Reshma Saujani – ‘Failure won’t break you; it will only make you stronger’

Reshma Saujani – ‘Failure won’t break you; it will only make you stronger’

We speak to Reshma Saujani, founder of Girls Who Code and author of Brave Not Perfect, and her journey to becoming brave, not perfect

reshma saujani

Next in our Women Who Win series is Reshma Saujani, 43, the founder of Girls Who Code, a non-profit organisation that wants to close the gender gap in technology by teaching computer science to girls. A graduate of Yale Law school, in 2010 Reshma was also the first Indian-American woman to run for Congress. Her 2016 TED talk ‘Teach girls bravery, not perfection’ has been viewed over four million times.

Her new book, Brave Not Perfect, is a rallying cry for women, and a scathing and timely criticism of how society encourages boys to be brave and bold, whereas girls are socialised to be perfect.

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I meet too many women who think they don't have what it takes. They think they are too young to make a difference, or too old. That they aren't smart enough. Their hair isn't right, or their bodies aren't perfect. They think if they fail, it will break them. I wrote #bravenotperfect because that has to change. When women start taking risks, we will make the world better. When we stop fearing failure, no one can hold us down. Thank you to my sister @ocasio2018 for being part of the #bravenotperfect movement, and showing girls everywhere that you don't have to be perfect to lead. Your words are an inspiration: "Brave means actually mean risking something. Brave means you may fail. Bravery is the moonshot." #sisterhood

A post shared by Reshma Saujani (@reshmasaujani) on Feb 25, 2019 at 4:41pm PST

Saujani isn’t just focusing on gender inequality in the abstract: her non-profit Girls Who Code addresses the huge gender gap in an industry that has an enormous impact on our lives. Since 2012, 90,000 girls have benefitted from Girls Who Code in the USA, and the clubs are becoming fixtures of the UK educational landscape.

Saujani explains the importance of these kind of initiatives: ‘We live in a culture that tells girls that maths and science isn’t cool, and it’s not for you. And it’s been like that for decades, so it’s fighting against that culture and making something cool and relevant for girls.’

We spoke to Reshma about her students, her role models, and her incredible journey to becoming brave, and not perfect.

I was leading marches when I was 13

‘I’ve always been passionate about creating opportunities for girls, or for those who are working class, or poor. The first march I led was for a group called PRISM: Prejudice Reduction Interested Students Movement – I’ve got better at naming organisations! I grew up in a Mid-Western town and there weren’t a lot of people that looked like me. I remember when my mother would wear a sari and go to the local K-mart with a bindi on her head, she would get made fun of. I wanted to educate my town about diversity.’

I got permission to live authentically

[When I was working as a lawyer] I would come home every day and be in the foetal positiob: I hated my job! If you asked Reshma when she was 13 years old,what she wanted to do, she would say that she wanted to be in public service. And when I was 33, I found myself working in finance to pay off my student loans and make my immigrant parents proud, but I wasn’t living my dream. I remember having a conversation with one of my best friends, and she said, ‘You know what, just quit.’ And it was the first time, someone kind of gave me permission for me to start living my life authentically’

reshma saujani

Reshma with a Girls Who Code participant in New York

Failure won’t break you

‘Before I ran for Congress, I had done everything right. It was the first time that I had done something that didn’t really work out. Every worst thing I imagined could happen, happened. I lost, it wasn’t even close, I was humiliated, and was shunned by the Democratic Party for stepping out of line. But I realised that it didn’t break me! The day after the election, I cried and cried, but with failure, it’s good to give yourself a finite amount of time to grieve about it and then to move on. Bravery is like a muscle – you do the first risky thing, and it opens the door to more and more acts.’

Girls are constantly thinking about how they can make the world better

‘We had one of our first Girls Who Code students build an algorithm to help detect whether a cancer was benign or malignant, because her father had cancer. Another of our students was the youngest woman to get a patent at the University of Pennsylvania. She had created a device that, if you put it into a gun, it goes off when the gun is in an unrestricted place, such as a school. I feel blessed to work with these amazing girls. They are the change makers, and they inspire me every day.

My father is my role model

I think my father taught me a lot about resilience, and he taught me a lot about being humble and what’s possible. You know, my parents came [to the USA] as refugees from Uganda. Coming here with nothing, no family, not knowing the language, having my sister in my mother’s belly, and then me a few years later, and just building a life for themselves, that’s pretty remarkable.’

Brave, Not Perfect by Reshma Saujani is out now, published by HQ

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Why you should be paying attention to the latest Instagram challenge

Why you should be paying attention to the latest Instagram challenge

Listen up


If there’s one Instagram challenge you need to pay attention to this month, it’s this one. It has become one of the fastest growing hashtags in the UK in March, with more than 28k posts and creating an ever-growing community.

So what is it?

The #MarchMeetTheMaker2019 hashtag sees small business owners taking to the social media platform to show their followers exactly what goes on behind the scenes. Whether it’s talking about how they set up their business, showing the hard work and love that goes into creating every product, talking about making their brand more eco-friendly or simply sharing the bits that we never see on Instagram, it’s a breath of fresh air and an important place to be for anyone who wants to know the ins and outs of starting a creative business from the people who are doing it right now.

First created by Joann Hawker in 2016, it encourages small businesses to share daily posts about themselves and small company throughout the month – with a different focus point each day – so that customers can see through the gloss and get to know the minds behind it all.

Here are some of the creatives showing what #MarchMeetTheMaker means for them.


This homemade, sustainable, cruelty-free family run business has been sharing how much work goes into creating their range of creams, face masks and lip balms.


Marienne Cavaciuti makes handmade, nature-inspired ceramics and is showing customers that the ceramic making processes may be messy, but ends with a beautiful creation.


Owner Annah creates bespoke bags made out of vintage maps and has been keen to show how she reduces waste day to day.

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Reducing waste. This is something that I’ve actively tried to do everywhere that I can in my studio! I’ve managed to tweak my pattern pieces, and cutting method, to mean that I waste only the tiniest bit of my backing fabric which is so satisfying! My fabric is printed to order which means minimal waste, too. . I recently switched to biodegradable poly bags which, although they’re ten times the cost, give me ten times more peace of mind! . . . #mmtm . . . . . . #marchmeetthemaker #marchmeetthemaker2019 #marchmeetthemaker19 #joannehawker #heytheremaker @heytheremaker @joannehawker #ukmaker #maker #ukmade #madeintheuk #smallbiz #smallbusiness #girlboss #selfemployed #map #cartography #vintagemap #homeiswherethehearti #reduceplastic #reducewaste

A post shared by Map Your Story (@girlandbird) on Mar 11, 2019 at 12:11am PDT


Hannah Woolner’s makes handmade needle-felted animals – including replicas of people’s pets, FYI – and has been explaining how she started her business, showing her followers inside her studio and the secrets behind her work.

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Day 8 of #marchmeetthemaker and it’s PRODUCT RANGE: My needle felted creations span the entire animal kingdom from sloths to kingfishers. My work is split between my own creations and commissions. The creations come from my imagination e.g bears in baths and moles with glasses and miniature books. They are often tongue in cheek and playful, giving them human personalities which my customers can relate to. . . My commissions tend to be pets (mostly beloved dogs of all breeds) and occasionally cats which I love creating in felt. They often take me longer to complete and a lot of love and care go into them as they are one of a kind personalised pieces which have a sentimental value to my customers. . I have included a few pics of the range of work I do for you to see; sloth, wedding mice, kingfisher, lion, terrier, cat, one eyed red setter! . #heytheremaker #makersgonnamake #joannehawker #needlefelting #productrange #animalsofinstagram #animalkingdom #needlefelting #felt #craftcommunity #sloth #mice #kingfisher #lion #dogs #humansbestfriend #smallbusiness #commissions #creations #handmadewithlove #bespoke #personalisedgifts

A post shared by Woolner's Woolies (@woolners_woolies) on Mar 8, 2019 at 10:18am PST


Printmaker and artist Lissie Beckett turns drawings of nature into enamel pins, plushies and wash bags.


Helen creates delicately detailed and beautiful pieces of jewellery and is using her platform to show how exactly how her business works behind the scenes.


This eco-friendly cards and gifts company, and owner Megan is using the hashtag to show how much thought, effort and love goes into creating each product.


Rachael Hibbs Linocuts is a London based printmaker specialising in block print artwork which is printed onto anything from t-shirts to cards, and is using the challenge to showcase the maker behind the art.


Rose Agar is a print artist who has used this challenge to show the weird and wonderful range of products she can print designs on for her customers.

So whether you’re interested in starting your own crafty creative business, or you just want to find and support some new, smaller brands, check out the hashtag and see what you find.

You’ve still got a couple more weeks until the month is out.

Go, go, go!

The post Why you should be paying attention to the latest Instagram challenge appeared first on Marie Claire.

Fora’s International Women’s Day programme is inspiration goals

Fora’s International Women’s Day programme is inspiration goals

The workspace provider Fora is hosting a week-long series of talks celebrating female achievement to celebrate International Women’s Day – and the line-up is incredible


Friday March 8th marks International Women’s Day, where we celebrate the achievements of women and reflect on the progress we have made globally, as well as that which needs to be made.

Every year, more and more events pop up to celebrate the day, but, as well as our Marie Claire event in collaboration with the UN and Salesforce, one of the events we’re most excited about this year has been curated by Fora, the premium flexible workspace provider. They’re hosting workshops, exhibitions, podcast recordings and talks starting from Monday 4th March and running throughout the week – and the line-ups are incredible.

Wednesday 6th March, which will see not one, but two headline panel discussions: ‘We love International Women’s Day’, which will bring together female magazine editors reflecting on their experience in the publishing world, and ‘Will feminism change the face of wellness?’, which features model and former Marie Claire columnist Callie Thorpe as one of the speakers.

Further talks throughout the week will cover a huge number of subjects, ranging from the lack of women in film and TV to discussions of feminism in the 21st century and how different interpretations have potentially created further divisions between men and women.

Fora co-founder, Katrina Larkin

For co-founder of Fora, Katrina Larkin, the diverse programme and speakers are a vital part of celebrating International Women’s Day. She said, ‘At Fora we are committed to supporting women and addressing gender balance in the workplace. Celebrating International Women’s Day gives us an opportunity to capture a moment in the annual calendar that celebrates female achievements, but we would do this for any group that we felt was underrepresented in the workplace.’

She went on to add, ‘Thankfully, Fora is in a position to provide a platform for our network of Residents and external communities, giving a voice to the many organisations that are committed to supporting gender balance.’

With the week also seeing a number of networking events such as breakfast hosted by Black Females in Architecture and the global network of women in the music industry, She said.SO, Fora is making sure there truly are events for everyone.

We’ll see you there.

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We shouldn’t work full-time jobs until we’re in our 40s, apparently

We shouldn’t work full-time jobs until we’re in our 40s, apparently

An expert has spoken, and we are listening

if you work in an office

Hands up if you’ve spent the last six weeks Googling ‘best cities 2019′? January is over (finally), but that doesn’t stop us from planning a quick getaway here and there to make the working week go that little bit quicker. We’ve worked out how to double holiday allowance this year (it’s actually really easy), and we’ve bookmarked the most Instagrammable Airbnbs for some travel inspo.

Whatever you’re juggling, if you’re in full-time employment it’s hard to strike that work life balance. But what if we weren’t working forty hour weeks and could spend way more time globetrotting? Sounds too good to be true, right?

One expert claims that we shouldn’t start working full-time until we’re in our 40s. Stanford psychologist Laura Carstensen told Quartz: ‘You never get a break. You never get to step out. You never get to refresh. We go at this unsustainable pace, and then pull the plug.’

Essentially, waiting until you’re middle-aged to start full-time employment would be beneficial because ‘careers would be longer, with a gradual transition to part-time work in the later years.’ Her opinion is that instead of trying to pack everything into a couple of decades early on, you spread it all out.

Sounds great! Right?

However, that does mean that retirement wouldn’t be until you’re in your 80s. And sadly, there’s also no suggestion about how you’re going to pay the bills if you suddenly decide to ditch the 9 to 5.

Back to the drawing board…

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Career lessons from three female pioneers of unconvention

Career lessons from three female pioneers of unconvention

Sometimes the road to career success isn’t always a smooth one. But, as these three trailblazers prove, you can still achieve your dreams

career lessons

These three female pioneers of unconvention prove that the road to success isn’t always a smooth one…

Ava DuVernay, 46, film director

‘If you’re on a path that’s not the one that you want to be on, you can pivot, and you can also move, and age doesn’t make a difference, [nor does] race, gender.’

The Oscar-nominated director of Selma and A Wrinkle In Time – for which she was the 
first African-American woman to direct a film with a budget over $100 million – Ava Duvernay started out interning as a news journalist. She moved into PR, founding her own agency in 1999. It was at the age of 32 that she picked up a camera and started taking directing classes.

Angela Ahrendts, 58, senior VP of retail at Apple

‘At some point in your career, maybe you too have made the life-altering decision to start anew. If so, you know first-hand how exciting, challenging, and sometimes disorienting the first 30, 60, 90 days can be.’

Apple’s senior vice president of retail (and the brand’s highest paid executive), Angela Ahrendts started her career in fashion. From a merchandising role at a lingerie company, she moved to Donna Karan, Liz Claiborne and, most famously, was CEO of Burberry from 2006-2014, where her leadership escalated the firm’s value from £2 billion to over £7 billion.

Whitney Wolfe Herd, 29, founder of Bumble

‘Often, the best jobs come out of just meeting people and letting one thing lead 
to another.’

After a degree in international studies, Wolfe Herd turned down ‘safe’ corporate job offers for a role at a tech incubator funded to make apps. There, she co-founded Tinder, but left in 2014 following sexual-harassment claims. Despite vowing never to go back into online dating, she came up with the idea for female-focused dating app Bumble, which Forbes values at over $1 billion.

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Patricia Bright – ‘Don’t be afraid to fail, just be a fast failure’

Patricia Bright – ‘Don’t be afraid to fail, just be a fast failure’

Forget climbing the career ladder, today work success is more likely to be about the ‘swerve’ – zigzagging between different jobs and industries

patricia bright

Patricia Bright explains how an unconventional route can be the key to achieving your goals

In 2016, LinkedIn research found that making four job changes by the time you were 32 was ‘normal’. In May 2018, an updated LinkedIn study found that for Generation Z – today’s under 24s – those four jobs had already happened. So, how do you turn an unconventional start into stable success? Here, 31-year-old fashion and beauty vlogger Patricia Bright, who has a following of 2.6 million, reveals the best career tips she’s learned on the path from banker to influencer, and how starting out with nothing fuelled her drive for success.

1. Things can be taken away in an instant. Be prepared

‘I grew up in Battersea, south London, to Nigerian parents. When I was six, my dad was deported. One night, policemen came into the house and took him away while my mum pleaded and my sister and I sobbed. My dad had outstayed his student visa, but hadn’t applied for residency. It took six years to get him back. Alone, Mum could have been broken, but instead she grafted. She cleaned offices at 6am and trained as a nurse, so that she could join the NHS Staff Bank – a talent pool for temporary and part-time work. She opted for the ungodly 2am-6am shifts that pay time-and-a-half. Thanks to that, Mum invested in her first house. She proved that your past doesn’t define your future. But that showed me nothing was guaranteed, and now I don’t just have a professional Plan B – I have Plan C, D and E too. Ask yourself: if everything crumbles, what would I do? You don’t have to reinvent the wheel; consider ways to expand your earnings based on what you know. One friend makes wigs and, rather than just sell them, she set up a class where people pay hundreds of pounds to learn how to make them. I also know a graphic designer who has branched out beyond web design – she now scouts customers via social platforms and offers to curate their Instagram feeds, with font and colour styling. Even if you work nine to five, you could get a bar job on a Saturday night.’

2. If you’re going to fail, fail fast

‘My family wanted me to become a lawyer. In African immigrant families, you’re either a doctor or a lawyer because those professions give your children more academic opportunities. I’d studied A-level biology, chemistry, psychology and business studies – hardcore academia – so I went to the University of Manchester to do a fashion marketing degree as an opportunity to explore my creative dreams. I expected it to be cool to work in fashion, but I hated it. I didn’t enjoy making clothes; the only module I liked was accounting. After a year, I dropped out and switched to an accounting degree. I always say you should try something and see how it goes. If it fails, fine, but move on quickly. Don’t be afraid to fail, just be a fast failure.’

3. Challenge your self-perception

‘After my degree, a friend secured a job at investment bank Merrill Lynch. I thought that sounded great and discovered there was an internship available, but I needed 360 UCAS points to apply. Because I’d previously dropped an AS level and changed degrees, I had 280 – not even close – but my male friend said I should apply anyway. Research 
shows that men are more likely to apply for a role whether they’re qualified or not. Women, however, wait until they’re qualified or even overqualified. I felt I could do it, 
so I networked. I went to a Women in Technology event to connect with senior management and recruiters from Merrill Lynch, so they’d remember me. It worked. My application was accepted, but I failed part of the entrance exam. Somehow, they let me resit it and I got the internship. The version of me on paper wasn’t supposed to be there, 
but I hustled and made them notice me.’

‘When your side hustle is held back by your main job, that’s the time to leap’

4. It’s OK to feel like an imposter

‘In 2009, I started working at Merril Lynch as a business analyst, but I never felt confident. It took seven months for the stiff corporate culture to warm up. Then, two 
years in, I was made redundant. I felt dread. For one, I had pride in working at Merrill Lynch, but I’d also come from a graduate programme where I was almost babied through it. With that ripped away, I applied for jobs – still feeling underqualified – and moved to Deloitte, consulting for investment banks. Here, your job is to pretend you’re the expert. I remember meeting the head of Camden Council, a 50-year-old Caucasian male. There’s me, this 23-year-old, telling him that his business model is wrong and he should implement my strategy. I had no choice but to forget about my self-consciousness.’

5 .You can survive humiliation

‘I began vlogging in secret at university. I was always into beauty, and there were forums, such as Fotki [similar to Reddit], where women would share their hair journeys or make-up collections. I started doing YouTube tutorials, recording videos in the bathroom, whispering as I didn’t want my housemate to hear because I thought it would be embarrassing. It was my private hobby until an intern at Merrill Lynch picked up my camera and saw a video of me talking and said, “Look at Patricia. Why would anyone 
do that?” This was around 2011 or 2012, and I felt like a joke. Work colleagues warned me that it didn’t look good for the bank. I shut my YouTube page down for months because I was so ashamed. Even after I started vlogging full-time, I hid it from my family. When I eventually told them, my parents put it so well, saying, “You have to do what career is right for you.”

6. False starts make you stronger

‘By the time I started at Deloitte, I’d been YouTubing undercover for three years, my following was approaching 100k and I was getting vlogging work requests. But the Internet thing still felt random and it wasn’t enough to quit a solid career for. Instead, I was headhunted by MUFG, Japan’s largest bank, as a senior business analyst. 
While back in banking, I could see that YouTube was moving forwards quickly and I gained more confidence to see where it could take me. When I resigned, citing “personal reasons” because there was no way I could tell them the truth, YouTube became my full-time profession. Well, for three weeks – until I panicked, got cold feet and joined a digital company called Base79 for three months, consulting for brands on how to use YouTube. In a weird way, I needed this false start at an online media company to see the real potential of my channel. I said to myself, you need to go full throttle, put your foot down and do this. Mike Lewis, who wrote When To Jump, about people switching careers, calls it ‘the 10,000 unsexy steps’ you’ll make while chasing your dream job. It’s easy to get so caught up with planning a leap that you never actually do it – it’s called analysis paralysis. But when your side hustle is held back by your main job, that’s the time to leap. To help: invest in your decision. Even putting £10 towards something vital flicks a switch in your brain that says, “If you don’t follow through, the person it will burn is you.”’

7. Confidence comes and grows with putting in the hours

‘Lack of confidence affects everyone. But the number of hours you put into something makes a big difference. If you want to become more confident, you have to apply yourself. I’ve got over 1,700 videos and, taking into account the ones I’ve deleted, I’ve probably filmed 3,000. So, why am I confident on camera? Practice. In my first job, I wasn’t confident. My second job forced me to become confident. Third job, I knew what I was doing because I’d put in the hours. Today, I feel fully in control. Trust yourself. And, more than that, trust your trajectory – whatever it might look like.’

Heart & Hustle by Patricia Bright (£18.99, HQ) is out now

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How four team Marie Claire members are being spend-savvy this January

How four team Marie Claire members are being spend-savvy this January

Forget Dry January and Veganuary – this month we’re all about #Planuary…

In partnership with AVIVA

If ever there’s a good time to tighten our belts, it’s January. Even the most financially-savvy of us can get a little carried away with our spending during the festive season, whether that’s by being more generous than planned with Christmas presents or going out on a couple more nights out than were originally in the diary.

As ever, the start of a new year sees many of us trying to save a few pennies, so as part of Planuary we’re pledging to change one thing in order to take control of our finances this year by planning ahead – and you can too.

From frugal finance planners to novice savers, below we’ve shared what a few money hacks MC staffers are using to take control of their finances in 2019 that you can try too.

Kick a habit (and stash the money you would have spent)

Booze, cigarettes, coffee shop flat whites; if there’s something you’re giving up for January – or even the whole year – put the money you would have spent into a jar or savings account. For one of our colleagues it’s the coffees, and swapping that daily £2.50 coffee for a brought-in flask means she’ll save a minimum of £50 a month.

With this method you’ll be paying out the same amount of money you would have, so won’t feel more of a pinch, but at the end of the savings period you’ll have a nice nest egg to transfer to your savings account.

Prep your meals

When you’re busy it’s easy to fall into the pattern of popping out to buy a sandwich or salad every day. At about £3 a day a ‘cheap’ meal deal doesn’t sound like much, but that’s £15 a week and more than £700 a year you could save yourself.

You may be in awe of the girl who wouldn’t dream of popping to Pret and brings her lunch in every day without fail, but in reality it’s not that difficult. Set aside an hour or so at the weekend to batch cook a load of freezer meals that you can take to work and avoid buying lunch on the daily; Pinterest is your friend if you need recipes. Combine your lunch prep with the above step and your savings will be twofold. Win-win.

Plan, plan and plan again

The clue is in the name ‘Planuary’ – the key to being in control of your finances is largely down to having a good plan in place, and we’re not just talking about having a monthly budget here. Did you know that on average women miss out on £106,000* worth of pensions?

Pledge to change one thing in 2019, whether that’s reinstating your pension contributions, increasing the amount you pay in each month, or tracking down older workplace pensions, learn more about Aviva’s Planuary content.

Try a savings challenge

Savings challenges are great for two reasons; firstly, it’s fun to set yourself a challenge and two, you can set your sights on a pricey treat you wouldn’t usually be able to afford. One of our editors is trying the ‘one penny challenge’, which works by saving a small amount daily that increases by a penny each day. For example, on the 1st January you would pay in 1p, 2p on the 2nd January, and so on for the rest of the year, until 31st of December when you would pay in £3.65.

By the end of the year you’ll have a cool £667.95 saved (for our team member it’ll go on the Gucci Soho Disco bag she’s always wanted). Alternatively, if you have a bigger goal in mind, this really easy money challenge could save you just shy of £1,500 in 2019.

Ready to get smart with your savings?

*Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) Women’s Risks in Life report

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How to double your work holiday allowance in 2019

How to double your work holiday allowance in 2019


holiday photography

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! As we wave goodbye to 2018 with endless festive fun, drunken work parties and too many Christmas sandwiches, we’re already planning a relaxing retreat in January to beat the new year blues and detox after an indulgent month (ahem, we’ve stocked up on Ferrero Rocher).

But how can you make the most of your work holiday allowance in 2019?

Most people are entitled to around 28 days holiday a year – but if that’s not enough time for those who love to jet off on lengthy holidays to far-flung destinations, we’ve got some pretty wonderful news. You can actually double your work holiday allowance with a few carefully placed leave dates.

That’s right. It’s easy to turn your 28 days into 59 days. Instant Offices have created a strategic calendar to show how workers can maximise their holidays in the new year and help boost their work-life balance.

Aava Thailand holiday offer

How to double your work holiday allowance in 2019

January 2019

Take a 6-day holiday by booking 3 days off

(1 Jan – 6 Jan)


Take a 10-day holiday by booking 4 days off

(13 Apr – 22 Apr)


Take a 9-day holiday by booking 4 days off

(4 May – 12 May)


Take a 9-day holiday by booking 4 days off

(25 May – 2 June)


Take a 9-day holiday by booking 4 days off

(24 Aug – 1 Sept)

December 2019 – January 2020

Take a 16-day holiday by booking 7 days off

(21 Dec – 5 Jan)

So what are you waiting for? Start booking those lovely lengthy holidays now before the rest of your team does…

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Kris Hallenga: ‘Frustration and anger didn’t serve me so I channeled them into breast cancer awareness’

Kris Hallenga: ‘Frustration and anger didn’t serve me so I channeled them into breast cancer awareness’

CoppaFeel! founder Kris Hallenga is next in our Women Who Win series, giving us some insight into how to turn a devastating diagnosis into a global movement…

Kris Hallenga

We’ve all heard of CoppaFeel! – with the London-based breast cancer awareness charity credited with saving lives through promoting early detection of breast cancer, and forming a sisterhood in the process.

But someone who doesn’t get enough credit is the inspirational woman behind the movement – Kris Hallenga, who turned an incurable cancer diagnosis into an opportunity to help other people by raising breast cancer awareness.

‘Frustration and anger didn’t serve me,’ Kris told Marie Claire Junior News Editor Jenny Proudfoot. ‘So instead I channeled them into something good, something I knew could help others so that no one else would be in the same position as me,’ with Kris’ cancer being diagnosed too late.

‘I was 22 when I came across a lump in my boob, which I had ignored for a while and never thought twice about,’ Kris recalled, going on to explain how it was ‘a pushy Mum and some persistence’ that led her to a breast cancer diagnosis, after several GPs had dismissed the lump as ‘nothing’.

‘I also found out it was late stage, the worst kind, as it had already spread beyond my boob and into my spine,’ Kris continued, explaining how her initial reaction was shock. ‘I couldn’t understand how it had gone from “nothing” to cancer and I had NO idea it could happen. It was awful, there were tears, I was frightened, I was confused, I was baffled but above all I was ready to do whatever I needed to survive.’

But the mission was even bigger for Kris, who instead of seeing her diagnosis as a problem for her, turned it into an opportunity to help others.

‘No one was educating young people, so I decided I had to, with the help of my twin sister and some very epic mates.’

The result? CoppaFeel! – the movement we all know and love, started by Kris and Maren, aiming to educate young women about breast cancer and informing them how to check their breasts for themselves.

As part of Swarovski‘s Stories of Yes campaign, celebrating women embracing change, Kris is one of many high profile women to come forward this year with her story of adapting to change – and to say that it’s inspiring would be a massive understatement.

Our Women Who Win interview series celebrates strong and inspirational female trailblazers, shaping the future for us all, and Kris Hallenga and her refusal to let a diagnosis hold her back is that in a nutshell.

Jenny Proudfoot sat down with Kris to find out how CoppaFeel! got started, and what we should all be taking away from it…

What message do you most want to spread?

First and foremost – CHECK YOUR BOOBS. But beyond that it’s a message of overall body awareness, knowing yourself and trusting YOUR touch and your intuition over anyone. You are your best health advocate and if you notice anything that isn’t right, you have to get it checked out.

How did you create CoppaFeel?

I did a lot of research! I wanted to find out what the state of ‘breast awareness’ in the UK was and how we could ensure it reached young people. The first thing we did was go to a festival because we saw that as a great challenge – if we could get through to young people in a field, where they are on a mission to have FUN, and we can speak to them, educate them and empower them, we would be onto a winner. We learnt on the job, adapted our methods as we went along and suddenly we were having so many healthy conversations about boobs. By the end of our summer of festivals we had applied to be a charity, I won a Pride of Britain Award and a month later we got charity status and that’s when the hard work really began. I have blinked and somehow 9 years have flown by! It would be over a year until I was officially ’employed’ by the charity and could afford to move away from my Mum’s house in Northamptonshire and take the charity to London, the only place I could see a future for the charity. People believed in me, and our mission so nothing could hold us back.

In the spirit of Stories of Yes, tell me about facing challenges head on…

In the face of something so terrifying, something we all fear, I learnt how to really live. I learnt to LIVE with cancer, how to be my own boss, the boss of a charity and a change maker. Cancer is the toughest challenge you could face – although, there are many MANY more equally if not worse things going on for people, and knowing that keeps me pretty humble and filled with gratitude. Of course I have bad days, I have had to dig SO deep at times to get my head above water again, but every time I do I have a renewed respect for my mind and my body and for life in general. I have been forced to confront my mortality but I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. I see life for what it is – fleeting! None of us are getting out of here alive, so really who is the winner here? I am.

What drew you to a campaign with Swarovski?

Working with Swarovski is a lot of fun. If you’d have said the day I was diagnosed I’d be working with them, with Swarovski rings on my fingers as I type away on my laptop answering these questions I’d have likely laughed. The CoppaFeel! message is for everyone, so we need to reach EVERYONE on as many platforms as possible. To be given a platform like this is wonderful and I am grateful that to this day people want to hear what I have to say. It’s a dream to work alongside mega babes Nadiya Hussain and Katie Piper, we all have such unique stories that people can learn from. They are tales of courage, resilience, and determination, all good stuff that needs to be shared with the world. In other words, we are all pretty badass and everyone should know that.

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

‘Go to the GP’ – my Mum, in 2008.

What should all women be aware of?

All women AND men should know that checking their boobs could be one of the best things they could do, it could save their life and bonus factor: it could even be fun! Most breast cancers are detected by the person noticing a symptom – that could be a lump but isn’t always. There are different types of breast cancer so don’t assume no lump = no cancer. Equally, if you do find a lump, the chances of it being cancer is actually very slim. The important thing is that you know what is normal FOR YOU. If you notice a rash, some dimpling, persistent pain, discharge in your breast tissue (which reaches right in to your armpit and your collarbone by the way!) and you know it’s not normal, it’s always worth having a chat to your GP about it. He or she is there to listen to you and take what you say seriously.

When were you proudest?

When we realised that what we did ACTUALLY made a difference was a pretty momentous occasion. Not long after we became a charity, a young woman had heard about my story and re-visited her GP about her breast lump, and lo and behold she was diagnosed with breast cancer within a week. She was so thankful for us empowering her, making her feel like she wasn’t going mad and giving her confidence to stand up for her body and her health. She credits still being alive to CoppaFeel! which no one can prove, but an early diagnosis gives you a better chance of surviving a long life. I am proud of who I now am because of cancer, because of CoppaFeel! and because of all the experiences I have had over the last 9 years. I really like who I am and what I have become – how many people can say that at the age of 33?

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How to start the day right – by @frances_quinn 😍

A post shared by CoppaFeel! (@coppafeelpeople) on Oct 22, 2018 at 11:30pm PDT

What is your superpower?

Procrastination, but still, somehow getting shit done. Creating CoppaFeel! was a real challenge, but I believe anything that is worthwhile is bloody hard work – it would also be really dull if it was easy.

What has creating CoppaFeel! taught you?

That people are bloody great! People can be so kind, so generous, so CREATIVE, and so brilliant not because they have to be, but because they want to be, and that is very cool. I never realised how good it felt to enable others to be good people, but that is one of the best off-shoots from starting my own charity. Every day I witness people being good humans and that is awesome.

What decision has changed your life?

Building CoppaFeel! has made my life, and it has saved my life. Without it I would never have had a purpose and a reason to live so ferociously – aside from my family of course – they’re totally worth sticking around for too.

The post Kris Hallenga: ‘Frustration and anger didn’t serve me so I channeled them into breast cancer awareness’ appeared first on Marie Claire.

Aged 26 – 30? You can now officially get a millennial railcard

Aged 26 – 30? You can now officially get a millennial railcard

This is not a drill. We repeat. This is not a drill.

Women only train carriages

Getting older is never good news – hangovers get worse, going to the gym becomes necessary and saving money becomes a reality.

One of the worst things about passing the 25 mark however is losing your rail privileges, with our young persons railcards (for 16 to 25-year-olds) expiring.

Yes, that means paying full price for national train fares.

sleeping on the train

It was announced last year that there might be hope, with Greater Anglia Railways breaking the news that it would be trialling a new Millennial rail card, offering up to a 30% discount on train travel for 26 – 30-year-olds.

We were hesitant with our celebrations as it seemed too good to be true, but sure enough, the news has been confirmed, trialled, and as from today, is available for everyone deemed eligible.

Yes, really. The 26-30 railcard is going to be rolled out nationally by the end of the year.

What is the millennial railcard?

The millennial railcard is a digital annual pass for 26 – 30-year-olds, costing £30 a year and entitling the holder to up to a third off their train fares. It’s essentially a continuation of the young persons rail cards – but it’s a first for the UK.

How can I get a millennial railcard?

The millennial railcard scheme is coming to the end of its trial stages, and has received the green light to be rolled out nationally by the end of the year. Head on over to the National Railcard site to apply!

We’re off to form an orderly queue for our railcards but given the popularity, it looks like we might be queueing for a little while!

The post Aged 26 – 30? You can now officially get a millennial railcard appeared first on Marie Claire.