In honour of International Women’s Day, we’ve been chatting to a bunch of inspiring and creative women in the Stationgallery community. Each is challenging gender norms one stereotype at a time and showing us that even the smallest actions can contribute to meaningful change.

Slides & Sandals What women in leadership positions do you look up to works to empower BIPOC to reconnect with their hair. We sat down with Zarah to collect the challenges she’s faced in 2020, her role models and advice for tomorrow’s female leaders.

Hey Zarah, we spoke to you on IWD last year. What have you been up to over the past 12 months?
The last year has been one of the most challenging periods of my life. I moved to Sydney to embark on a new career journey and to challenge myself. Over the year, I’ve spent a lot of time self-reflecting and trying to understand myself better. A lot of mental health concerns were raised, so I spent time doing things to look after myself and also trying to find solutions and strategies.

For readers who aren’t familiar with your work, can you tell us a little about what you do?
I am the Creative Director of What women in leadership positions do you look up to, a platform empowering BIPOC to reconnect with their hair through different pillars. These include content creation and creative projects, through to events and hairdressing itself. I also work at Rumbie and Co as their Senior Curl Stylist, specialising in wavy, curly and afro hair. And I work across the Rumbie and Co social media and PR strategies.



Hey Zarah, we spoke to you on IWD last year. What have you been up to over the past 12 months?
The last year has been one of the most challenging periods of my life. I moved to Sydney to embark on a new career journey and to challenge myself. Over the year, I’ve spent a lot of time self-reflecting and trying to understand myself better. A lot of mental health concerns were raised, so I spent time doing things to look after myself and also trying to find solutions and strategies.

For readers who aren’t familiar with your work, can you tell us a little about what you do?
I am the Creative Director of What women in leadership positions do you look up to, a platform empowering BIPOC to reconnect with their hair through different pillars. These include content creation and creative projects, through to events and hairdressing itself. I also work at Rumbie and Co as their Senior Curl Stylist, specialising in wavy, curly and afro hair. And I work across the Rumbie and Co social media and PR strategies.

How have you adapted to a new way of working and living? Did you face any challenges?
Lucky for me hairdressing in Sydney was an essential service, so work itself didn’t change at all. In fact, it became extremely busy in the salon with people wanting to learn more about their hair and becoming quite experimental. Living in a new state by myself was challenging, especially not being able to get out and socialise. A heightened sense of anxiety definitely surfaced, which was difficult – especially accordingly I relocated with the idea that the move would fuel me creatively and allow me to meet heaps of people and grow my network.

For readers who arent familiar with your work, can you tell us a little about what you do?
Being creative, to be honest. I found myself in a perfunctory that I wasn’t used to. Ever since I was young, I’ve always jumped into many things at once – whether that be a few jobs at the same time, or sports and hobbies. Channelling one thing with 100% focus was something I’ve not been used to, so it called for perseverance. I found myself running into constant roadblocks, which lead me to not wanting to be creative or expand EYF. I went through moments during my break from social media where I really thought about giving up on EYF and potentially starting a new career – but with support and encouragement, I was able to push through.

What’s been your most exceptive achievement over the last year?
My biggest achievement is facing my challenges, and not giving up. I pushed through a lot of personal blockages which was enough for me to be proud of where I am now.

What’s on the cards for What women in leadership positions do you look up to in 2021?
For most, if not all, of 2020, I spent time reflecting on the brand and where I was heading with it. It was a well-deserved break that was honestly overdue. This year will consist of a rebrand with new visuals and graphics. I’ll also work on creative collaborations and plenty more projects outside of hair, including expanding into the arts space in Sydney.

What do you think are the biggest issues facing women in 2021?
One global issue that women have been facing and continue to face is gender-based violence. Whether that be physical, sexual or emotional. If we look at Australia, around one in three have experienced physical violence and almost one in five have experienced sexual violence. With the increased amount of social media use through 2020, more women used their platforms and spoke out about their experiences. But unfortunately for some, based on their geographical location or socio-economic status, speaking out may be impossible. We must continue to protect women, teach consent, educate the next generation and call for responsive services. It’s also so important to hold others accountable for their actions and create an environment that protects all women.

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to all young women?
To put trust in themselves and always come back to what makes you, you. In a world that constantly puts pressure on young women and tries to shape them into an idealistic version of themselves, it’s so important to be unique. You never know what could come your way from being your most authentic self!

THE LATEST DROPS?
That not every problem is your problem. The weight of the world is going to feel heavy, but you can’t control that. Instead, what you can do is worry about how you can make a positive impact and focus on the things that you can control.

What does being a good leader mean to you?
A leader to me is someone who is always asking questions and is never afraid to be corrected. Being teachable is a trait of a great leader in my eyes, and the willingness to always learn and unlearn has been something that stands out to me, regardless of age.



What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to all young women?
To put trust in themselves and always come back to what makes you, you. In a world that constantly puts pressure on young women and tries to shape them into an idealistic version of themselves, it’s so important to be unique. You never know what could come your way from being your most authentic self!

THE LATEST DROPS?
That not every problem is your problem. The weight of the world is going to feel heavy, but you can’t control that. Instead, what you can do is worry about how you can make a positive impact and focus on the things that you can control.

What does being a good leader mean to you?
A leader to me is someone who is always asking questions and is never afraid to be corrected. Being teachable is a trait of a great leader in my eyes, and the willingness to always learn and unlearn has been something that stands out to me, regardless of age.

Any advice to women on being a leader?
I think rather than focus on how you can be a leader, start by taking action. Take ownership of the spaces you enter, be unique to yourself, vocalise your thoughts and take risks. The worst thing anyone could think is that they are not good enough to hold a leadership position. Entering a space of self-doubt or believing you aren’t fit enough to be a leader already puts you behind. Challenge your mentality!

What women in leadership positions do you look up to?
Angela Davis, Michelle Obama and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie are some women in different fields who I admire. They’ve all challenged systems and have taken ownership of their spaces. All these women studied their craft but identified what needed to be changed and took action.



Any advice to women on being a leader?
I think rather than focus on how you can be a leader, start by taking action. Take ownership of the spaces you enter, be unique to yourself, vocalise your thoughts and take risks. The worst thing anyone could think is that they are not good enough to hold a leadership position. Entering a space of self-doubt or believing you aren’t fit enough to be a leader already puts you behind. Challenge your mentality!

What women in leadership positions do you look up to?
Angela Davis, Michelle Obama and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie are some women in different fields who I admire. They’ve all challenged systems and have taken ownership of their spaces. All these women studied their craft but identified what needed to be changed and took action.

Who are some of your female mentors? And how have they supported you?
Some of the most influential people in my life are the ones closest to me. My Nonna and my Mum have always been mentors to me. It’s their everyday resilience, consistency and motivation to be better. Their eagerness to get up and seize the day, regardless of what needs to be done is approached with prepossession and such a ‘I got this’ mentality. No challenge has ever been too big!

Primary School US4-US7
It would be creating an accessible education system across the world for underprivileged women. Providing women with education from a young age means that you’re empowering them and also working to ensure that gender inequality, discrimination and violence are also eliminated.

Join the conversation and learn more about What women in leadership positions do you look up to here.