Profile: Isabella Ford, Owner of She Works

In honour of Inspirational Women’s Week, HC Durham managed to catch up with Isabella Ford, owner and co-founder of girl power website She Works! The site is dedicated to sharing the advice of successful career women, helping to give girls a boost through the glass ceiling with interviews, CV tips and info on career choices and changes. We asked Isabella how it all began…

Hey Bella! So tell us why you decided to start up She Works

I actually came up with the idea during my summer break between first and second year of university. I was looking for internships and didn’t have the slightest clue what I wanted to do, so I began by trying to find an online resource that collected interviews with women in different professions. I wanted to see how they went from being undergraduates to the wonderful career women they are today. I couldn’t find anything that had everything I wanted all in one place, so I just kind of went for it and did it myself!

What’s it all about?

Our main aim is to empower and inspire women. Whether that’s by helping girls who aren’t sure what they want to do job-wise, or are worried about making a career change, or just need a word of inspiration from one of our wonderful interviewees. We’re also keen to open up careers which are usually framed as male-dominated and explore why more women should be pursuing jobs like engineering or piloting. The other major factor that we address in our interviews are the challenges women regularly face in the workplace. We want to recognise stigmas, talk about them and then work to change them.

How do you go about getting so many amazing women to interview?

When we started out, it was super hard – a lot of cold calling, sending off hundreds of emails and only expecting a handful of replies. That was to be expected though – when you’re just a little Hotmail address asking big things of busy women, we knew it was going to take some time. The best way was contacting the women’s societies for certain professions – for example our first interview, with Dawn Bonfield, came about because she was President of WES. From there, it’s snowballed – interviewees often recommend other women to interview. It’s made me realise that there really is an inherent drive for women to help other women on a fundamental level.

How do you manage your time between the site and your degree?!

Once again, this is super hard. It’s just time management – getting up an hour earlier or forfeiting that evening drink every once in a while to answer emails. It has become much, much easier since we got interns involved – they’re all wonderful, so passionate about the site and they’ve really helped to build it up to what it is today. It’s lovely to be able to offer a different kind of work experience as well; that way, we’re not just offering advice and information, but something to put on your CV too!

What’s your ideal job?

I would love to be able to monetise the website so I could spend all day, every day running it, meeting all these incredible women and have a group of people working on it with me. But that’s a long way away, so I would probably say being an editor for some sort of publication would be my ideal job.

Who’s your role model?

I could give you a thousand names, but one that springs to mind now would be the writer Toni Morrison – her novel Beloved is one of my favourites of all time. It’s honestly beautiful and grotesque and thought-provoking, and that’s important to me as an English Literature student.

Any future plans for the website?

Tonnes! It’s always changing and growing, we’re currently working on a number of exciting interviews and events that will be unveiled over the course of the month.

What’s been your fave interview so far?

A stupidly diplomatic answer I know, but I have loved every single interview I have done and for different reasons. There’s always been a moment where I have thought, ‘Yes – that’s why I started this,’ whether that's because of a certain quote, or a moment where the interviewee is talking about something they’re really passionate about. I did an interview with someone at my university, Sofia, who has worked on so many campaigns for racial equality on campus. The interview lasted long past an hour because she was telling me all these wonderful and horrible stories of her experiences as a woman of colour at university. I would recommend anyone read that interview – one particular story I was sharing with my friends, for days afterwards we were like, ‘Can you even believe that happened?’

Thank you so much for your time Bella! If you want to check out She Works you can visit them at:

www.she-works.co.uk