At The Career Girl launch party [photographer Chloe Williams]

Women Behind The Business: Nina

All around us there are businesses small and big headed up by inspiring women. Some work online, some work in a physical space, some work during the days, some work during the nights, some work alone, some work together: the more we share, the more we can learn from each other. And the more we learn from each other, the more we can teach the ones following in our footsteps. May these women inspire you as they inspire us.

Today on the blog we talk to sewing pattern designer Nina about her new platform, The Career Girl. Enjoy!

(photographer: Jane Looker)

Hi, I’m Nina, and I run independent sewing pattern label Nina Lee. My goal with Nina Lee is to help people discover that beautiful, practical and individual clothing doesn’t have to (literally) cost the earth, and that making your own clothes is one of the most rewarding skills we can possess. But clothes and sewing aren’t my only passions, and in November I launched a new website called The Career Girl to try and inspire young women with the huge range of roles open to them and to equip them with fascinating insights to help with decisions around education and work. The website is made up of profiles with a wide range of women doing unconventional jobs – i.e. the jobs your school’s career advice probably didn’t mention.

I was inspired to start The Career Girl because I felt frustrated by my lack of knowledge of my options – from applying for a university course, to trying to work out what jobs I could apply for with my arts degree and then trying to work out what my professional trajectory could be with predominantly ‘soft’ skills. I would hear about other women’s jobs and think ‘how did she get there? Could I do that?’ and often feel disappointed and inadequate because I didn’t know the answers. Yet at the same time I realised other girls were asking the exact same questions about me, and my work. Especially since starting my own business I’ve had lots of women say ‘I’d love to do what you’re doing, but…’ and you can see this gaping knowledge gap between what they think they can do and what they believe most jobs would require of them.

The Career Girl website. Photography: Chloe Williams. 

I wanted to create a tool that would bridge this gap. My hope is that girls and women will read the profiles on the website and be reassured and inspired – that what you choose to study when you’re 18 does NOT dictate what you’ll be doing ten years later, let alone for life; that often the ‘soft’ skills are the really useful ones that you carry from job to job in a rapidly-changing world; that all those jobs you didn’t know about or thought you would never be able to do are out there for you!

The Career Girl launch party. Photography: Chloe Williams. 

I believe that sharing knowledge is one of the strongest ways women can support each other. Knowledge breeds confidence. Openness and transparency are key – we can’t be always seeing other women as our competitors because sharing our knowledge, our tips and our contacts is a surefire way to lift us all up. After all, men have been using informal and formal professional networks for centuries but women are only really just starting to get there. I think that’s one of the major positive changes we’re seeing at the moment – the proliferation of networks and spaces designed for working women. It’s not about being anti-men but about acknowledging that women do face different sets of challenges in today’s workplace and we need to tackle this.

The Career Girl launch party. Photography: Chloe Williams.

Essentially I’ve tried to create a tool that I think would have been hugely helpful to me when I was younger, and hopefully will still be helpful to me as I move forward along my higgeldy-piggeldy career path. If I were able to advise my younger self now, I’d say ‘Above all, keep being imaginative and dream big. The exciting things are out there – you just need to be bold enough to make them happen for you!’

Nina at The Career Girl launch party. Photography: Chloe Williams. 


Thank you, Nina!

You can visit Nina Lee Patterns on her website and Instagram

& you can find The Career Girl here and on Instagram.



Team Selkie

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