arts & music sisterhood

In Homage to International Women’s Day

by Bridget — March 6, 2016

An Empress Tea group challenge for International Women’s Day. Sharing unique objects made in tribute to our favourite inspirational women with the purpose of reminding us of our personal ambitions for the rest of the year.

international women's day, woman, walking, balloons, road, streetHappy International Women’s Day! If you’re a woman yourself, or if you admire and respect females in general, have we got something for you! In honour of upcoming International Women’s Day on March 8th, and looking ahead in the year of the monkey, we’re going to share our latest creative group challenge for you all. Some of us really had to reach outside of our comfort zones but those of us who strove the furthest have reaped the benefits of a gratifying tribute to our favourite women. We have concocted some of the most inspiring objects for our own desires and here we will bare our souls and share it all with you.

The Objective: (so you can make your own for International Women’s Day!)

It’s the year of the monkey. As the monkey is known to be sneaky and clever, it will most likely try its best to get us off track this year. Here’s what we can do to stay focused on ourselves, our own goals, and our #femalepower during such a wily year of up and down adventures.

  1. Choose a female, real or fictional, famous or ordinary, who has inspired you in the past year
  2. Make a modern day shrine/tribute/talisman to your feminine icon (with creativity and meaning)
  3. Provide a brief explanation of your choice of heroine
  4. Use this homemade homage to draw from over the next year, to remind you of your goals, to give you female power, to make you feel calm or energized (it depends on what you feel you need this year!)

Our Projects:

Jam — LONDON, England

Suzy Bishop, doily, vibes, quote, International Women's Day, famous quotes, Jam Suzy Bishop, Moonrise Kingdom ,doily, vibes, International Women's Day, Jam

I usually prefer a girl hero. When asked to think about a modern day female icon, someone that I can draw inspiration from over the coming year – I drew a total blank. Not because there are a shortage of real life inspiring females. They are everywhere I turn. Frida Khalo is looking at me from a lapel pin on my battered denim jacket, Billy Holiday is singing velvet notes to me from the stereo, Malala Yousafzai is staring back at me from my bookshelf, and my sister (who is stronger than anyone I have ever known) has just popped up on WhatsApp. My life is full of strong, inspirational women. And, it’s not that these women don’t feed my imagination and inspire me everyday – they do. It’s just they don’t speak to me directly about my ambitions for the year ahead. I guess that’s why I’ve chosen a fictional character, someone who will continue to inspire and ground me during the coming year.

Suzy Bishop. Moonrise Kingdom.

She’s violent and vulnerable. She loves stories with magical powers in it and sometimes goes berserk. True love to orphan Sam and forever a fashion icon to me.

As Suzy looks towards her storybooks for strong female characters, I will look to Suzy to remind me that it’s OK to have trouble understanding myself and the world around me. And, that sometimes I will handle this with grace and sometimes I might feel like stabbing someone with a pair scissors!

I began by taking a few photos featuring myself embodying Suzy vibes. I overlaid my favourite quote from the movie about why Suzy always carries binoculars. This quote really spoke to me about seeing clearly during the year ahead, so I chose to embroider a pair of binoculars onto a doily as a physical reminder of this during the year ahead. This will sit on my dressing table so I’ll see it each day when I wake up and while I’m getting ready for the day ahead. The binoculars will become my magic power too, helping me to see things clearer, just like Suzy.


JoAnna — NEW YORK, United States

Wonder Woman, Instagram, International Women's Day, Heroine, Icon, JoAnna

Visit this creative Instagram account here

Yes, my mentor is comic. A myth. A nerdy idealist’s wet dream. However, while she does not *exist* in concrete terms the ideas that birthed her are factual. This is part of what makes Wonder Woman an inspiration: those two parts of super heroism combined with that one-third manic-pixie-and-average-woman/misfit.  

Nope, Wonder Woman isn’t all victory and ticker tape parades. Like you and me, she rides a rollicking roller coaster of ups and downs. The difference however, is Princess Diana‘s willingness to accept every high and low that comes her way. She’s not afraid to roll with the punches or spend time figuring out how to become the flow. Diana is crush-worthy precisely because she is fallible AND a riot. She’s a hot mess that also moonlights as a back-breaking Force. 

And of all her gifts Diana’s greatest might be her acceptance of her dual nature. She’s ok with the fact that she is soft and hard, complex and transparent, assertive and vulnerable all at once. And although she hates to fail she despises the idea of not trying even more. In the end she knows she has enough fabric in her star-spangled skirt to wipe the sweat, blood and tears from her face.

Great Hera! What a woman. Embodying everything and nothing, she is the alpha, omega and fucking epsilon. A sister and a mother, she is a lover and a fighter and a kitten and a cougar. She is the singular beauty and one hell of a beast. Wonder Woman is the kind heroine I think I’ll strive to be. #daysofwonder


Cheney — CANBERRA, Australia

omamori, charm, International Women's Day, secret, secret message

In September last year, when I was going through a rough patch, a little package arrived in the mail from a friend. It contained a packet of delicious, applewood-smoked salt and a quote carefully written out on a scrap of paper. It was a C.S Lewis quote, and had more meaning for me than my friend may have realised, since I almost know all the Chronicles of Narnia books off by heart.

I carried the paper in my handbag, to remind me of my friend. She’s the kind of person that’s always telling you how great you are, in a way that’s so sincere you can’t help but believe it, especially since it’s coming from someone who’s so great themselves. In a year where I had just started putting myself out there, and doing some scary (for me) things, she inspired me. By being the kind of person who is always willing to take risks, try new things and try again. To me, it seems fearless.

So the paper didn’t eventually disintegrate, I decided to make it part of an omamori. This is a kind of charm, either from a Buddhist or Shinto shrine, that contains a particular blessing (you can get omamori for just about any occasion), wrapped in a small bag. The contents remain hidden inside the bag, so to give it a little authenticity, I’ll not reveal the quote. But now it’s safe from destruction and hangs alongside the other, slightly more professional, omamori I got from a Buddhist monastery in Taiwan, on my nightstand where I can see it every morning to give me a little reminder to keep on trying.


Pomposa — JAKARTA, Indonesia

sister, love, international women's day, womens day, Pomposa

My sister has been my biggest inspiration for my entire life! At the moment she is thriving in her career and living life happily. I’ve never known someone who is as happy, passionate and as positive as she is. From my view, she is definitely succeeding in life.

She started as a registered nurse in the Philippines however she quickly discovered it wasn’t her calling. Well, in fact, it was my dad who encouraged her to study nursing. She excelled during her university years and passed the licensure examination after she graduated, however she didn’t ever end up practicing nursing. Ever since we were young, she had envisioned herself performing in a large crowd, doing what she loves doing—singing and dancing, so after her nursing studies she finally gathered the courage to pursue her dreams. To me, they’re polar opposite careers. Although, it would be terrific to have a singing nurse in a hospital!

She could have put her heart practicing as a professional nurse but she knew there was something missing. Deep down her passion is to sing and act and it took courage to tell our dad that she will follow her dreams to become a performer. The entertainment industry is not very stable but she threw caution to the wind and switched her career path from stability to unpredictability even though she knew our father would be concerned.

I admire her for making the decision to follow her heart’s desires by choosing to be a performer. She discovered the only way to achieve her own happiness is to follow her own passions instead of living her life the way other people think she should. She took a risk, and she’ll continue to fight for it and make a stand to protect her own interests. Today, she is one of the talented performers at Resorts World Manila. She cruises around Asia to perform, she’s been cast in the musical Priscilla: Queen of the Desert, and she is very passionate about what she does which is probably why she’s thriving at it. She is an admirable example of the importance of following your dreams and I love her for it.


Cindy — LONDON, Canada

shrine, moon, charm, Artemis, Diana, Cindy, International Women's Day, Greek mythology

Artemis is a goddess from Greek Mythology. The Roman goddess Diana is often related to Artemis due to their similar traits. Artemis symbolizes the independent and maiden archetype. She is symbolic of a woman’s inner strength, which is balanced with a sense of femininity and pureness.  Artemis is the twin sister to Apollo and is said to have aided in her brothers birth, minutes after she was born. As a result, she is revered as the protector of children and labouring women, while being their pillar of strength. Her personal symbols are the crescent moon, the stag, hounds and the bear.

I have kept an image of her in a sort of shrine, next to my bed for many years, as she represents qualities that I seek to obtain in myself, as well as qualities I admire in those I hold close in my personal life. She inspires me to be true to myself and my needs/desires. She reminds me that I am strong in my own ways, without the need to beat my chest or flaunt it. She symbolizes what I honour in others, as well as reminds me of what I love about myself. This project inspired me to take some much needed time to reconnect with this. As of late I have been neglectful of my needs and started to forget what I love most about myself. To reconnect, I took some time to reflect and created a symbolic token that I can take with with me, to help me remain connected with myself and remind me of what I admire in others. The crystal crescent is hanging in my review mirror in my car, where I spend much time traveling about with my girls and zipping around for work. Simple and powerful all at once, much like how I model myself and my life choices.


Bridget — Hong Kong SAR, China

Rey Doll, Star Wars, Tribute, International Women's Day, Bridget, womens day

Even though I envisaged this creative project, it still took me a while to come up with the perfect female to inspire me this year. There are so many amazing women out there to choose from. After careful deliberation I decided to draw on the energies of Rey, played by Daisy Ridley in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and look up to her as my silent mentor for the year.

Here’s what I love about her character… she’s strong, independent, resilient, she has mad talents, she dishes out a serious ass kicking—on par with great male characters of our time, she’s a fierce tomboy and yet she still has an incredible softness about her, she’s caring & kind, she’s educated in a number of languages and sensitive to other cultures and species. What’s not to love? Rey is one of the most refreshing female characters I’ve seen on screen in a long time. On top of that, I have an exuberant admiration for Ms. Ridley for coming out of thin air and blowing us all away.

Immediately, I was swept up in the controversy of the #wheresrey movement. Honestly, why is it ridiculously easy to get a BB8 toy but impossible to get a Rey toy? One of the articles I read said they “didn’t think boys would want to play with girl dolls”. That’s just all kinds of backwards. We’re living in the 21st century (insert an intricate collection of profanity here), there’s no room for sexism in children’s toys. Head smack.

Luckily, there have been an abundance of adults and children voicing their distress, the decision makers have noticed they made a HUGE oversight, and they’re on their way to rectifying their gross mistake. In the meantime, people have been jumping on board Rey Doll Hackathons in a major way. The premise being, ‘In order to have a positive influence on my children I’ll make it myself’. They’re transforming all kinds of other brands of dolls into versions of Rey and it’s simply brilliant!

That brings us to my creation. I decided to make my own doll—FROM SCRATCH. I wanted to make a tiny version so I can carry Rey around and tuck her into unexpected places. I was also excited to pay tribute to the fabulous costume design because that’s my cup of tea. I did a lot of research into Rey’s costume & different types of dolls, I found a doll pattern I liked, then I massively modified it like the creative genius that I am, sorted through a sea of fabric swatches, and sewed everything by hand (There might have been a decent amount of swearing involved too. She’s VERY petite and fiddly). Now I have my very own, and original, Rey doll to remind me to be myself, to harness my strength & resilience, to express my talents, and to be kind, caring, and sensitive to those around me. Here’s to an extraordinary female character, the lightsaber wielding, Rey.

“Courage, kindness, & occasionally, just a little bit of magic” —Fairy Godmother, from Cinderella the 2015 movie



Happy International Women’s Day! We hope you do something exciting in celebration. Maybe you’ve even been inspired to make something too. Stay inspired and happy creating to you all!

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