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Feminist Icons. Inspiring Women who Inspire Us. - Ottoman Hands
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Feminist Icons. Inspiring Women who Inspire Us.

  • 2
  • February 28, 2019

Feminist Icons. Inspiring Women who Inspire Us.

“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it.” – Brene Brown

With Women’s Day around the corner we are celebrating all the inspiring women who have helped and are still helping to shape our lives and our history. We have asked creative and inspiring women around us to share their favourite feminist icons and some of their wisdoms they live by.

Elif Shafak – award-winning British-Turkish novelist and the most widely read female author in Turkey, an advocate for women’s rights, LGBTQ rights and freedom of speech.

Elif Shafak

– Which female icon is an inspiration to you and why?

– There are so many women who have inspired me ever since I was a little girl, starting with my Grandma. She wholeheartedly believed in women’s education and from her I learned how important it is for women to support and empower each other. Then there are writers, poets, philosophers who have left a big impact on me. Virginia Woolf, Mary Wollestonecraft and George Eliot. Then there is Hannah Arendt, Audrey Lorde and the one and only Maya Angelou.

– What personal mantra do you live by that you would like to share with us (a word of inspiration from one woman to another)?

– Every day, take some time to nurture your inner garden, your personal Storyland, because all artistic creativity comes from that hidden place.

Rene Macdonald – head designer of Lisou London

Rene Macdonald

– Which female icon is an inspiration to you and why?

– Princess Elizabeth of Toro is my female icon. She was a Ugandan lawyer, politician, diplomat and model. She broke so many boundaries in her time (1960s) as well as being the third black woman to be accepted at Cambridge University. She is an example of what any of us can achieve through determination and hard work.

– What personal mantra do you live by that you would like to share with us (a word of inspiration from one woman to another)?

– One of my favourite quotes is from Eleanor Roosevelt who said: “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”

My second would be Plato who said: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

I try my utmost to live by these two mantras.

Deniz Gurdal – founder and creative director of Ottoman Hands

Deniz Gurdal

– Which female icon is an inspiration to you and why?

– It is so difficult to answer this question and I rather not give one specific name as there are so many great women in the history that inspire me. There are women who fought for women’s rights as activists with their novels, words, stories and actions. There are many female artists that helped changed the world. So for me these are all inspirations from throughout our history.

– What personal mantra do you live by that you would like to share with us (a word of inspiration from one woman to another)?

– You can always make good changes and contribute to this world we all live in. We are all powerful and we need to remember this and even doing our small bits can make big changes. All you need is love.

Emily Valentine – inspiring content creator and Youtuber

Emily Valentine

– Which female icon is an inspiration to you and why?

– Fictional Patsy from ‘Absolutely Fabulous’, my fav 90’s tv show. I’ve loved her forever, dressed up as her many times and love imitating her. She is the embodiment of a woman living her life, her way and never apologising for it. She has multiple partners, worked in fashion, consumed what she wanted and didn’t give a fuck.

– What personal mantra do you live by that you would like to share with us (a word of inspiration from one woman to another)?

– When nothing goes right, go left. i like getting things done. solutions, not problems. there is always a way around things, never give up just look at it differently or try it a different way.

Danielle Copperman – Founder of Qnola UK and author of well being book

Danielle Copperman

– Which female icon is an inspiration to you and why?

– So, so many iconic women inspire me, and I feel that so many of them are emerging and using their voices more than ever in this digital age. I love Natalie Portman, Emma Watson, Meryl Streep and people like Jennifer Lawrence who don’t exploit their fame but remain concerned about their careers and using their influence in powerful and meaningful ways. I also adore Oprah, an obvious one, I know. but i just love how passionate she is and how unapologetic she is in not concerning herself with what others think, but instead being so true and real and raw, supporting others and spreading love and empowerment.

– What personal mantra do you live by that you would like to share with us (a word of inspiration from one woman to another)?

– I have so many; I honestly keep a list of quotes in my phone notes, on my laptop and also in a word document. I just come across so many lovely mantra’s and want to keep note of the ones that have resonated with me and helped me through challenging times. If I had to pick one, right now, it would be “Things you want lightly, come easily”. I am a huge believer in the more you force or push something, the more you repel it. And so, I’m constantly learning to find the right balance between wanting something and forcing something. If it’s meant to be, it will be. But it will be when the time is right. So, learning to trust in the universe and to trust that if it is meant to be, it will come, and if it’s not meant to be, you don’t need it the way you initially thought you did. You are destined for something bigger and better, and often it is beyond our imagination.

Loanne and Jordan – Collyer Twins – Bloggers and DJs

Collyer twins

– Which female icon is an inspiration to you and why?

Loanne – I am really inspired by Peggy Gou. I think she is one of the first females who has really brought music and fashion together and is dominating both industries. She really has set the precedent for more female DJs worldwide and is inspiring more females to get in to DJing and producing. In an industry that is still very male heavy, she is dominating line ups and really setting the tone. I am hugely inspired by her work ethic and her constant ability to create, crete and create. She never seems to stop… She is also bringing out her own fashion label which I cannot wait for! Her fashion sense is incredible and her creative eye is an inspiration! Love her!

Jordan – Oprah – through adversity she has paved her way to become an extremely successful and inspirational female figure who has championed, lived and shaped values I resonate with, all whilst remaining humble and compassionate. Her outlook on life and mantra is what hugely inspires me!

– What personal mantra do you live by that you would like to share with us (a word of inspiration from one woman to another)?

Loanne – Live in the present moment. Enjoy every day as it comes and don’t get too caught up in the ‘what’s next!’. Enjoy the fruits and joys of the right here and now. ‘It’s not just the destination, it’s the journey!’

Jordan – Anything you can imagine you can create!

Eni Ilori – Stylist, blogger, Youtuber

Eni Ilori

– Which female icon is an inspiration to you and why?

– A female icon that is an inspiration to me would have to be Oprah because I love her determination especially when she first started off her career. She never gave up, encouraged and till this day is still a pioneer.

– What personal mantra do you live by that you would like to share with us (a word of inspiration from one woman to another)?

– A mantra I live by would be: ‘the best is yet to come’. This really helps me in situations when I’m finding it hard with career goals etc. We can all get discouraged or even feel abit down when we haven’t gotten the dream job we wished for or maybe the dream house but everything happens for a reason. Having that though in my mind makes me know that something good will come around eventually. Be positive is the best result.

Grace Surguy – fashion blogger

Grace Surguy

– Which female icon is an inspiration to you and why?

@josefinehj as she is honestly so cool, her style is impeccable and she has a playful rebellious look/style/feel which I absolutely love. She really leads the way for being unique in terms of influencer content.

– What personal mantra do you live by that you would like to share with us (a word of inspiration from one woman to another)?

– A positive attitude to life is always how I try to live, and always to practice gratitude, appreciate the little things.

Zornitsa Atabilgin – content creator, traveler, photographer

Zornitsa Atabilgin

– Which female icon is an inspiration to you and why?

– When I think of an icon the first name that comes to my mind is Coco Chanel. She made it on her own and stood up for what she believed in. She completely changed the way women dressed in 20th century and liberated them from the stereotypical uniform. Coco showed the world her passion and that she was not afraid of failing. A true inspiration.

– What personal mantra do you live by that you would like to share with us (a word of inspiration from one woman to another)?

– You can never know until you try. The worst thing that could happen is to hear no and frankly that’s not the end of the world.

To celebrate International Women’s Day we are running a competition on our Instagram. Head over to take part and win an amazing box of inspiring gifts.