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Female Leaders: Emma Tattersall

Emma Tattersall founded Ladies-who-Launch in April 2017. The campaign celebrates women in all that they do, with the simple aim of empowering the next generation of strong and fearless women and providing inspiration for women all over the world. Ladies-who-Launch aims to share simple interviews with women of any age and in any profession all answering simple questions about what they do every day. Emma has a genuine desire to champion and support female success in every way.

Where did your idea for Ladies-who-Launch come from?

I started Ladies-who-Launch in April 2017. I had just finished reading WE: A Manifesto for Women Everywhere by Jennifer Nadel and Gillian Andersen and felt inspired and motivated to have a positive impact, however small that may be, on the people around me. I was meeting so many incredible women and found myself constantly saying “I met X, she’s great, she has X in common with you, I’ll link you up.” Aside from organising rather forced, match-making esque dinner parties between friends, colleagues and clients I was struggling to find ways of connecting these people and providing a safe place for them to share their frustrations, struggles and successes. I was attending a lot of female focused networking events and conferences and hadn’t quite found a space that worked for me.

At the same time, I was also frustrated by the lack of conversation about the things we all do every day. I could recite the minute-by-minute play back of a friend’s date but was struggling to explain her title or job. I remember reading an article in the Guardian that had asked girls between 10 and 17 who their role models were and the most frequent responses were Cleopatra and Kim Kardashian. I couldn’t believe that there seemed to be such a lack of tangible real life role models being celebrated in the every day.

I spent weeks scribbling in a note book, asking friends for their opinions and thoughts, while trying to slowly build a website to host the evolving project. A few months later we opened the site with 8 stories and at that point I thought we be would lucky if we managed to get a few more!

A year and a half later, we have hundreds of stories ready to launch on our Launch Pad, a Speaker’s Corner blog featuring guest written content on a whole range of topics, a thriving book club run by Phoebe Muchmore, a resident business coach – Jess Ratcliffe who writes a Friday column and an annual series of events. It’s been a hugely exciting journey so far.

How do you choose the women to feature in Launching Ladies?

We are lucky to receive questionnaires from amazing women all over the world. We’re a platform that welcomes women from all over the world and from all walks of life. We’re proud to celebrate all the amazing things women are doing, from female founders, super mums, university students, CEOs, intrepreneurs, entrepreneurs, colleagues, friends, writers, freelancers to corporates... there’s a place for every story.

We don’t “choose” our Launchers as such. The beauty of social media means that we have so many submissions through word of mouth (or should it be word of @tag?). We have realised more recently that we need to make a more conscious effort to make our platform more inclusive. BAME and LGBTQ woman are really underrepresented on our platform so our main goal for 2019 is to make sure that we are being proactive about raising awareness of intersectional issues and representing black, asian and ethnic minorities on the Launch Pad, on our blog and at our events – in everything we do really. We want to do more and we want to do better. We want to champion every story. We want to be a diverse platform that isn’t afraid to say we have a lot to learn.

What has been the highlight of Ladies-who-Launch so far?

I find our events hugely rewarding. Our online community is incredibly intelligent and engaged and reading their content or comments brings me so much joy. There is also something so powerful about getting some of these women together in one room, there is an openness, a sense of community and a real feeling that everyone there wants to help each other in any way they can. Our last event was a collaboration with Jennifer Nadel on the topic of her co-authored book WE: A Manifesto for Women Everywhere. It marked the beginning of a new chapter for our events and I am excitedly planning the 2019 line up – watch this space!

One of The Female Lead’s key themes is ‘find strength in setbacks’. Can you tell us about a particular obstacle that’s affected your professional journey and how you overcame it?

I love that. One of my favourite podcasts is “How to Fail” with Elizabeth Day, it looks at how some of our biggest failures are in fact our biggest successes – it’s all about perspective. I think one of the biggest obstacles for me in my professional life – I work in real estate investment – is that for most of my career I have tried to mould myself to fit the mould of the environment I am working in. Whether that’s in the clothes I wear, or the way I conduct business, or the skills I have tried to develop. I now work for an organisation that values me for me. It’s a big corporate business but with space for different stories and skills. I feel less like I have to juggle “work me” and “life me”. They’re hugely supportive of all I do with Ladies-who-Launch and it’s made me realise how powerful a change of context can be, as well as a shift of perspective.

If your teenage self could see your life now, what do you think she would be most surprised by?

I think she would be surprised by how many plates are spinning at once. As a teenager I was a real bookworm, desperate to have academic success and petrified of failing. I threw myself into every opportunity. Today, I still throw my energy into projects that mean a lot to me but that fear of failure has slowly crept away. I’m still petrified of being told off (particularly by traffic wardens) and I survive on a lot less sleep, but the hunger for experiences is still going strong. If I could, I would go back and tell her not to worry about the diets, or the boys, or the silly arguments – the true friends are still here fifteen years on and there are so many exciting things around the corner, enjoy the lie ins while you can!

On your website you say, ‘We can all be mentors for the next generation of strong and fearless women around the world’. Are there any particular female role models or mentors who have acted as a source of support or inspiration for you?

The women who feature on our Launch Pad are my biggest source of inspiration. There is nothing I love more than curling up in my armchair with a cup of tea to read the latest story that has landed in our inbox. More than anything, LWL has been a real education for me. I am constantly challenged and humbled by our members and by the content we get to share. I don’t have favourites, but I am always so hugely moved by women who have had their whole lives turned upside down but have managed to find light in the darkness and carry on.

It has also incredible to see how many friends, new and old, support us at each step. Whether it’s with practical things like sorting our website, writing out name labels for events, taking the reins on our book club when it was all becoming a bit much, or sitting patiently stuffing goodie bags until the early hours – I have always had people there ready to lend a helping hand. I am hugely grateful to have that support.

What advice would you give to any girls or young women feeling anxious about their future?

It’s totally normal to feel anxious, but don’t let the anxiety drown out the excitement. We live in such an exciting time! For all the frustration and battles we face, there are also so many incredible opportunities out there. Find something you love and find a way to make that passion a key part of your life. Use your voice and speak up for what you believe in. For a long time, I thought I had to find a job that combined my passion, a good salary and promised years of success. I wanted to “have-it-all” and was desperate to have it now. I don’t feel that any more. Now it’s all about having a job that challenges me and allows me to have a lifestyle but which also equips me with the time and the resources to support the causes and projects I really care about. I don’t have to live to work, I can work to live the life I want.

In your view, why is it important to share women’s stories?

I really believe we are all mentors and in telling our stories we can help inspire other women to follow their dreams, tackle the next challenge or simply make it out of bed every morning. It’s so powerful to see the way that speaking about our own life experiences can have a direct positive impact on the people who read them. Historically, women have been pushed to the margins and footnotes of history books – by talking about the incredible achievements we are all making every day we can ensure that this won’t happen again.

What’s next for you and Ladies-who-Launch?

The million-dollar question! We are learning and growing at such a rapid rate, it’s so exciting but also sometimes a little hard to keep up. I hope that we will be able to share hundreds more stories on our Launch Pad and be able to provide a space to share more guest written blogs and opinion pieces on our site. I hope we can further widen our list of launchers to include more nationalities and to ensure we are doing all that we can to promote equality and inclusion for all.

We are planning a busy schedule of events for 2019, which will see us hosting across the UK and perhaps even in Europe, tackling exciting topics with some hugely exciting partnerships thrown in too. I also hope that we can find ways to support organisations working hard to empower women all over the world. I have a genuine passion and desire to champion women in all that they choose to do, and I hope we can find more ways to do that as we move forward. We are always looking for volunteers to support us in this growth, so if you have an idea or would like to get involved then please do get in touch.

To keep up with Emma's work, follow her on Twitter and Instagram or visit her website.

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