HomeArticlesLifestyleWe talk to seven Gold Coast women leading the way for International Women’s Day
Natasha Edwards Co-founder / Artistic Director / Curator, SWELL Sculpture Festival

We talk to seven Gold Coast women leading the way for International Women’s Day

Natalie O’Driscoll | February 2020

The Gold Coast has no shortage of exceptional women to celebrate.

To mark International Women’s Day, we spoke to seven Gold Coast women who are kicking some serious goals (literally, in one case) within their chosen professions, to find out a little bit more about their stories, some of the challenges they’ve overcome along the way, and their philosophies about success.

Jamie Stanton
AFLW player, The Suns Gold Coast

Gold Coaster Jamie Stanton was The Suns AFLW team’s fourth signing in 2019, moving back here from where she was playing in Melbourne, so she could play for her home town. Both a sought-after footy player with a solid reputation and a beloved teacher at Southport State High School, Jamie is no stranger to having to juggle responsibilities.

“When I chose to move to Norths [North Melbourne football club] I’d just finished uni and had taught for one year at Southport and was commuting to play with the Brisbane Lions. Then I did supply teaching while I was in Melbourne, and I was lucky enough after signing with The Suns that Southport was really nice and willing to have me back full time,” she says.

With professional AFLW contracts for women in Australia not yet paying a sufficient amount for players to not have to work – often full time – this means that players generally have to choose between their love of the sport, and having a life.

“I don’t really have too much of a family life at the moment, I’m lucky they have always been supportive and my friends are super supportive of what I choose to do,” says Jamie. “You’ve got to be really dedicated and you have to enjoy what you do, or you won’t last at the level.”

At just 24, Jamie hopes she’ll have another ten years of play in her.

“I guess at the moment the goal is to play for as long as I possibly can, and then look at a pathway through footy that might open up, like coaching or recruiting.”

With Jamie’s reputation for being a tough character and one of the game’s best midfielders only being solidified by her impressive 20 disposals and a goal in The Sun’s recent win against The Tigers – injured and all – it looks like her career trajectory is set.

Natasha Edwards
Co-founder / Artistic Director / Curator, SWELL Sculpture Festival

As well as being responsible for bringing one of the Gold Coast’s most popular, unique and visible arts experiences, SWELL Sculpture Festival to our shores, Natasha Edwards is a passionate and accomplished sailor, having tackled the Trans-Tasman crossing and Sydney to Hobart race on many occasions. And we are lucky enough to have her and her incredible festival, in part, because of a holiday in her teen years.

“I visited the Gold Coast on holiday when I was 14, I remember standing on Currumbin Beach and being totally awestruck by its beauty between the two large rocks, the connection of freshwater meets saltwater, the Valley meets the creek and the ocean, the rolling surf… I knew I was destined to do something special on Currumbin Beach,” Tash tells us.

“I grew up in Melbourne, when I was 16 my parents made the move to the Gold Coast and we built a home on the Currumbin Creek, I went to PBC High School and learnt to surf and sail in Currumbin. Fast forward and it’s the same spot where SWELL Sculpture Festival was created.”

Of course, it wasn’t that easy. With an artist father, Natasha knew she always wanted a career in the arts. But to actually make it happen, she says, takes a whole lot more.

“When you have a vision you need time to focus and to make sure that you put together the right people to guide you. Follow your passion and don’t make money your goal. Get on with it. There are enough people talking about what we are not doing and what is wrong with the world, get started in making it right, you have the skills and the knowledge and experience comes with actually doing something.

“Listen to people and to learn from them, empower others and support them in becoming better people, as we need each other. Sharing resources and knowledge, some people are great at making money and some people are great at creating ideas, some people are fabulous in communicating the vision, when you bring those people together you build your own tribe…. Education is vital, how you seek that out is up to you, knowledge is gold, enjoy the journey.”

Tania Potts
Co-founder, Boomerang Bags

After leaving the Gold Coast in her teens to travel with the RAAF as an Air Traffic Controller and then a Pilot, Tania Potts eventually came back home to raise a family, home-school her children and establish a home-school family network. With a group of clever, like-minded and socially conscious women, she established Boomerang Bags to help drive local (at first) habits away from hyper-consumerism towards a more connected society, and reduce single-use plastics at the same time. Since kicking the business off in 2013, not only has society’s consciousness towards single-use plastic experienced a major shift, so has Boomerang’s business model.

“The problem with single use plastics has reached mainstream so the next focus is two-fold, firstly highlighting and documenting how Boomerang Bags supports mental wellness,” Tania explains.

“We are working with the Queensland Government to collect anecdotal evidence around how the benefits of belonging to a Boomerang Bags community can reduce anxiety and loneliness.

“The second project is learning about regenerative agriculture and implementing ways to sequester carbon through livestock management and tree planting. There are so many ways to reduce our carbon footprint and this one connects us back to nature, one of the most healing forces of all.”

In a business world often driven by status, numbers in a bank account, followers and likes, Tania’s concept of success is appealing.

“Success for me is being in a position to give back and to experience the satisfaction of developing platforms for people wanting an avenue to make the world a better place for future generations. Boomerang Bags is a beautiful example of this.”

Dr Tanya Unni
Director, Amtan Medical Group and Skin Lab & Beauty

Dr Tanya Unni is a Dermatologist and Cosmetic skin specialist, who along with her husband Dr Ameer Hamza, built Amtan Medical, one of South East Queensland’s largest medical groups, in just ten short years since moving here from the UK. In addition, Dr Tanya is also proficient in Indian classic dance, having won awards for her work, and was an acclaimed child artist. She also built her empire while raising her family, something she considers one of her greatest challenges.

“No matter what we talk about with feminism, we do still have the role of being the mother along with the career and your vision,” she says. “Things like being the only woman at an event, or people not expecting me to be a woman when I turn up, feeling like you have to prove yourself double. The same road a man takes and a woman takes – the challenges are much more for women.

“Even if I went to Dubai or India for work you plan what your kids do, the safety, the house, you manage all the logistics to be able to do what you do. With men, the partner or the spouse just manages it.

“I had two young babies while this journey was happening, I gave birth and went back to work at 11 weeks, and had the nanny bring the baby in to breastfeed in between my work, or express to keep my supply up. This is just what women have to go through because of our differences.

“I wouldn’t give up, but then of course you have to deal with people’s opinions saying you’re not spending enough time with your kids, you’re not cooking enough, and it’s painful, but just because you’re a mother it doesn’t mean you should stop your dreams. There isn’t ever going to be the right time, and you never know when opportunities are going to come again. Right now is all you have.”

Leina Broughton and Fleur Richardson
Creative Leader and Managing Director, Leina Broughton womenswear

The dynamic duo behind the blossoming online clothing label Leina Broughton (LB) are Fleur Richardson (MD) and Leina Broughton (CD). The pair connected in a chance meeting in June 2013 and very quickly recognised their complementary skill set and extensive experience. Within months of meeting they were signing up for equal business partnership, and in 2016 they became finalists in the Telstra business awards. The LB brand in addition to its various successes, showcases diversity in age, size and shape, and all garments are made in South East Queensland.

“My Mum taught me to sew when I was around 11 years old and it opened my eyes to the world of possibility and creation with fabrics,” says Leina.

“I went onto study fashion after high school and it was that strange thing where you feel like everything you are learning is already a part of you.

“After discovering there was a bit of a hub for manufacturing in the Gold Coast and chasing the sun, it was time to move! BEST decision ever, I am so grateful every day to be living here.”
Fleur agrees.

“The early sunrise, the near perfect weather, activities all around, the surf beaches and general laid back attitude… I transitioned with Brisbane for ten years before finally making a full sea change in 2013 and haven’t looked back.”

We ask Fleur what it is that makes LB successful.

“I think part of the success of LB is the fact that we dance to the beat of our own drum. Being located in the GC creating professional attire, as opposed to the typical surf or boho label, already has us working outside the norm. We’re in our sixth year of partnership and we’ve been conscious of building a business that is sustainable.

“Overnight success was never on our radar as we are both realistic with the impact of building culture and foundations that this rapid rise can bring. We’ve been steadily building our business, team and systems and the result of compounding growth is exciting!”

Amelia Gow
Founder, Active Opportunities
Owner, 6729 Bakery
General Manager, Workplace Training Strategies

Having overcome challenges with substances and homelessness in her youth, Amelia Gow was faced with another obstacle on her way to recovery – a lack of people willing to give her a chance.

This led her to make a sea change, moving from Melbourne to the Gold Coast. Here she started her own social enterprises 6729 Bakery and Active Opportunities, businesses that enable her to help people who may have taken a similar path to hers find their way back into gainful employment and a fulfilling life.

“The Gold Coast was my refuge, my safe haven, a place I could start again and build a better life for myself and it really did deliver everything I needed,” she tells us.

Her values have helped her stay steady during challenging times in the process.

“It’s all about honesty and integrity – standing behind your vision and mission and living and breathing it.

“The thing is – everyone has made mistakes, we have all done things we aren’t proud of but the spirit of the Gold Coast is to give people another chance – even if it’s their 736th chance, when a person is ready to stand up and take accountability and step forward then it’s our responsibility to back that.

“Everyone deserves the chance to succeed and achieve their goals. Being 100% open and unbiased is the key to it all – focussing on people’s strengths, not their weaknesses and educating people so they have the tools to live an inspired life.”

She’s certainly inspired many people along the way. Now looking forward instead of back, it’s all about expanding to increase the number of people they can help.

“The biggest goal for us is to get a bigger venue – the truth is we are bursting at the seams at this little place and we need a bigger space,” she explains.

“The big vision is to have a space that has a commercial kitchen in it and also emergency housing to support women and their families escaping DV situations where we can create a social enterprise so the women can get into work when they are ready and to start building income to support themselves.”

While helping the less fortunate doesn’t necessarily come with the biggest pay packet at the end of the day, it certainly comes with one huge payoff for Amelia.

“I feel eternally wealthy for what we have achieved and the work we have done, I go to sleep each night knowing I’ve made a difference and will continue to do so.”

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