International Women’s Day on March 8 is a time to celebrate and embrace all women – those who came before us and made things possible, the strong women among us today, and the leaders of the future

This year’s IWD theme focuses on women in leadership, so we’re honouring the achievements of the strong, inspiring, and influential women in the Hype DC community.

We sat down with Jade Leung, a Melbourne-based fashion stylist and regular Hype DC collaborator to chat about working in a COVID world, her female mentors, and what being a leader means to her.

Hey Jade, we spoke to you on IWD last year. What have you been up to over the past year?
I feel like I’ve gone through such a rollercoaster of emotions since we spoke this time last year. I’m pretty sure at one point I thought I’d be out of work all year. I did a lot of self-reflecting and took a bit of time out for myself. If you follow my private Insta, you would have been forced to endure my food spamming – I did a lot of eating (the perks of being a hospo wife). Thankfully though, work picked up just as quickly as it seemed to have disappeared, and I’m now more and more grateful for the work I do and the people that I get to be surrounded by.

How have you adapted to a new way of working and living? Did you face any challenges?
I found the beginning quite a challenge. I’d just booked an amazing job, my first styling job with The Australian Ballet, and it was that initial change where everything was done online, including sourcing garments. Meetings were now all done via Zoom, and shopping was all done online which left me in the unreliable hands of the delivery services. That was probably the biggest challenge for me. Once we were allowed to work in person again, the face masks, the signing of waivers, none of that bothers me if it means we can all be on set together.



Hey Jade, we spoke to you on IWD last year. What have you been up to over the past year?
I feel like I’ve gone through such a rollercoaster of emotions since we spoke this time last year. I’m pretty sure at one point I thought I’d be out of work all year. I did a lot of self-reflecting and took a bit of time out for myself. If you follow my private Insta, you would have been forced to endure my food spamming – I did a lot of eating (the perks of being a hospo wife). Thankfully though, work picked up just as quickly as it seemed to have disappeared, and I’m now more and more grateful for the work I do and the people that I get to be surrounded by.

How have you adapted to a new way of working and living? Did you face any challenges?
I found the beginning quite a challenge. I’d just booked an amazing job, my first styling job with The Australian Ballet, and it was that initial change where everything was done online, including sourcing garments. Meetings were now all done via Zoom, and shopping was all done online which left me in the unreliable hands of the delivery services. That was probably the biggest challenge for me. Once we were allowed to work in person again, the face masks, the signing of waivers, none of that bothers me if it means we can all be on set together.

What’s been your most significant achievement over the last year?
I am really proud of the many relationships I have maintained and strengthened over the past year – in both my work life and my personal life.

What are you looking forward to in 2021?
Last year really pushed me into changing my lifestyle, which I’m excited to maintain in the coming year. I’d been living a little too excessively, so 2021 is all about focusing on simplifying our lives a little to reach our future goals.

What do you think are the largest issues facing women in 2021?
Has anything improved since we spoke last time? Where is the pay gap at? Do women feel any safer or more protected by the legal system? Why does a woman still need to hide the fact that she’s been raped at work in fear of losing her job? We still aren’t empowering or acknowledging women as an equal part of society.

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to all young women?
Figure out who you are, what’s important to you, and what kind of person you want to be. There are going to be a lot of people along the way that will think they know better, or want you to be a certain way. So the sooner you are confident in yourself, the sooner you can tell them to f*ck right off and mind their own business.

What does being a leader mean to you?
I think all good leaders lead by example. A leader must be rational, just, and empathetic. A leader must know how to earn trust and maintain it. And know when to take charge when they need to, while also seeing the chance to allow others to flourish. A leader sees that their position isn’t always paved in gold but does what they can to do the best they can for those they are leading.

Any advice to women on being a leader in their industry?
I think it’s time we stopped playing nice as we try to gain equal opportunities. It’s time to start treading on some toes!

Who are some women that inspire you?
Women that inspire me are opinionated, fearless, outspoken, intelligent, have a wicked sense of humour, and are kind.

What women in leadership positions do you look up to?
I look up to ANY women in leadership positions, no matter what they’re doing because it probably means it wasn’t the easiest road, and they had the will to get there on their own merits.



Any advice to women on being a leader in their industry?
I think it’s time we stopped playing nice as we try to gain equal opportunities. It’s time to start treading on some toes!

Who are some women that inspire you?
Women that inspire me are opinionated, fearless, outspoken, intelligent, have a wicked sense of humour, and are kind.

What women in leadership positions do you look up to?
I look up to ANY women in leadership positions, no matter what they’re doing because it probably means it wasn’t the easiest road, and they had the will to get there on their own merits.

Who are some of your female mentors?
The females in my immediate family have always served as wonderful mentors, whether they are aware of that, I'm not so sure. My Mum has always been on my side, even when sometimes we both knew I was in the wrong. That taught me the importance of unbreakable loyalty, but most importantly she taught me the power of negotiation. My sister has always been my best friend, she let me be her shadow for the longest time. She’d let me go everywhere with her. That taught me openness and how to share. My Grandmother still to this day reminds me that being independent will always serve you well. She’s the most carefree and adventurous person I think I’ve ever met. She’s taught me the power of being oneself and speaking up for what you think is right or wrong. The sum of these wonderful women has encouraged and supported me to be the person I am today!

Have you experienced a key moment in your life where you’ve had to push harder for yourself because of your gender? And how did you overcome this?
I had to think REALLLLY hard about this one and I couldn't think of a particular situation that this has happened explicitly to me. I think I’ve been fortunate to have been raised in an environment where I was always encouraged to speak up if something wasn't right. So, I probably didn't get in that situation because I spoke up about it. I’ve always been surrounded by men and women who have believed in gender equality.



Who are some of your female mentors?
The females in my immediate family have always served as wonderful mentors, whether they are aware of that, I'm not so sure. My Mum has always been on my side, even when sometimes we both knew I was in the wrong. That taught me the importance of unbreakable loyalty, but most importantly she taught me the power of negotiation. My sister has always been my best friend, she let me be her shadow for the longest time. She’d let me go everywhere with her. That taught me openness and how to share. My Grandmother still to this day reminds me that being independent will always serve you well. She’s the most carefree and adventurous person I think I’ve ever met. She’s taught me the power of being oneself and speaking up for what you think is right or wrong. The sum of these wonderful women has encouraged and supported me to be the person I am today!

Have you experienced a key moment in your life where you’ve had to push harder for yourself because of your gender? And how did you overcome this?
I had to think REALLLLY hard about this one and I couldn't think of a particular situation that this has happened explicitly to me. I think I’ve been fortunate to have been raised in an environment where I was always encouraged to speak up if something wasn't right. So, I probably didn't get in that situation because I spoke up about it. I’ve always been surrounded by men and women who have believed in gender equality.

If you could change one thing for women worldwide, what would it be?
It would be to break this old fashion idea that women are here to find a man, make babies, cook dinner, be polite and submissive, be stalked by paparazzi, slut-shamed, and blamed for it. I just watched Free Britney and it was so eye-opening. A big thing that needs to change is the pay inequality – we should get paid the same as men do, in all industries! Looks like we have quite a few things that need to change for women!

Stay up to date with Jade’s styling work here.