Culture / People

28 inspiring women share the best advice they’ve ever received

inspiring women

In honour of International Women's Day, we reached to some of the women that inspire us every day. We asked them to share their words of wisdom, and tell us the best advice they've ever received. The advice they wish to pass on to other women on this day of unity.

Below, you'll find the guiding principles of some of the most innovative, tenacious and creative women we know. These are their words to live by.



Stanislava Pinchuk - multi-disciplinary artist

Stanislava Pinchuk

To remember that life is a marathon - not a sprint.
To ask for forgiveness, rather than permission.
To understand that any border is most often malleable.
— and to love hard, or get out.



Yasmin Poole - speaker at UN Women Australia

The best advice I've ever received is "Speak your truth, even if your voice shakes". I didn't realise it at the time, but my journey started in high school where I decided to speak up against discrimination I had witnessed against my migrant mother. Through my advocacy, I see how this discrimination plays out on a structural level, where the needs of women are pushed to the side and women are treated as a footnote in a wider conversation. I want a Parliament that represents all of us, and that process starts with women recognising that their lived experience matters. Speaking your truth is the only way forward for change.


Charlee Fraser - model and creative

One of my dear friends once told me ‘It only gets better’ and after adapting that to so many aspects of my life, as an optimist I find myself energised and excited, approaching every day ready to adventure or try something new. Another quote (which we all know too well) ‘This too shall pass’ which has continuously helped me stay level headed in the worst and best of times. Understanding that permanence is merely a myth and change is inevitable, getting comfortable with being uncomfortable and growing from those experiences.


Kelesi Anim - cofounder of AFF&JAM

My mum would always tell me no two hands are the same and comparison is the greatest thief - Keep being you my love.


Anna Lahey - founder of Vida Glow

Success does not happen overnight. It takes an unwavering commitment to your goals, a wholehearted belief in what you're doing and, of course, time. This advice has been invaluable to me – both in business and motherhood.


Katia Santilli & Vera Yan – founders of Nimble Activewear

“You never regret the decisions that you make, only those that you don't make.”. – Vera Yan

“You don’t start with what, you start with who – great vision without great people is irrelevant.” – Katia Santilli

Lakshmi Pillai - creator and founder of Lakshmi Store

Lakshmi Pillai

Don't be defined by a single title because that almost puts you in a box, we are a multitude of many things and not just one thing. This keeps me open to more learning and seeing the same thing in a new way. As we move away from an idea or a definition, we start to become more ourselves and start seeing things the way they really are. Love and gratitude are the only real truths across everything.


Lara Fells – co-founder of ST. AGNI

“The words you speak become the house you live in” - I am a strong believer in manifesting and always finding the silver lining in a situation. It’s so important to be conscious of your perspective and to try and keep a positive outlook.


Carla Oates - founder of The Beauty Chef

My mother once told me, do what you love, because success requires hard work and now years later – I couldn’t agree more. It makes sense to spend the big hours of your working week doing something you wholeheartedly enjoy. Plus, you are bound to be more successful doing something you have fire, passion and drive for. I love the two sayings. “I believe in luck and the harder I work, the more I find I have of it”. Also, “The art of persistence is largely the art of love”.

You work your best when you are healthy, happy and content. So looking after your gut health and overall health with good nutrition and exercise are very important for feeling positive and energised. It is important to balance work with giving energy to the other things you love doing. Be it your hobbies, spending time with family and friends etc. When your energy bank is full from doing things that fill it, not deplete it, you feel great. And it gives you enough energy to give back to yourself as well as spread the love, whether it be at home or at work.


Kit Willow - founder and creative director of KITX

Expect the best and be prepared for the worst.


Zahra Al Hilaly - speaker at UN Women Australia

My story has been one of pain and suffering. From living in poverty, to seeing family die at the hands of war, this piece of advice is what motivates my urge for reform. It will never be our affliction that keeps our stories alive, but it is my strength and my courage to fight, that shines bright and keeps my flame alight. 


Jillian Boustred – founder of Jillian Boustred

"It takes years to be an overnight success." Have patience and stay focused - try not to lose sight of what your goals are and why you started doing what you’re doing! Keep perspective and stay positive, doing what you love is a privilege - but sometimes when you’re stressed and overwhelmed this can be very easily forgotten!  


Nina Treffkorn - business manager of China Heights Gallery & Studios

You can't change anyone,  that change has to come from within themselves. So either accept who they are completely or move on.

Also, the lesson of impermanence. This helps me appreciate the better time and push through the harder situations.


Yasmin Tjoeng – designer and founder of Maison Tjoeng

The best advice I have been given was from my Auntie when I had just launched Maison Tjoeng, she said “In your life, if you try 100 things, 99 of them fail and 1 of them works, then you have been successful”. It has always stayed with me because it removed the pressure that during our lifetime, we must stick to one thing and make it a success. It speaks to being flexible, to understanding if you need to pivot we have the ability to reinvent ourselves. Although I haven’t moved on from my original business model, I know that it takes a lifetime of organic growth and decisions to be successful. She also told me the secret to success of any business, particularly in a creative field is “knowing your identity, fine tuning it and developing it whilst staying true to that identity, the rest of it is just turning up every day and being diligent. 


Alex Eagle - founder of The Store

Brita Fernandez Schmidt ( from the charity Women for Women) helped explain so beautifully to me what a waste of time feeling guilty was. This helped me channel what would have been guilt and worry into energy. This has been such wonderful advice and vital wisdom to me as a human and mother. 

Guilt is a useless emotion. It’s a deadweight and debilitating. Move past it and rechannel the energy into something positive that makes you feel alive. 

Oh and also rest. Rest is so important. As we always feel we should be working harder, spending more time with family and friends, doing...doing. But don’t underestimate the power in rest. 

Also try and meditate. Even 5/10 mins a day. That and bouncing on a trampoline. Try it. It’s very hard to feel down when you are bouncing in the air. 


Geneviève Rosen Biller - founder of Bed Threads

Sometimes your dreams appear differently to how you might have expected them to. Be open to change and remember, you are not stuck and it's never too late to dream differently. Consider opportunities that come your way and have the confidence to take your ideas seriously. If you have a vision for a product or service that you think will genuinely improve something in the market, work hard at it and see it through.


Bella Zito – founder and director of Public Figure

"Toughen up."

Putting yourself and your dream out into the public is incredibly daunting. When I dreamt up Public Figure, I tried to share my concept with people in the industry, friends and basically anyone who would listen to me. And a lot of people told me not to do this - fashion couldn't be sustainable, that zodiac inspired beach towels won't sell, or that they were too expensive. I had to grow a thick skin and learn to listen to all feedback and advice - but objectively choose what to take on board and what to ignore. 


Monika Tu - founder and director of Black Diamondz

When RUSSH asked me to share the most valuable advice I had ever been given for International Women's Day, I was a little overwhelmed. Over the years, I've been given countless pieces of advice, much I have used, and much I have disregarded. Then I realised, one of the best pieces of advice I can share is to be open to listening to those around you, even if you don't always agree with them, and this comes back to being humble. Never believe you are the smartest person in the room because unless you're Sheryl Sandberg, you're probably not. No matter how successful you become, there is always more to learn from those around you. Flowing on from that, I always try to surround myself with people, especially women, who I can learn from. I don't want to be the smartest in the room because I want to learn every day. Surround yourself with women who are willing to share, empower, guide and support you. I learned this very early on, and as I have grown as a person and business leader, I have become more selective with whom I kept close. And remember, supporting another women's success will never disrupt your own.

Another piece of advice I would like to share it the importance of having a passion outside of work. From a young age, I have loved the arts, but I was never really encouraged to pursue that path as a young girl. While I have found great business success, I have also come to understand that my passion for the arts has added great benefit to my life. As a proud Ambassador for the Museum of Contemporary Art, I am dedicated to making art accessible to all. Every time you buy a book by a woman, a painting, a ticket to a show, a piece from a gallery opening or online, you're participating in an extremely long journey to recognising women in the arts, their artistic talent, biology, and their pursuit for artistic greatness. One thing I love most about the arts is there is space for everyone.

The theme for this year's International Women's Day is; Women In Leadership: Achieving an Equal Future in a COVID-19 World. Covid 19 has impacted women and girls around the world in a profound way, and this year, more than any year before, it's imperative that we work together to empower women and girls to have access to leadership roles and this all starts with conversations, ensuring our business models and government legislation promote equal opportunity and empowering our young girls to believe they can achieve anything they put their minds to.


Maureen Jordan - founder of Tilly Money

Alice in Wonderland said “I give myself very good advice but I very seldom follow it” and I believe that’s at the heart of why many of us don’t achieve the success we want, or don’t live the life we long for. I could give you some pearls of wisdom handed down to me from people I love and respect. You could read them and even get a few tingles when you do. But there comes a time in life when all the reading and all the wise words mean very little if you don’t take action and make changes to yourself, the way you think, the way you live. You’ll stay in wonderland, dreaming of a life that you’re not living. You must go through the looking glass into the real world and live life to the fullest each and every day. Have adventures, love madly, take risks and connect to others. Life is an adventure. It’s not a dress rehearsal. Life is the main act and we are the heroines in our own play. Act now. Live now, today.


Amelia Kruse - holistic leadership and executive coach

Amelia Kruse Holistic Leadership

There are two opposing forces in our society that I keep witnessing both professionally and personally. One is our tendency, especially as women, to self sacrifice and please others to the detriment of ourselves. The other is our individualistic culture’s drive to make us self-centered, self-involved and lacking a focus on what is best for the collective. Over the years, different pieces of advice I’ve carried with me amalgamated one day into this simple but profound statement - ‘don’t please others, serve others.’ This reminder continues to help me find that sweet spot between striving to have a positive impact on others and the broader community, whilst not falling into a people-pleasing self-sabotage tendency.’



Lilli Boisselet - photographer and member of The Inspired Co.

Best advice? Three sage moments come to mind; career, life and as a woman. 

My first photography mentor, Anthony Asael, told me over far too many local rums in a tiny Madagascan fishing village - “A photograph is not something that is taken, but something that happens. Something that takes place because people take place. Show who someone is, not what they look like.” 

I’ve spent many months in the chilly air of the Himalayan mountains, meeting intoxicating people living on the edges of life as we know it. A monk in Tibet said to me over yak butter tea and meditation, “What’s the point of learning to concentrate, if you don’t also learn what you want to concentrate on?” 

Finally, I was sitting downstairs at The Standard in New York, reading The Delta of Venus. When the waiter gave me the bill, he had written on the back,“Only the united beat of sex and heart together can create ecstasy.” Ever since, I’ve been on a sort of pilgrimage for understanding that kind of womanly ecstasy. 


Amrita Hepi - choreographer and creative

Let the body keep the score; and listen to it!


Rebecca Vallance - founder and creative director of Rebecca Vallance

Rebecca Valance

Never give up, ever. Do what you enjoy, then it won’t feel like work. Trust your gut instinct.


Jessica Andreatta – founder of J.ANDREATTA

The best advice I have ever received is “Learn to detach yourself from things you cannot control, step back and look at things objectively and detach from others choices knowing their spiritual work is not ours to do”. Since hearing this I have applied this to my work life and also in relationships. It helps to see your mistakes honestly and make amends and start afresh.” 


Jessica Hill-Smith – sixth-generation family winemaker at Yalumba wines

I have been so lucky to work alongside many mentors, who always so openly shared their knowledge and gave me opportunities to grow. The most intelligent and inspiring leaders I have worked are constantly in pursuit of learning something new. They take time away from emails to observe the world around them, to read often and broadly and constantly ask questions. This has been the most powerful advice to embed into my every day that enriches the depth of my thinking, creativity and connection with people I work with. Be curious.


Viola Raikhel-Bolot - cofounder of Vanishing Pictures

One minute you have everything under control then all of a sudden a tsunami of new priorities, projects and obligations present themselves and you can’t for the life of you think how you can possibly juggle it all in time.

When I feel that wave coming over me, I summon the wisdom of the inimitable Golda Meir...’relax, it might never happen!’

Once you know that not every demand requires your attention then the universe somehow manages to find a way to realign with you and for you.   


Krista Huebner – co-Founder of Basil Bangs

My motto has always been to ‘bite off more than you can chew and chew like hell’ so I can tend to burn out, add small kids into the mix and pfffwoar! With that in mind, the best advice I have ever been given is from my mum when I was falling apart a bit - I was over committing and trying to do everything perfectly, when my Mum said “You know Krista, you have to look after number #1 or you’ll step into number #2”. Not only did it make me laugh, but it forced me to take a biiiig breather and take stock being timely and necessary advice that is still incredibly relevant to this day!


Jess Blanch - Editor-in-Chief of RUSSH

The advice I’ve received the most is to “toughen up”. I found life has a way of making that happen for you naturally.

The advice I would most like to give is to live in a way that allows you to simply be yourself. Find people who value you for the way you are and appreciate your special intricacies. Surround yourself with those who make you feel like you are enough as you are. Never wear a mask to work or anywhere for that matter. We are all evolving and developing at our own rate and I’ve found those that truly embrace us for our very being are those who are most connected to their own souls and paths. If you really listen to yourself you’ll find your plans begin to manifest and your phone starts to ring the very moment you think of someone.

We are in charge of our own experience so don’t give the power to narrate our stories to anyone else.

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