Who inspires you, as a woman? As you know, our history is unfairly skewed towards the patriarchy. So often women have been overlooked for their contributions to society and its advancements, whether they be social or technological. It can feel lonely in traditionally male dominated settings, like in our careers, regardless of sector. Have you ever noticed how many great historic writers and poets are male? Even celebrity chefs! Don’t get me started on well-known business owners.
Thankfully, there are many strong examples of inspirational women we can draw strength and courage from. Knowing that there are women who have paved the way for us can bring us renewed confidence and drive. If they could do it, what’s stopping us? I am incredibly fortunate to have been inspired and influenced by several incredible women in my life, through both personal relationships and the history of those more well-known. They have given me the confidence to progress through my career and to launch a wonderfully women-focussed business.
My Historic Inspirations
Of the many I could choose from, I have had to narrow down my pick of historic inspirations to these 3 phenomenal women. From each, we can draw strength, constitution and valour.
Rosa Parks (1913-2005)
As many of us will know, Parks helped to instigate the American civil rights movement after refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white man in 1955. This seemingly simple act led to the eventual ruling that segregation was unlawful, forever changing the USA for the better. It was no simple journey from that moment, though. In the process she lost her job, just one of the many sacrifices made for the movement. Rosa Parks showed that even the smallest of acts can bring about real change for us, and we should believe in ourselves and whatever causes we may champion.
Emmeline Pankhurst (1858-1928)
A household name, she began the UK suffragette movement to give women the right to vote. Nowadays, it’s hard to imagine not being allowed to vote based on gender, and it’s all thanks to the likes of Pankhurst. She was arrested on multiple occasions and initiated hunger strikes. She sadly died just after the historic vote she campaigned for was passed and women gained the vote. Her activism was absolutely crucial in the UK gaining suffrage, proving that we all have the strength within us to stand up for our rights. Thank you, Emmeline.
Ada Lovelace (1815-1852)
Lovelace had a brilliant mind. She worked closely in her adult years with Charles Babbage, often referred to as the “father of computers”, and described herself as an “analyst and metaphysician”. Her love of mathematics, along with her intelligence, led her to write the very first computer program in history, long before computers were even created! She also proudly stood against Victorian societal norms, with a far more modern approach to relationships and even getting involved in gambling!
My Personal Inspirations
I have also been fortunate enough to be inspired by many women I have come to know personally and professionally throughout my life. Two such women that have shaped my life from the beginning are my maternal Grandmother and my Aunt Nancy. Both such formidable examples, I could easily dedicate a whole post to each!
Born in Lincolnshire, my Grandmother moved to Yorkshire where she grew up. Her occupation was listed in the census as being a seamstress and I still have some examples of embroideries she did! She moved to London to train as a nurse and midwife at St Mary’s hospital in Paddington. After qualifying she moved to Devon as the first District Nurse/Midwife in the area where she met my grandfather, a landowner and farmer. Records show that they married back in Yorkshire, being the tradition of the time to marry in the bride’s family home location. Sadly, Grandma died before I was born, but my mum always spoke highly of her mother and with pride. I think this inspired me to follow in her footsteps and become a nurse.
Where do I begin? Aunty Nancy was an incredible woman. She was my mum’s older sister, trained as a Norland’s nanny, and remained unmarried. She also worked in the NAAFI during the war! Working with many families and travelling extensively with them, she eventually settled as a housekeeper for one of her long standing families. She had the most amazing calming and loving effect on all the babies and children she came across.
A visit from Aunty Nancy was always cause for excitement. She’d always bring a treat for us, usually edible and exotic. These were usually cheeses, pomegranates, ugli fruit etc. She was also an amazing cook, using many different herbs and spices and was the first person I knew to use garlic and peppers! Though commonplace today, both were exotic in the 70s. We’d spend many hours in the kitchen and I developed a similar taste in things like crockery and utensils. In fact, I have some of her cooking bowls and an apron she made, which I still use.
It was Aunty Nancy who inspired me to not only follow my dream of nursing (she was always a very willing “patient” for me to practice bandages and slings on), but also in part inspired Bloomin’ Sexy. There was always a fresh, soapy smell about her that I’ll always associate with her - a mix between soap and expensive perfume - I loved it! She taught me to keep unused soaps in my underwear drawer before they were needed, which I still do today. This inspired our very own special gifts of bath bombs and soaps packaged with each order of our beautiful anti-chafing shorts (check out our previous blog for more information). I’m certain she would’ve loved our beautiful lingerie! She loved all things quality and luxury. She didn’t do “cheap and cheerful” and taught me to appreciate the true value of things.
Sadly she passed away not long after I began my nurse training after falling ill quite suddenly. I feel that a part of her lives on in me. I know she would’ve adored my boys, too. In fact, she came to me in a dream a few days after my first child was born, at a time when I felt I was struggling and needed her. It was the most amazing, vivid dream, and when I woke I knew I everything was going to be ok.
My Primary School Teacher - Miss Copleston
Another prominent figure in my life was Miss Copleston, my primary school teacher from the ages of 4-7 or 8. She was kind, considerate and loving with infinite patience. I never remember her getting cross, and in hindsight, she obviously loved her job. I remember her so clearly, down to her sandals! She taught me that kindness and patience from an authority figure made a monumental difference in generating trust and an eagerness to learn. I always knew I could go to her about anything, and my mother even visited her to ask that I could go to her if my period started while at school. I didn’t have to, but I will always remember her with affection and gratitude. I think it was likely from Miss “Copp” that I learned that you could be a bit alternative and it was perfectly okay.
My Ward Sister
I’d be remiss not to mention the gynae ward sister when I was training. I spent a relatively short amount of time with her but her influence on me was huge. Her absolute priority was the patients on her ward, and she taught me so much about accepting people for who they are and respecting them. And it was all led by example. She had a daily routine for cleaning, and was meticulous with hygiene.
On one day, whilst working with her, I’d been to check on a patient in the side room, who was dying. I spoke to her, held her hand and felt the faintest squeeze back. I couldn’t and wouldn’t leave her. I sat with her and held her hand until she died. All the while, I saw the ward sister go past the door many times, answering call buzzers, scrubbing bedpans. I felt guilty - that it was the student’s job to do these things. Afterwards, I apologised for not helping her, thinking I’d get told off. She gently told me in no uncertain terms that I had absolutely done the right thing. I learned from her that it doesn’t matter your rank, scrubbing bedpans isn’t beneath anyone. When something needs doing and you’re in a position to do it, you do what’s needed.
Even More Muses
And I am clearly not alone in my long list of inspiring figures. Many of my friends have reached out to suggest their own personal muses, all of whom are wonderful. I hope you enjoy reading about them as much as I did!
My dear friend Lori is inspired by Carolyn Spring, who helps people to overcome trauma through training sessions, her books, and blogs. Spring’s incredibly candid approach to her own trauma and recovery brings comfort to those experiencing similar, and offers real help to work through it. One such example is her recent blog (Trigger Warning: this blog directly references sexual violence) Falling Down, Getting Back Up Again: My Journey over the Last Year. Spring’s work is absolutely vital to so many who have endured any form of trauma.
Another friend of mine, Rae, is inspired by her Grandmother Elsie: “Granma Elsie was a wickedly amazing yet unassuming character, standing tall at 5 foot 1. She married a much older man and was among the first women to learn to drive! She also survived the separation from her children during the war. Granma Elsie always had a fabulous sense of humour and gave the most comforting hugs. And taught me that, when given an ultimatum of "choose A or B'' there is always a third choice. Refuse to choose!” Wonderfully wise words.
Last but certainly not least, my friend Terrie-May, who is a wonderful singer. “There are so many women that I admire, but one person that springs to mind is Lucille Ball. Not only was she beautiful, stylish and funny as hell, she was an incredible business woman who, through her production company, helped launch a little show called Star Trek!” For those unaware, Lucille Ball was the first woman to run a major television studio!
What Can We Learn?
We can draw so much from these brilliant women I've written about, and many more. They show strength, both physically and of character, and the importance of making a stand for what you believe in. With their inspiration we can remind ourselves that we, too, are strong and able to make a difference in our own lives and those around us. Their history speaks to say “You are powerful, capable, and above all, inspirational in your own way to those around you.”
I’ve spoken briefly on the effect that some of these women have had on my own life and business. From Aunty Nancy’s soapy scent, to Ada Lovelace’s unapologetic life, I’m able to use my knowledge and passion to create beautiful, luxury lingerie so that other women can feel their absolute best. Ready to smash the glass ceiling and take control of their lives. It is an honour every day to hear how our luxury shorts have lifted women up and helped so many to feel more comfortable in themselves.
I’m honoured and grateful for the lessons I have learned from each and every example mentioned, and more.
Bloomin’ Sexy Lingerie - Luxury for Women, by Women
Bloomin’ Sexy lingerie is proudly made for women, by women. A fact that is paramount to our brand. Creating luxurious yet functional lingerie, while understanding that a good piece is an investment and a glorious treat in a world of throwaway, “cheap and cheerful” culture. We hope to inspire you to take time for yourself and treat yourself to luxury. Embrace your power, sexuality and build your confidence. You’ll do great things, too!
Who inspires you? I’d love to hear about them! Let me know in the comments or use our contact form.