Women celebrating women 🖤

March 8th marks the 102nd International Women’s Day. First founded in New York City back in 1909, was initially conceived as a day dedicated to female workers, but has since become a global celebration of women from all walks of life.

This year’s theme is #ChooseToChallenge. We're all responsible for our own thoughts and actions - all day, every day. We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women's achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world.

The team at OnceWas would like to take the #IWD2021 theme as an opportunity to celebrate our community of incredible women that support our business & helped achieve our success. 

Michelle Tran

Introducing you to our campaign photographer Michelle Tran. Michelle has been photographing our campaigns for the last 5 years. She is a huge part of our success; her creativity, kind nature, consistency in her craft and work ethic are some of the reasons why we love her and are proud to have her a part of the OnceWas team.

Being a female business owner, what are your challenges & positives?
Being a female photographer working in fashion, my goal has always been to bring out the best in people! Growing up my parents were refugees living in the outer suburbs and I never saw myself as a photographer or even met anyone who worked in the creative industry. 

One of the challenges of being a female photographer is traditionally it’s been a male-dominated industry; I’m seeing a paradigm shift towards inclusivity and diversity in the Australian creative landscape and it’s evident in the success of female photographers today. Every shoot I do is a celebration of collaboration and creativity - I always try to make it a fun day for everyone. 

What do you hope to see changed & how is your business helping this? 
I hope to see more ethically focused creatives in the Australian fashion industry; inclusivity and diverse representation in brand imagery; and an ethical approach to manufacturing. As a photographer, I try to champion businesses that make a positive change.

Your greatest achievement?
My greatest achievement is my 2-year-old daughter Sachi. She is the reason why I work so hard - I want to give her all my love and share life’s experiences with her. 

My second greatest achievement is that I am working as a photographer and I bloody love my job! That too me is a privilege.

Have you had inspiring women in your career who have celebrated your achievements & help you achieve success?
My mum is so inspiring. She came here with nothing, she studied law in Vietnam which wasn’t recognised here so instead whilst raising my brother and I she worked factory jobs. She put together fabric sample swatches and also worked in a food packing company (I worked there too). She sacrificed her dreams so she could to give my brother and I the best opportunities in life. 

Favourite piece from the new collection?
I love the Observer Cashmere Blend Knit in Blue. I love wearing blue; it makes me feel polished and happy. The deep v means you can wear it off the shoulder too. It’s the perfect staple which I can wear with a French tuck into any trousers and sneakers.

Michelle wearing the Observer Cashmere Blend Knit and Libreria Pant.

Jennifer Clavin Agencies

Introducing you to Jennie & Lauren from Jennifer Clavin Agencies, our NSW sales agents. Jennie is our longest standing agent & has been working with us since the brand’s inception. Their commitment and representation of OnceWas has been nothing but exceptional. We are grateful for their consistent support and dedication to our brand.

Being a female business owner, what are your challenges & positives?
Being a business owner has given me freedom to manage a family, operate the business and my life on my own terms which has been very positive. Watching the business grow over more than 15 years has seen many challenges and much reward but last year managing the fall out of Covid was the greatest challenge with the ultimate lesson of letting go and going with the flow as controlling outcomes was not possible.

What do you hope to see changed & how is your business helping this?
With the events of the past 12 months the change I have always hoped for and worked towards is naturally happening and that is supporting local businesses and working together within our communities to encourage success and promote. We are passionate about Australian brands and are focused on Australian boutiques which essentially is supporting three businesses (the brand, retailer and agent)

Your greatest achievement?
Without doubt the wonderful relationships I have made with my boutiques, many of whom I am lucky enough to call friends. And my partner in crime Lauren Slater - convincing her to leave the world of high flying designer fashion and work with me in our local boutique market and discover the magic of our state (territory) NSW & ACT.

Have you had inspiring women in your career who have celebrated your achievements & help you achieve success?
100% from some of my beautiful brands (I have been with Once Was and POL for around 14 years each), boutique owners, other agents and Lauren have been integral in achieving success and enjoying the milestones together.

Anything you want to elaborate on this year's theme? Our focus is 'celebrating women's achievements’.
Lauren and I are so excited for Belinda and Linda as they take the riegns of Once Was and celebrate their achievement of even getting to this point… we can’t wait to continue the journey with them in 2021.

Favourite piece from the new collection?
I am wearing the relaxed leather legging… an all time favourite and essential to my wardrobe. Lauren’s is the stunning a-line leather skirt.


      Lauren and Jennie wearing pieces from our upcoming Winter '21 collection.

Katie Bryan

Introducing you to Katie Bryan, the Founder and CEO of Propeller Advisory, our incredible accountancy firm. Taking over the business meant that we were faced with many new challenges. Katie made herself always available to us, teaching and guiding us about a side to the business that was somewhat foreign. We are grateful for her passion and her team which is now an integral part of OW.

Being a female business owner, what are your challenges & positives?
The key positive thing would be that I get to support other women in business... It gets me out of bed every morning! We communicate in such a different way, such a different way than men. We bond with our clients & customers, we get into their lives and are SO invested in their business.

I love being a business owner and I love being a female business owner. I also love that as a female, we build our businesses based on the lifestyle we want, rather driven by money. This is extra relevant to me as I am about to have my first child, I have worked really hard to build a business that supports me building my family.

What do you hope to see changed/how is your business helping this?
We are in the process of launching Propel Her which will help support other small women business owners; to help them get through those lumps and bumps of their business journey. I also am a mentor for SheMentors, which I find incredibly rewarding.

Your greatest achievement?
This is a tough question, building my business is my greatest achievement, we won best accounting firm in Melb & Aus. This was based on client feedback and how my clients thought of us. This was incredibly significant to me. The fact that I built a business that enables me to support my team, my team's lifestyles, my own family's lifestyle + my client's lifestyle. It makes all the hard work worth it!
I also think that building a brand that is different to your typical accounting industry has been a huge achievement. When I was a young accountant I didn’t think that was a possibility. 
Have you had inspiring women in your career who have celebrated your achievements & help you achieve success?
 Throughout my career as a business owner, I am surrounded daily by strong, driven women, who continually lift me up and remind me that I can do it. Especially on this new journey to motherhood, I have been supported, cheered and I couldn’t have done it without them. I know I am supported no matter what.

Anything you want to elaborate on this year's theme? Our focus is to 'celebrate women's achievements’ 
Although last year was such a tough year for everybody, it has been awesome to see all the businesses come out of covid, turning such a dark time into a wonderful opportunity. I think those women in particular need to be celebrated. 

Favourite piece from the new collection?
I am loving the stretch denim trench, It is super comfortable, super fashionable, styling with that badass look to it!

Katie wearing the Oregon Dress from our Autumn '20 collection.

Jane Howlett

Introducing you to Hon Jane Howlett MP, who also holds the title of Minister for Sport and Recreation, Minister for Racing, Liberal Member for Prosser and Deputy Leader for Government Business in the Legislative Council.
Jane is one of our VIP customer & huge supporter of OnceWas. She always looks amazing in everything she wears & has referred so many lovely customers to us over the years. We are really proud to have her as a OnceWas muse + celebrate her achievements and impact on the community.

Being a female business owner, what are your challenges & positives?
Being a woman in parliament I am a member of an institution that has historically been dominated by men, although this is changing. When I was elected to the Legislative Council in May 2018 the Tasmanian Parliament reached a gender balance of 20 women and 20 men. This was an historic achievement as the Tasmania Parliament was the first to reach gender parity in Australia.
Being a woman in parliament brings its own sets of challenges, there are members of the public that question the place of women in politics believing that it is still a man’s world and that only men should be in positions of power. Social media can be a very toxic environment for female members of parliament. The anonymity of social media means that people can say anything and my female colleagues and I have received some truly revolting messages and comments on social media platforms. The positives of being a female member of parliament greatly outweigh the challenges. As a member of parliament I am able to represent my community and bring about positive changes for all Tasmanians.

What do you hope to see changed & how is your business helping this?
As a Member of Parliament my goal is to make positive changes for all Tasmanians. 
As a woman and a Minister I have been proud to oversee a number of initiatives that have had positively benefited women. As the Minister for Racing I introduced the Maternity Assistance Program for female jockeys and harness racing drivers in the state. Under national racing rules pregnant jockeys and drivers are prohibited from racing after the first trimester. The Maternity Assistance Program allows them to continue to be payed when they are unable to race after the first trimester then transition to the Paid Parental Leave scheme at the birth of the child. This scheme removes one of the financial barriers that female jockeys and drivers encounter throughout their career. As Minister for Sport and Recreation one of my key goals is to increase women’s participation in sport. To achieve this the Tasmanian Government has delivered a range of programs and initiatives including the $10 million Levelling the Playing Field Grants program. The program provided funding across a range of sports to improve and construct women’s sporting facilities to maintain and build female participation in sport across Tasmania.

Your greatest achievement?
My greatest achievement was being elected to the Legislative Council to represent my community and the people of Tasmania. I was particularly proud that my election created gender parity in the Tasmanian Parliament.

Have you had inspiring women in your career who have celebrated your achievements & help you achieve success?
Throughout my entire political career I have been surrounded by inspiring women, particularly my female friends and parliamentary colleagues. Female Members of Parliament encouraged me to run and provided me with assistance when I was first elected. When campaigning I was assisted by female friends who eagerly motivated and assisted me on the hustings.

Anything you want to elaborate on this year's theme? Our focus is to 'celebrate women's achievements’.
As I mentioned earlier, Tasmania is the first parliament in Australia to have achieved 50/50 gender representation. This is a wonderful achievement that proves that political institutions can shift over time from being male dominated to having equal female representation. This is something that should inspire women and girls across Australia to aspire to hold political and leadership positions.

Favourite piece from the new collection?
My favourite piece in the collection is the Avia suit which I own in a couple of colours. I adore OnceWas, the pieces can be mixed and matched very easily and the fabrics are of impeccable quality. I still regularly wear pieces that I purchased years ago. The clothing choices of women in politics are often subjected to scrutiny and judgement, something that male politicians a rarely subjected to. Belinda is a designer with a strong vision who designs pieces that are both feminine whilst also exuding power and authority. As a women it is really important that I feel comfortable and empowered by what I am wearing and the pieces produced by OnceWas do just that.

Jane wearing the Avia Blazer.

OneTwo Agency

Introducing you to the most passionate PR women in the business, Rachel Hayes and Tessa-Jay Slight, the founders & directors of OneTwo Agency. We work with them on a daily basis. Not only have they built an incredible business, their team of women are nothing short of dedicated! We are privileged to have them support OnceWas and connect us with women all around Australia that help promote us.

Being a female business owner, what are your challenges & positives?
Being a business owner does take a lot of hard work and has its challenges but with the long hours of dedication comes great positive outcomes. It’s important to love what you do and when you love what you do you'll always do it well. We take so much care and pride in what we do, making sure each and every client is happy. It’s important to set your own goals for your business and plan what you’d like to achieve within the first year and five years. We make sure we celebrate the wins and debrief on the losses. We are always ‘pivoting’ (everyone's favourite word) making sure we keep on top of the ever-evolving industry we are in. 

Your greatest achievement?
When we started we had a dream client list and we are constantly amazed at how privileged we have been to date working with some of the top brands in Australia we always dreamed of working with. An article featured in The Domaine Review called us the “hottest young event and PR agency in Melbourne” to read something awesome about your business is such a great feeling, it was at that moment we realised this is actually what we do for our clients. It was really nice to feel how we make our clients feel. It was quite a pivotal moment for us to know we are not only just creating awareness but making people happy and proud. 

Have you had inspiring women in your career who have celebrated your achievements & help you achieve success?
At onetwo we are each other’s inspiration! Our whole team is full of inspiring woman and we make sure take time to stop and pat each other on the back. It's important to stop and look back at achievements. We remain humble but also proud of our work and the people we work with and what has been achieved. The challenge is finishing a project stopping and taking a moment to recognise the achievement appreciating the work and the people involved before moving on to the next one.  Our team of woman inspire us every day to achieve success! 

Favourite piece from the new collection?
Our favourite piece from the new collection is the stunning trench coat. The perfect winter wardrobe staple and ideal to wear from the desk to dinner. 

Rachel and Tessa from OneTwo agency

Rubik Agency

Introducing you to Rozanna Chrapot, the Creative Director at Rubik Agency. There is honestly nothing Rozanna can’t do. Specifically for OnceWas, she manages our social media, copy, content production as well as our beautiful campaign videos! We are forever grateful for her constant dedication to our brand & exciting ideas that bring our brand to the limelight.

Being a female business owner, what are your challenges & positives?
My biggest challenge has been navigating my recent pregnancy while managing the business & preparing for work life once my baby arrived. My plan was to prepare the business and staff as early as possible so that I wasn’t doing things late in my pregnancy. Like the entire world, the pandemic couldn’t have happened at a more interesting time; I had just found out I was pregnant and my business was 6 months old. The last lockdown was very stressful as time was running out for me to ‘catchup’. With support from my clients, staff, friends, family and husband, I finished my last photoshoot 38 and a half weeks pregnant (it was actually for OnceWas). Challenging, yes, but rewarding to a whole new level.
The positive is that I get to meet, work and collaborate with so many intelligent and passionate women. Throughout my career, especially on this new journey I have embarked, I am always being reminded that I CAN do it.

Your greatest achievement?
This question is hard!! My business is a huge achievement. When I first set out on my own venture, my most important goal was to be happy. It took me a long time and a lot of mistakes to figure out what that was, but I am proud that I have reached this point in my career & work with so many amazing brands and companies.
My other greatest achievement is my family; my husband Andrew, my son Romeo, and our pooches Poppy and Blue. They are the reason I work so hard! I want to give my family the same love and opportunities I was given by my own parents.

Have you had inspiring women in your career who have celebrated your achievements & help you achieve success?
Before working for myself, I had a full-time role that involved travelling 5 months of the year overseas, very late nights and a lot of networking/dinners/drinks etc. As a 24 year old, this was my dream job… slowly but surely, the lifestyle really wore me down and took a toll on my health. I started reaching out to other women that I saw as ’successful’, women with their own businesses, women in admirable roles and women that were really happy. The more women I met, the more courage I built up to leave the job and find my own passion and business.
Those women made a significant impact on my self worth and courage, I’m really grateful for their wisdom, honestly and encouragement. To this day, I love meeting new women that keep me inspired and in check.
Business aside, my mum is the most inspiring women in my life. She is the most selfless, kindest and patient person I know. She worked a full/time job while raising my brother and I, everything she & my father did was to provide us with the best education & chance to succeed in life. My career choice was a little bit different to others but she always supported me, celebrated all my achievements, big and small. She also taught me amazing values that have influenced my career; to work hard and always be kind to others. I love her so much, having my own son has made me appreciate and love her even more.

Anything you want to elaborate on this year's theme? Our focus is to ‘celebrate women's achievements’.
Only being faced with difficult situations, both personal and business, I have learnt to find my voice. Saying no, calling something out or standing up for myself can be the hardest thing to do, but now I am never afraid or think twice to speak out. I hope that this years theme will encourage all women that they have every right to question and call out things. To never be afraid and ALWAYS choose to challenge, this is when we can really achieve anything.

Favourite piece from the new collection?
I adore the entire collection, but if I had to pick one item… I am obsessed with the Novella Faux Fur Bomber. It sold out so fast last year so I was really happy to see it back in different colour-ways. The fabric is unlike anything I have ever owned, it is soft yet super durable. Perfect for everyday use, just like all my other OnceWas pieces!

Rozanna with her son Romeo. She is wearing the Recollection Trench.