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In Celebration: International Women's Day 2021

Tom Shearsmith
08 March 2021

In celebration of International Women's Day 2021, has curated a line-up of five women who are making their mark in the fashion and beauty industries.

Looking at issues including sustainability, the environment and innovation, these women represent the unity, celebration, reflection, advocacy and action that International Women's Day is all about.

Susie Ma

Susie Ma - Founder and CEO at Tropic Skincare

Former BBC Apprentice star Susie Ma created Tropic to be a force for good beyond beauty.

The South London-based firm make their skincare and beauty products fresh every day, with a turnover of £75 million last year. Ma believes that all businesses have a responsibility to the planet and to protect the natural world.

She says: “Tropic is inspired by our natural world and our product formulations are powered by some of the most effective botanicals in the world, but they are very susceptible to the consequences of climate change. Which is why I believe that businesses have a responsibility to people and the planet to do more.”

The company is also moving towards renewable energy sources, putting the reduction of emissions at the forefront of the business. She added: “The UK is a world leader in emissions reduction, we have some of the best renewable energy sources in the world. It’s been so exciting to see the shift away from fossil fuels, and the fact that Britain didn’t use coal as a nation for two months straight last year is excellent. By hosting COP26, we have a responsibility to ensure renewable energy is at the forefront of climate negotiations.”

“Never see environmental initiatives as a burden and instead see how they can benefit company morale. Even if it's a simple energy supplier change. Each switch is a win for your conscience and the planet.”

Natalie and Zanna

Natalie Glaze & Zanna Van Dijk - Co-Founders at Stay Wild

Encouraging customers to send back their old swimwear for recycling is key to building a cleaner, greener business for Natalie Glaze and Zanna Van Dijk, Co-Founders of fashion brand Stay Wild.

Stay Wild launched in 2019, using sustainable materials and local production, with a small team of ten staff. Glaze explains why they started the London-based fashion brand and how sustainability is woven into every element of the brand:

“Both of us are incredibly passionate about protecting our planet and we have been incorporating positive changes into our personal lives for years, but we wanted to do something bigger.

“We saw a gap in the market for exquisite, timeless swimwear which not only flattered all bodies, but could be created in a sustainable way which was kind to the environment. Sustainability is at our core. We don’t do seasons, but take a slow fashion capsule collection model approach and only launched one collection in the first two years compared to an average of 52 collections per year in the industry.

“We take pre-orders to minimise any wastage, utilise deadstock in our collection, make high quality pieces that last longer to encourage buying less but better. We produce our items at a small zero waste factory in London and use a small independent distribution centre with carbon neutral shipping”.

Glaze and Van Dijk are excited at the UK hosting the UN climate change talks in Glasgow this November.

Talking about COP26, Van Dijk adds: “It is incredibly important that we have it here in the UK, as it provides us with an opportunity to show the world the progress we have made, share resources and information with other nations. Hosting such an event will give the UK motivation to continue being a world leader in fighting climate change”.

Maria Raga

Maria Raga – CEO at Depop

Maria Raga is the creative mind behind the Gen Z shopping app, Depop. Raga was promoted to CEO from VP of Operations in 2016, having led the business to its current success.

The app operates on a peer-to-peer (P2P) commerce platform, combining selling methods modelled from eBay with an aesthetic designed for Instagram lovers.

Prior to joining Depop in 2014 as VP of Operations and Social Shopping, Raga worked as a research associate at Harvard Business School. She went on to work as a management consultant at Bain & Co.

In 2010, Raga joined the founding team of MyCityDeal, which was later acquired by Groupon. Four years later, she worked for fashion start-up Brand Alley.

The Depop platform is becoming the new eBay for fashion-savvy young shoppers, offering sellers an accessible way to gain financial skills and business acumen. Since it was founded in 2011, it has now amassed more than 15 million users.

Sales on the app surged by 85% in 2018 and impressive double-digit growth was maintained throughout 2019, according to the group.

Lucy Aylen

Lucy Aylen - Founder at Never Fully Dressed

Contemporary womenswear brand, Never Fully Dressed was established from a small store in Essex and has rapidly grown to become an Instagram favourite.

Founder, Lucy Aylen started manufacturing clothing from her parent’s attic and selling pieces at London markets. Now operating with a team of sixteen employees, the brand has run international pop ups across Dublin, LA, Barcelona, New York and Sydney.

Recognised for its signature prints, wrap dresses, multi-wear styles and affordable price points, Never Fully Dressed is in great demand from both retailers and influencers.

The company's turnover has more than doubled every year for the past five years and assets of more than £1 million.

Inclusivity is integral. Its Curve collection offers clothes up to a size 26, with a range of models, customers and Lucy herself modelling the pieces.

Its boob-print charity t-shirt attracted so a large amount of attention, raising £30,000 for mental health charity Mind.

Speaking to last year, Aylen said: "We look to empower and appreciate women of all ages and sizes wanting everyone to feel confident. We are rooted in our charity involvement which has been since the beginning via selling our charity tees. We are a conscious brand from office to ethos to manufacturing and execution."

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