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I’m still struggling to put into words what it's been like as 2018 Women’s Weekly Women of the Future Top 3 Entrepreneur and Business Finalist.

I didn’t win my category, but as a Top 3 Finalist, I was invited to the awards luncheon at Quay in Sydney with Julie Bishop, Lisa Wilkinson, Jane Waterhouse, Carla Zampatti, Ronni Khan, Jessica Rowe, Dame Quentin Bryce and a host of incredible, inspiring women.

I’d met Dame Quentin Bryce in 2014 when she presented me with my QOF Scholarship, but this time, I had the opportunity to speak candidly with her, and I came to remember just how down to earth and real she is. When she was invited to speak on stage about her experience as Australia’s Governor-General, she shared one piece of advice that every woman in the room agreed with.

“Make the time for the small things, the bread and the wine. You’re always going to be busy, but you need to make time for exercise, for time out, for family, for the good things in life.”

It’s something I’ve always struggled to do. I’ve already worked 32 hours in my business this week, and it’s only Wednesday, but I’m working on a plan to change that.

Jane Waterhouse’s advice was poignant too, and after answering her firing line of questions about the ins and outs of my business and my ten years’ experience in the industry, she gave me three words.

“Get a mentor.”

I’ve hustled my whole life. I’ve worked two and three jobs to fund my business, I’ve taught myself everything I know, I’ve worked harder than I ever thought possible and the business I have now – is 100% mine. It's made of my blood, sweat and tears. What I want to work out how to do now, is grow this business while having time for ‘the bread and the wine’, so I’m now on the hunt for a mentor.

Jessica Rowe probably didn’t think what she said to me would mean as much as it did, but her advice was just as helpful as everything else I learnt that day, and it’s probably the most important thing to remember. In between a few champagnes, we spoke about her love affair with fashion and her interest in learning more about sustainability. When she asked me if I was nervous about the winner’s announcement, I said yes with every ounce of my body, but her response was perfect.

“Just be yourself.”

When she said it, it was like hearing my mother tell me everything will be ok on my first day at a new school. She was nurturing, she was authentic, and she was so supportive of the reason why I was even sitting in that room. It was a humble reminder to just be myself; to do something that I am so often pressured not to do in my industry, and it was precisely the right time to hear it.

In all the hullabaloo, the bright lights and the brushes with fame I had that day, in between meeting Carla Zampatti and talking all things sustainability with Ronni Khan, those three golden nuggets of advice stuck with me the most.

I also walked away knowing I'd made an impact; I didn't win, I didn't care that I didn't win, but now, nearly 200 women know the name The Fashion Advocate and they've heard the words 'ethical fashion'.

200 might not seem like many, but it's 200 more than the day before, and that's better than winning for me. 

The Fashion Advocate x

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