International Women’s Day. The Rule Breaker | Sue Webster
Making jewellery that empowers women isn’t just what we do; it’s what we do best. Stephen has always questioned the rigid traditions evolving around jewellery and, actually, the cases that excite Stephen the most are when a woman comes into the store, knows what she likes, purchases for herself, and wears the piece with confidence. Perhaps ‘empowering jewellery’ has always been our unwritten mantra, nevertheless, it’s one we will proudly continue.
International Women’s Day is our chance then to celebrate the women that inspire us on a daily basis. Whether that be in our internal team, in the industry or at home – because it is these women that remind us why we do what we do.
"Stephen Webster may have been founded by a man but almost since day one, the business has always been run by women, we pride ourselves on having every senior position held by women." - Stephen Webster, MBE
With this in mind, this year we have chosen to celebrate 5 inspirational women who are part of the Stephen Webster community, to share their thoughts on what being a woman, and what International Women’s Day means to them.
Sue Webster – IG @myblackbaby.
Sue Webster is an artist who established her reputation in the mid-1990s, working with her then-partner of 25 years, Tim Noble. Together they rose to prominence making abstract shadow sculptures assembled from seemingly random objects, that when lit by a single light source transformed into representational self-portraits. Webster has twice collaborated with architect Sir David Adjaye on distinctive and ambitious residential projects, recently transforming the derelict ruin that belonged to the infamous ‘Mole Man’ of Hackney. Her second biography 'I Was a Teenage Banshee' combines personal memoir with a visual narrative of her evolution as an artist. It describes how listening to Siouxsie and the Banshees helped guide her through a troubled adolescence and details the band’s ongoing influence on her life and work.
1. What does International Women's Day mean to you?
I’m looking forward to the day where we don’t actually need International Women’s Day … but none of us will see gender parity in our lifetimes.
2. What barriers have you faced as a woman, in becoming successful in your field and how did you overcome them?
I’ve always behaved like a man in business and in pleasure - why let men get away with murder when women can too?
3. Which women do you admire and why?
I will always regard Siouxsie Sioux as my surrogate Mother. I believe that listening to the first four albums of Siouxsie and the Banshees taught me so much more than the school curriculum ever did - she guided me through a troubled adolescence, but that’s a well-documented personal journey …and then there’s always Coco Chanel ….. the first woman to wear trousers, having found the idea of riding a horse side-saddle - ‘like a lady’ - impossible whilst wearing what was considered to be the respectable fashion of the time ie. a long frock, she wanted to ride a horse as comfortably as a man - or as a human being… so she slid down the horse’s buttocks, drew a knife and split the skirt equally down the middle forming ’two legs’…( genius) then re-mounted that Stallion and galloped outta town heading for the dirty streets of Paris where she sewed and cut her way to international repute as a fashion icon - and when the Germans invaded France during World War 2 she refused to evacuate her position taking up residence instead inside the Ritz Hotel, where she embarked on an illicit affair with a Nazi officer sharing pillow talk with Winston Churchill which resulted in putting an end to the Second World War….if that ain’t serving your country in times of need what is?
4. What are you most proud of doing?
Having a successful career since leaving art school in my twenties, divorcing my husband in my late forties and then deciding to have my baby. I wanted to reverse an age old cliché that up until this point has been reserved only for men.
5. If you had one piece of advice for aspiring women, what would it be?
I’ve had a post-it note stuck to my desk for years which reads DON’T LISTEN TO WHAT OTHER PEOPLE SAY! it’s my all-time mantra…
Thank you to Sue Webster for sharing her thoughts with us, check out her work here. Stay tuned for more from the Stephen Webster and International Women’s Day series.
Discover our other inspiring women from the series below.