Q&A with Abbey Gelmi, Rebecca Hard and Elle Halliwell

by Sussan, Tuesday 02 Apr 2019

Only for Women Series – Q&As with women we admire

We talk to the women who inspire us daily about the power of supporting each other.

Where do you find your motivation or inspiration?
My motivation is to be the example that didn't exist when I was
growing up. I’ve always felt like I had to chose between working in
sport or fashion - because you couldn't be taken seriously if you
worked in both (or at least that’s what I was told by my career
councillor 10 years ago when I was trying to navigate that all
important question of “what do you I want to be?”). Now those
stereotypes are becoming far less prevalent, and if I'm even a little
part of showing that if you work hard you really can do whatever you
want - then that’s motivation enough for me.

Describe the power of women supporting each other in business/life?
Women supporting other women, particularly in a male dominated
industry like mine, is hugely important. I’m fortunate that from very
early on I’ve worked with female colleagues who have been the first to
help me find my feet and later the first to celebrate when I landed a
good gig, and I’ve been able to do the same for them. Those
friendships have been powerful in shaping my career and who I am
today. I’ve also worked with many men who have been just as supportive
of me professionally, often when I was the only woman in the room. I
think that’s important to acknowledge them too.

What women inspire you?
Gosh there are so many. I’ve worked with women at the peak of my
industry - Alison Mitchell, Lisa Sthalekar, Mel McLaughlin and
Francesca Cumani to name a few. They inspire me with their professionalism and seeing first-hand the dedication it took to get to where they are today, all while being delightful people. First and foremost each of these women are kind and generous with their time, something I really value.

I’m also a HUGE fan of Zoe Foster-Blake. I’ve followed her career for years and I just know we’d have brilliant chat over a glass of wine about life, love and business.
I’ll stop gushing now but she's essentially my Oprah.

What has been some of the most memorable advice you’ve been given?
Show up, be prepared and say thank you. I was told this by one of my first uni tutors and it’s held me in really good stead. We’re all really busy - but never too busy to send a little email to say thank you for the opportunity.

What would you tell your younger self today?
Every opportunity you get is because you’ve worked hard. You’re not
tricking anyone, you're not going to fail - and the sooner you start
believing the nice things people say and not just the negative the
better. Back yourself and take a moment to enjoy what’s happening.
You’re actually enough.

How important is it to trust your instincts?
So so important. Backing your gut feeling or about whether what you're
doing will bring you closer to who or what you want to be is crucial.
I think today we are so worried about how things look, rather than how
they make us feel. Your instinct always knows the difference.

How would you end this sentence “I make life happen by ….”?
… being true to myself. I think authenticity is the most precious
thing. It’s also how you find joy from your life and work - when you
honestly love what you’re doing it shines through.

What’s your “why”? Why do you do what you do?
I absolutely love my job. I want to be the best I can be and
also to provide for my family and friends. I want to be able to
spontaneously gift people things and help others, and setting myself
up professionally is a great way to start.

Where do you find your motivation or inspiration?
Motivation for me on a personal level comes from being in touch with nature. I feel the need to be really grounded with my environment, so it is important for me to always be in touch with it first and foremost. From a business sense, I get inspiration for our brand in so many places. Travel is a great one to provide inspiration, but also looking at other industries can be incredibly beneficial as well.

Describe the power of women supporting each other in business/life?
Women supporting each other in business is incredibly powerful.

Women have a unique point of view to bring to all businesses. Great businesses are grown out of leadership teams which represent diversity and who are able to challenge each other to innovate and develop ideas and thinking to the next level.

That is why having more women in senior leadership roles in all businesses across Australia is so important. Some businesses have done a great job here, but there is still so much to be done. Especially at the highest level positions in business – women are still under-represented across the majority of businesses.

What women inspire you?
There are so many women who inspire me on a daily basis. Whether it is women who have continually reinvented their personal brand and evolved throughout their careers; to women who have committed themselves to their life’s purpose.

I get inspired by women who are very clear about their purpose and path in life and live that life to the full every day.

What has been some of the most memorable advice you’ve been given?
The most memorable piece of advice that I have been given, is to set personal big visions and goals for myself. Everyone sets goals, but by truly stretching those goals and thinking big, you cannot even imagine what you will achieve personally and professionally. I also think it is important to celebrate your successes.

What would you tell your younger self today?
I would tell myself to get clear on my personal values and to understand what is really important to me. And I would say to then go out and live every day to those values. With today’s technology, you can get so distracted by so many other options and opportunities. By being clear about what you want and why it is important to you allows you to live a life that is true to your goals.

How important is it to trust your instincts?
I spend a lot of time reminding myself to trust my gut. I have a tendency to spend a lot of time in my own head and that can at times lead you to over think things and doubt your decision making. Trusting my gut is definitely something that I have learnt to do more so as I have progressed my career and trusting my instinct has always worked well for me.

How would you end this sentence “I make life happen by ….”?
…Making the most of any opportunity that crosses my path. I have been lucky enough to live in multiple cities across Australia and have jumped at these opportunities when they have arisen. These experiences have helped me to grow and understand the consumer intimately.

I have also embraced any learning experience or any opportunity to work with incredible mentors. I personally love learning and any opportunity to grow – so I look to take advantage of those moments when they arise

What’s your “why”? Why do you do what you do?
Fundamentally I love to make a difference in whatever I do in my life. I have been incredibly fortunate to have been offered so many wonderful experiences & opportunities in my life. So for me now it is taking those great learnings and turning those into great experiences for our teams and our customers whenever they connect with our brand. I am so proud of our current Sussan|Only for women campaign. This campaign gives us a platform to celebrate all women and their incredible stories & that is what I am most interested to explore further.

Where do you find your motivation or inspiration?
My motivation is my son, Tor. I want to be the best mum I can be as well as a great role model. For inspiration I constantly read books by global game-changers, thought-leaders and spiritual masters.

Describe the power of women supporting each other in business/life?
There is power in numbers. I also believe in living with an attitude of abundance, which automatically instils a collaborative, supportive mindset.

What women inspire you?
The rule breakers, the boundary-pushers, the brave and the brilliant.

What has been some of the most memorable advice you’ve been given?

“You’ll always regret what you didn’t do, rather than what you did.”

What would you tell your younger self today?
You’ll get through everything you think you won’t survive.

How important is it to trust your instincts?
Supremely important.

How would you end this sentence “I make life happen by ....”?
Giving everything a shot.

Whatʼs your “why”? Why do you do what you do?
To live a life that matters.

You’ll find more about our Only for Women series on Instagram. Are you following us? @sussanfashion