What I learnt at Femmepire Summit
By Alenka Ashley

Last week was technicolour pink. I went to Artache; a heavenly exhibition of bubblegum pink, glitter, and vagina rugs. I also went to a conference called Femmepire, thanks to my boss who had sussed tickets after meeting one of the organizers on a night out. The conference was humming with donuts, face masks, floral arrangements and girls, obvs. Before you go thinking it was a “girls rule, boys drool” type of sitch, the founder’s speech started with: “this isn’t about excluding men and making it them vs us. It’s about shared experiences and empowerment.” Boom. There was a rotating panel of namedrop-worthy females, who spoke openly about the highs and lows of their career. My faves were: @antonia_prebble, @maggiemariyln, @msholliesmith, @oheyitsfifi and @juls_matthews.

Here are some of the quality take-outs from the conference:

  • All of us will experience the “imposter syndrome” at some point in our lives. It’s doubting yourself and believing that you’re an incompetent failure, when your achievements would suggest otherwise. It’s the fear that everyone will come to believe you’re a fraud. A lot of the women acknowledged this feeling and there were some heavy head nods from the audience and other panelists, which says to me that it’s important to recognize this feeling and learn to continue to thrive in spite of it.
  • Everyone has a personal brand. Social media strategist Rochelle Sheldon says that this is the unique combination of skills and experiences that make you you. When you mask your authenticity, you rob the world of your unique ingredient. Define who you are and what your mission is. Some techniques to help you, can be found here
  • You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Margot Keegan is an expert on landing that first interview and that dream job. She’s got a zero tolerance for BS, and says to dress appropriately, arrive 5-10 mins early, clean up your social media, immerse yourself in the community you want to be a part of, and balance listening and talking. She wrote “Why your CV sucks and how to fix it.”
  • Do the mahi, get the treats. Some of these women had advantages. Some didn’t. All of them still had to work hard to get their career, and maintain it. Maru Nihoniho worked as a waitress for many years before she decided to follow her passion of video gaming. She was turned down for many years, but never gave up. She went on to be the founder of a video game development company. She chose to step into that ultimate discomfort zone, and it paid off. This was a common thread in all of the panelists' success stories.
  • Connect. Connect to your audience. Reach out to people you respect. Believe in the product you’re selling, so others will connect to it. Connect using social media platforms. Connect with authenticity and integrity, because people are more likely to respond to things that have <3.
  • Success is relative. Some of the women were passionate about a social cause. Their success is seeing their business help this cause. For others, it’s having a career that allows them to take two months for travel. For Maggie Hewitt (aka Maggie Marilyn), it’s about manufacturing ethically sustainable luxury garments, and walking her dog along the beach. What does your success look like? It’s important to ask yourself this.
  • Social media is a double-edged sword. It’s a powerful tool and allows for freedom of expression. It’s also very dangerous. When the audience was asked what social media platform they would use if they only had to choose one, unsurprisingly, Instagram raised the most hands. Sophie Chung spoke up about the “compare and despair” we experience from the gram, the oppressive “happiness” we see all the time, and that our bank accounts can’t keep up. She described the human tendency to be attracted to beautiful people and objects and believes that authenticity is a “slow burn.” Other speakers spoke of the importance of keeping your eyes on what you’re doing and never assume that people’s lives are as good as they seem.
  • Be inclusive in your discussions, take the power on social media as a responsibility and remember that your words can heavily affect someone’s life.
  • Do your very best to create your best life. Easier said than done, right mate? I’m still figuring it out and I’m sure you are, too. <3

You can find more from Alenka at @alenkaashley and https://alenkaashley.com

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