IWD2020: Women of The Galeries
02 Mar 2020
To celebrate International Women's Day 2020, we reached out to some of our female run and represented retailers.
From fashion to food and lifestyle businesses, these five women shared some insights and words of wisdom of their journey as women in retail.
- Shira O’Sullivan-Linker, gentSac
- Jacqui Garrett, Attik Clothing
- Eileen Chong, Books Kinokuniya
- Mint Jongsatien & Chom Phunrat, Boon Table
Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.
SHIRA: Hmmm how long have you got? In short, I am a creative, a Founder & CEO, an advocate for mental health and I champion building community and self-care.
JACQUI: My name is Jacqueline Garrett, I am the Co-Founder and General Manager at Attik Clothing. We established the Company in 2008, with an early vision to create a fun, dynamic and positive fashion retail environment for women of all ages. With this in mind, we opened our first store in Manly and have since grown to a medium sized Company with 5 stores state-wide including our flagship at The Galeries.
EILEEN: I’m the Marketing Manager for Books Kinokuniya Sydney. I look after promotional campaigns and events for the bookstore.
CHOM: My name is I’m Chom Phunrat. We are the co-founders of Boon Table.
MINT: My name is Mint Jongsatien. Boon Table is a destination for hearty food with an Asian-twist. Our mission is to connect people with wholesome healthy food regardless of their busy lifestyle.
Shira O’Sullivan-Linker, Founder & CEO of gentSac
Located on Ground Floor
How did you get started, why do you think you chose this career path?
SHIRA: I’ve always had the entrepreneurial spirit and I am a curator by nature. I just happened to notice a gap in the market when it came to a men’s offering for curated grooming products, making it accessible and easy for gents to shop for their essentials, learn the basics and level up their self-care.
JACQUI: I have always been interested in fashion. All the women in my family particularly my mother and grandmother have very wild styles and use fashion as a form of self-expression. So from an early age I could see how fashion can excite, entertain and inspire self-confidence. Who wouldn't want to be a part of an industry that can do all those things!
EILEEN: I enjoyed business studies at school and when it came to choosing a degree, a particular Marketing course caught my eye because it offered a 1-year work placement as part of the curriculum. I thought the practical experience would be a great way to apply classroom theories to real-world situations.
CHOM: We both grew up overseas and moved to Sydney to study and work in a private design practice, specialised in hospitality design and brand identity. For the past few years, we have helped many business owners to accomplish their goal in the food business area. One day we thought to ourselves, why don’t we create something that we love with the skillset that we are good at?
MINT: The inspiration to start the business came from the mixture of practicality, creativity and healthy lifestyle. Our interest in healthy food started at a young age. We love going to the organic café to chill and bounce the ideas. That lifestyle has become our second nature and then we just rolled up our sleeves and did it.
CHOM: And here we are an Asian-inspired healthy takeaway shop which answered everything that we needed “Healthy, great food, quicker than home-cooked, affordable yet worth the value”.
MINT: This journey has grown for a year and hospitality for us has become our natural progression professionally. We can’t imagine ourselves doing anything else now.
Jacqui Garrett, Co-Founder & General Manager of Attik Clothing
Located on Ground Floor
What do you feel was the greatest challenge in your journey?
SHIRA: Being a self-funded start up certainly had its challenges! I think in general – getting super clear on the concept and how to articulate it, knowing who your customer is, juggling all the hats when you don’t have all the resources at hand and sustainable cash flow.
JACQUI: My dad and I established ATTIK when I was just 23yrs old. So for me the greatest challenge was gaining the self-confidence to be able to voice my opinions in board rooms and acknowledge my own self-worth as a young woman in a fairly intimidating industry.
EILEEN: Balancing parenthood and work life – after my maternity leave, I was faced with a completely different way of life. I somehow figured out (and am still doing it to this day!) how to juggle what is essentially 3 versions of me – ‘mummy me’, ‘work me’, and ‘just me'.
CHOM: Well, a magic pill doesn’t exist. Boon Table is definitely our greatest challenge, I would say. The hospitality-entrepreneurial world is not a glamorous path. We were entering a field that we had barely any experience in and we realised that, there are a lot more aspects for food business owners to take into account.
MINT: Just practical and creativity skills wouldn’t be sufficient to shape the business. The path involved different type of skillsets. There were some hiccups and road bumps along the way. For us to overcome this challenge we needed to be really open-minded. Open-minded to explore, dare to fail, and be brave to stand up to improve yourself beyond the limit. We just had to trust ourselves and keep putting one foot in front of the other.
Where do you find your inspiration? What keeps you going every day?
SHIRA: My own routine when it comes to self care and mental health such as meditation, yoga and journaling keep me grounded and clear. When I’m clear and intentional with my bigger vision and purpose I feel motivated and can take inspired action. Also talented and creative humans who I get to work/collaborate with are key to injecting inspiration into my day.
JACQUI: My daily inspiration comes definitely from my employees. They are all such strong, empowered and creative women, and they keep me moving forward and even keep me in line. I also feel very strongly about small business and its importance in the retail landscape. Without small business we would lose so much creativity and diversity.
EILEEN: I find inspiration in lending my love, care and support to the people that surround me - from family and friends to work colleagues. I’ve also learnt it’s ok to be selfish and take time out for yourself. It’s good for a mental reset.
MINT: What keeps us going every day is first and foremost our family. They are the reason for our existence. Also, a clear goal and vision of seeing people eat healthier and to have balance in their diet especially in a busy schedule and fast lifestyle.
CHOM: We find inspirations in everyday through our daily routines, and most importantly loving what we do and being passionate about the industry are things that keep us going every day.
Eileen Chong, Marketing Manager of Books Kinokuniya
Located on Level 2
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
SHIRA: For me it’s all about celebrating women and what we are capable of, empowering women to know we can achieve anything we set out to, advocating for women’s rights, spreading awareness in relation to our mental health/self care and ultimately an opportunity for us to connect with one another and support each other as this alone can have such a positive impact.
JACQUI: It’s a day to get all the women in your life together and celebrate, acknowledge and embrace one another.
EILEEN: A celebration of being a woman - how far we have come, and how much more we can persist and progress! We come from many different walks of life, but we have so much in common with each other – our journeys, struggles, fears, and triumphs are shared stories we can all relate to and find inspiration from.
MINT: For me it’s an ongoing reminder of women’s empowerment and an opportunity to honour the women who worked courageously to seal the gender gap over centuries. I found this very important – to maintain a gender parity mindset and empower girls and women to follow their dream.
CHOM: The meaning of International Women’s Day for me is a celebration of women and their achievements and contributions to society. It’s also a day to reflect on how far we have come towards achieving balance and advancing the quality of life, not only for women, but for all human beings.
Mint Jongsatien & Chom Jutathon Phunrat, Co-Founders of Boon Table
Located on Lower Ground
Looking to the future, what do you hope for women in your industry? How do you see this evolving in the future?
SHIRA: I hope for women to have more of a voice. I was on the Executive team of a Not for profit recently focused on Men's mental health and I spoke on the women's panel. The feedback was that men want to hear more from us! We have so much value to add and unlike my own experience of writing blogs and signing it off with my partners name, it's time we step into our power and speak our truth. I’ve always said I am a woman who champions men and people ask what does that mean? Well, if the men in our communities are healthy, happy, nurtured, confident and in alignment with their values this has such a positive impact on partners, families, communities and that includes women! When we lead from a place of compassion it mirrors back to us. Supporting men, supports women. We get to lead by example, empower ourselves and empower others.
JACQUI: In fashion and business I see that women everyday are becoming more and more fearless. I can see it everywhere from the huge transformations that have taken place on many runways as a result of female-driven action, to my female peers that have very successfully grown there own businesses from the ground up. I guess i hope in general that for women in this industry; that their fearlessness is not lost and is given the space to thrive so in the future we see more women making the important decisions and many more female owned businesses.
EILEEN: To keep on rising and break that glass ceiling, permanently! We need to keep on supporting each other, keep on talking about it whether it’s in the media, on social forums, in schools and the workplace. The change won’t happen and become the norm if we don’t make it relevant and important. Just as our great-grandmas and great-great-grandmas laid the foundation for us to vote, own land, control our finances, we will lay the foundation for future female leaders.
MINT: I believe that food is the universal language. There is no gender to classify what is good food, what is good service. For centuries, women have been supporting and nurturing society. We are always skilful, strong and kind. In the present, I’m glad to see women are able to play many great influential roles in hospitality.
CHOM: In the future, I wish to see more women supporting each other to grow a sisterhood; I would love to see the empowerment of women that results in the overall development of the hospitality industry, society, and economic activities.