Celebrating International Women’s Day
International Women’s Day means many things to many people, mostly though, it’s about celebrating the achievements of women, reflecting on how far we have come, and considering opportunities for the future. NightOwl proudly supports women within its network, there are a number of women who own and run a NightOwl franchise. On this special day of celebrating women, three of our franchisees reflect on their journey to owning their store, and discuss what International Women’s Day means to them.
Thank you for giving your thoughts and answering our questions Roz Woodham of Airlie Beach, Sandy Zhang of Windsor, and Sarvani Juluru of Tarragindi. We are proud to have you all as NightOwl Franchisees.
Where were you born and raised and what were the women’s themes that impacted your younger self?
ROZ: I was born and raised in Canberra, and lived there for 39 years until I moved to Northern Rivers NSW in 2006 with our young family. The move was due to my husband’s work.
My first job, at 17, was working in Grace Bros (now Myer’s) in an accounts department entering data into a very old computer using the square flat floppy discs.
I remember back then that it felt to be ‘a man’s world’ and that women had to work harder to impress. My mother-in-law was a great influence, she was successful at running a typing pool in the public service in Canberra. Then, all women started off in a typing pool using typewriters, then opportunities were to progress to the computer and work for the General Manager’s personal assistants.
The opportunity to go to Uni wasn’t there for me. I started college but it didn’t make sense and I left after 3 months to start work at 17. I’ve been working ever since. I didn’t have any guidance to help me decide what I wanted to become in life.
SANDY: I was born in Hefei, China. I came out to Australia when I was 20 to study for a Master Degree. I finished a Master of Accounting & Master of Business Administration at James Cook University. I had a strong desire to be an independent woman which impacted my decisions since I was very young.
SARVANI: I was born in a small town called Sattenapalli in India. Women’s themes had immensely affected me as I experienced childhood in an age where opportunities for young girls were starting to grow. It was an adjustment to our way of life. Parents began sending even their daughters to schools. Seeing this change had supported my inclination towards being successful enough to be an inspiration to other young girls.
Coming from a culture where women were restricted to household maintenance had always made me think of balanced responsibilities between men and women. Successful stories of women taking leadership in social, economic and political forms had inspired me and my father to support my choice of going overseas after my marriage.
What does International Woman’s Day mean to you?
ROZ: I feel it’s great for those that want to address one day of the year to acknowledge women and their successes. Although, why have just one day? I feel everyday should be recognised as women can, and should, be able to achieve anything that they want to.
SANDY: I think it’s a great day for women to show support to each other, and to keep fighting for our rights. This is why we have International Women Day from my point of view. We are seeing more and more women play key role in different industries globally, this is very inspiring. Women need more opportunities because they can do more.
SARVANI: For myself, Women’s Day is all about getting more inspired by celebrating all the proud achievements of women all over the world, and setting new goals in order to reach those hands in need and bringing new amendments to rights for women.
How have your opportunities changed in your life, and what were the key drivers of those changes?
ROZ: If I had not completed a typing course so I could meet the criteria of applying for a receptionist position in my earlier days and the help of knowing my mother-in-law working in a typing pool, I don’t know what I would be doing today. I was then fortunate enough to be a successful applicant for an admin forms designer position in the public service in another department, where I was trained on the job. There were a few women I worked with in the public service when I was younger, that I looked up to and as a mentor.
SANDY: My opportunities, literally everything in my life changed when I moved to Australia.
SARVANI: Starting my married life with my husband in Australia was the biggest change in my life. Australia has given me an opportunity to explore my knowledge through practical application of all the knowledge I have gained. English was so new to me before arriving here. It was not in my school curriculum. Learning English was so hard initially, but I am so grateful to the soft attitudes of the people here. They were so patient and encouraging which helped me grow in my career and of course, I would not be the same person without my husband’s love and support.
Which women are you inspired by in your local community, and around the globe? And Why?
ROZ: Here, in my small town of Airlie Beach, I don’t have anyone that has inspired me, personally. However, I am inspired by Janine Allis, the founder of Boost Juice. Janine has shown her strengths and weaknesses of being a contestant of survivor. She is also on the panel of The Shark Tank and backs new and upcoming Australian businesses.
I am inspired by Janine starting up Boost Juice, as to me it’s something simple and it works. Not over complicated and she has that niche market now in 13 different countries, with 580 stores. She didn’t even have any experience when starting her first store in Adelaide, only her family and with a fresh idea.
SANDY: I was raised by my grandmother, her positive personality inspired me a lot.
SARVANI: Though my mom is my first hero, my real inspiration is Mother Teresa. I am still astonished thinking of her and her achievements, and making it possible in a country where she was a stranger. She was so strong and dedicated all her life for the people in need and she became MOTHER to millions across the world.
What hopes do you have for the next generation of women?
ROZ: My hopes for the future is that any woman can complete any education they need to be successful in fulfilling their dreams of a career they chose. Women need other women to talk to, whether it be a friend, a work colleague, support team from their office/workplace, or a mentor. Women take on a lot of responsibility from both family and work as a balancing act in life, and women need other women for understanding and support.
For my daughter, who is a qualified nurse as of last November 2020, we are very proud of her because she had a really tough time surviving to live and learn during her 4 years of Uni. Now it is her time to save money and start her life, and I hope it takes her to wherever she desires. I am worried for her generation that she might not be able to afford her own home. She was offered a great job in the private sector in Townsville.
She had to go through so much pressure during her work experience weeks through not being allowed to work for the duration because of the experience hours she had to do. How is anyone able to eat and have a roof over their head? We were there to back her up financially and most importantly, provide love and support.
SANDY: I hope the next generation of women could have more opportunities in life, and in their careers and more support and understanding from family and the whole of society.
SARVANI: Many organisations and many governments started making policies to give equal opportunities for men and women. But there is still some gap left. I wish the gap will be erased for my next generation and they will be happy to start with equal responsibilities shared among men and women. It is so overwhelming to see strong 15 years old Greta Thunberg raising her voice at the UN Climate Change COP24. When young women are given opportunities to be heard, better conditions for them will follow.
What does it mean to you to own a NightOwl Franchise in Australia?
ROZ: My husband and I decided to buy our first business together, NightOwl Lismore NSW (Northern NSW) in 2010 and built a very successful business from scratch. We had never owned or operated a shop before. My husband had the financial experience behind him and I had the customer service experience behind me. We work together as a team. We decided to go with the Australian owned NightOwl company because it had a team behind the franchisee’s to help with marketing, pricing and general support.
SANDY: I have been in NightOwl group for 5yrs now, I can see in the past maybe more Franchisees were owned by families but now more independent women are doing the business too, such as myself, and Stacy from Wickham Street.
I have to say that it is a tough job, especially last year with the COVID restrictions, but we are still here, we are trying to find more opportunities for the stores as well as ourselves.
SARVANI: Owning a NightOwl franchise means a lot to me. Being with this franchise chain from past 9 years, I still remember my journey from my first working day where I knew nothing to owning 3 franchises and running them successfully.
From then to now I have improved a lot of personal attributes which helped me in making many important decisions in business for its success, and it’s made me strong in other areas of my life too. I feel grateful for being with NightOwl as this is where I learned everything about the business, unlike other franchises.
I say this all because of the franchise support staff always being very supportive and encouraging and giving compliments and they recognize us even for the every small achievements we make. This boosts more confidence and encourages us to do more innovative things in store, which ultimately adds to our success. There is always something happening at NightOwl like our current Summer Flip Flop Flap campaign. These kinds of things always make me feel excited and keep me more interested in coming to work every day. Going to work every day makes me feel like going to my second home. I Love NightOwl for shaping me into whom I am now.