Pledge 1%’s #WomenWhoLead series celebrates female leaders who are paving the way for the next generation. While our featured leaders come from a variety of backgrounds and industries, they are united in their efforts to promote equality for all women in the workplace. We’ve asked them to share a bit about their journey to success, as well as lessons they’ve learned along the way.
What is your name and title?
Rachel Mellers, Co-Founder at Apéro Label.
Briefly (1-2 sentences) describe your current role.
I am the co-owner and director of Apéro and drive the creative spaces of the business including Art Direction and all of our Design & Production.
In your opinion, what’s the #1 decision or move you’ve made that has helped advance your career?
Before starting Apéro I worked for a small fashion business, which was an invaluable experience, as I was thrown in the deep end and wore a hundred different hats in a day, meaning I had to learn a lot of different areas of the business. This sort of understanding was pivotal in helping me grow my skill set. From there I got a job working under a really strong mentor, which helped me perfect some of my more specific skills in design and production. Getting a strong mentor in an area that I was wanting to focus on, helped me go to a new level in my confidence, knowledge, and hands-on abilities.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned this past year?
After developing and dealing with a chronic illness for most of 2020 the biggest lesson I learned was to never take health for granted. It is one of the most important gifts we have and we should be grateful for our good health every day.
What’s the number one challenge you face as a woman in your industry?
I often feel the need to justify how hard I work and how much I do in the day to day to men in my world, and this mindset of striving just to be “on the same level” as men and justifying how much women are capable of is something I am working on breaking.
Do you have any mentors? What does mentorship mean to you?
A mentor to me is someone I admire, not only for their skill set but for their general character and attitude toward the things they do. The people I want to mentor me and be around are those that ignite a greater passion in me and push me to want to be better at my craft and as a person.
What advice do you have for women who are just starting their career?
Where possible, intern as much as you can in different sectors of the field you are wanting to get into. The more you do this the more you will learn about what you like and don’t like doing before you even hit the workforce. It will give you more of a clear path and clarity in your career and help you connect with people in the industry that you can call on later down the track. If you can find a mentor or someone you admire working in the industry, take them out for a coffee and pick their brain as much as possible too.
What is one thing companies can do, big or small, to help create an environment that advances women into leadership positions?
First and foremost companies need to make sure they have women in those leadership and senior positions. I have had discussions with girlfriends (as recent as this year) who work with all-male bosses and this has led them to feel they can’t aspire to one day have one of the more senior leadership roles in that business. Subconsciously it made them feel they would be disqualified from the running and if they wanted to progress they would need to move to a new company – how crazy is that?
Is there a cause that is particularly close to you? If so, why this cause and how did you get involved?
I am super passionate about a million different things but particularly focused on causes that empower women. We have been giving a percentage of our sales to Women’s Community Shelters since we started Apéro and I see it as a real privilege and joy to get to do the donation every month. WCS helps women in need, particularly those who are homeless or have suffered from domestic violence situations and helps provide them with a safe environment and practical/emotional support. It’s an amazing cause to be a part of.
When did your company join Pledge 1%? What does your impact program mean to you?
What do you like to do outside of the office? Any interesting (or unique) habits or interests?
I have recently started swimming and love it. I wouldn’t say I have unique hobbies, but love going out for a good meal, spending time with friends, going to the beach, running, bingeing a good tv series, shopping, morning walks with my dog, painting, going for saunas…
Are you reading/listening to anything interesting at the moment? Please share your most recent favorite book or podcast!
I love listening to the How I Built This podcast every week. Its stories about entrepreneurs and how they built these amazing businesses from the ground up. It’s very inspirational.
What’s been the one (or two!) things that have helped you navigate this past year? Any tips or tricks to dealing with remote work?
Slack – I have found this channel an awesome tool for easy communication with staff and creating different channels for different areas in the business, that can be easily looked back on.