Today is International Women’s day.

It feels a little self-indulgent that we have an entire 24 hours to really celebrate being a woman. I mean, I celebrate it 365 days of the year!

But first a little about me: I’m a woman, I was born a woman and I’m proud to be a woman. However, just like I don’t see age or race, I also don’t see gender. I never have. Perhaps it’s because I was raised by strong women, women who simply told me to “Be brilliant. Whatever you do, Elle, just be brilliant”. I was never told: “Be better than a man, work harder than a man, challenge a man”.

Today, though, for one day out of 365, I am going to shamelessly celebrate being a woman and take the opportunity to share eight completely inspirational women: the women that I rely upon, admire or turn to for support. Here’s my dream team:

Judy Moss, aka Mum

My mum gives it to me straight—there is no sugar coating, simply an enormous amount of clarity of thought behind her constructive feedback.

Mum was the first ever woman to set up and run a medical photography department for the NHS. Doctors, surgeons and consultants would turn to my mum for advice, support and skills that delivered high-quality medical photographic research. She went seamlessly from using film to digital, from handcrafting slides to using Powerpoint. I grew up in her department, literally; from the age of 10 days, I was kept in the bottom drawer of her desk while she worked! I grew up witnessing what it took to professionally liaise with the general public and very demanding consultants. Stood me in good stead for running an agency!

Kate Foster

I first met Kate many years ago at Capgemini where I had been called in as a trusty freelancer. We hit it off immediately; Kate had the skill to write content about all sorts of rather unsexy subject matters around tech, and I had the skill to make the content even sexier in an infographic glorious way. We were quite some team.

Kate and I haven’t stopped being a team since, often working together on projects, inspiring each other, setting up businesses together, brainstorming ideas. Here at Drew, Kate is our ‘Content Coach’. She helps strategise, profile-raise and build a tone of voice around the Drew brand. She’s phenomenal at giving you the time, space, skills and structure to deliver content across all social channels. Get in touch if you need help with your content strategy—I completely recommend her.

Mai Ikuwawa

I first met Mai in 1998 and was instantly struck by her enormous creative talent. Fast-forward the clock and we’re now great friends and godmothers to each other’s sons.

Mai takes a brief and completely re-imagines the deliverables, always creating something jaw-droppingly beautiful. I was lucky enough to spend over 10 years working alongside Mai, and I can still hear her “Hmmm yeah, it’s OK, but if you did this (insert amazing idea) then it would be INCREDIBLE”.

Pushing the creative is what makes all the difference and her website of prestigious clients, view here, demonstrates that. 

We’ve both traversed through enormous life changes, together, and have always been there for each other.

Tessa Dunlop

Tessa brings previously un-recorded and forgotten stories straight back to the public domain, delivering with passion, wit and intelligence along the way, whether in book form, such as The Bletchley girls , Channel 4’s ‘My Family Secrets’ series, BBC’s Coast programme, Tessa has an energy that grips you with intensity and takes you on a historic journey.

Tessa shares her history knowledge with compassion; tales of challenges, struggles and diversity through the ages. In fact, Tessa’s most recent book, Century Girls, is out on paperback and a ‘must read’ to really get under the skin of how life was through the decades for these 100-year-old women.

Lyeloon Kazi

Lyeloon has been my financial coach since the conception of Drew, offering hard-hitting, strategic, honest yet compassionate advice. Lyeloon is a powerhouse of knowledge, just as at home in a board room as she is reviewing gigantic spreadsheets. Lyeloon is driven by diversity and gets enormously motivated, helping all types of businesses from tech start-ups to youth-focused marketing agencies. If you need help with your financial strategy and want a straight talking, energetic and empathetic team member, get in touch with Lyeloon via her website found here.

Helen Mulvaney

Helen is a creative gem, a gentle and understatedly talented photographer who has a rare skill of capturing the subject’s persona through the lens. I studied my degree alongside Helen and was always mesmerized by how she would approach a brief – I was always about popping colours and banging type, whereas she would deliver soft elegance, thoughtful typography and a colour palette that looks simply beautiful. Her late father, a wonderful gentleman, inspired her to start her photography brand and I believe he would be so incredibly proud of the work she captures. Whether you’re after some personal portraits or agency headshots, do get in touch via her website, found here.

Charlotte Johnson

Charlotte has arrived in my life relatively recently. As the founder and MD of Live Consulting, Charlotte literally blew me away with her bullish and confidently brilliant ‘can do’ attitude. Smoke and mirrors aren’t part of Charlotte’s makeup; what you see and what you’re told, is what you get! Live Consultancy delivers ‘moment’s and connections’ for brands such as Estee Lauder,  Becca X, Olympia and Nectar to name but a few. Planning an event? Need help with your digital strategy? Then I thoroughly recommend reaching out to Charlotte.

Lady Barbara Judge

OK, so I’ve only met her a couple of times, but this is a woman who means business. I first witnessed her incredible, outspoken, forthright female call to arms in a conference in 2014. Lady Judge shared the shameful statistic that a mere 7% of the Institute of Directors members were women and I’m pleased to say that, rather brilliantly, just a few years later, the numbers have increased to 20%. There’s still a long way to go, but it’s a vast improvement.

Lady Barbara Judge demonstrates enormous strength, intelligence and purpose. Now in her seventies, it would seem that she’s nowhere near retirement (although she did step down from the IoD last year, subject to investigation, shame).

Keep rocking girls!

Up next...