To commemorate International Women’s Day, we decided to turn the spotlight onto our co-founder and CEO, Amelia. We asked her a few questions about her journey to becoming an inspirational female entrepreneur and more.
What inspired you to build a female focused company?
In 2008 I moved to London and began working at a small agency. After just 9 months I was made redundant because they’d lost their biggest client and had to downsize the team. Unfortunately for me, it was last in, first out. My confidence was rattled but I understood why they had to let me go, and with my mother’s advice “that for every door that closes another one opens” I picked myself up and aimed higher.
Fast forward to a few weeks later. It was my first day as a freelancer at an agency called Exposure. I walked on to the floor to see that 80% of my direct team were women. Beautiful, intelligent, hardworking women. I think my heart skipped a beat and jumped into my throat as imposter syndrome took hold. Was I really good enough to be part of an amazing female-fronted team? Would they accept me? Did I really fit in? My anxieties were quickly brushed aside as I was welcomed into the team with open arms.
I was with Exposure for 6 happy years that included two notable promotions and managing one of the agency’s biggest accounts. My success at Exposure was influenced hugely by the women that I met on my first day - some of who are still my closest friends today. They showed me that a positive culture fosters a truly effective mentoring space for everyone, and I want to continue that legacy.
Who are some of your female heroes?
Honestly, it’s those closest to me. My family and friends show me love and support every day, and number one is my mum. Not just because she’s my biggest fan (if only you could have seen her at the launch party), but because she’s always been there for me. I was quite a challenging spirit back in the day and she has always kept me grounded, reminding me how to be my best self – she’s a very strong role model.
It would be impossible not to mention my sister too. She’s a police-officer, with more nerve than I ever thought possible. I could never do what she does every day. Risking her life to save others and dealing with unimaginably difficult situations. Recently, we found a number of commendations that she’d received but hadn’t told us about. It makes me so proud to know that her bravery and strength have been recognised.
Finally, it’s got to be my best friend after being with her whilst she gave birth to my godson. I haven’t had children myself, but in that moment five years ago I realised just how incredibly strong and resilient the female body is. Of course, there are countless other female founders, CEOs and public figures that I could name but my genuine female heroes are those that I grow alongside every day.
What is some advice you’d want to give your younger self?
One of my early mentors once said, “you don’t have to know the answer to everything” and this really resonated with me. It made me realise that everything didn’t have to fall on my shoulders and there’s nothing wrong with asking for help from those around you. I love to surround myself with intelligent, inspiring people because we can always learn something new from each other. I always encourage people to ask me anything too, because I want to reinforce the idea that it’s totally okay to ask.
I think ultimately it would be, believe in yourself and remind yourself of everything you’ve achieved. I often forget to do this, but it’s a great way to pick myself up on those days when I’m feeling down or overwhelmed.
How do you think we can encourage more female entrepreneurs?
We need to encourage more women to embrace their entrepreneurial spirit by sharing personal success stories and inspiring others coming up in the world. I love reading about female entrepreneurs, it’s a far cry from the world I grew up with, so it makes me realise how lucky I am. I also like the rawness of personal stories, when people aren’t afraid to talk about the highs and lows.
I’ve been fortunate enough to be surrounded by men that are happy to give me advice and always champion my successes, both in my personal and work life. I started Apothem with our co-founder Tony, and he has always supported me, but I’m well aware that this isn’t the case for everyone. This is why I’m so happy that the world is changing. We’re at a point where inequality is becoming a seriously outdated view, so support for female entrepreneurs is increasing.
Are there any words of advice you want to pass onto any new female entrepreneurs out there?
Build the best culture you can! The opportunity to build a company culture from scratch is probably one of my most exciting challenges so far. Throughout my career, I’ve seen excellent, bad and everything in between, so I’ve learnt what you need to do to make a successful company that’s inspiring to work in. It’s all about the team. Set your goals and don’t waiver. When something’s or someone’s not right, you have to address it.
My team is everything and I am very grateful for them every day as they are the future of this business, not me. I still get giddy when someone signs a contract. They believe in everything Tony and I have built and want to be part of the Apothem journey. I don’t think I’ll ever get bored of that.