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WOMEN IN CHARGE PART ONE Written by Hannah Donovan

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 are a few of our favourites
starting with The LadyGang and Monti.

Read the AQ/AQ spring campaign story
Keltie Knight, Jac Vanek and Becca Tobin are the ladies behind the
LADYGANG podcast. All successful in their own fields, the three friends
decided to pool their expertise in the creation of a podcast that looks
at what it’s really like to be a woman in Hollywood. No holds barred here
– this lady gang discusses everything from loves to hates, investing money,
being a working mum – and much, much more. Read More
You all have impressive credentials in your own rights. How did you come
to pool your experience as LADYGANG?
Keltie and I – having always worked for someone else – found ourselves at
a point where we were sick of executives deciding our professional fate.
We were tired of being told what to say, what to wear, how to behave etc.,
and were ready to create something of our own where we wrote the rules. We
approached Jac, who had been the CEO and designer of her own company for
years, and it all became such an awesome collaboration.
Why is an all-female space in the form of your podcast important to you?
We felt that there was a huge lack in Hollywood of women who were honest
and candid with their fans. Our young fans were under the impression that
their idols were these perfect women with no flaws and all the confidence
in the world. It was sad to think that there were girls out there striving
for perfection, when there’s no such thing…even for Hollywood starlets.
We wanted to create a safe place where we could talk about anything and
not feel judged.
What challenges have you faced as women in Hollywood? And how did you
react to these challenges?
We truly believe a lot of what we deal with is not that dissimilar to the
challenges that most women in our country face, in any profession. We
struggle with speaking up because we are afraid of being called bitches.
We are scared to ask for what we want because we don’t think we deserve it.
We never feel thin enough, young enough, sexy enough, but are always
chasing perfection. We are judged on our appearance more often than we are
judged on our work ethic or talent. Certainly it is to varying degrees, but
these sadly seem to be pretty universal truths.
What changes would you like to see for women in entertainment in the next
few years?
We would love to see women who aren’t afraid of being flawed. We want
women to be more honest about their struggles, insecurities, and failures.
Recently Ashley Tisdale tweeted: “The pressure to being perfect is a
struggle. No I’m not pregnant, I’m just happy and haven’t been strict on my
diet but thanks for the reminder.” Now that’s more like it!!
What, in your minds, makes a woman inspirational and which women inspire you?
We love women who are unapologetic and don’t get caught up in caring about
what other people think. The ability to turn off the voice in your head that
wants to please everyone is nearly impossible and we really admire women
who can. We also love the women who have persevered through failure. Read Less



Read the AQ/AQ spring campaign story
In 2014, Dee Monti left her job working for an independent brand in west
London, motivated by the dream of regaining lost creativity via her next
venture. She spent much of the next year in a tiny box room teaching
herself how to work with glass, and designing branding, packaging and her
website. Her social life took a hit, as did her bank balance, but in 2015
she launched the eponymous MONTI – a business she runs single-handedly,
and with great success, to this day.
Read More
Can you tell us a bit about what it’s like setting up and running your
own business?
I won’t lie to you, setting up MONTI was hard. I had to sacrifice lots of
things I took for granted before starting out – like socialising, holidays
disposable money and weekends. It took a lot of time and energy, but if I
hadn’t put those hours in I wouldn’t have the opportunities I do now. Most
days I worked (and still work) 12 or more hours. It was exhausting both
mentally and financially, but I managed to keep myself afloat by selling
all my belongings on EBay. It involved a lot of blood, sweat and tears
but in my experience, that was the only way.
Were there women in your life who helped you on your journey?
I was lucky that a few of my close female friends had also created similar
business ventures. They were able to give me some invaluable guidance and
advise from their own experiences. It was also good to vent to other women
in the same boat, with the same struggles. Their dos and don’ts and general
general reassurance when I was feeling creatively stuck were a blessing.
What advice would you give to women who want to start their own businesses?
I think it’s so important that more women are exploring entrepreneurship.
Business is still seen as a man’s world and there is still a huge gender gap
in this field. Since launching MONTI, I’ve noticed a significant rise of young
female entrepreneurs, so if you have a strong idea and can find a way to
financially fund it, you should go for it. There hasn’t been a better time
to become a female boss! Creating something unique is the key to success,
as is research (do it!), motivation and discipline. It doesn’t matter if other
people making similar products, just make it your own.
In the past few years, interest in home design has burgeoned. Can you
tell us why you think this might be?
The huge increase in predominantly visual social media platforms – Instagram
and Pinterest – have created opportunities for people to almost create a
brand for themselves. People are documenting the way they live, eat, dress
and socialise. It’s a trend to perfect a visual composition to share with
others and this has encouraged people to take an interest in their spaces;
they’ve realised they don’t necessarily need to be a designer to do it.
What, in your mind, makes a woman inspirational and which women inspire you?
Being a female entrepreneur myself, I think I’m naturally more interested in fellow female entrepreneurs. It’s important for women to support each other in a male dominated field, so it's inspirational to see other women start with an idea and slowly grow it into a successful business. It shows women everywhere that it can be done.


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