Eleven women members who do amazing things every single day
In honour of International Women’s Day, we’re shining a spotlight on a few of our members who are standing up and making a difference – 365 days of the year
Tuesday 7 March 2023 By Emma McCarthy
We don’t need a special occasion (let alone an excuse) to celebrate and elevate the many remarkable female members who walk through our doors every day – but it’s International Women’s Day, and we’re not going to pass up an opportunity to shout extra loud and proud.
So, in honour of this day – and indeed every other – we’ve searched the globe, scoured each Soho House and examined every industry to shine a spotlight on those who are making space, supporting womankind and have generally turned smashing the patriarchy into an art form.
Philanthropy – Pakistan, Shiza Shahid
Entrepreneur, social activist, investor and educator Shiza Shahid gives new meaning to the term multi-hyphenate. As well as co-founding cult cookware brand Our Place – famed for its mission-driven sensibility and ultra-Instagrammable Always Pan (which once boasted a 30,000-person waiting list) – the Pakistani businesswoman is the cofounder and former CEO of the non-profit Malala Fund, which advocates for girls’ education, and mentor of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai. Oh, and did we mention that was all before the age of 30? Now, with the launch of an angel fund aimed at supporting social startups by female founders, Shahid is on a mission to pave a way for other women to join her at the top.
Tech – UK, Tobi Ajala
Tobi Ajala first taught herself to code from a library book at the age of 17. Now, the west Londoner is an award-winning tech entrepreneur and software developer tipped by Forbes to be among those helping to shape the future of Web3. She is the founder of the world’s first Black-owned, female-founded digital agency, TechTee, which contributes to more than 57 digital platforms, generating over 43 million visitors across more than 80 countries worldwide. The company has amassed more than £300m in revenue for brands and has Apple, Gucci, Farfetch and Deutsche Bank on its impressive roll call of clients. In summary, Ajala is epic.
Eco/ Sustainability – Hong Kong, Emily Lam-Ho
The daughter of property tycoon Peter Lam and actor Lynn Hsieh, Emily Lam-Ho may be from one of Hong Kong’s most prominent families, but the heiress refused a role at her father’s companies, preferring to strike out on her own. Now the eco warrior is a force for positive change as the founder of sustainability platform 8Shades and cofounder of environmental charity organisation EcoDrive. Alongside her main hustle as director of business development at Sing Tao News Corporation, championing female leadership also comes top of the list for the mother of two. As a council member of the Hong Kong Women’s Commission, she has partnered with brands from Anya Hindmarch to HSBC to promote female empowerment, while her social-impact investment firm Empact28 is focused on funding female-led startups.
Innovation – US, Dr Amanda Parkes
Dr Amanda Parkes’ Twitter handle once described her as ‘one-part algae, one-part fashion, a dash of robots and a smattering of installation art’ – and it’s hard to disagree. As chief innovation officer at both planet-positive label Pangaia and investment incubator hybrid Fashion Tech Lab, the pioneering fashion technologist is at the vanguard of smart textile development and wearable technology. Her CV is, frankly, mind-boggling: she’s curated educational exhibits for world-leading science museums, is the founder of multiple small businesses (including fashion tech innovator Skinteractive Studio and biofuel enterprise Bodega Algae), and was the CTO of fashion tech incubator Manufacture NY. Parkes is also a professor at Columbia University, a TED Talk regular and has been awarded multiple international design prizes. The list goes on, but it’s probably quicker to name the one thing she likely lacks: sleep.
Representation – US, Juliana Joel
If you’re not yet familiar with Juliana Joel, where have you been? The Puerto Rican actor has only gone and made history playing the Disney Channel’s first openly transgender character. Having struggled with her own transition, she hopes her role as Nikki in the hit US teen sitcom Raven’s Home will provide the next LGBTQIA+ generation with the positive trans representation she wished she had seen on TV growing up.
Music – UK, Tiffany Calver
The woman with Drake on speed dial and the world in her pocket, this superstar DJ has been making tidal waves in recent years with the launch of her hugely successful record label No Requests, which champions rising UK talent (including Tottenham-born drill artist Bandokay and M’Way from Nottingham). The 28-year-old Brit is the first woman to host the influential Rap Show on BBC Radio 1Xtra, has also performed alongside Beyoncé and Jay-Z and runs her own club night – which has profiled the likes of Little Simz, Pa Salieu and Slowthai. To say Calver is blazing a trail in the male-dominated rap scene is an understatement – she is setting the place on fire. Watch this space as she is about to announce her next steps…
Community – US, Kendra Austin
Body positivity activist, model and content creator Kendra Austin (aka Kendramorous) is out to make the world a more self-accepting place. Her new venture, Third Cup, is a frankly radical concept for 2023 – bringing women together (whisper it) offline, with the aim of investing in connections IRL, celebrating new friendships and building a sense of community. The inaugural event, held in Brooklyn at the end of last year, was sponsored by zeitgeisty brands SKIMS and Milk Makeup, and was described by its instigator as being for ‘the community I dreamed of as a child’, and a night with ‘no phones out, no cold shoulders and not a single second when laughter didn’t fill the room’. RSVP yes to the next, please?