IWD 2021: How Team Eco-Age #ChooseToChallenge

How do the Eco-Age team choose to challenge societal inequalities, both personally and professionally? We took the opportunity to ask them on International Women’s Day 2021, and we found the answers so inspiring, we thought it only fair to share.

In celebration of International Women’s Day’s 2021, we asked our team what and who motivates them to create a fairer future. Capturing the essence of Eco-Age, their answers looked to challenging societal inequalities; strong women of both past and present, and the empowerment that comes from working in a largely female team. 

Nafisah Boateng

Hi! I’m Nafisah and I am the Senior Account Manager at Eco-Age. I manage the day-to-day for our diamond clients, as well as luxury travel and fashion. I was also recently appointed Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Lead, which I’m really excited about and looking forward to working with the team to implement progressive and inclusive strategies. In about two weeks will mark a year since being at Eco-Age (yes, I was one of those who started a new job during the first week of a national lockdown AND no, I have never worked with the team in the office!)

What does this year’s IWD theme #ChooseToChallenge mean to you?
This year’s IWD #ChooseToChallenge means so many things. It reminds of my ancestors, the powerful women who came before me and paved the way for me to be where I am today.

This year’s theme also reminds me of Sojourner Truth. Back in 1872, she was turned away when she attempted to vote in the U.S. presidential election. Although she never learned to read or write, she was an incredible speaker, and her speech at the Women’s Rights Convention, Ain’t I a Woman?, is now one of the most famous women’s rights speeches in American history! I can’t help but think how brave she would’ve been to risk it all, just for her voice to be heard. Sojourner’s story has always given me hope and motivation to strive to do better and be better in everything I do. #ChooseToChallenge is about celebrating women, then and now, uniting for positive change to create a much-needed inclusive world.

Charlotte Turner

I’m Head of Sustainable Fashion and Textiles at Eco-Age where I’ve worked for more than four years now; but I’ve been working in the field of sustainability in fashion for over a decade, in collaboration with brands, universities and even governments. It’s amazing to see the changes that have happened in the last 15 years and how attention, understanding and conversation around sustainability and ethics have progressed. While we still have a huge amount of work to do and always will, it’s evident that we are gaining momentum to meet the challenges of the day together.    

What does this year’s IWD theme #ChooseToChallenge mean to you?
It means everything. At Eco-Age we are challengers every day, asking questions, pushing boundaries, constantly challenging our clients and ourselves to do and expect better. It is so important that we use our platforms to challenge inequality, bias, and unjust and irresponsible behaviours.  

I’ve been incredibly fortunate to work for and with a multitude of powerful women over the course of my career. I am inspired every day by the women around me leading the charge, raising their voices to call out inequality and to shine a light on the problems we need to fix – and bringing solutions for how to do it to the table. 

One of my favourite projects at Eco-Age was the Commonwealth Fashion Exchange in 2017, where we got to work with artisans and designers from around the world to showcase the creative skill and design ethos of each country. It was an incredible project and quite a logistical feat! One of the main aims was to unlock the potential of the artisan fashion trades which have direct positive impact on female empowerment and poverty reduction. We ended up with a beautiful exhibition showcasing this work and were lucky enough to welcome many of the designers and artisans to London. To this day it is one of the most inspiring projects I’ve been involved in.

Amie Tran

I am an Account Executive on the Communications Team at Eco-Age. I work on the natural diamond and jewellery side of things. I’ve been at Eco-Age for over a year now, and I can confidently say, no day is the same here, every day is a school day!

What does this year’s IWD theme #ChooseToChallenge mean to you?
It means getting comfortable with the uncomfortable. It means not shying away from difficult conversations, in order for us to truly have a deeper understanding of one another which in turn will help us make impactful lasting changes for our collective future.

I am in awe of Céline Semaan – designer, activist, writer and founder of Slow Factory Foundation – and in particular the Slow Factory Foundation: Open Education programme. It is so empowering to see the space she has created for BIPOC people working in fashion, with the online classes being free and taught by BIPOC people for individuals who wouldn’t have access to this type of information and sustainability literacy. Visibility, opportunity and diverse dialogues are so vital for us to move forwards!

Working at Eco-Age, I have the privilege to work with and learn from brave and talented women every day, who all have their own unique stories and fields of expertise. It is such a nurturing environment that empowers me to strive in my own endeavours!

Pe-Jae Brooks

I have worked at Eco-Age as Head of PR for just over a year. Eco-Age is a glowing hub of women empowerment, high energy, strong opinion, creative vision, leadership and mentorship, a drive of women supporting women.

What does this year’s IWD theme #ChooseToChallenge mean to you?
To me it means to choose to challenge yourself. It’s easy to get stuck in your own internal cycle, but there is no growth there. To choose to be uncomfortable and look beyond your normal – it’s a freeing journey. We have all been challenged over the last year, not through our own choice, and choosing to challenge yourself takes back some control, choice and is one of the most empowering things you can do for yourself!

Women are incredible creatures. In my personal life and in my career, I have been lucky enough to have been surrounded by women who have supported and lifted one another and that is what inspires me – they are who inspire me. Not only the women who open door for themselves, but the women who open doors for each other too.

Brittany Johnston

I am the PR Assistant at Eco-Age and have been here for about a year and a half. I work mainly with our fashion and textile brands on the communications team. 

What does this year’s IWD theme #ChooseToChallenge mean to you?
To me it means having conversations that are progressive and honest with all the people in my life, even if this is sometimes difficult. To challenge and fight for equality, we need positive conversation and the healthy discussion and sharing of ideas – and we need to be inclusive of every person.

There are so many incredible women who are driving amazing change, but most of my inspiration comes from the women I am lucky enough to know. I have brilliant female friends and seeing all of us evolve and form our own opinions makes me proud every day. I love celebrating their achievements and seeing them change the world. 

And is it cliche to say my mum inspires me? She is a CEO at a women’s health charity, and before that worked super hard and was very successful in a pretty male dominated media industry. It can’t be easy for her to carve out time in her very full and busy life to help other women, but she somehow manages it.

A cause that inspires me is the fight against the injustices faced by female garment workers. Sustainability in fashion intersects with feminism, racism, and the overall fight for equality. To have a truly equal and sustainable path in this world we need to eradicate as much of this inequality as we can. The pandemic has only accentuated these injustices, but hopefully the continued conversation can help implement fast and progressive change.

Since being at Eco-Age I have been lucky enough to work on some amazing projects, but I think as a largely female team, every day we work together women are empowered. Every team member is so supportive, and we fight for better equality daily.

Fiona Cartmel

I’ve been at Eco-Age for nearly four years. I am a sustainability consultant, focusing on helping clients identify where they can implement robust and meaningful change and strategies.

What does this year’s IWD theme #ChooseToChallenge mean to you?
It means challenging inequalities, stereotypes and bias, instead choosing to create your own path and protesting the limitations put on women by societal expectations and bias. We all have an important part to play in this. It can be uncomfortable and difficult sometimes, but challenge those around you in a constructive and meaningful way. If we #ChooseToChallenge, we can change the system in which we live.

I am inspired by anyone who uses their power or voice to challenge societal norms. Anyone who stands up and makes change – from having a difficult conversation with a family member about unconscious bias in language, to women leading the charge to make societal shifts.

Charlie Lally

I’m a Project and Events Manager at Eco-Age and this month marks my third year here. I started as an Executive Assistant, which provided an insight into all aspects of the business. In my new role, I work across various accounts, as well as our physical and online events – as an outcome of the past year I have become a Zoom webinar whizz! I also work on our social committee “The Green Beans”, organising events for the team and finding new ways to bring a bit of craic and kindness to our working life!

What does this year’s IWD theme #ChooseToChallenge mean to you?
I love the dual meaning of the #ChooseToChallenge theme this year. I know I have a responsibility to recognise and fight inequalities, while also being aware of the privileges I have been born with. The celebration of women feels especially necessary at the moment. The more positivity we can spread and encouragement we can give to other women the better. I really like this quote: ‘a flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms.’ 

Historically, there have been so many amazing examples of trailblazing women who are responsible for the rights that we have today. For example, the campaign led by the Ford sewing machinists for equal pay; and the members of the Irish Women’s Liberation Movement in the 1970s who advocated for legal and safe contraception. More recently, I have been in awe of the women who successfully campaigned to Repeal the 8th Amendment in Ireland and work of Choose Love, founded by Josie Naughton, Dawn O’Porter and Lliana Bird.

I have been fortunate enough to have been surrounded by strong women who inspire me, from my Granny who lived in Prussia and was orphaned during the second World War to my Mum, who celebrates every person and especially woman that she meets. My sister and my friend Helen who are both unapologetically themselves and vocal about the inequalities that still exist today.  

One of the greatest things about working at Eco-Age is the incredible team of mostly women who I get to work with every day. They are passionate, innovative and kind and I have a lot to learn from them! I have also loved learning about and working with the strong women who feature in Fashionscapes: The Diamonds of Botswana. Through this short film, we got to hear and share their stories. Also, the work of The Circle is an incredible example of what can be achieved when women come together.

Eleonora Recchi

I am an Account Manager of the technical team based in Milan and I support clients in developing and carrying out sustainability strategies. I have been at Eco-Age for one year now.

What does this year’s IWD theme #ChooseToChallenge mean to you?
To me, choosing to challenge means working hard for what you believe in and what you are passionate about, even when this means not conforming to what society expects of you. I have always been inspired by the lives of Jane Goodall and Maria Levi Montalcini; they have followed their passions – even if this meant going against societal norms.