Sharing stories and a stage with wonderful women in business

If you’ve read the story of how dog&boy started, you know I love to tell stories. In 2015, after 20 years, I walked away from the corporate world to start a business in an industry I knew nothing about.

Since then, it’s been a crazy journey, full of wins, challenges and learnings. Every day, through dog&boy, I step outside my comfort zone. I’ve done a million things I never expected – from being interviewed on TV to mentoring fashion students – and now I’m doing one more. On Thursday 15 November 2018, I’ll be speaking at the Women in Focus Real Stories event, presented by Commonwealth Bank Australia (CBA).

dog and boy women in focus commonwealth bank

What is Women In Focus?

Women in Focus is a networking group run by CBA. It supports women in any industry and at all stages of business by providing resources, skills and support – and fostering connections with like-minded women.  It's my sort of crowd.

When Women in Focus asked members to submit a concept for a speaking event, I decided to apply. They were looking for 28 women in business to deliver a 7-minute TED-style talk at Women in Focus Real Stories – a national event in 5 states. As one of more than 300 applicants, I was surprised and delighted to be chosen as one of the 6 speakers for Melbourne. I’m kind of scared, but I’m more excited – just like I was launching dog&boy.

Women in Focus Real Stories is a rare opportunity to do something different. Once again, I’ll be pushing my boundaries, as public speaking isn’t my one of my strengths. But I’m happy to get a little uncomfortable to present on a topic I’m passionate about – giving back in business.

Giving back is good karma

I’ve written previously about the importance of giving back, particularly as a business owner, and why it’s such a big part of the dog&boy philosophy. I believe that small business owners have a unique opportunity and obligation to do good. Unlike large corporate organisations, we have the choice to support causes close to our hearts. We have the freedom to speak up for what we believe in. We also have the power to teach the next generation.

Whether its time, money or knowledge, giving back is good karma. Oprah Winfrey once said, ‘To move forward, you have to give back’, and this has been so true of my journey. From supporting causes like brain cancer to championing other women in business or being involved with industry projects like the RMIT design project, giving back has helped dog&boy get to where we are today.

I’m so looking forward to sharing my story with like-minded women at the event. But the aim isn’t just to inspire, or get people feeling warm and fuzzy. It’s about providing real, practical advice that can help someone else on their business journey. 

Everyone has a story, anyone can be a teacher

Despite being in business for over 3 years and achieving consistent, sustainable growth, I still have huge bouts of imposter syndrome. Before I submitted my application for Women in Focus, I wondered if I was ‘expert’ enough to speak at such a high-profile event. The truth is, I’m not an expert. Not in business, or in public speaking. But one thing I’ve learnt through dog&boy is that everyone has a story to tell – and anyone can be a teacher.

What I’m hoping to teach at this event is the importance of finding meaning in business. Because if you’re only in business to make money, I believe you’ll be disappointed. Maybe not in the first few months, or even in the first few years. But, eventually, there’ll be something missing. That’s when giving back provides personal satisfaction – and it’s what makes a brand story sticky. When you
stand for something, you love what you do, and you have a story that sticks, there’s no limit to what you can achieve as a woman in business. Fingers crossed I can convey this message when I’m up on the big stage!

I’d love to see you there

If you’re based in Melbourne you can see me and seven other amazing women on 15 November speak and you’re interested in an evening of real advice and business inspo, I’d love to see you at the event. Tickets for Women in Focus Real Stories are on sale now. Grab your ticket here for the events in Melbourne, Sydney or Brisbane, and please remember to come and say hi - there’s nothing that would make me happier than to see a few dog&boy scarves in the crowd!

Sonya xx

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Images via Women in Focus

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