Emma Woodcock

Grace & Able

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Where did you grow up and where are you based now?

I grew up in Manila, Philippines and am now based on the Mornington Peninsula.

What did you want to be when you ‘grew up’?

Actually, a business woman! When I was little and all my friends were planning their wedding dresses, I daydreamed about high heels and pant suits!

When and how did you transition from working for someone else to working for yourself?

I have been at stay-at-home mum for a few years before launching my social enterprise, however my background was retail and interior design.

What’s your why?

My why is to end poverty, to help the forgotten, to see others shine not because I get glory but so that others may know hope.

What do you love about what you do?

The opportunity to see others not just survive, but thrive!

What’s challenged you most since being in business?

Building a brand on your own is tough – getting word out there is hard, exposure, marketing.

What are your greatest achievements to date?

Installing a toilet in the home of one of our artisans in Sri Lanka.

What are some of the lessons you’ve learned along the way?

Poverty is complicated and deeply layered, so there is no one fix. Every day presents a new opportunity to problem solve but this is also time consuming… so patience! Oh, and also, numbers lie! I’m learning not to measure success in terms of numbers of followers or sales but in other things like toilets!

What’s the toughest decision you’ve had to make since running your own business?

To not take the common road!

What are some resources you or your business can’t live without? 

Skype, What’s App, my phone really – it connects me with the artisans daily and at odd hours too!

What advice would you give someone wanting to start their own business or change jobs to an industry/role that they’d love?

Don’t wait until it’s perfect, don’t let fear define you – just step out and just give it a go!

What’s something most people wouldn’t know about you?

I love international movies and children’s books – it’s the storyteller in me!

What does your ideal day look like?

Cuddles with the kids, coffee, a walk with our dog and sharing laughter with the artisans. I’m easily pleased!

What’s one of your favourite quotes?

Oh, that’s tough! So many to choose from. But “Be the change you wish to see in the world” would be up there! Along with “Do all things with love”.

Who or what inspires you? 

This is a loaded question for me! While I do find stories of many women inspirational, like Jodie Fox, Founder of Shoes of Prey and Lisa Messenger, as well as some well-known social justice campaigners, I do intentionally try not to hold someone up as an icon until I’ve met them in person. I am careful not to let someone’s carefully curated public image be compared with my inner mess! On the whole though, it’s the everyday people who inspire me. My friends, the mums out there who get up every day to do it all over again, and of course my artisans – the overcomers! Their resilience is like no other!

Anything you’d like to add?

I’m looking forward to being part of the Soar Community!

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