ON INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY - SAY HELLO TO MANDY BROWN

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To celebrate International Women's Day today, we chatted to several brilliant female business owners in Sunderland. They play a big part in supporting, collaborating and innovating within the Sunderland Business Community.

Mandy is the owner of Harrison and Brown Furniture in Holmeside Sunderland.

What does your business journey look like so far?

We are now in our fourth year of trading. I worked for the previous company in the same store until the owner decided to move to Florida. I wasn't sure what I would do when the store closed, so I took the plunge and started my own business. I TUPE'd all the staff and took over the lease in my new company. I had never run a business before, and it has been an enormous learning curve for me in four years with lots of ups and downs but a tremendous sense of achievement. We are a team of six, and in the years to come, I want to grow the business.

What does International Women's Day mean to you?

International Women's Day is a global day celebrating women's achievements, and this can be in a vast number of ways, social, economic and political. For me, it's a day to celebrate all those women who have overcome many challenges to achieve what they have become. 

Have there been any particular barriers or obstacles for you?

I was the general manager in previous roles, but sadly, several male managers reporting to me were automatically paid more than me. In my current position, it surprises a lot of people that I am the owner rather than just working in the shop!

Are there any aspects of gender inequality that you would like to see challenged and change? 

The gender pay gap certainly needs looking at, as there are more men in higher positions. Plus, I still find it disappointing that women's actions can be perceived as emotional, where, in contrast, we wouldn't question the same action by a  man.

What do you think are the most effective ways to counteract women's negative stereotypes, especially in the workplace? 

Education, Conversation, Action

What piece of valuable advice would you give to women aspiring to be in a role like yours?

Believe in yourself; you can do it, don't be afraid to ask for help and advice, and never put your dreams on the back burner!

#ChooseToChallenge

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