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Celebrate all colourful women with us!

Creative women

Meet some of our greatest sources of inspiration.
Gudrun and other creative women around the world tell us who their role models are and why Women’s Day is important.

Meet Stina Wollter, Reetta Ristimäki, Karoliina Kantelinen
Minna Kivelä, Anny Duperey, Yvadney Davis, Sarah Moss & Alyson Walsh


Gudrun Sjödén



International Women’s Day (IWD) has a long and eventful history; initiated in the USA and Germany at the start of the last century, institutionalised by the Soviet communists under the Russian Revolution, practised by liberals and finally adopted worldwide. 8 March is the day dedicated to women all over the globe.


Why is IWD needed at Gudrun’s?

It’s a manifestation of and for women’s opportunities, equality and rights worldwide. For everyone at Gudrun Sjödén, this has always been an important day. After all, our customers are socially aware women who care. This day is still important to observe even though we have come far since my mother’s generation in the 20s and 30s.


The women’s liberation movement was largely leftist, but your mother had a different background?

Yes, she supported the women’s cause more from the right as it were. She was a farmer’s wife; my parents had their own small-holding. With six children and a farm to look after, there probably wasn’t that much time for campaigning.

My mother was influenced by Fogelstadsgruppen, a group of politically influential women who set up an institution to educate Swedish women in civic affairs after they gained the right to vote in 1921. They were supported by famous Swedish women such as the author Moa Martinsson and the artist Siri Derkert.


How did your mother influence you?

Both directly and indirectly. The way parents do. She saw to it that we got the education she never had.


Were your parents equals?

In many ways, yes, but those were different times. Farming traditions were deeply ingrained, so my mother kept house and my father did all the practical work on the farm.


Which other women role models did you grow up with?

We were told that on my mother’s side we had a Finnish female relative who ran a farm single-handedly. My maternal aunt was a headmistress, which was uncommon in those days. Another relative worked as a nurse in Finland during the Second World War. That must have been hard. There have been many active, dynamic women in my family, on both sides.


You yourself are a dynamic business woman, surrounded by creative and productive women. Who were your early artistic influences?

The textile arts and design traditions generally have been represented by many enterprising and talented women. Personally, I learned a great deal from Lena Larsson, Eva Martin and other prominent tutors at art college in Stockholm. The textile and other arts have been represented by amazingly talented women such as Märta Måås-Fjetterström and Estrid Ericson who founded the interior design company Svenskt Tenn.

As for creative expression, it’s worth bearing in mind that clothing and style were signal elements in early women’s liberation with straight-cut, drop-waist dresses and short haircuts.


As a hard-working woman entrepreneur and successful company owner, are there situations in which it is easier to get ahead as a man?

I believe so. When dealing with bank managers for example, it’s probably an advantage to be a man in a suit and tie. Perhaps not so much for me personally any more. But if you’re young and just starting out.


Back to the need for a women’s day. Much has been achieved over the last century or so, but the world today shows that we can’t take things for granted.

No. Campaigning for democracy, justice and gender parity is still a crucial struggle. To my mind, Angela Merkel and Michelle Obama are real role models – empowered women who get their values across. We need that now.


There are many women in your company. Does Gudrun Sjödén only hire female staff?

No, not exclusively. But I think that women are often more hard-working than men. With a lot of men in a boardroom, for example, there’s a lot of discussion. But a mix of men and women is probably good.

For Gudrun Sjödén and her staff, International Women’s Day is not limited to 8 March. It’s a year-round cause.


Yvadney Davis


Age: 35
Occupation: Kids Fashion Stylist & Founder of blog Mums That Slay
Website: www.Yvadney.com / www.MumsThatSlay.com 
Instagram: @Yvadney


Why is International Women’s Day important to you? 

As a daughter and a mother of a daughter, I strongly believe in the importance of celebrating, embracing and protecting my womanhood. I'm also aware of the privilege of being a woman in the UK compared to other countries and I love the sense of unity and awareness this day brings.


How would you define a colourful woman? 

She is more than a woman who wears the rainbow. A colourful woman will surprise you with her zest for life and confidence in her uniqueness, which means she’s unworried about anyone else’s opinions of her.


How are you a role model for other women? 

I'd like to think I empower other mums through my blog Mums That Slay to feel confident about their individuality, body shape, age and circumstances and to stop comparing themselves with other women and recognise that their sense of self doesn't end with motherhood. On the contrary, it is just beginning. 


Who are your own female role models? 

My mum, Maya Angelou and Michelle Obama.


What wise words would you like to share with women around the world?

Dream big, laugh often and love the skin you're in. 


Alyson Walsh


Age: 53
Occupation: freelance fashion journalist and author
Website: thatsnotmyage.com
Instagram: @thatsnotmyage
Why is International Women’s Day important to you?

Because women are important. We make up more than half the world’s population, we hold down very senior roles in business, technology, politics, science and industry and we deserve equality.  Now more than ever (in this political climate) we need to celebrate women on a global level.

How would you define a colourful woman?

Someone who is interested and engaged in lots of different things like culture, arts and fashion; someone with vitality.

How are you a role model for other women?

That’s Not My Age has a loyal group of engaged followers, stylish women from around the world, who have told me that they find the site empowering and encouraging. I strongly believe that you don’t have to have youth to have style and that no woman is invisible, and this theme together with my expert advice and insider fashion knowledge has made That’s Not My Age very popular. I’m lucky to have such a loyal following - and eternally grateful to them because without them my book Style Forever wouldn’t exist. And I've literally just finished writing book number two that will be out in November.


Who are your own female role models?

I have loads of role models and I’m quite fickle, so I’m always adding new ones to the list! Michelle Obama who speaks so eloquently on issues affecting young women and has launched the Reach Higher and Let Girls learn projects - and who we all hope is going to run for presidency in 2020. Kim Gehrig for This Girl Can. My favourite actors are all women: Julianne Moore, Kristin Scott Thomas, Tilda Swinton and Annette Bening. I’m a fan of writers like Gloria Steinem, Elizabeth Strout, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Patti Smith. I love following JK Rowling on Twitter because she is sharp and funny and doesn’t hold back.


What wise words would you like to share with women around the world

Always be yourself


Stina Wollter


Age: 52
Occupation: Artist and radio personality
Website: www.stinawollter.se
Instagram: @stinawollter


Why is International Women’s Day important to you?

It's important because it reminds me of how much I wish it  wasn’t important.


How would you define a colourful woman?

Someone in motion who lives life fully awake and doesn’t cast a shadow  over anyone else with her colours.


How are you a role model for other  women?

By putting myself out there without diminishing, simplifying or contorting myself  and others.


Who are your own female role models?

Everyone who continues to fight for and explain the obvious time and time again  even though they ought to have said “I've had enough now, I’m off” a  long time ago.


What wise words would you like to share with  women around the world:

You don’t have to.


Anny Duperey


Age:  69 years old
Occupation: Actress and writer 


Why is International Women’s Day important to you?

International Women’s Day is super-duper important. Women’s rights are constantly being questioned and impacted by the rise of religious extremism and political instability. There is still a lot of progress to be made! I’m truly sorry that this event has not been heard of in countries where women have no rights.


How would you define a colourful woman? 

A colourful woman is a proud optimist and she makes a statement to fight against monotony. The colour I most hate is very trendy nowadays - taupe. It’s a cowardly colour that lacks the courage to be real grey, beige or brown! 


How are you a role model for other women?

I am a “role model” to some because of my resilience. I experienced a real tragedy as a child. At the age of just nine I found my parents lying dead. I wrote a book about it entitled “The Black Veil” and now it is studied in schools for literacy learning. Over the last 25 years, I have also had a role in a very popular TV show called “La Famille Formidable” and my character is a very positive one, plus I still perform in plays on stage… All in all, I try to set a positive example.


Who are your own female role models?

One of the women I admire the most in the world is Simone Weil – could there be a better example of strength, courage and wisdom? 


What wise words would you like to share with women around the world?

I really love this quote from an Indian philosopher, “Everything that is not given is lost”.


Reetta Ristimäki


Age: 52
Occupation: Opera singer - actress
Website: www.gretaproductions.fi


Why is International Women’s Day important to you?

Women’s standing and equality in the world have not improved. On the contrary, there have been disconcerting signs recently with the situation worsening for women in many countries.


How would you define a colourful woman?

For me, a colourful women is someone who is courageous in expressing herself visually (for example, by what she wears) and her opinions or style are displayed and communicated.


How are you a role model for other women?

I hope that I’m a role model because I’ve always had the courage to do what I’ve wanted to do. Although the creative path I’ve trod has been tough, I've still been able to apply my creativity and strength in more ways than some colleagues who’ve chosen a safer route.


Who are your own female role models?

My brave and tireless mother who’s always fought against injustice. My artistic and hard-working grandmother and my energising and unpretentious singing teacher, the opera singer Ritva Auvinen. 


What wise words would you like to share with women around the world

Courage - you can!


Karoliina Kantelinen


Age: 41 år
Yrke: Professional singer and ethnomusicologist 
Website: www.karoliinakantelinen.fi


Why is International Women’s Day important to you?

It's the day when all women around the world can join as one voice to say there ARE a lot of us. We are strong and compassionate. Women have the right to education, success and to make decisions about their own lives. It should be possible for us to be happy just the way we are.


How would you define a colourful woman?

A colourful woman can use the entire spectrum of her know-how. She shows fairness and empathy, keeping in mind what is best for everyone. A colourful woman manages to cope with tough living conditions by using her creativity.


How are you a role model for other women?

I can spread joy and different emotional experiences through my music. I have been told that music also helps people in their sorrows. 


Who are your own female role models?

My female role models are of course my mother because she raised four creative children with love, wisdom and freedom to become what we are today. 

My grandmother, because she was one of the first women to study as a cantor and she became a highly-respected music teacher of her time. She was a colourful, strong woman. And also Tarja Halonen - the first female president of Finland. 


What wise words would you like to share with women around the world

Believe in your inner spirit. It doesn't matter where you come from or what your past has been. We all have it. And when you love yourself, you can help the whole world to become a better place in which to live. 


Minna Kivelä


Age:  48
Occupation:  actress
Website: minnakivelä
Instagram: @minnakivel


Why is International Women’s Day important to you?

Women are important. Equality has certainly not improved in the world and that fact constantly needs highlighting. I hope that one day we’ll get to the stage where it's no longer necessary to have a Women’s Day. When every day is everyone's day!


How would you define a colourful woman?

A woman who follows her own direction in life and doesn’t worry about the negative views and opinions of others.


How are you a role model for other women?

I’ve done all kinds of work, even things that others wouldn’t contemplate doing for fear of making mistakes. I’ve taken on jobs that aren’t necessarily within my field of knowledge. I’ve managed all of them and gained experience, knowledge and self-esteem into the bargain. And I have to remember to laugh at myself!


Who are your own female role models?

Women who always find solutions, whatever the situation. You should never give up!


What wise words would you like to share with women around the world

Self-esteem, self-determination, love.


Sarah Moss


Age: 41
Occupation: Writer/ Professor
Website: sarahmoss.org


Why is Interational Women¹s Day important to you?

It reminds men and women how far we have come towards equality and how far we still have to go.


What is a colorful woman for you?

Someone who visibly enjoys being herself.


How are you a role model for other women?

I’m not sure I am! It’s hard to separate success from privilege.


Who are your own female role models?

Women who are not afraid to describe the world as they see it.


Give us three wise words thatyou want to share with other women around the world:

Women always worked.


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