I had the pleasure of celebrating International Women’s Day 2018 with a community of creative and powerful entrepreneurs at Digital Women UK’s Missing in Action II: Tackling the myths of money, self care and the Imposter Syndrome.
Every woman present had a unique story to tell and a shared narrative of forging a path for themselves through systemic barriers and undervalued experiences. Digital Women UK co-founder Joy Francis set the tone when she asked: “Who is making us invisible? Because we’re doing the work, yet we’re missing in action.”
The day began with forming a framework for self care and entrepreneurship in the digital age. With contextualising presentations by Joy Francis and Dr Angela Martinez Dy (Loughborough University London), the professional development event not only introduced ideas of invisibility, merit and resource access, but also practical examples of self care and money care. As someone prone to scraping by in both categories, it addressed my many excuses and offered suggestions which could be incorporated into any lifestyle.
Next, we heard from creative entrepreneurs Natalie Lue (Baggage Reclaim) and Mindy Kaur (ESHQROCK). Lue spoke about her initial journey of struggling with boundaries and people pleasing. While her work focuses on coaching and advocating for those without a voice, she recognised the need to champion her own voice as well.
This declaration seemed to resonate with many of the women in the room. Too often, we feel compelled to please everyone around us, but ignore ourselves. And just as often, we let others ignore us. “We feel invisible in spaces where we are being treated like we are invisible,” Lue said.
Kaur also spoke to championing her own identity by creating her jewellery business designing Indian British pieces from cruelty-free gems and biodegradable packaging, right down to the Sellotape.
Sharing finance friendly tips for trading services with other creatives, Kaur revealed her journey from training in architecture to learning a range of skills to be a resourceful entrepreneur. One was to trade jewellery for photography, which has led to a visually stunning online presence, reflecting her vibrant brand.
She also shared the ethical underpinnings of her business. In a world where we rarely know where our material possessions are sourced, she demonstrated the possibility of building your ethos and vision into every stage of your business.
After lunch we split into two sets of workshops. The first set looked at skills development. I attended Martinez Dy’s session on Digital enterprise skillset mapping. We learnt to translate our life experiences into a skillset we could promote professionally. Drawing up mock bios and CV headings, we were able to take away our newly articulated, holistic professional identity.
I then chose to attend the self care workshop (Unplug, breathe, reconnect) with Patsy Isles, where we practised meditation and grounding techniques, including the Five Tibetan Rites, and breathing techniques to alleviate stressful situations. Isles was able to assist all of us experiencing common ailments which we had previously simply accepted.
Having recently attended several training sessions meant to improve diversity, with a lack of culturally diverse individuals, this self development day struck me as an intimately nuanced platform of support created by the community it represents.
Instead of a boardroom setting filled with homogenous members being taught how others are marginalised, this was a creative space containing a range of diverse women with the lived experience of the barriers to their advancement. What we were offered was practical and self-nurturing ways in which to overcome them.
Experiencing such a wide range of workshops, including one that was art-based, I was struck by how the programme targeted areas I undervalued; areas in which women have a wealth of experience, but often fail to take the credit for.
It was inspiring to realise that validating myself to create success will inform the full experience of who I am. All too often our success is informed and diminished by the Imposter Syndrome.
Missing in Action inspired me to own my unique experience and qualifications. Worth coming out of my comfort zone for.
Photo credit: Adrianne McKenzie
About the Author
Cherise Lopes-Baker is a publisher, intersectional feminist, artist and co-founder of Desert Rose Literary Magazine, an intersectional feminist literary magazine publishing poetry, short fiction, and essays by women of color and members of the LGBTQA+ community