In a world where diversity and inclusion have become rallying cries for progress, the narratives of women breaking barriers and making indelible marks in their respective fields are more crucial than ever. Over the past year, we’ve had the privilege of sitting down each week with extraordinary women from diverse backgrounds, exploring the depths of their careers, and uncovering the stories that have resonated most with our readers.
As we enter the new year, we take a moment to reflect on the empowering journeys shared by these experts in their fields from the past 12 months. From CEOs to artists, scientists to entrepreneurs, their experiences have not only illuminated the challenges women face in the professional landscape but also showcased their resilience and creativity with transparency, compassion and vulnerability providing accurate stories on how they got to where they are today.
For those of you considering a career change, these interviews serve as a wellspring of inspiration. Whether you’re contemplating a leap into a new industry, pursuing an entrepreneurial endeavour, or simply want to continue down your current path with renewed passion, our Friday Muse series can offer invaluable insights. The experiences of these women stand as testaments to the transformative power of embracing change, demonstrating that the pursuit of one’s true calling is a journey well worth undertaking.
Join us as we revisit the top 10 most read interviews from 2023, each story a potential guiding light for those on the cusp of a career transition. Remember, what you’re not changing, you are choosing. Read on for the ultimate career inspiration.
1. Whakaawa Te Kani, co-founder of Noa Blanket Co.
Raised with a strong appreciation of her culture and heritage, Whakaawa Te Kani started her luxury wool blanket brand, Noa Blanket Co, to share the stories of her Māori ancestry. Having a long background in the realm of retail, a pathway that developed her interest in business and textiles, it seemed like a natural leap for Te Kani to build something of her own.
From bricks and mortar retail to founding her own luxury brand, Whakaawa Te Kani has garnered a cult following for her intricate woollen blankets.
2. Amy Stevens, founder of Slice.
Slice founder Amy Stevens wants to provide everyone with the opportunity to own a home and secure their financial future. From debunking common misconceptions around accessibility and affordability, to reconnecting with her community as a Maori business owner, learn more about Amy Stevens’ inspiring aptitude for simplifying the complex – and doing it in style.
3. Belinda Cannon, founder and designer of SOPHIE.
What started as a passion project during early motherhood turned into a full blown career for SOPHIE founder and designer, Belinda Cannon. Based in Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland, it’s coming up on seven years since Cannon officially launched her accessory and apparel brand into the market — and she hasn’t looked back.
4. Polly Markus of Miss Polly’s Kitchen.
Polly Markus has published her first cookbook, she’s collaborated with The Curve, and – most recently – she’s become the new face of Continental Foods in Aotearoa. Whether you know her as a talented real-estate agent or from the gourmet delights she posts on Instagram under her Miss Polly’s Kitchen account, it’s hard to keep tabs on this culinary connoisseur. Learn more about the multifaceted talent balancing a nine-to-five in real estate with her flourishing social media career as Miss Polly’s Kitchen.
5. Helen Emett, restaurateur and co-founder of Gilt Brasserie.
When it comes to the local culinary space, the Emett’s are considered to be hospitality royalty. Known for opening iconic Auckland hotspots such as Onslow, The Oyster Inn, and more recently — Gilt, it’s fair to say that the power couple know a thing or two about running a restaurant. But while most of us know Josh Emett, his wife and business partner Helen Emett remains somewhat of an enigma to the public. Having been instrumental in the operation of her husband’s restaurants over the past few years and with the opening of Gilt, we shine a light on Emett as a dynamic industry force.
6. Eliana Glover, managing director of FSL Foods.
Growing up in an industrious family of businesspeople, it was clear that Eliana Glover possessed an entrepreneurial spirit from an early age. Having spent her childhood in Nelson and most of her twenties living abroad, Glover has found her ideal home in the picturesque Wānaka, where she leads as the managing director of her family’s business, FSL Foods.
7. Estelle Dippie, founder of Commonplace Distribution and Commonplace Essentials.
From a COVID-19 redundancy to manning the helm of two growing businesses, Estelle Dippie is an entrepreneur leveraging her youth to build a wonderful life. At just 26, Estelle Dippie already has multiple notches in her belt. She’s the founder and brand director of her own sales and brand agency, Commonplace Distribution (CPD), and recently she’s made a foray into fashion, establishing her own clothing brand, Commonplace Essentials, that carries a line of sport luxe basics. Basing her operations between Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland and the picturesque town of Wanaka, this founder manages to have the best of both worlds.
8.Julia Matthews, founder and CEO of Two Islands.
When speaking with Julia Matthews, founder and CEO of Two Islands and mother-of-three, it’s only natural to feel inspired. Since the brand’s inception in 2017, Two Islands has quickly grown to be one of the most successful and well-recognised wellness brands in Aotearoa, with nearly thirty-thousand followers on Instagram (and counting). Discover the female business owner whose passion for business and nutrition helped her build one of Aotearoa’s biggest wellness brands.
9. Sophie Hurley, co-founder and managing director of Honest Wolf.
Since establishing her luxury wool accessory brand Honest Wolf in early 2020, Sophie Hurley and her husband Sam have been changing the way we think about the humble fibre. Hailing from a farming family in Aotearoa’s deep south, Hurley’s interest in wool traces back to her youth, where she spent many of her formative years helping out on her parent’s farm. Between this, and her background in marketing and sales, it might seem obvious that Hurley would go on to start her own wool brand, but it wasn’t until she moved to her husband’s third-generation family farm on Papanui Estate that the business idea would actually come to fruition.
10. Madeline Saxton-Beer, head of marketing at Partridge Jewellers.
Madeline Saxton-Beer has a penchant for the finer things. It’s no wonder that she’s settled into her role as the head of marketing at Partridge Jewellers, one of Aotearoa’s oldest and most esteemed jewellers. Prior to finding her dream position, she championed several career paths and industries including senior editor at an Auckland magazine and as a communications manager at a boutique dairy company. Madeline may have diamonds on the soles of her shoes, but she’s earned every step.