Visionary entrepreneur, doting wife, loving mother, filial daughter, vocal changemaker: without the constraints of gender bias, women are capable of acing multiple roles. In solidarity with the theme of this year's International Women's Day, here's how two successful women defy stereotypes to #BreakTheBias at work and at home.
Jacket: Thom Browne; Top, pants, shoes and accessories: Jenn's own
Does it irk you to be asked about how you juggle family and a career when successful men aren't asked this question as often?
This doesn't irk me as it's a relevant question. On the flip side, it would be refreshing to see successful men asked whether their wives work and if it's a decision that they've made together. If yes, how does he support her as she juggles the pressures of being a working mum? I think this narrative is definitely one we should pursue and normalise.

How do you split your time between your family, business and self-care?
Let go of the expectation that there is a perfect version of what work-life balance should look like. There is no such thing. Work with your support system; mine is my husband, nanny and team. Communicate openly, honestly and often about what's going well, what's not, and where you need help. Don't overthink the rest of it and know when to do the things that recharge you. There is definitely the pressure to constantly compare ourselves with each other, but I believe in doing the best that you can, finding the right support system, and not giving in to the pressure of fitting into anyone else's expectations but your own.

Have you ever been told to "be more" or "be less" of something in order to fit into a preconceived gender role?
Oh yes, for sure. I think I speak for most women, as we all have that nagging voice in our heads that is so good at planting seeds of doubt and being unnecessarily harsh. It takes tremendous self-awareness to understand the preconceived gender roles that are part of us. Putting in conscious effort to consistently develop our emotional intelligence and empathy makes us better leaders, and sharpens our intuition, which in turn helps us with everyday decisions in business.

What are the ways in which raising two children has influenced the way you think about your business and the legacy you're currently creating?
My two kids inspire me every day. I love how they find delight in even the littlest things and I try to take the same approach in life. They are both so curious and always have lots of questions. Olivia especially, as she's older, has taken to asking me why litter or trash is everywhere, and that inspired one of our recent collections. I definitely think we should leave the planet and its people just a little bit more healed.

What does #BreakTheBias mean to you?
To me, #BreakTheBias is to break the mould of other people's expectations of you and to focus much more on just being the most real, authentic version of yourself. At work, I try to empower my team as much as possible by encouraging them to be their best true selves—being comfortable and confident, in a safe space where everyone is heard and appreciated, plays an integral part in the team. At home, I try to have really gender-neutral conversations with Olivia and Oscar. Recently Olivia said, " Mummy, girls and boys can both do anything. Girls can be pilots and boys can wear pink!" I was thrown off for a second but realised it's probably something she learned at school or just picked up from her surroundings. It's inspiring that this is the next generation that we are all raising together, for the future.

Why is it important to celebrate International Women's Day every March, in addition to empowering women throughout the year?
I think it's natural for us to sometimes forget how unique our journeys are as individuals, and to feel down when life is not going the best way it could be. International Women's Day is a wonderful reminder to be comfortable and confident with where you are today and every day, as you continue to work towards healing, learning and growing to be the best version of yourself. It's a great yearly reminder to love and embrace all parts of yourself and to take that with you through the year.
In a bedroom in Melbourne many moons ago, Jenn Low began creating a global jewellery label for dreamers and lovers. When her heart told her to move back home to Malaysia, she took a leap of faith and trusted in her ability to restart the business from scratch. Wanderlust + Co has now grown into a female-led brand that works only with suppliers and makers who are committed to ethical trade standards.
Jacket and skirt: Stella McCartney; Top and accessories: Jenn's own
Top and skirt: N°21; Bracelet: Swarovski; Earrings and heels: Veen Dee's own
Does it irk you to be asked about how you juggle family and a career when successful men aren't asked this question as often?
It does but I am grateful for the question and to be a role model to women. We've come a long way. I wouldn't be able to answer this if women, in the past, did not cheer on and invite each other to sit at the table. I'm proud to say I am a mother, multiple business owner, content creator, wife, and female. I am a lot of things and being female is what makes me whole.

How do you split your time between your family, business and self-care?
I wear many hats so having structure is extremely important to me. I need to know when I can take off certain hats and when I should have them on. Of course, there will be times when I lose my balance and drop a few balls. I, too, have mail that I haven't opened in a week, I forget to eat, and nothing's ever finished. I try to pick my battles so that might mean my daughter, Emma, has dessert before dinner. It's okay to give in sometimes; trust the process and stay focused to accomplish big goals by the end of the day.

The misconception still persists that it is difficult to work for women bosses and with other women. How do you tackle this?
We have had arguments and the most important lesson I've learnt is to be a rational adult when it comes to making decisions together. I am very vocal about the working culture in Hanya—we are not a family, this is strictly business. There are too many grey areas when we refer to each other as a big family and I'd very much prefer to avoid that. I'm also extremely lucky to have this team of women working alongside me. Despite our differences, we're all about lifting each other up. One of my girls runs a thrift shop, some of them are content creators themselves, and one is in the middle of building her cryptocurrency business. They are leaders in their own right and to have them building my dreams for me, with me, is surreal. I see them as part of my growth and vice versa. If their growth surpasses mine one day, I will be more than happy to support them.

How has motherhood influenced the way you think about your business and the legacy you're currently creating for the next generation?
I'm more sensitive to what mums need in the workplace! Before I gave birth, I wasn't aware of things like setting up a nursing room and easing the transition back to work after maternity leave. It's sad to have interviewed a few candidates who identified "being pregnant" as a weakness because it's the reason good job opportunities weren't offered to them in the past. We need more female leaders and I want to create an environment that is safe for women to thrive in. I won't go easy on them just because they are women, but I won't be unfairly hard on them either. If one gets left behind in my organisation, it simply means they are not fast enough to keep up with my pace regardless of their gender.

What does #BreakTheBias mean to you?
I came across Marina Mahathir's article on the #BreakTheBias movement and this particular paragraph moved me: "In this country, we seem to be dual-natured in how we think of women. On the one hand, it is no longer unusual for women to be educated to university level, and to drive cars and aeroplanes. But she is not considered whole until she marries and has children. It still astounds me to see the social media profiles of many young women who describe themselves first as somebody's wife and mother before giving their occupation." As mums, we play a vital role in shifting the stigma for the next generation because we now have unlimited access to information.

Why is it important to celebrate International Women's Day every March, in addition to empowering women throughout the year?
There are women who feel mistreated and isolated even when they're in positions of power. There are those who are learning to identify as women, who have not found comfort and security in the arms of their sisters. And there are those who face sexism and gender-based judgment. Equality is so important to so many social aspects and we are only at the tip of an iceberg.
Before making the bold choice to co-found a fashion brand, Veen Dee Tan scaled the corporate ladder through hard work and a knack for data-driven marketing. She's not looked back since walking away from a five-figure salary to start Hanya, an environmentally conscious brand that empowers women. Fearless in embracing vulnerability, she's also an advocate for women's issues and mental health.
Jacket, top and pants: Sacai; Bracelet: Swarovski; Earrings: Veen Dee's own
She's a very colourful character who wears her heart on her sleeve; very talented and with a natural creative flair. It's exciting to see her progress through her career, from her time at FashionValet to now founding her own brand, Hanya, as she's achieved a fair bit. Truly, her journey has just begun, as I always believe that the best is yet to come.
Through her lens: Women supporting women
Jenn is definitely a role model for many! Her positivity is contagious and I love her views on life. She's a selfless person who gives me advice in every one of our conversations. She makes me understand how to love life and how big life can be.
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EDITOR : sarah hani jamil
text, styling & creative direction : Adelina Tan
Styling assistant : Genie Leong
photography : Andrew KOH

Hair : mei choi
makeup : cat yong
layout design : sarah tai
LOCATION : Colony @ Mutiara Damansara

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