8 Girlbosses that have reinvented themselves during the last year by Daniela Derin.
When the world goes upside down, the only solution is to raise up.
As we all know the last year hasn’t been easy but some Girlbosses have had the nerve to get back in the game reinvent themselves completely.
Reinvent means adapting to the new circumstances and they all did it excellently.
I was a TEFL teacher for over 14 years until recently when my life changed!
In January 2020, my dad was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease and I spent 3 months in the UK so that I could be with my family at what was a very emotional time. Eventually in March 2020, I returned to Barcelona with the intention of dropping off my daughters and returning for a few days every month to the UK to see my dad and support my mum. 2 days after we returned, the hardest lockdown in the whole of Europe was enforced and my wings were clipped.
This was the start of the end of my old life. I researched my dad’s disease and had daily updates from my mum and sister telling me how they were all getting on. It wasn’t great. His deterioration was relatively fast, but this is the disease. I started thinking about my own body and life and it made me take stock of what was important and what wasn’t. I started to exercise every day, determined to grow stronger and have better control over my body. I knew that stress and negative thinking were issues for me and so I started also including yoga/meditation into my daily routine. Finally I realised that my work didn’t fulfill me as before and I started on my journey of self-discovery.
And here I am now, a fitter, healthier, happier version of myself; a Compass Coach for mums who’ve lost their way or lost their sense of meaning in life. I help mums by giving them the space to be heard so they can hear themselves and by offering them a safe space to explore themselves cognitively and emotionally. Listening from a place of compassion and curiosity allows me to ask the most important questions so that the women I work with can gain insights and a better understanding of themselves. Throughout this process I guide my clients towards a stronger sense of self-awareness using the power of listening and self-reflective tools. This is where the magic happens and this is where the change begins.
I´m the founder of “Public Persona” a bespoke coaching service for non-native English professionals to gain the confidence to improve not only their career value but also their self-worth.
Before starting my journey as an entrepreneur I worked in Supply Chain and Logistics for over ten years. I always knew that I wanted to work for myself, I just didn’t know what I could do.
My turning point was a traumatic working experience where I had to endure poor management and threats from my line manager. This got me thinking: Which skills do I have? What do I have to offer? What can I do if I get fired? Do I still want to do this?
One day I was helping my sister prepare a presentation in English. Seeing how someone so highly qualified was struggling with confidence and stressing because she had to speak and present in English brought me to my business idea : Communications Coaching for non-native English Speakers!
The skills that I brought to my business were the 10+ years of experience I had working in a corporate environment. I’m also a trained actress and filmmaker, therefore I have an understanding about performing in front of people, how “the stage fright” feels like and how people can work on becoming a better and more engaging presenter. And last but not least, I worked as a Business Teacher for some years as well, where I gained my understanding of what are people’s biggest struggles and how useful humour is to keep them motivated and engaged.
It’s been hard becoming an entrepreneur and it’s lonelier of what I thought it would be. But I´m very happy with this journey, because I’m learning new things on a daily basis!
What has been the hardest thing to learn?: patience. I´m really action oriented and starting your business requires a lot of stamina, organization, strategy and planning before actually taking action. Also, I´m learning how to work with myself, for myself, by myself. I was used to being part of a team, and now all the responsibility falls on me. It was a bit daunting at the beginning, dealing with the uncertainty and the self- doubt, but I’m working on navigating all these feelings. How am I doing? It’s growing at a slow pace, but I’m realizing how important it is to enjoy the journey and when bigger results come my way, I´ll be ready!
Aimee Gaudin from Become
I am a consultant on diversity and inclusion and marketing and I am Co-Founder of Become, we equip young women of colour with the skills and support they need to start their career, through mentorship, events and industry networking.
Before the pandemic hit, I was the International Head of Marketing for a global innovation retailer. When the pandemic hit, retail was obviously hit particularly hard and myself and my colleagues were made redundant. I was forced to reinvent myself because the industry I was in wasn’t hiring, wasn’t advancing, in the way it had before.
I loved reinventing myself, it was like creating a new brand for me! It was tricky finding courses in my new area of work at first, but more and more virtual online courses arose instead and they really helped.
My previous skills were centred around marketing, branding, social media, events and partnerships. All of which have helped me in my current role as a consultant. All of those skills are really important to any modern day business.
I am learning how to sell myself, my brand, my service, as opposed to selling a product, and I learn something new every single day. I feel so much more fulfilled in my new role because I crafted it myself. Only doing all the best bits of what I did before. I’d recommend everyone to reinvent themselves, you might surprise yourself.
I had been Director of Behavioural Science/cofounder for a small Diversity & Inclusion start up in London for 4 years when Covid started, I’ve lived in cities for 20years and not known anything different. I was flying back to London from Barcelona every 3 weeks for 3-4 days and it was exhausting – trying to make clients feel like I was still there even though I live in a different country. I felt like I had to live not far from the airport. I felt like despite living in Barcelona my work still owned me and all my decisions were impacted by it.
A few months into Covid and not being able to travel I realised it made no difference to my clients where I lived, they got just as good a service. But – I was still exhausted, I was online all day everyday, in a flat in the middle of Barcelona, a beautiful city I couldn’t get out and see. I also realised it made no sense to pay high city prices just to sit at a computer! I just wanted to escape – I was dreaming of mountains and peace.
So my partner and I started looking at our options – we realised that we could afford to buy a studio in the city, or a house in the countryside. Which is what we did – we bought a beautiful house with views of the sea and mountains in el maresme – we’re going to be renovating it for years. It has a chicken coop so we have two hens and two ducks who give us eggs everyday and have ‘adopted’ a couple of the local stray cats and we’re growing loads of veg. We go back to Barcelona 1-2 days a week (when restrictions allow) – so I get the best of the city and the country.
I also moved to a 4 days week because what I realised is I set the boundaries. I assumed my clients would always need to see me in person – they didn’t. I felt like I had to be in the city or near an airport – I don’t. I felt like I had to be online 5 days a week or people would think I was lazy – no one has ever challenged me not working on Fridays and I’ve been doing it 9 months now.
My job hasn’t changed – but because I have, my reactions and ability to do my job have changed, and so has how I live.
I’m originally from Armenia, moved to Barcelona 4 years ago to study my master in Business. My career had nothing to do with it (I’m a linguist).
So I already started feeling out of comfort.
During the last 4 years I mainly worked in tech startups on marketing. I felt out of my own skin, I was doing the things because I felt it was good for my career to have a stable job, etc.
I grew up in a family of artists and sculptors on one side and engineers on the other. However, I always knew that I leaned more towards the creative side. So during the quarantine I started playing with clay at home (I had previous experience with it), and now it became my full-time job.
Now I’m feeling super happy and I know that I belong to art and this is where I need to be.
All my previous experiences helped me being where I am now. I can manage my small business now thanks to all the knowledge I gained during the last couple of years in the business environment.
Probably the most difficult part of the change was understanding that I was changing my stable work situation with an unstable one.
What I also understood during the last year is that you should do what you love and things will come.
There is nothing better than waking up early with motivation to work on your own project
Ana Ruiz Independent HR Consultant expert, Trainer, Coach and Mentor
Ana is an Organisational Development Expert with extensive experience in industry, fostering the growth of companies through their people. Her passion is to help organisations strategy towards a change of mindset focused on cultural transformation, effective talent management, creating environment to leverage their talent, building up spaces to innovate and reinvent ourselves, providing tools to advance and make our challenges evolve.
Ana’s story is the most inspiring of them all, because not only she had to reinvent herself after loosing her job of many years, but she had to do it while dealing with a very serious health condition.
In 2018 she lost her job at not the right age to get back in the game
in 2019 she lost her health
In 2020 she was hit by the pandemic
But she overcame it all and is now smiling brightly from the other side.
How did she do it?
With all the strength and the right mindset she has in her overflowing backpack.
Losing her job for a multinational company after 19 years was a big shock but she decided to reinvent herself as an independent HR consultant, trainer, coach and mentor. But all of sudden she was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor and she had to undergo surgery. As an after effect she got hemiparesis, the loss of the movement in the lower part of her body and the doctors didn’t know how long it would take her to gain it back.
She started rehab, that wasn’t easy per se, and soon after the alarm state was declared so she had to continue her exercises on her own at home during lockdown.
Even with this added challenge, a few months later she was back swimming in the pool, one of her passions, and going out on her own by bus and tube.
She started giving conferences with a leg splint and people thought she had a ski accident, considering the power that came with her every word.
Ana is not 100% there yet but with her drive and attitude she’s certainly not far.
In her words:
“You always have to push yourself to overcome all circumstances, know yourself in depth, your strong and weak points, so that when you face a challenge you can bring out the force that served you in the past to conquer the problem.
While you should never lose sight of your objectives, your goals, where you want to get and what you want to achieve, you can certainly reward yourself with a rest day and allow yourself to have a bad day or two, spend it in bed and cry, but then you have to get up and back into the game.
There’s no need to be strong every single day, a day off will recharge you.
You have to transform the negative thoughts in courage and power, knowing what you have to get out of your backpack to keep going and master the situation, be aware of our value and what is happening as we’re not aware of how far we can go”
A truly inspiring story of a woman that has mastered the right attitude and mindset to conquer all adversities, proving that when one wants totally can.
Valentina Llorens from Ginkgo
After 7 years living in Barcelona and 4 years working in communication and graphic design for different projects, I decided that life in the city, its rhythms and routine no longer made me happy, so my partner and I decided to pack our bags and try our luck in Australia.
On 13 January 2020 we landed in Sydney and two months after settling in and finding a job in a design agency, the covid arrived and our dreams began to go awry. After many complications, the insecurity of living in a foreign country and being away from home in the middle of a global pandemic, we decided to return and take things more calmly in Formentera, a small island in the Balearic archipelago where my partner is from.
I had never imagined living in the countryside, on an island of less than 10,000 inhabitants, and being so happy. Here I found peace and above all the inspiration to create the brand of my dreams: Ginkgo. I had always wanted to use my knowledge of marketing and design to create my own brand and my skills with my hands to create unique pieces from scratch and I was lucky enough to be able to do so.
I now combine my work as a digital marketing strategist with creating slow-made accessories from my small studio overlooking the sea.
Although the whole process has been complicated, especially because I have done everything by myself, it has been a very exciting and inspiring moment in my life and being surrounded by the women of Planet Venus to learn from their experiences, learnings and to listen to their advice has helped me a lot.
And last but not least me…
Having reinvented myself a few times in the past, the first time at the ripe age of 17 when I left home to find adventures, I took this one very easily and as a time to reflect and relax.
As well as the holiday rental business I also run an Italian cafe with my partner Vincenzo, so as front line workers we could leave the house every day since the alarm state was ruled over Spain, which gave us more space to breathe and clarity of mind than those who sadly were stuck in for 10 weeks.
Even so, it wasn’t easy…
After the first few weeks of having to move spring and summer bookings to the following year, pivoting the rental business from short term to mid length rentals, while taking care of the people that were left stranded out here with the various lockdowns and flight cancellations and starting to promote heavily to digital nomads and remote workers, as the type of client changed overnight, the only way out of boredom for an hyperactive soul like myself was to go online and network on Linkedin, something I never had the time to do before, catching up with people I had met at industry gatherings the previous years and never had time to follow up with, getting involved in webinars and mentoring sessions full of knowledge and good vibes, because what people needed then it was a group of people to chat and felt accompanied by.
There I met new people, made new friends, forged professional relationships and started to dig in what had always caught my attention: social media marketing and blogging.
At the same time I decided to launch some extra side services to our holiday rental business: wedding and events planning and boutique travel agency with tours around Andalucia and Morocco, places around us that we know and love.
Now I am actively involved in women communities, in and out of travel, promoting women empowerment, diversity and inclusion and educating the next generation, as it’s my time to give back to a community that gave me so much over the years.
We’re much stronger and much more resilient that we can ever imagine, we can nearly take it all and we mustn’t be afraid of stepping out of our comfort zone, as when we do, funny things happen.
Hoping that these stories inspired you, remember that sharing is caring, so send it to someone who needs to read them and maybe take the plunge.