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G.D. Anderson (the Australian feminist writer and founder of the charity The Cova Project) said, “Feminism isn’t about making women strong. Women are already strong. It’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength.” 

This is why I believe in celebrating all those who identify as women in our lives 365 days a year – to help them understand just how strong they are – and I hope you’ll join me. 

Why? Well, list five people in your life who fit this description. I bet you rattled those names off in seconds and yet if you asked them, “Do you realise how strong you are?” most of them would shyly shake their heads and declare that they’re not doing anything special or out of the ordinary.

‘Imposter Syndrome’ is a term we’ve all heard, but do we really know what it means or how to tell if we have it? And how do we move forward, once we know either way?

Anti Imposter Syndrome bottle

‘Anti Imposter Syndrome’ Bottle by Vinegar & Brown Paper

Two female clinical psychologists, Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes, coined the phrase in 1978 as they found that, “Despite having adequate external evidence of accomplishments, people with Imposter Syndrome remained convinced that they don’t deserve the success they have.” It’s not simply another symptom of low self-confidence. It’s a constant fear of exposure, isolation and rejection. It often strikes at moments of success and research suggests approximately 70% of people will experience it in their lives¹.

So how can we help our nearest and dearest to overcome this?

Strong women print

Quote print by Lucky Budgie

My dear sister and co-founder Gabi surprised me with this print for Christmas. It’s by Lucky Budgie, who specialises in revising famous quotes (like this one by Theodore Roosevelt), and it now proudly hangs in my bedroom to remind me to always dare greatly. Trust me when I say that sometimes, even the strongest women in your life, need to be reminded to keep going.   

Being strong means not being afraid to rip up the rulebook, go with your gut and disrupt the status quo when it’s called for. That’s why I’ll be buying the rebels in my life, this embroidered jumper from female founded fashion brand, FUND, to remind them. It was set up by Rachel Howard who believes in promoting self-expression and in creating clothing for good. In fact, a hundred school meals are donated to children living in poverty for every jumper purchased. What an icon. 

Female Founder Tshirt

Female Founder t-shirt by Holly & Co

When I started notonthehighstreet back in 2006 there were very few female founders and very little VC funding went to women. Whenever I’m having a wobble I remind myself of this and that being a female founder means I’ve already had to overcome so much more than my male counterparts and that takes strength, grit and determination. I wear my exclusive Holly & Co t-shirt with pride to help show others that #ThisIsWhatAFounderLooksLike.

I love smashing stereotypes whilst sporting my Tatty Devine necklace. For every piece sold, £3 goes to the Fawcett Society to help support their essential work campaigning for gender equality and women’s rights. I’ve even been known to wear it when meeting with men in suits who didn’t believe a woman could run a professional business in glitter trainers — imagine! Try telling that to founders Rosie Wolfenden and Harriet Vine who’ve grown their business from scratch. They share their thoughts on this as well as the secret to successful creative collaborations on my Conversations of Inspiration podcast. Share it with anyone who needs a confidence boost.

Of course it’s always good to remember that one of the best ways you can celebrate strong women is by voting with your money and shopping with female founded businesses. In fact, if everyone in the UK shopped from a female founded business this International Women’s Day (Tuesday 8th March), we’d pump OVER £100 MILLION into the female economy by redirecting your spending power. To make it easy, I’ve created a directory of strong female founded businesses, my ‘Holly Loves… strong womencurated collection, and this window cling which you’ll find in shop displays across the UK.

Mary & Gem berets

Limited Edition Berets by Mary Benson & Gemma Cairney

Rise up and look forward! That’s exactly what strong women do and now we can do it in serious style thanks to these vintage berets from the Mary Benson x Gemma Cairney collaboration. These beauties are adorned with glittering quotes, with £5 from each sale going to Women’s Aid. What a great way to share this important message. 

If, like me, you’ve got strong women in your life who might need a bit of reminding of their true power, there are lots more bright ideas from incredible UK small businesses in this carefully curated collection. Or if they need a touch of inspiration from those who’ve been there and smashed it, hear some incredibly inspiring stories in this podcast collection or share this article. Meanwhile, I’d love to let you know what inspires you to stay strong in the comments below. 


  1. The imposter phenomenon


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