International Women’s Day: a day to admire bravery as well as success

Today, 8th March, is International Women’s Day. Grace and I wanted to pay tribute to women throughout the world. It is particularly poignant as we watch on our TV screens the women of Ukraine desperately fighting for the lives of their children and themselves.

Many have had to leave their homes, and their country whilst younger women have stayed behind to fight. As we sit in our homes, in a democratic and peaceful country, it is hard to imagine what it can be like to be invaded by a neighbouring country and subsequently lose all that you hold dear – your freedom, your family, your home and your future. However, I am confident that the Ukrainian women will eventually fight on and regain their lives. So today should be dedicated to these strong, resourceful and heroic women.

Closer to home, we have met many strong and iconic women who are successfully running businesses that we are associated with, and we all support each other. One of the characteristics that all of them have is finding a niche market. It may be a clever product, e.g. Anikka Burton of Not Another Bunch of Flowers – a gift delivery service; or a range of products for a niche group, e.g. Tricia Cusden with her make-up for older women, Look Fabulous Forever.

Today, we would also like to recognise these women as strong, resilient businesswomen we admire.

MELISSA NICHOLSON – KETTLEWELL COLOURS

Melissa Nicholson and her husband, John, founded Kettlewell Colours 18 years ago when their youngest of 3 children, Tom, was a baby. In those days Kettlewell Colours sold tee-shirts predominantly and it was John and Melissa doing everything including the picking and packing. Kettlewell Colours is a little different to other brands ~

“It is not high fashion; we are not reinventing the wheel; it is about building your wardrobe, finding that style that suits you and injecting some colour.”

We love that they embrace colour and wearing a piece from Kettlewell will always give you a lift.

If you would like to go to the Kettlewell Colours website, please click HERE.

NAYNA MCINTOSH – HOPE FASHION

Nayna McIntosh is someone we have really got to know over the years and we are proud to call her our friend.

The Hope story is about a personal journey for Nayna that started when her grandparents made the voyage from Jamaica to the UK looking for a better future. Hope and optimism was all they had when they arrived and are sentiments that go to the core of the brand’s values. This, combined with the fact that ‘Hope’ is her Mother’s name, were an obvious source of inspiration for a name to give the brand.

And so Hope was born. A collection of wearable and stylish clothes in quality fabrics and fluid designs created for real body shapes and proportions.

I have items from the first Hope Fashion collection that I still roll out every season. There is no other brand like Hope Fashion that recognises that older women do not necessarily conform to the standard clothes sizes of 10, 12, 14 etc.

Nayna is a force of nature, she loves what she does and is readily available to advise and help her clients. She also listens to her clients and their requests. The Hope team is one family and deserves all their success.

To view the Hope Fashion website click HERE.

CLAIRE HORNBY – ME+EM

Claire Hornby is a disruptor. When she launched Me+Em in 2009 she disrupted the fashion market. She was the first to offer excellent quality clothes at reasonable prices and online. However, more importantly her motto is that she ensures every piece is flattering and functional, with wear-forever appeal. If it does not have all of these then it doesn’t get made.

Me+Em is renowned for its trousers – I have some that I bought in the first couple of seasons which I still wear. They do not go in or out of fashion, plus the quality of the fabric means they keep their shape. Of course much of the collection will suit younger women but there are still many pieces that can work on us older ladies – blouses, knitwear, jackets and trousers. This middle market is a tough one to keep impressing but, 13 years, later Claire manages to make her collections exciting and new. You will never be bored by Me+Em clothes.

ANIKKA BURTON – NOT ANOTHER BUNCH OF FLOWERS

Anikka Burton, founder of Not Another Bunch of Flowers

Anikka Burton set up Not Another Bunch Of Flowers – an online business selling get well gifts following her diagnosis with breast cancer.  It’s a range of gifts and cards specifically for people going through tough times. Every time I go onto her website it has got a new range of products and I love creating a parcel to send to a friend when they are needing a boost. The gifts are clever and thoughtful and there is something for every patient. I recently created a gift box for someone who had had a hip replacement – snacks for all her visitors, a really good novel, cashmere socks, some sleep mist and some body lotion – all for less than a bunch of flowers!

CAROLINE TOWNSEND – MANDARINA SHOES

Mandarina Shoes has – literally – established a foothold as one of the UK’s foremost high-end designer shoe brands. It has a loyal following of discerning international clients including celebrities and royals to prove it. Founder and Brand Director, Caroline Townsend, sources fabrics from around the world to use in her limited-edition collections of amazing shoes and boots that are unique, stylish, fun and original – and very reasonably priced. Grace and I can often be seen wearing a pair of Mandarina shoes or boots. We love that they are quirky and fun yet also elegant.

Established in 2004, Mandarina Shoes was one of the very first footwear brands to sell exclusively online, and has never looked back. The secret says Caroline “is not only our great range of unique styles, but also our dedicated personal service and no quibble returns policy. We are very happy to offer fitting advice over the phone or by email prior to purchase.” 

AMANDA ASSHETON – BRIDGE IN THE BOX

Amanda Assheton is the founder of the successful online company, Bridge in the Box. If you want fun, stylish Bridge accessories then this is the website for you. I have bought many gifts for card-playing girlfriends. Amanda is a Liveryman in the Worshipful Company of Makers of Playing Cards and is the only female ‘maker’ in the Company. A highlight for her was the honour of being given the ‘freedom of the City of London’. But in general, she says, “A happy customer, who rings up to say how much they loved their parcel is the best thing.”

Click here to go to the Bridge in the Box website.

TRICIA CUSDEN – LOOK FABULOUS FOREVER

International Women's Day: a day to admire bravery as well as success Tricia Cusden the indomitable founder of Look Fabulous Forever

At Annabel & Grace, we admire a whole host of enterprising 50+ women. One of whom we met at the start of her meteoric career as the founder of a make-up range specifically for older women is Tricia Cusden. She epitomises all that we uphold as older women.

One of the reasons Tricia started her business, Look Fabulous Forever, was because she saw ageist attitudes all around her. The beauty industry is only interested in ‘youthful ageing.’ In other words they believe that every right-minded woman will be desperate to look as young as possible – hence the ‘anti-ageing’ label which they attach to every product they promote for our age group (Tricia is now 70+). She found this assumption hugely insulting, so she created a makeup brand to speak a different language of ageing – one which would be upbeat, positive and pro-age.

I recently tried the LFF Hydrating Mask and I have now made it part of my weekly skincare routine. Also Grace and I love her long lasting lipsticks.

NANCY & EILEEN – CUCUMBER CLOTHING

International Women's Day: a day to admire bravery as well as success Nancy and Eileen, founders of Cucumber clothing - cool clothes for menopausal women

Grace and I were lucky enough to be contacted a few years ago by Eileen Willett and her business partner, Nancy Zeffman, as they thought they might have a product that our readers would love. Eileen and Nancy are the co-founders of Cucumber Clothing – a brand of revolutionary nightwear and now leisurewear that keeps you as cool as a cucumber with its wicking fabric.

Grace and I love that, having brought up their children, Eileen and Nancy did not put their feet up but started their own business. The Cucumber Clothing fabric has certainly shaken up women’s nightwear and their designs have made sure that each piece is stylish as well as functional.

To go straight to the Cucumber Clothing website click HERE.

JANE LOVETT – COOK, CREATOR, AUTHOR

Jane Lovett teacher and author of fabulous cookbooks

As you all know, we have long been fans of Jane Lovett and her recipes. She has written three books, Make It Easy, The Get-Ahead Cook, and her latest, Just One Pan. She is keen on presentation; however, her recipes do not require lots of “cheffy primping” (her own words). The instructions are easy to follow, and with all of her tips, she makes cooking so much easier. Her recipes are kind to the cook in that they often use ready-made pastry, pouches of pre-cooked grains and tinned pulses – perfectly acceptable substitutes to the raw, dry ingredients.

I have done an Insta Live with Jane where she shared many of her tips and time-saving tricks. Click HERE to watch it.

Jane has become a friend and our go-to cook when Grace or I need a new recipe for a lunch party or a midweek supper. When you watch her insta live you will see why we like her so much – she is our type of cook, who understands that we are busy women who do all of our own cooking, so need easy but impressive recipes.

JANE GORDON – JOURNALIST & AUTHOR of HOW NOT TO GET OLD

Jane Gordon is a brilliant journalist (Stella magazine, The Telegraph & Daily Mail), novelist, a fabulous friend to A&G, mother to Bryony, Naomi and Rufus and grandmother to Edie.

Over the last decade that we have known Jane, she has been the champion of older women but always with a sense of humour. I accompanied her on many of her forays to find ways not to grow old or to at least grow old gracefully. Ballroom dancing was challenging, not least because Jane cannot reverse and as the woman she has to dance backwards much of the time.

I often dog walk with Jane and we set the ‘older women’s world’ to rights! She just gets all of us 50+ women – what makes us tick, what upsets us or drives us mad and she addresses these issues with honesty and humour.

We love Jane.

JAYNE KETHRO – T LONDON

I have chatted with Jayne Kethro on a couple of occasions at various events and was struck by her style, positive demeanour and the fact that she has founded a successful company based on her travels. T London offer a range of candles, home fragrances and bath and body products that are totally unique and smell delicious. She has never compromised on the quality of her products and I don’t think you will find any products that smell as divine as the T London range.

Click here to browse Jayne’s website.

So on International Women’s Day, when we celebrate women around the world for their achievements, resilience, hard work and success let us put at the top of this list the heroic and courageous women of Ukraine who we may not know by name but we respect and admire the most.

Got five minutes? Why not make a cup of tea or pour a glass and read one of our stories

2 Comments

  1. I love your magazine and look forward to every update. You have a brilliant, positive and realistic way of looking at the world. So I hate to be a moaner but just a couple of bits of feedback. For a while I’ve felt I should let you know that as a northern woman your articles and recommendations tend to be very southern centric. What has prompted me to contact you today though is your feature for International Women’s day. Yes we should laud those who have achieved and yes your introduction acknowledging the tragic situation in which Ukrainian women find themselves was most appropriate. But not one of the women mentioned was successful in the field of scientific discovery, education, social activism, philanthropy or any aspect which contributes to our basic health and wellbeing. All were a success story in commercial ventures. I hope this does’t give the impression that all we care about is making money. Yes they are all great women with great companies…from which I have bought ….but surely we need to laud the fact that there’s so much more to women’s achievements.

    • I totally agree with you however, I was highlighting women we have worked with and know personally. There are so many brilliant women in the world in all of the fields that you mention but we decided to make it personal to us as we have watched these women launch businesses late in life and these businesses have grown and they have ridden the crisis caused by Covid. Annabel

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