Hopes, dreams, role models & challenges with Stephen Einhorn co-founder Jane Best for International Women’s Day 2019
International Women’s Day is about championing female empowerment and celebrating the achievements of women across the globe. In the spirit of this important day we thought we’d catch up with Stephen Einhorn’s multitalented and passionate co-founder and creative director Jane Best. We asked Jane questions about her dreams growing up, the biggest challenges women face, her role models, which men who are doing their part for women’s equality she finds inspiring, and a whole lot more…
What was your dream job when you were growing up?
I really wanted to be an actress. My father was absolutely against it. He did everything he could to put me off, including getting a family friend round who was an aspiring actress and had had a nervous breakdown. To him that was proof of what would happen to me. I simply took away from that that all adults are just plain weird!
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Stop apologising for being female. Your ideas are as good as anyone’s and they may even be better. Stay in education, it will give you more choice.
What would your advice be for women who are just starting out in your industry?
I don’t think our industry is any different to most others. I would say, take it slowly, make mistakes, stick to your guns and if you are successful don’t expand too quickly, that’s a real classic. But mainly do what you think is right and be nice to everyone. Remember life is for living. Don’t sacrifice your life for your business, you’ll regret it, a good work-life balance is everything. Easier to say than do, I know.
Has anything changed specifically in your lifetime for women?
I think most of the biggest changes for women came during my mother’s generation. Birth control, autonomy over your own money, etc. Women have become stronger during my lifetime. We have more choice. Whether you are able to use it is a whole different question. Women now have the opportunity to not declare their marital status by being Ms., a man has never had to do that. It’s small but to me it means a lot. I still get letters addressed to Mrs Stephen Einhorn. What? I’m not a man and that’s not my name! If everything had changed as much as we would like to see, there would be no need for #metoo would there?
Who have been your role models?
Emma Thompson and Barbara Castle.
What are the best and worst decisions you have ever made?
Best decision I ever made was having children. Absolutely the best thing ever. The worst was actually a haircut I had when I had my second child. What was I thinking? I looked like a fat monk!
What do you wish women would stop doing?
Stop bloody apologising! It’s when we all say… this is probably a really bad idea; would you mind if I made a suggestion? Men never talk like that, ever. If you start a request in that way you are simply setting yourself up for a refusal.
Whose work do you admire in relation to women’s rights and equality?
Well there are loads but I think Marie Stopes would have to be one, although her motives now seem questionable but she did, without a doubt help women have more autonomy over their own bodies. Any women who fought for women’s right to vote. There were a lot of unsung heroes during that campaign. Anyone who works at a women’s refuge helping women escape from all kinds of domestic violence. There are so many incredible women out there working hard to make things better.
What will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?
The far-right eroding women’s rights. Everything feels like it might start moving backwards. Some people want us to go back to the 1950’s. The younger generation always have to keep fighting for their rights. Nothing changes without a fight. They are more aware now so not so easily dismissed.
Which men do you find inspiring that are doing their part for women’s equality?
Any man who takes responsibility for sharing childcare, changing nappies, and generally being around for his children. If he cooks a bit, cleans a bit, he’s got my vote.
Who are your favourite cultural heroines?
Augusta Ada Byron, Countess of Lovelace who was the daughter of Lord Byron. Along with Charles Babbage she invented the first computer, or the concept of it. She was a consummate mathematician. How do you work on something like this from nowhere? Incredible.
What world and national events have significantly influenced your life?
I cannot think of anything that is going to affect my life more than Brexit. Nothing like this has happened in my lifetime.
How you feel about how women are represented in the media, film and pop culture?
Disgustingly! Women are portrayed as idiots, sex objects, incontinent, constipated, smelly when they have their periods, (remember the ad when a young women is walking down the central isle of a train?) judged, put down, objectified. Even our dear Prime Minister is constantly being criticised for her clothes. Young girls are judged and judge each other entirely on their looks, their fabulous selfies, their thousands of ‘likes’. When did you last hear someone below the age of 16 say, “oh that young girl is so clever, so accomplished, so talented?” Everything is sold using a girl’s sexuality, and it hasn’t really changed. Not really. We laugh at old adverts of women in bikinis draped over cars, but look what happened when there was a fund raiser for Great Ormond Street Hospital run by the Presidents Club.
Can you see yourself in any of them?
What hopes and wishes do you have for the girls and young women in the UK, and around the world?
I have so many hopes for them. As each generation grows up, the style of parenting changes and that’s really what changes girl’s attitudes. If your parents won’t allow you to be put down and bring you up with a strong sense of self worth everything can change. The same goes for boys.
For women around the world I wish all the rights that they need be available to them. We don’t know how lucky we are here, to be able to choose how to live.