Jo Stroud is the owner of fabulous, a boutique jewellery retailer with three fabulous stores, a Pandora store and designer jewellery eCommerce site. This month’s Alex and Ani ‘Bangle of the Month’ is the Skeleton Key, representing Power - here Jo shares with us why she thinks the campaign ‘I’m not bossy I’m the boss’ (supported by Beyoncé, Condoleezza Rice and Sinead O’Connor, to name but a few) is so relevant to fabulous staff and customers:
“I set Fabulous up 9 years ago, in 2005, after a career of 7 years in book retail, followed by 7 years in marketing. We are very female-dominated as a business, and my entire senior management team is made up of bright, ambitious, energetic and positive women.
I have been lucky enough to have strong female role models throughout my career, and it has definitely made a difference to me.
I went to an all-girls school, with a strong and impressive Head Mistress, where we were brought up to be academic and ambitious, with the assumption that we would go on into professional, management or leadership roles. Then at university, I joined a networking group called ‘Women in Publishing’ and met several talented women in senior roles within publishing companies.
This included a bright and ambitious American lady who ran the flagship Dillons Bookstore on Gower Street, in London. It was because of her that I joined Dillons after university, and spent 7 very happy years there. The HR Director, and the Marketing and Buying Directors, were all women during my time there, so it seemed entirely natural to me that women would be in leadership roles.
When I moved to a Marketing Agency, the senior management team was initially all men. By the time I left, 7 years later, I was one of three female senior managers, and there were three men - so we had managed to even the leadership team!
Without such role models through my education and early career, I may well not have been so confident in myself, and my ability to set up and run a successful business. I have been called bossy many times in my life, and I don’t mind at all: I know my own mind and am not afraid to give direction or express my views. But I can so easily see that girls who have not been lucky enough to have the same upbringing and education as me can lack that confidence, and be discouraged from going for leadership roles.
So, I totally agree with Sheryl Sandberg, of Google and now Facebook, when she says ‘I want every little girl who’s told she’s bossy, to be told instead that has leadership skills’. At fabulous, we completely support the ‘I’m not bossy I’m the boss’ campaign, to encourage young women to be as ambitious and as powerful as they want to be. The Alex and Ani Skeleton Key Bangle, with its meaning of Power, Choice and Liberation, expresses this perfectly”.