Penny Lee is a niche brand specialist, operating under the name of The Brand Directoress®. Her niche? Working with kick-ass women in business and helping them transform their online and real-life presence. Her strap line is ‘F*ck it, I’m going niche™’ and she has used this mentality to empower and support her clients for over the past 5 years.
We sat down together to discuss how she combines her strategy and creative direction to lift and shape clients, transforming them into empowered self-aware individuals, whilst discovering their niche.
What is it that makes you feel empowered?
I have two answers to this.
The first one is obviously, kick-ass women in business. Whether it’s listening to them, watching them, learning from them, working with them, or even working for them. I had two clients yesterday who had such massive turn arounds, and for me that’s the biggest boost. To see someone growing from feeling small to feeling proud and owning their space, owning their niche. It gives mega joy and hope to see that happening.
The other answer is really good sunglasses. My latest is a pair of Gucci Blue Sunnies with a purple velvet case and lime green lining. I guess that ties into the idea of feeling good in yourself and in how you present yourself.
You founded The Brand Directoress® and have a lot of clients consisting of female-led businesses, offering them the ‘anti-alpha approach’. Can you define this approach?
I think it’s crucial to understand, whilst I am here for kick-ass women in business, it’s about questioning and standing up to the status quo. About changing business as usual and not just doing how it’s always been done. The alpha dominated business culture has no place for me or many others I encounter. I am working towards making that space for myself and others who want to work in a different way too. That alternative character traits and behaviours are recognised and valued. Empathy, listening, vulnerability and kindness being prime examples. These are powerful stuff and it’s their time to shine and do their thing to benefit all of us. The future of work and work culture is changing and I am working actively to be a part of that.
So how can we implement this anti-alpha approach in a masculine dominated industry?
We all have different personality types, this is really important to understand. Looking at your own behaviour and recognising what we would like to develop or improve is a great start. Leading by example with our own behaviour. Be the change we want to see. Also observing what you would like to see changed in the systems and processes around us. It is often so taken for granted, so systemic, we don’t see it. Get curious, question, listen to your gut. Remember small changes can lead to some really big changes. To work together with your team or organisation to start talking about this. To get some understanding. To begin to implement some of those small yet significant changes. Together.
How can we work on ourselves everyday, where would you suggest we start?
A really easy hack is to follow great people who what they do and say really resonates with you. And in a variety of areas. We’re always nipping to Instagram or Linkedin throughout the day. So find some good people, and let the information be brought to you ‘little and often’.
Then when you do have more time, be intentional about it, read the articles, attend talks and conferences, reach out to people. Get involved.
This is something I do all the time. For example, Cindy Gallop posted on Linkedin recommending a book called ‘Brandsplaining’ discussing how sexism still exists in marketing.
So I read the book and then implemented it into my work. Then through my female network, called ‘All Bright’, I saw that the authors were giving a speech so I signed up and tuned in. Next month, I have a conference with speakers doing empathy work, and the authors are speaking there again. It’s steps like this which really make the difference, being proactive and going the extra mile, that’s when you really witness results. And also share this info that you’ve learned!