied digital animation and when I started my course in 2005, of the
80 students, only three of us were female. Being a woman working in a
technical field, which 3D computer animation can be, I did feel there was
extra pressure. There were times when I wasn’t taken seriously and noticed
in similar situations a male colleague would get a more positive response.
I even had instances when a client would only to talk to a male member of
a project team, even though I was senior or a lead animator.
Why did you decide to return to art and illustration and how did you go
about making the switch?
I had never fully stopped illustration. I always did it freelance and
worked up full, hand-drawn storyboards and style frames for all my
animation work. I found working on a computer made things very stale and
unemotional. I love making things with my hands –mixing paint, spending
hours in art shops picking paper and experimenting with techniques; the
tactile subtlety that you don't get on a computer. It was such a simple
and natural transition moving back into it.
You mainly work with female subjects and animals. Why do you think this is?
Women and horses are my two favourite subjects simply because I find them
beautiful to draw. I think horses have very female curves – they are strong,
sculptural yet emotional animals. Many of the females I draw are perhaps
just interpretations of myself.
You don't work in a typical office environment and your work is
commissioned. How important is a network of supportive women to
your job?
Relationships are everything and I'm so grateful to all the amazing women
in my life. Most of my work comes through word of mouth and social media,
so it's really important for me to keep my network alive and to give back
as much as I take. A lot of my female friends have start-ups or are
freelancers, so I always try to put people in touch and pass on as much
work as I can.
What, to you, makes a woman inspirational and which women inspire you?
Michelle Obama is just incredible – she's fun, sophisticated and an incredible
role model to millions of women. I love the fact that she has a sense of
humour and is so personable. I think being inspirational is subjective –
anyone can and should be an inspiration. As long as you are good, true to
yourself and in some way try to make things better, you will be a beacon to
others.
Read Less
Read the AQ/AQ spring campaign story

CAROLINE'S PICKS

KELSIE HAYES

Read the AQ/AQ spring campaign story
Kelsie Hayes is the founder of NYC plant and floral design company,
POPUPFLORIST. She started her business from scratch, off the back of a
good idea, utilising her strong fashion credentials – she was head
designer for a Californian womenswear brand, Beckley Boutique. She now
counts among her clients Barneys, Soho House, Cushnie et Ochs and Jbrand.
Here, she tells us what it's like as a woman working for herself, for some
of the biggest brands around. Read More
How did you go about setting up POPUPFLORIST?
The first thing I did was sign up for a domain name and Instagram account.
I then asked a close friend if I could pop up at her coffee shop, The Elk,
over Valentine's Day. It ended up being a real success and from there things
have just happened. I've really just gone with my gut instinct over this
past year. My "research" is done by going to the flower market daily.
What has been the biggest challenge in setting up your own business?
Opening up the retail shop in such a tiny space (40 square feet!) without
really knowing the ins and outs of having a floral business was definitely
difficult. I'm very happy with what we created, but it was definitely
nerve-racking! We’re also open seven days a week so it's hard to shut off,
but I try to take Sundays for myself and go on weekend trips with friends
whenever possible. My favorite place to visit is Los Angeles, California.
It's basically my second home and my lifestyle there is much more relaxed
so it's a great place to go to unwind a bit!
Was there a moment where you knew you had a truly viable business?
I had to put together a book for a big meeting and looking at our client
list I had a kind of ‘aha’ moment. It's a dream to not only be able to work
with amazing brands that I personally love and respect, but to have them
bring us repeat business is really a win. New York has so much to offer in
every category so being a go-to florist for these companies has really
filled me with so much pride.
How important is a network of supportive women to your job and life?
I have a close group of girlfriends, most of whom own their own businesses
or are high up in their careers. It's great to have friends that are on the
same page as you to bounce ideas off, or just unwind with. It's so valuable
to me to have that support system.
What advice would you give to women starting their own businesses?
Really think it through, do your research, ask questions and ask for help.
Above all, believe and have confidence in yourself and your ideas – this
is the foundation to success. Read Less
Read the AQ/AQ spring campaign story

KELSIE'S PICKS

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