OCCASION READY? SHOP THE EDIT

    WOMEN IN CHARGE PART TWO 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's part two featuring Apphia
    Michael, Caroline Towning and Kelsie Hayes.

    APPHIA MICHAEL

    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