MiNDFOOD has teamed up with Bobbi Brown to discover some of New Zealand’s most inspirational women and find out what beauty and being who you are means to them.
They say age comes with wisdom, and entrepreneur, professional director and sustainability strategist Rebecca Mills is quick to admit that her own definition of beauty has evolved over the years. “I used to be more aware of aesthetics,” says Mills. “But as I’ve gone through life I’ve realised even more how important authenticity is to me, and I believe when you’re being your true self, that’s real beauty.” As a young woman Mills says she was quite dismissive of her own beauty and appearance. “Over time, through my work, I’ve seen so many people who are having a really positive impact on the world and empowering others to do the same, they’re really beautiful people to me.” Since Mills spends her time advising high-profile personalities and companies – she’s worked with Sir Richard Branson and locally with the likes of Fonterra and New Zealand Post – she is frequently reminded that women are underrepresented in the corporate world.
Find Your Voice
Mills is frank about acknowledging that she often felt intimidated and struggled to find her voice who when she was younger. “It was especially difficult working in industries with small numbers of women, but if you’re not being authentic, people really notice that. Nervousness can be misinterpreted, and you can lose traction.” Mills quickly realised she needed to find her voice and embrace who she was; so she started consciously thinking about all the successful women who were inspirational to her – she names Arianna Huffington and Oprah. But it was a meeting with media magnate and businesswoman Huffington that had a profound impact on her: Mills met her in Auckland after Huffington took an interest in the work she was doing. “We had lunch and I was incredibly nervous. I gave her a quote from her book and she turned to me and said: ‘Darling, that’s not my book.’” Mills had been so awestruck by Huffington she’d quoted Sheryl Sandberg, author and the chief operating officer of Facebook. “I thought: ‘I’ve got to knock this on the head or I’m going to act like an idiot the whole lunch.’ So I just said to her: ‘I know it’s not your book and that your book is Thrive, I’ve read it. I’m nervous and I’m really sorry.’” Huffington touched her arm, looked her in the eye and said: ‘Darling, don’t think a minute more of it. I’m here because I’m really interested in your work.’”
Empower Yourself and Others
Huffington’s words and actions were a huge trigger for Mills, becoming an integral part of Rebecca’s coaching service she offers entrepreneurs. “I work with people and companies who are going to and want to have a positive impact on the world, and I intentionally support young women.” Mills meets up with a number of young women every few weeks, but she’s always only a phone call or Facebook message away. “If they’re feeling intimidated or anxious, I want them to talk, I want them to contact me before things spiral out of control.” This sisterhood and network of women serves as a constant source of inspiration for Mills. “I’ve been embracing femininity, and the power of having both masculinity and femininity in conversations. I’ve been embracing how I express this in business and am and really settling into that more. I think women really need to put the ladder down for other women more. That’s why, along with men, I’m enjoy working with women to help them discover their worth and the full extent of the positive impact they can have on the world.”