Last month, I headed up to Manchester for an event with the slogan “Don’t Tell Me I Can’t”.
It was part of a mentoring competition run by JD Williams, the online department store, and the publications Woman & Home, Ideal Home, Woman and Good to Know. I was lucky enough to be one of four women who won the chance spend a week in London, learning skills to change our lives and pursue new careers, followed by this event in Manchester.
All the stories from the other mentees were very inspiring, about changing directions and making the most of whatever life throws at you.
Bev is setting up her own business as a colour and style image consultant, after a quarter of a century working for a pharmaceutical company. (Check out Bev’s website!) Pam had to leave her role as a primary school deputy head teacher due to illness, but after a kidney transplant went on to win a silver medal for swimming in the World Transplant Games. Pauline worked for 20 years for a major supermarket chain, then seized the opportunity after redundancy to follow her passion for interiors.
The night before, we all stayed in the glam Malmaison hotel in Manchester, which certainly made a change from my normal office aka the spare room.
On the big day itself we headed out to the Lowry Theatre. We’d had the chance to choose clothes from JD Williams, so I was wearing a jacket*, an ink blue dress* (something I rarely do) with grey kitten heel shoes* (even rarer).
The whole idea behind the event was to inspire women to embrace their passions and not let anything hold them back. Nowadays, a first job is just that. Few of us spend our entire working lives with the same company. The ability to adapt and move on is vital.
The event was introduced by Angela Spindler, chief exec of N Brown Group, which owns JD Williams. Kath Brown, editor of Woman & Home, spoke more about women in the prime of life and then hosted a discussion about the mentoring scheme. Together with the other mentees, I joined Kath on stage, and we talked about the benefits of our mentoring week, and what we hoped to achieve in future. It felt very strange seeing the video clip filmed during my time at Good to Know projected onto a big screen!
For me, my background is as a newspaper journalist, writing for print. Social media is a whole new ball game. When I first started working, hardly anyone used email, let alone the internet. I still remember getting my first mobile phone, my first laptop and the hideous white noise of connecting to the internet with a dial up modem down a phone line.
Now, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook are very much part of my job, trying to reach more women to help them make the most of their money. Hopefully, the article I wrote while at Good to Know, with 28 best ways to save money in 2018, is another small step to reaching people through different channels. (Do read, share and rate it!) Maybe this will be the year I finally nail video content and You Tube, thanks to help from different experts at Good to Know and Time Inc.
After viewing displays about trends in clothes, fitness, interiors and nutrition, there was a choice of different workshops on confidence and mental wellbeing. I opted for the workshop on “Turning your hobby into a business” hosted by Emily Johnston from Fashion Foie Gras, with much food for thought.
The day finished with a fashion show, featuring the latest clothes from JD Williams. I’d spent so long poring over the website to choose my own outfit, it was fun recognising assorted clothes as they stalked down the catwalk. (Still love this jumper* and leather jacket*, even if not remotely frugal).
We all got to carry off goody bags when leaving, which sorted me out for reading matter for the journey home and hair care for weeks to come.
All in all, it was a very inspiring day and I had a great time. I particularly loved talking to other people attending about different directions they’d like to take, and how to make the most of social media.
Back when I fired off my 150 words about why I’d like to one-to-one mentoring to realise my dreams, I never thought I’d win a place! I’m really grateful to everyone I learnt from during the event and mentoring week, and fingers crossed I’m able to put the newfound knowledge into practice.
Now over to you. Would you like to change direction? Ever considered a new career? Do say in the comments, I’d love to hear!
With many thanks to Time Inc and JD Williams for the week in London and trip to Manchester for Don’t Tell Me I Can’t.
*indicates an affiliate link, so anything you buy through it will help support the blog, as I will get a small commission at no cost to you. Many thanks!