Empowering Women, Empowering the Next Generation

Empowering Women, Empowering the Next Generation

Empowering Women, Empowering the Next Generation

We were lucky enough to create a wonderfully inspiring wedding styled photoshoot this September, bringing together a collaboration of incredibly talented work from Welsh businesses, all run by women.

The inspiration for this wedding styled photoshoot was taken from my favourite time of year, when summer meets autumn. With warm colour tones and earthy feels, which naturally ties in so beautifully with dried flowers and macrame. Also, with sustainability and eco-friendly products at the forefront for so many, we wanted to ensure this was weaved into the themes of the photoshoot. What we didn’t expect was the female empowerment this shoot created, from Claire’s (Hooked In Cotton) female generation inspired macrame, to Natalie and Natalia’s (High Society Bridal Lounge) maternal influences and real women inspiration to my (Sown and Wild) daughter, Eva’s aspiration to become like the women she admired in front of her. It was more than we could’ve imagined and inspiring to witness.

This got me thinking about how we, as women, can use our skills often influenced by our own experiences, to empower the next generation. A strong belief of mine is to always be mindful about our actions, our behaviour and how we can influence so many through the ways that we choose to use these. Where better to start this empowerment than in the wedding industry, creating innovative styles and ideas, and ways to work that are mindful of our imprint on the planet, whilst positively empowering women and our future generations.

The photoshoot bought together new and old suppliers, and different generations who came together in a supportive, equal and liberating way. Each individual learning and growing from each other, with the utmost respect and admiration for one another. All the women involved are real and have their own stories to tell about their experiences, their mothers, even grandmothers’ influences and then their wishes for their daughters. In business, in life, in the wedding industry. Dreams, visions and stories showcasing women empowering others, not just creating content for their businesses on a styled shoot. 

So to get to the details, the women behind the businesses and their contributions to the photoshoot, and how their experiences and previous generation have influenced their journey.

Chloe – Sown and Wild

Sown and Wild, as with all these businesses was created from something small, in the hope to inspire and bring joy to many. Originally this all began when growing fruit and vegetables during lockdown, I found a new love and connection with the outdoors and nature, and this was developed further when I saw how much my children loved this. I love to learn with them, and teach them about the beauty of nature, and watch their love and interest develop.

As this became such a success and bought so much joy, I quickly moved onto flowers and found I had reignited my old passion of floristry. This journey originally started when I was a teenager, and I had the privilege of working alongside my Mum in her flower shop. My Mum is the person who taught me all I know about flowers, flower arranging and how to run a business, and has very much been my inspiration to start my own business.

Sown and Wild is a dried floral business, and was established in October 2022, so is still very much it is youth. One thing I didn’t expect from this new venture was the connections I have made with people and their businesses, and the friendships I have made. This was significantly highlighted during this photoshoot, as it bought the opportunity to learn and develop not only my skills in flower arranging, but the chance to learn from established women and their businesses.

Another unexpected outcome from starting my business, is seeing how much my eldest daughter, Eva, has taken from this. Eva is now effectively Sown and Wild’s apprentice, Eva loves to get involved with all things related to the business, and this is so heartwarming to witness as it feels like I am now inspiring Eva, as my Mum inspired me. This highlights the ability we have as parents, as business owners, as individuals in general to make a positive impact on the next generation, to inspire and imprint on their development and guide them to also be mindful of what they can learn from others and use these experiences in a positive way.

Natalie – High Society Bridal Lounge

A mother and daughter business, with an incredible team of women behind them, High Society Bridal Lounge (HSBL) was built on the belief that every bride deserves to feel nothing less than extraordinary when picking their dress. Opening in 2020 during lockdown, they have inspired and empowered so many with their mission to be inclusive to all and make each experience individual and very special.

Natalie states on her website ‘We live and breathe what we do, which is why we go above and beyond to create an experience that feels as luxurious and exclusive as possible for every bride and bridal party we meet. It’s all about you from the moment you walk through our door and we want you to feel your most epic self at all times (just don’t forget to bring your slippers)!

We love to champion all of the different, unique and individual sides of who you are, and who we are too, so we can create a day and an experience you will remember forever, topped off by finding the dress that’s made for your moment’.

Claire – Hooked In Cotton

Claire, founder of Hooked In Cotton, designs and creates the most beautiful macrame wall hangings, with a magnificent creation for the photoshoot and an even more wonderful story behind it. Claire commented ‘I am still learning and love that as the eldest, old enough to be their mothers, that age didn’t matter. It was the love of our businesses, on the hottest day of the year, that made it all fun. After capturing images for Hooked In Cotton post pandemic with High Society Bridal Lounge, and seeing their tender interaction with Eva now that they are both mothers themselves was special. It was amazing to witness the tenderness and softening in these women. We’re never too old or young to learn or share knowledge, and we all need to think about the young eyes watching and learning from the women around them informing their future dreams’.

Claire’s macrame weave has a tale of its own, in terms of the wedding industry. It was such a serendipitous theme to come through. Totally unplanned or expected. The Newton Generations Weave takes inspiration from two of her favourite designs.  The largest of which is installed at Cobbles Wedding barn.  The fabric woven into the macrame is from Claire’s daughter’s prom dress, no ordinary dress as it was designed and made by Claire’ wedding dress designer mother in law based in South Africa.  Her daughter flew all the way to have fittings and brought it back to Cardiff – so while peers shopped local this dress wove in so many family memories.  Three generations of women have been woven into this macrame weave and now its shared with the world for its new owner to add their own story.  Jenny, the designer, hand drew and designed many wedding gowns and prom dresses in her thriving home industry.  Empowering and training five under privileged women at one stage – some of whom have now gone on to open their own wedding businesses.  Investing in a recycled and lovingly made statement macrame wall hanging instead of a fast fashion statement, that you grab from a large retailer at the expense of the makers quality of life.  Create opportunities for shared learning and empowering encounters instead when choosing your decor.

Claire also used her photography skills on the photoshoot, as a previous photographer originally capturing wedding images and memories for others. It was a huge relief when Claire agreed to be the photographer on the day. Claire shared ‘For me it was a great honour for Chloe to ask me to take the photos. I had a new macrame wall hanging, I needed photos for so grabbed the opportunity. We’ve both shot with Natalie and Natalia before and loved the outcome so that was without question. And their new brand identity and message for real women resonated’.

Bliss – Bryngawr House Wedding Co-ordinator

Bryngawr House is situated in the stunning grounds of Bryngarw country park, and the first recorded mention appears in 1569, and this beautiful Welsh home was originally owned by the Popkin Family of Glamorgan. Combining country house charm and character with modern elegance, everything is uniquely designed for incredible comfort and convenience, with a historical charm evident also. We really felt this at the photoshoot, and Bliss, Wedding Coordinator, made us all feel welcomed and at home instantly.

Bliss expressed her influences in her work, and dreams for her children, and this resonated greatly with me.

‘I was lucky to have a Mum growing up who always encouraged me. She would say ‘oh you can do that standing on your head! You can do anything!’ and when imposter syndrome kicked in, those are the words that I would hear, they would magically replace any negative, intrusive thoughts in my head and I would push through with confidence and determination (although there were no actual head stands involved, but I’d give that a good try too!!) My mum is a very independent person, and so was her mum, and this has been passed down to me and will be passed down to my daughter also. When it comes to my career, I put my heart and soul into it- it allows my creativity to flow and empowers me. My drive and determination has definitely been influenced by my mum and I’m a strong believer that although academic skills make the world go around, it’s creativity, passion, determination and imagination that keep it turning.

I have no doubt that my daughter will too, grow up to be a strong, determined and driven woman. She will be encouraged to believe that she has the ability to succeed in everything she does, every opportunity is a doorway into another, and any downfall is simply a lesson to learn from. If she gets something wrong, she won’t be told ‘you can’t’, she will be told ‘not yet’. She will be supported to become the very best version of herself and grow up to believe that she too, can do and be anything she wants and hopefully, I will inspire her just as she inspires me.’

Lucy – Bug and Bay Designs

Bug and Bay Designs was established in 2022, and is such a wonderful small business, designing and creating handmade items, to name a few such as clay pieces, wish bracelets and seed bombs, at home with her family. This is no small feat, and I have so much admiration for Lucy, and all stay at home Mum’s for their determination and juggling of home and work life under one roof. An inspiration in her own right.

Lucy commented ‘I have always been creative, and since having children I’ve always tried to encourage them to be the same, and that’s kind of where Bug and Bay began. I named the business after the nicknames I have for my two beautiful children, and started working on bits I thought I might sell, and they did. Being a stay at home Mum for four years, I wanted to show them that anything is possible if you set your mind to it, and now my little girl sits at the table with me most days making her own clay creations while I make mine, saying she now also works for Bug and Bay Designs’. 

Claire – Best Day Ever

Having had to postpone her own wedding during Lockdown, Claire then had the time to allow her creativity to flow, and so started her business, Best Day Ever. Claire designs and creates hand painted jackets for your big day, and loves the idea of bride and flower girl matching jackets and boots, personalising your wedding accessories to compliment your personality and style.

Claire contributed by saying ‘I have always wanted to run my own creative business, but wasn’t sure where to start. I cheered on my friends starting theirs and wondered what I could centre mine around. And the lockdown came….I had loads of time at home to paint and create, and I realised I just needed to do more of what I love, and hope others enjoy it too. A few pushes from my parents, mainly Mum, who owns a children’s clothing brand, my close friend who owns a candle and home fragrance business, and another who runs a bridal shop, just to name a few! They all encourage me to take the leap from full time employment and believe that I could make it a success. Two years later, and I couldn’t have imagined where it would take me. I am constantly picking out other women who have amazing ideas and potential, and telling them my story and encouraging them.

I am now surrounded by female, small business owners. They’re not only all incredible friends now, but the best support network that constantly helps each other learn and grow in business’.

All real woman with dreams and stories, women empowering women, the next generation, with the hope of inspiring those around them to take the leap and follow their dreams.

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