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CF Spotlights: Fourteen Inspirational Women

At Citizen Femme, we celebrate women everyday, and it’s for this reason we’ve spoken to so many that inspire us over the last year.

We’re incredibly privileged to sit down with a wide range of women throughout the year – each of who are breaking barriers and showing just what can be achieved with focus and dedication. As our founder, Sheena Bhattessa writes, International Women’s Day is “a great opportunity for storytelling, to reunite, to share experiences,” but that this should be “a daily remembrance, and that is our premise at CF.”

Curating a list of just some of the women we’ve interviewed over the last year, we invite you to read (or revisit) the stories of fourteen brilliant women including those: supporting the education of girls across Morocco, Uganda, Congo, Syria and Kenya; spearheading the businesses of fashion, beauty, food, tech and everything in between; and globetrotting the world as artists, writers, photographers, presenters and founders.

Charmaine Chow, Founder Of GetHarley

When we spoke to Charmaine Chow – founder of the online dermatology and skin consultation platform GetHarley – late last year, she was fresh from securing a £42 million investment led by Index Ventures, and her business continues to go from inspirational strength-to-strength. In our interview, the former investment banker describes how she gained the confidence to pivot in her career, making it her mission to shake up the skincare industry to deliver better expert-led advice and product recommendations. We also gained a fascinating insight into what a week in a busy beauty businesswomen’s schedule looks like, and her very exciting plans for the future are sure to encourage all budding beauty entrepreneurs.

Read our full interview with Charmaine here

Maryam Montague, Humanitarian, Hotelier And Designer

Maryam Montague is the epitome of a multi-hyphanate. Not only is she the owner of a Moroccan hotel, Peacock Pavilions, and a designer who has authored a book and led design safaris for brands including Tory Burch – she’s also the founder of Project Soar, a community-led initiative that has supported thousands of girls across Morocco, Uganda and Syria. Project Soar is part-funded by proceeds from her hotel, has been supported by Meryl Streep, Freida Pinto and Michelle Obama, and is featured in the former First Lady’s CNN documentary, We Will Rise. Currently in a five-year strategic partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Maryam speaks to us about her hopes for the girls she supports, as well as what we should be doing at an international level to overcome barriers to girls’ education.

Read our full interview with Maryam here.

Caroline Sherman, Founder of Among Equals

Eight years ago, Caroline launched Among Equals, a non-profit brand that empowers the female artisan weavers of Papua New Guinea. Honouring their traditional Bilum craft and turning it into a viable business she has worked alongside almost 2,000 women to date, and each handwoven bag captures their unique story and craft. We spoke to Caroline about how she turned her passion for textiles and weaving into a brand that merges art, community, fashion and the ancient practice of Bilum weaving in order to generate life-transforming revenue for women – and their families – from Papua New Guinea.

Read our full interview with Caroline here

Semerian Sankori, Founder Of Patinaai Osim

Growing up in the Kenyan village of Isara, Semerian tells us she “witnessed firsthand the challenges faced by vulnerable groups, particularly girls and women,” including “female genital mutilation (FGM), early forced marriages, lack of access to education, and other forms of gender-based oppression.” This inspired her to set up Patinaai Osim, a non-profit organisation dedicated to empowering Indigenous children, women, and youth in Kenya. Aiming to make a difference in her community by supporting Maasai women and helping to transform lives through education, empowerment, and economic independence, she also uses her voice to advocate for greater representation of Maasai voices in the Kenyan tourism sector.

Read our full interview with Semerian here

Chantelle Nicholson, chef-owner of London’s Apricity

Chantelle Nicholson, chef-owner of London’s Apricity is the first and only female chef to receive a Michelin Green Star. Chantelle champions low-waste cooking and supports small-scale farmers who provide her restaurant with seasonal, fresh produce from across Britain. Though she’s a known ambassador of plant-based cooking, Chantelle’s menu also includes dishes such as Isle of Skye hand-dived scallops and Essex grass-fed beef short rib. The release of her cookbook, Planted, in 2018, brought with it a collective inspiration for low-waste, plant-based recipes. In our conversation, Chantelle talked to us about her cooking inspirations, how to lead a more sustainable lifestyle through food, and tells us which country’s food really impresses her.

Read our full interview with Chantelle here

Vera Wang, Fashion Designer

Vera Wang needs no introduction. With an impressive career in fashion, the designer spoke to us from her USA home, recalling a trip she made to London, aged seven, on which she believes “fashion was somehow infused” into her blood. She also reminisced about the many, many trips she’s taken for work, tells us about her dream destinations, goes into detail about the things she can’t travel without, lets us in on her most memorable trip, and laughs as she describes what she always eats and drinks before getting on a plane (you might be surprised by it too).

Read our full interview with Vera here

Rayvenn Shaleigha D’Clark, Sculptor, Writer And Curator

London-based sculptor, writer, researcher and curator, Rayvenn Shaleigha D’Clark, has had her work exhibited alongside the likes of Tracey Emin, Ai Wei Wei, Joseph Beuys and Banksy. Always acutely and creatively capturing something of our time, her pieces discuss the dissonance between tradition and technology. D’Clark’s practice is a playful approach, marrying digital and artisanal techniques to create sculptures that sit somewhere between hyperrealism and more classical renderings of the human form. We speak to Rayvenn about her work, ambitions and inspirations – including how she started and how she got to where she is today, and about breaking the mould in an industry that is often inaccessible.

Read our full interview with Rayvenn here

Noëlla Coursaris Musunka, founder of community-driven, non-profit Malaika DRC

Born in The Democratic Republic of Congo and raised in Europe, Noëlla Coursaris Musunka is a Congolese-Cypriot philanthropist and model. In 2007, Noëlla founded community-driven, non-profit Malaika DRC, aiming to empower the next generation of leaders in Congo, and achieved by empowering girls and communities through access to education and health care. Noëlla spoke to us about her upbringing, the shocking statistics that led her to founding Malaika DRC, why she believes the education of girls and women is vital, and how she believes education can change the world – as well as about her fashion industry experience and why she is an advocate for ‘modelling with meaning.’

Read our full interview with Noëlla here

Robyn Exton, CEO And Founder of HER

Robyn Exton is the British-born, San Francisco-based founder and CEO of HER – a dating app for the lesbian, bi, queer, non-binary, trans and gender non-conforming community. “Don’t over think the swipe,” she tells us, “it’s ok to swipe right, send a ‘hi’ and see where it goes.” With 12 million HER users across 114 countries, Robyn’s message appears to be getting through. We spoke to Robyn about why HER has been so important in showing the world the value of queer women, and she tells us all about the first time she used dating apps (and how the experience inspired HER), as well as how she made the professional move from advertising to tech founder.

Read our full interview with Robyn here

Monica Galetti, celebrity chef and chef-owner of Fitzrovia’s Mere.

Monica Galetti, a Samoan-New Zealand chef is a judge on BBC’s Masterchef, a former sous-chef at London’s Michelin-starred restaurant, Le Gavroche, and host of Amazing Hotels: Life Beyond the Lobby. Now chef-owner of Mere in Fitzrovia, it’s fair to say that Monica knows food. And travel. Taking us through the Samoan tastes and ingredients she grew up with, she tells us how they have influenced her cooking. She also lets us in on her favourite places to shop ingredients in both London and Morocco; tells us the dishes she can never resist ordering (as well as what she always avoids); and reveals the one ingredient she can’t live without.

Read our full interview with Monica here

Rosanna Tennant, TV And Radio Presenter

Late last year, as the 2023 Formula 1 season was coming to an end, we caught up with Rosanna Tennant – TV and radio broadcast journalist, and BBC 5 Live’s F1 Pit Lane Reporter and Presenter. At the time, and after finding out she was pregnant, Rosanna still had 17 global F1 races to cover, and she did so with seemingly effortless ease. In our conversation, Rosanna told us about the reality of doing her job while pregnant, and explains the changes she needed to make to the way she was travelling. She also shares her thoughts and advice for working while pregnant, keen to emphasise that pregnant women shouldn’t “shy away from asking for help.”

Read our full interview with Rosanna here

Georgia May Jagger, Fashion Model, Designer And Founder Of MAY Botanicals

You may know Georgia May Jagger due to her famous surname but the British-American fashion model and designer is branching out with the launch of her organic skincare brand MAY Botanicals. Despite having walked in some of the biggest Fashion Week shows – including Chanel, Versace and Tom Ford – Jagger is not content to just be the celebrity face of a brand. Having cut her teeth in business marketing as co-owner of the London hair salon BLEACH London, she’s ready to change the face of the natural beauty market too, and is firmly in the driving seat. During our conversation, she tells us how she discovered her love for skincare (by sharing recommendations with her mum, supermodel Jerry Hall) and how she balances the time difference when working between London and Los Angeles.

Read our full interview with Georgia here

Lola Akinmade Åkerström, writer and photographer

Lola Akinmade Åkerström is a writer and photographer who has reported from more than 80 countries. Her first novel, In Every Mirror She’s Black, was published in 2021 and her second, Everything Is Not Enough, was released in October 2023. Born in Lagos, Nigeria before moving to the USA to study and then settling in Stockholm, our conversation with Lola took place while she was in Mongolia. With an aim of making people feel seen, her photography and writing showcase a strong sense of not just place, but of people in place; her images are full of animated portraits, and both of her novels follow the lives of three Black women. Lola takes us behind the scenes of her work and life, telling us about her inspirations, motivations, challenges, and more.

Read our full interview with Lola here

Lyndsay Mason, Founder Of For The Creators

When we heard about Lyndsay Mason’s maternity wear rental service, For The Creators, we knew it was a business we wanted to highlight. Sustainable, practical and cost effective, the platform allows mums-to-be to rent their clothing as their body changes shape through out pregnancy. Lyndsay, who is a mum-of-one, was frustrated with the lack of quality maternity wear when she was expecting and so decided to shake up the way women shop during those nine months. For The Creators is home to cult favourites such as Whistles, Desmond & Dempsey, With Nothing Underneath and Reformation to name a few, making the coolest brands accessible to expectant and postpartum mothers on a rental basis. In our How She Does It interview, Lyndsay talks to us about motherhood, how it inspires business, the ways in which she is supporting other mums in the workplace – and how she really does it all.

Read our full interview with Lyndsay here

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