The Women Who Have Changed Our Lives…

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  • We've spoken to successful business women and the Marie Claire team to hear about the incredible women who have inspired them.

    Natasha Corrett, Honestly Healthy founder

    ‘My grandmother and mother are the most inspirational women in my life – they are so strong and really don’t let anything get in their way of succeeding. They have always instilled in me that if you are creative and passionate you can succeed in anything you put your mind to. I suppose I have always carried that in my heart in every aspect of my life, not just business.’

    Dr Leah Totton
    , entrepreneur and The Apprentice winner 

    ‘Esteemed lady and international states-person Eleanor Roosevelt personified the independent and politically active woman of the 20th century. A true pioneer for social justice, she played a pivotal role in the United Nations, overseeing the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. A great role model and an inspiration to women, myself included.’

    Divinia Knowles, Mind Candy CFO

    ‘Sheryl Sandberg is such an inspiration for women everywhere, shining a light on the need for women in the workplace to be supported, but also to put themselves in the spotlight more.’

    Cassandra Stavrou, founder of 

    ‘Ayn Rand, author of Atlas Shrugged is my inspiration. I don’t subscribe to all of her philosophies, but find her work deeply thought-provoking, particularly in terms of her creative independence and the themes thrown up in the book, which made a big impression on me. And my mum, too, of course! Her resilience and emotional wisdom inspire me.’

    Eirwen Oxley-Green, Marie Claire chief sub-editor

    ‘I’ve been really inspired by Cheryl Adamson, aka Miss Joyful. Her Make Me Joyful blog and website – and the spirit behind her desire to make everyone’s life just that little bit better every day – is wonderful.’

    Caroline Stanbury, CEO and founder of 
    Gift Library

    ‘A woman who has had a huge impact on my life and career so far is Marigay Mckee, the former head of fashion and beauty at Harrods and now president of Saks Fifth Avenue. She manages huge teams of people with such grace and poise, and always looks like she’s having fun and enjoying herself while doing it, which I consider very important. Over the years and during the launch of my business, she has given me such useful and important advice for heading up a luxury company, and I owe much of my knowledge and drive to her.’

    Ayesha Vardag, top divorce lawyer

    ‘I’ve always found Madonna to be an inspiration. She used her sexuality and allure not to capture a rich man and live off him, but to drive her own talents and make herself a successful artist, ever reinventing herself to keep her personal brand alive. She’s a brilliant entrepreneur, and showed women that you don’t have to be masculine and asexual to get ahead in business. Madonna’s still an icon for smart, sexy mothers and business women. She blazed a trail and no one should forget how new and daring it all once was.’ 

    Claire Blackmore, Marie Claire digital writer

    ‘She’s lost a son and is rapidly losing her fight with cancer, but Anne Farley – my best friend’s grandma, who we call “Nanny” – is my absolute inspiration. For her totally unbreakable spirit, infectious humour and warmest, most welcoming of hearts. I could only dream of touching half as many lives as she has in her time.’

    Julia Grinham, co-founder of 
    Upper Street

    ‘I love the fact that Anya Hindmarch has built a very British, quirky brand into a truly international success. Her handbag designs and approach to marketing are always so groundbreaking. Anya’s latest designs for AW14, which use iconic consumer goods, are daring, quirky and great fun. She also does all this while being a mum of five.’ 

    Vini Aujla, co-founder of 

    Vini & Bal’s

    ‘My mother is undoubtedly my inspiration. To me, my mum is the best cook in the world. She inspired me to take her recipes and create our very special spice blends – without her fabulous cooking talent, our range of sauces wouldn’t have been possible.’

    Hannah Gale, Marie Claire digital content editor 

    ‘My nan is my inspiration. She fled Poland with her family when she was nine years old at the outbreak of WWII and lost her baby sister and home. Yet, somehow, she’s always remained one of the most glamorous, positive and caring people I’ve ever met. My favourite memory is of her flipping pancakes in the kitchen while wearing bright red lipstick and heels. Amazing.’ 

    Amelia Harvey, co-founder of 
    The Collective Dairy

    ‘I’ve been inspired by Natalie Massanet, founder of Net-a-porter, for many years. Natalie spotted a gap in the market way ahead of time and has created a brand that oozes quality. Her leadership style is inspiring for those working for her and for those watching from afar. I was lucky enough to meet her a few years ago and she’s everything I’d read about: down-to-earth, charismatic and charming. She’s a great example of what women in business can achieve.’

    Nellie Eden, Marie Claire fashion features assistant 

    ‘The woman who has inspired me the most is my mum. My mother was one of the first women in the UK to rise through the ranks of advertising in the late 80s. Then she had my twin brother and I, but I’ve never once felt like she hasn’t been completely present. She’s Northern, super glamorous and hard as nails, and she surprises me all the time. It’s a bit soppy, and I’d never tell her to her face, but I hope I’ll be half the woman she is one day.’ 

    Nila Holden
    , vintage baker 

    ‘The woman who has most inspired me is my grandmother. At the age of 19, she travelled to a new continent to marry a complete stranger many years her senior. Some twenty years later, newly widowed and a matriarch to 10 children, she was forced to flee Kenya and came to England to start a new life. She lived a long and full life and travelled extensively, never allowing cultural or language barriers to stop her from making friends wherever she went. She wore the most fashionable trainers and designer sunglasses at the ripe old age of 65. When things get tough or I face obstacles, I always think of her and how she overcame so much, always with a warm smile. She is sorely missed by her 10 children, 17 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren.’

    We’d love to know who inspires you in your day-to-day life? Let us know in the comment box below…

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