SHE Spotlight: The Circle Movement Co-Founders, Adelle, Rachel, and Kristy

#SHEspotlight

Women who lock arms with each other and are passionate about using their collective voices for GOOD are our jam. We recently had the honor of interviewing Circle Movement’s three co-founders (and friends) Adelle Laing, Rachel Mills, and Kristy Fox.

Self-described as radical dreamers + spirited doers who are actually crazy enough to believe that our collective actions can lead to a more just + ethical world, they have amazing advice on how we can support each other and build strong friendships.

Just like SHE Changes Everything, Circle Movement champions small changes to improve the lives of women and girls worldwide. 

This year they are hosting “The Seven Squad Goals” (#7squadgoals) and we highly encourage everyone to join us in the challenge (more on the details below)! It is so simple and fun, but makes a bold statement for how strong women can be together in the week leading up to International Women’s Day!

Every year Circle Movement hosts a challenge right before International Women’s Day. It’s evolved over the years, but this year is the best yet.

Ready to be inspired by friendship with a shared vision? Here is our SHE Spotlight with the founders of Circle Movement.

What are The Seven Squad Goals?
Beginning Tuesday 1st March, we invite SHE readers to tick off at least one of our #SevenSquadGoals in the seven days leading up to International Women’s Day (IWD) 2016. Even if you find this after March 1, hop right in!

These goals have been designed with the sisterhood in mind; to empower you as a woman & to empower women around the world.  They are fun and easy to accomplish:

  1. Do something you have never done before
  2. Speak out about injustice towards women
  3. Encourage another woman
  4. Refashion an old outfit
  5. Make a donation to A21
  6. Make a #BringBackOurGirls Badge
  7. Rest, relax, refresh

Take a pictures of your 7 Squad Goals efforts using the hashtag #7SquadGoals.  We’ve found that when each member of our community takes small steps towards change, that it inspires the collective and has a larger impact. Just dive in and do what you can!

Your readers can join our Facebook event page for all the updates or follow the Circle Movement adventure on Instagram @circle_movement.  We’d love to be insta-friends with you!

How did you come up with the 7 Squad Goals? 
Rachel: One of Circle's defining quotes has always been; 'Alone we can do so little, together we can do much' (Helen Keller). This is our truth. #7SquadGoals is about harnessing the power of your best friends for social good. And we felt there was no better time to gather the women in your life than the week leading up to International Women’s Day. 

So each year, we encourage our community to mark the lead up to International Women’s Day by taking action to improve the lives of women and girls worldwide. 

This is the first year we have run Seven Squad Goals in this form. You could say it has been an evolutionary campaign that has come into being!  Five years ago, we ran 100 ways, 100 days - a community bucket list with 100 actions to help empower women and girls all over the world.  Two years later, we condensed the campaign to run for 10 days, with specific actions, and this year, we have decided to run a week long campaign and diversify the actions. It is all about empowering yourself as a woman, as well as inspiring the women around you to get involved! 

Each goal has a specific intention behind it, whether it be to advance the sisterhood, flex your change-maker muscles, build your confidence or be an advocate for women in the fight against injustice.

Which goal means the most to you? 
Adelle:  One. Do something you have never done before.  I have spent a lot of time thinking about this goal. I want to be someone who does this every day. I think when we step out and do something new it opens new doors. Day one is so much more then what we see on the surface. It's deep, it's real and it's about breaking something within us! For me it's breaking the fear inside of me. I want to be brave and I want to teach my daughter to be brave.
Rachel: I’m really looking forward to Goal 3 – Encourage Another Woman. I feel like we live in a world where there is way too much competition, comparison and criticism. Let’s be part of a combating that by cultivating an environment where encouragement is the go-to! I came across this quote on Instagram the other day, which I love, “Celebrate her success without questioning your own.”    
Kristy:  All of them! I can’t choose just one, to me, they are an all-encompassing set!

You are founded by friends - and the 7 Squad Goals are meant to be done with your "squad!" What's your tip to empowering friendships? 
Adelle: Love wins and always be kind. 
Rachel: Be yourself. Be thoughtful. Be there. Listen. Find little ways to love and encourage your friends and let them know you care. And if you can’t be there in person when your friend needs you, write a loving text, call them, pen a card and post it, leave a meal or a pot plant at their doorstep or balloons on the letterbox just because!
Kristy: Be the friend who says, “I will go with you.”

Circle Movement Co-Founders - Adelle Laing, Rachel Mills, Kristy Fox

Circle Movement Co-Founders - Adelle Laing, Rachel Mills, Kristy Fox

SHE Changes Everything was founded by a group of friends, so we love the fact that Circle Movement was too! Any fun details about how you became friends? 
Adelle: Kristy and I have been friends since we were teenagers. We met at church, have comforted each other through the loss of our fathers, been in each other's bridal parties, travelled the globe together and most importantly schemed, dreamed and have taken action together to create small changes in our world. Before Kristy was married she used to live in the granny flat out the back of my family home. We've got stories of good times, heartache and history.
Kristy: And in recent years, Rach came into my life. I was on maternity leave, just about to have my first baby girl when a sneaky Facebook message popped up on my screen from an unknown Rachel. As it turns out, Rachel was my replacement at World Vision and she was hoping to touch base with me so she could come up to speed with where I left off. I've got to say, I was hesitant at first. I had looooved this job and I wasn't sure if I wanted someone upstaging me (which she incidentally did because she is freakin’ AMAZING). Reluctantly I took her up on her offer for coffee and chocolate (who would say no to chocolate)!  After just five minutes with the girl I realised she was going to be one of those kindred spirits. We had so much in common, born the same month, married the same month and year, both now have two little daughters, both take our coffee the same way (most importantly). Rach is now one of the founders of our dream and I can't imagine life any other way. Every day we get to meet and make new friends and together we are working to make the world a more just and ethical place for girls and women.

What is the most important thing you think women can do to empower each other?Rachel: Encourage each other. And mean it! It’s the opposite of criticism. I’m not saying don’t give feedback, but I really feel there are so many critics nowadays as we are all given a voice through social media, true encouragement is rare.  Humans naturally thrive through encouragement. 
Adelle: Be deliberate in gathering together, have fun, love and don't judge.
Kristy:  Be present, listen, be slow to judge, create an environment of encouragement

How did you get inspired to tackle the empowerment of women?
Kristy:  Nicholas Kristof’s book ‘Half the Sky’ was a huge ‘ah-ha’ moment for us all. In fact, this is the book that started it all. After learning about the oppression of women and girls in the developing world, we knew we had to take action. How could I possibly raise my daughter in world stacked against her gender and not do something. 

For those of you who haven’t read it yet, here’s the blurb:

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide is a passionate call to arms against our era’s most pervasive human rights violation: the oppression of women and girls in the developing world. With Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn as our guides, we undertake an odyssey through Africa and Asia to meet with extraordinary women struggling there.

After we had finished the book, we began dreaming up ways we, everyday ordinary women, could be agents of change.

Our first venture was a 6km walk we called; Women Walk 4 Water. Six kilometres is the average distance women in developing countries walk each day to collect water and often the track is treacherous and dangerous. This was our small way of demonstrating solidarity to our sisters around the world. So, we gathered a crowd, walked, laughed, made new friends and raised a little bit of money for Charity Water.

Circle Movement is all about using sisterhood for good.  We engage other women in conversations that matter: particularly around the challenges girls & women face in developing countries.  We run campaigns, host events and run school workshops to raise awareness of these issues and provide opportunities for our community to respond in a meaningful way.

One of the most sustainable things you can do is NOT buy more "stuff," including clothes, so your goal to "Refashion an old outfit" caught our attention right away! Any tips for how to do that? 
Rachel:  Yes! After watching the True Cost documentary which showcases the environmental, social, economic and human cost of fashion, the three of us changed our consumer habits.  Jumping off the fast fashion circuit and reducing our want to buy stuff has been a big part of our ethical fashion journey, so we have started getting creative with our clothes. None of us are talented sewers, but we’ve managed to find easy ways to refashion tops to skirts and jeans into denim shorts by cutting or distressing them. Some great tips on our Instagram feed or our blog too. 

What are your favorite sustainable, healthy, ethical (SHE) brands?
Adelle:  I just got back from Bali and purchased some cute sandals through Indosole. A wonderful company turning motorcycle tires into shoes! 1.5 billion tires a year are being thrown into landfill causing toxic fumes into the earth and can be a breeding ground for mozzies (uh, that’s mosquitoes for all us non-Aussies : ), which leads to diseases like malaria and dengue fever. I absolutely love the sandals and the story behind them. I also love Buddah Wear, another gorgeous woman's ethical clothing brand.
Rachel: Shopping is made so much easier with tools like the Ethical Fashion Guide (Baptist World Aid, April 2015) and the GoodOnYou App. They rate mainstream brands with regard to their sourcing, design and production of fashion items. There are shops I don’t even walk into now that I know more about how their supply chain works. Cue, Mimco, Country Road and Witchery are timeless with their basics, and offer a living wage to their garment workers. Their normal range grades either an A or B in the guides, and Mimco and Cue have collections certified by Ethical Clothing Australia, which I try to stick to these items. I’ve reduced my consumption and if looking for an item for an occasion, I will often look on eBay for one of these brands and get it for a fraction of the price and very good condition! 
Kristy:  We have our very own ethical range of slavery-free tees!  We’ve released two designs with the slogan ‘Ethical Is The New Black’ in the six months and I literally live in them! You can check them out @circlelimited on Instagram!

Are you reading any books that are inspiring you right now?
Rachel: We are always reading and recommending books to each other and women within our community! At the moment, I can’t put down ‘Big Magic’ by Elizabeth Gilbert.  I also just finished ‘An invitation to Solitude and Silence’ by Ruth Haley Barton which was phenomenal too!
Adelle: I always love anything by Richard Branson or by marketing guru Seth Godin.  I also love Lisa Messenger’s books, especially ‘Daring and Disruptive’ and ‘Money and Mindfulness’. 
Kristy:  Two great books I’ve just finished up reading, ‘People over Profit’ by Dale Partridge and ‘Rework’ by Jason Fried. 
Rachel: Oh and as mentioned earlier, Circle Movement was born after we read the book ‘Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity’.  It’s an inspiring and insightful read – highly recommended!

What is your favorite, healthiest guilty pleasure when the going gets tough?
Adelle:  Healthiest! Lol I'm a sucker for fruit and nut mix (every night!) oh and choc protein bars!
Rachel:  So I am a life-long chocoholic and turn to it for every emotional reason imaginable.  It makes life better.  The past year I’ve traded in my Cadbury for raw chocolate (read about why raw, fair chocolate is so important).  My favourite brands are Pico and AlterEco which are both fair trade and make such a good Choc-Mint block!  Just tried a locally made raw chocolate brand called Girl Made at the Farmer’s Markets the other day, and LOVED that too!  
Kristy: Anything peanut butter!

Big love,

Kristy, Rachel and Adelle XOXO