Reflecting on the Past and Living with No Regrets - Thoughts from a Female Founder

I was thinking about whether to write a blog post on International Women's Day this year. Then I read over my post I wrote last year on What does International Women's Day mean to a Female Founder? It struck me that it could be me with the issue and not other people. Yes I get irritated when I'm not taken seriously in business - or that people think that Jin Designs is my hobby business or side hustle. 

International Women's Day

But is it because of the way I'm presenting myself? And why is this? Why do I play down what I do or not express my ambition and achievements in a more positive and confident way?

Upbringing. Yes, it's easy to blame the past but perhaps the past has the answers! Thankfully, change is happening and I do think that younger women these days are encouraged to have more confidence, ambition and belief in what they do. There are also the opportunities to access the jobs that just weren't available a few generations ago. 

When I was at school there weren't the opportunities to do the things that our male friends were doing. My brother was offered work experience in the City, for large corporate companies, where I was told 'you'd be more suited to the back office doing admin' or 'why don't you train to be a teacher' - I didn't want to be a teacher. I didn't really want to study Classics. I wanted to do electrical engineering. Ok, maybe that wouldn't have been the best choice afterall but how nice to have had the choice.

I wanted to play football. We weren't allowed to play at my school. I remember a friend sneaked in a football and me and my friends ran up and down the lacrosse pitch kicking a ball around. It was really fun and felt decadent! I didn't start playing football til I was 26. By then it was too late for a professional career - but how fantastic now that this is a choice that women can make.

I wanted to be a high achiever. I had drive and ambition inside but the confidence was lacking. Perhaps if I had been different I could have achieved the success that I'd wanted in the earlier years, rather than drifting along in temping jobs not knowing what I wanted to do. There are certainly plenty of women my age who have achieved great things so I can't use it as an excuse. And who's to say, maybe the opportunities were there but I didn't see them, or I didn't think I could take them. 

So back to that question, 'what do you do for a living'. Perhaps instead of me saying "I'm a graphic designer with my own range of homeware and gifts. I sell my products online to customers across the UK and beyond." I should start saying:

"I've built a thriving design business with a loyal customer base across the UK and internationally. I'm particularly excited about my new design collections that I'm bringing out this year and it's potential to reach a wider audience. My homeware collections aren't just products, they're conversation starters that spark joy and connection in homes all over the World."

Ok, that might take a little work to say! But confidence and belief can start at any time. Whilst some opportunities have passed me by, how incredibly lucky am I to have the opportunity to run my own business and be in this position I'm in now.

I often think, when I allow myself the thoughts of lost opportunities, of all the millions of women before me, also thinking about the lost opportunities. I'm doing now what millions before me could only dream of doing. So I don't feel regret or disappointment. I love what I do now and if I hadn't have followed the path I followed I wouldn't be here writing this. So everything does work out in the end and we are the people we are because of it. 

As we celebrate International Women's Day, I think it's important to reflect on the past. It's also a good reminder of the importance of supporting female founders and entrepreneurs - as we have all been on quite a journey to get where we are.

There's still a lot of work to be done, but things are looking a little brighter.

Cup of Determination

Happy International Women's Day!

Designer / Founder of Jin Designs since 2013