Happy International Women’s Day everyone!
It has become our mini tradition to interview a power woman entrepreneur for IWD, and this year, we spoke with Monica, the woman behind the successful jewellery brand: The Ordinary Co.
Monica shared with us candidly on her experience of being gaslighted, the importance of knowing your value and worth and setting boundaries to protect yourself.
We also took the chance to ask Monica about the Supersize 3-in-1 Jewellery Box Set that she is currently using and what "organising beautifully" means to her.
Read on for the interview!
Hello! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I'm Monica, the owner of The Ordinary Co (@theordinaryco), but I also create content and run my personal Instagram page @luxmondi, photograph professionally and help run social media accounts. I suppose that qualifies me as an entrepreneur! [Ed's note: Yes indeed!]
Why did you decide to start The Ordinary Co?
I started The Ordinary Co 6 years ago when the local eCommerce scene was just starting to pick up! There were many local brands popping up every month, but most were focused on clothes and there were not many options for affordable but wearable fashion jewelry. That's where The Ordinary Co came in! Since then the brand has expanded its offering to its demi-fine line A Little Less with a higher quality range of pieces that are still very value for money and suitable for the modern women.
Can you share with us if you had faced any challenges/ adversities because you’re a woman in your line of work?
Most certainly. For my personal Instagram, I've recently been reached out to to create and post content on my page. I explained that if they were not paying I would be happy to post at my discretion (free). I also shared my rate card to explain that if they had specific posting demands, it would be chargeable.
I was after which informed that my approach was too "value-based" (calculative) and that they only wanted to sponsor women on relationships based on "mutual support" (free). I had only just met them.
It is a real thing that women who negotiate and ask for their value are seen as aggressive and calculative, hence most undervalue themselves and often leave a lot of money on the table under the guise of being "mutually supportive", when in reality, they are being taken advantage of.
It's ironic because the company also asked for compulsory swipe up links to measure the ROI of our relationship - which essentially means that they wanted to analyse the value... based on what I could bring to them. I believe this is called “gaslighting".
How did you overcome them?
I think it comes from a lot of experience to know what you are worth.
Only over time as I collaborated with more brands was I able to gain confidence to understand what my value is, but I have had to deal with a lot of rejections in between or being told to fit into a certain acceptable societal mould as a woman.
It's perfectly understandable since not everyone values things the same way... although most of the time most companies are kinder and just inform me they don't have the budget rather than reject the practice of negotiating for one's value.
Drawing your boundaries very clearly make it easier to walk away during negotiations and not beat yourself up over it or let others affect your self-esteem for their advantage and that's one thing I would advise women to do before beginning any negotiation. That and you'll never know if you never ask!
What does "organising beautifully" mean to you?
I love when everything has a place, and as creative and free-spirited as I want to be, I believe that for those who may not find organising in their instinct, it can be studied (like any science). For example, for my shelves, if there is a black item, it should always be paired with another black item to create visual cohesiveness. Rule of threes works well when putting vases and other decorative items together. So long as something is repeated it becomes intentional.
What do you like about your current Stackers Supersize Jewellery Box?
The size is just phenomenal - I love how everything is in one place now, and I still have space for more new to come into my life. The quality and finishing of the box is also very well done and feels expensive, and the modularity gives a lot of freedom to reconfigure and let it best suit my lifestyle!
Do you have a female role model who inspires you or you look up to?
I look up to all my female friends who are business women, high performers and alphas in their jobs. There's so much additional courtesies that we women have to observe on top of just performing at work - to get work done, but not be too aggressive; to fill our emails up with extra smiley faces or be seen as unfriendly. So for them to be successful while managing this extra load is remarkable.
What are you most proud of in your life?
I am proud that I set goals for myself and get them done. Being an entrepreneur and working for myself has always been a dream since I was 16, so after many years and some struggles, I'm proud of where I am. I am also proud to have a wonderful support system such as my husband, who saw my value before me, and isn't afraid of a woman who knows her worth.
Lastly, do you have any advice or encouragement for women who are currently facing challenges in their lives?
Not everyone is going to appreciate your value. Different people see things differently, so be extra grateful to those who do believe in you, know you can't please everyone, and sometimes it's just business. It's not personal.
To everyone reading this: we hope you managed to glean some nuggets of wisdom from Monica's candid sharing.
Her heart-felt sharing really resonated with us and what stuck was the truth that when we know our value and worth, we are empowered to walk away from being taken advantage of - be it in business or personal settings.
Remember: You are Valuable, You are Worthy, and You are Important. Happy International Women's Day again and have a beautiful year ahead.
If you would like to read our past IWD feature, click the link below: