Our Notable Women series features inspirational women who are leaders in their field and who we personally admire. We have deliberately chosen to profile women with a variety of different backgrounds, ages and careers in order to celebrate the diversity and creativity of the modern woman.
IT IS OUR PLEASURE TO INTRODUCE OUR FOURTH interviewee—ANNIE KEARNEY
Until very recently, Annie was the Global Marketing Director for luxury fashion house, Loewe. She is the Co-Founder of Frame Chain, a successful sunglasses accessories brand. Prior to her time at Loewe, Annie was a Retail and Brand Experience consultant for a number of brands and agencies including House of Fraser, Oasis, Nokia and Sony.
WHAT IS YOUR AVERAGE DAY LIKE?
I am a girl from Liverpool, living in Madrid. Sometimes blonde, sometimes brunette, mostly positive and always in high heels!
The last four years of my life have been split working between Paris, Madrid, London with regular trips to Asia and the USA. It sounds glamorous but I am knackered!! Right now what motivates me is working out what’s next. I have just quit my very awesome job as Global Marketing Director for Loewe and have not decided what exactly is next.
I’m also Co-founder of Frame Chain and that is having great traction at the moment. What’s motivating me right now is to finally build the life I imagined and not just make a living. Fear for me is the biggest motivation, and the acknowledgement of my fear gives me courage.
What do you see as your biggest
achievement(s) to date?
I don’t think I have one, that’s being brutally honest. It could be being Head of Marketing for Loewe by 33 years old, but I made some naive moves in my growth. It could be launching Frame Chain when everyone told me it would never catch on—we launch on Matchesfashion.co.uk this summer, and are stocked in Browns and Liberty and over 50 independent stores across the globe. It’s probably not being afraid to jump, learning to genuinely trust my instincts and walk forward into the unknown with a naive belief that I will work it out!
Which other women inspire you
the most and why?
The most authentic. It’s easy to list of women who are at the top of their game or who have broken boundaries—I love Ariana Huffington’s no bullshit, authentic transparency approach to her business. My favourite interview recently was with Sheryl Sandberg on Desert Island Discs when she spoke with such honesty about the death of her husband, the effect it had on her and how her friends put back the pieces.
But the women who keep on every day with a smile and no complaints give me so much more because they live in a very real world, they give so much and expect nothing, they literally raise me up: the woman who brings me coffee to a meeting when she can see I am exhausted, the cleaner who cleans around me when I am late in the office , my best friends who sacrifice their own desires to support their kids and their family businesses. And I can’t not mention my mother who despite being divorced once, widowed once and now caring for her injured boyfriend still gets up and goes to work as a nurse. That’s inspiring and gives me perspective.
Have you noticed a shift in terms of how women are being portrayed in the media in the last few years?
I am not convinced it’s changed properly, not yet. I love the increased diversity of race and age but it still seems brands should be commended for it and given a medal. It should be the norm, not a reason for a press release. I feel like the brands with the real money to advertise should be doing more—Nike are kick ass at this, L’Oréal seem to dip their toe in every now and again, but these are the brands who can make a real difference because they are massive. Beauty brands should be more responsible about the idea of what beauty is.
I highly commend the #metoo movement and respect the men who actively show their support, because we need men to make the shift real and present. We can’t let there be a new gap formed.
What do you think women are looking for from brands today?
That’s tough because women come in so many guises. It drives me crazy that Calvin Klein employed the Kardashians, I really hope that isn’t what women want. I can only tell you what I want as a women from a brand and that is to recognize that we are beautifully complex. One days it’s heels the next it’s flats. One day it’s saving the world the next it’s eating ice cream in my fella’s tracksuit. Don’t sell me any BS, don’t treat me like I am stupid, and sure as hell don’t expect me to buy you because some TV reality star said I should.
What are your favourite brands and why?
Of course Loewe—even after I leave the company, this is a brand for me. It has a very strong and different point of view of fashion, Jonathan (Anderson) sees women through very sophisticated eyes. He sees and respects the complexity and delivers fashion and content to satisfy this.
I am enjoying what Natasha Ramsay-Levi is up to at Chloe. I will keep an eye on that. Crème de la Mer—what I love about this beauty leader is that it’s just about the product, not the faces it goes on. Frame Chain of course! We just make practical things that are chic to use too. We have some exciting things cooking...
One brand I don’t own but like is HufHaus as that’s the kind of efficient home I would love to own. And of course Tesla. I went to the factory once and I felt like I was in Disneyland. I mean, Elon Musk is one incredible man. His ego and fan base are changing one of the most archaic sectors and literally shattering it wide open. I love that and hope it spawns real change in the automotive world.
Do you think we need another term to replace ‘empowered’?
I actually looked up the definition.
“Give someone authority or power to do something. Make someone stronger or more confident, especially in controlling their life and claiming rights”
I think it’s important that people feel empowered, but without direction or support to act on this feeling of empowerment we are no further ahead than before. So I am empowered to speak out—but when I do I am considered aggressive, when I lay claim to a right I am considered difficult. It is overused, and under supported. We need a whole new set of terms in my opinion.