IWD 2021: London-based jewelry entrepreneur Connie Nam on leveling the pitch and turning plates during lockdown
On International Women’s Day 2021, Bdaily reached out to a number of female leaders from our key regions to share how their experiences with the pandemic shaped their passion for gender equality.
Connie Nam is the founder and CEO of the London-based jewelry brand Astrid & Miyu. Mom of two Connie left her investment banker career in 2012 to build her challenging online jewelry brand that has grown 1000 percent to £ 10 million in sales in three years.
Bdaily spoke to Connie about juggling the responsibilities of business and motherhood, and how she has supported the advancement of women during the pandemic.
As a woman, how did you adapt personally during the pandemic and what challenges did you face?
“I think we all had to adapt in one way or another during this pandemic. We’re programmed to just get on with things, so in hindsight, when it’s all over, we will sit back and realize how life changing this experience was for all of us. I think I had to adapt not only as a woman but also as a mother.
“Like many other women, we had no childcare in the first few months of the pandemic. It was tough, my husband and I juggling everything between us while I was running a business and he was working.
“Fortunately, my husband is very helpful and always on hand, and we share the responsibility at home equally – but I know that this is not the case for everyone and that single parents have a very difficult time juggling at home and at work !
“Of course, with the ‘new normal’ brought about by the pandemic, my girls have sometimes called me on business which was a new experience, but I’m grateful that the situation has allowed me to spend more time with my family . “
How did you and your company support women over the past year?
“As an entrepreneur and founder, it has always been important to me to support women, not just during the pandemic. After hearing how much domestic violence had skyrocketed during the initial lockdown, Astrid & Miyu wanted to do something that could really help make a difference for those affected.
“We donated the proceeds of one of our collections – the Rainbow Collection – to Women’s Aid to directly support women and children suffering from domestic violence, which we were delighted to do.
“During the first lockdown, we also started our first Business Accelerator program, where we looked after the founders of three small female-owned companies, supported them and offered business advice and coaching.
“It was so successful that we started a mentoring program for black-owned companies to have a positive impact on the community during the Black Lives Matter movement and beyond.
“This time we looked after six female founders and granted grants to support them in the early stages of their business trip.
“Again, we wanted to do something that would really help the black community and give something back, and when we spoke to the program participants we knew we were on the right track as so many said that business support and opportunity just didn’t exist weren’t that common in their community.
“With 90 percent of our workforce being women, we made sure that this year we did everything to support our team in a really difficult time. We have revisited various people and culture initiatives to support our mostly female team, with a particular focus on mental health during the pandemic. “
In your opinion, what opportunities, if any, has the pandemic created for women?
“I think we’ve seen a really positive spotlight on female leadership. International leaders like Jacinda Ardern, who was praised for her handling of the pandemic in New Zealand, and Sanna Marin, Finland, who is 35 years old, the youngest Prime Minister in the world – this is such an award for a young politician in a typically male environment. dominated environment.
“The empathy and sensitivity of female leaders has built a strong foundation for other women in the workplace and has inspired many other women in how they behave at work.
“A recent report by FutureLearn and YouGov found that thanks to COVID-19, more women have learned more and are now more ‘ambitious’ than men in their careers, which I think can only be commended.
“I think the pandemic has also allowed us to be more human and have more understanding of ‘real’ issues like childcare and seeing people working from home in their home environment.”
In your opinion, has the pandemic exposed gender imbalances in the economy?
“I recently read that during the lockdown, women did more household and childcare duties than their partners, even if both were working.
“Statistics on how women were affected during the pandemic are also very worrying, highlighting the inequality of gender in companies that should be a thing of the past by 2021.
“Twice the number of women between the ages of 25 and 34 were made redundant compared to men. One in three working mothers has lost their job to do the extra unpaid chores at home like housework and homeschooling, and perhaps the worst of them all, experts fear the number of working mothers in the UK could fall by as much as 20 percent.
“As a female company director and mother of two young daughters, these figures are shocking and concern me very much and underline that women are significantly more affected by the pandemic.”
How do you think the role of women in business might change as we enter a post-pandemic business landscape?
“I hope and believe that empathic leadership will now be given more weight, so I put more emphasis on what women bring to the table. I think the role of women in business can be to lead and influence a positive change in corporate culture that may need to be re-examined in a post-pandemic world.
“Women can take on this more empathic role, helping to challenge and develop behaviors related to corporate culture to support their team.
“Regardless of title or position, a good, forward-looking, inclusive business will welcome the thoughts and feelings of all colleagues working together on better corporate cultures and values.
“The last year has been tough for everyone, people from all walks of life are affected by the pandemic. People struggled to keep their jobs and businesses going, with so many of them affected due to lockdown restrictions.
“We had to deal with juggling at home and at work, especially homeschooling, trying to keep our families fit and healthy and maintaining our relationships with loved ones from afar.
“Mental health has been a big issue, and with all of this, it is only fitting that we should embrace friendlier, more caring interactions with one another in the business world that can be supported by our female executives to guide us.”
Would you like to advertise your product / service to SMEs in your region?
Find out how Bdaily can help →