International Women’s Day at NightOwl is about celebrating the women we support in our network. On this special day, three of our franchisees reflect on their journey to owning their own stores and discuss what International Women’s Day means to them. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and answering our questions Roz, Sandy and Sarvani.
International Women’s Day means many things to many people. Mostly, it’s about celebrating the achievements of women, reflecting on how far we have come, and considering future opportunities.
Where were you born and raised? 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 the Northern Rivers of NSW in 2006. The reason we relocate with our young family was for my husband’s work.
The opportunity to go to university never presented for me. Because I didn’t have any guidance to help me decide who I wanted to be, I started college. It just didn’t make sense, so I left after 3 months to start work and I have been working ever since. My first job, at 17 years old, was working at Grace Bros, now Myer. I worked in the accounts department, entering data into a very old computer using the square flat floppy disc! I remember that it felt like I was in a man’s world. Women, like me, had to work much harder to impress.
My mother-in-law was a great influence. She was very successful – running a typing pool in the public service in Canberra. Back then, all women started their careers in the typing pool on typewriters. Occasionally, there were opportunities to progress to computer work and join the General Managers’ personal assistants.
SANDY: I was born in Hefei, China. My strong desire to be an independent woman impacted my decisions from a very young age. I came to Australia for university when I was 20. I completed my Master of Accounting and Business Administration at James Cook University.
SARVANI: I was born in the small town of Sattenapalli, India. Women’s themes immensely affected me. During my childhood, I experienced an age of opportunity for young girls. It was a huge adjustment to our way of life. Parents began sending even their daughters to school! Seeing this change motivated me to become successful enough to inspire other young girls.
Coming from a culture were women were restricted to household maintenance always made me think of the balance of responsibility between men and women. Success stories of women leading social, economic and political forums inspired me. Likewise, my father was influenced to support my choice to relocate to Australia after I got married.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
ROZ: I feel it is great for those who want to have one day of the year to acknowledge women and their successes. But why have just one day?! We should recognise women every day. Women can, and should, be able to achieve anything they want!
SANDY: I think it’s a great day for women to show support to each other and keep fighting for our rights. It is so inspiring to see more and more women play a key role in so many different industries globally. Women need more opportunity to do more, because they can!
SARVANI: International Women’s Day is all about being inspired through celebrating the proud achievements of women over the world. We can set new goals in order to reach those who are in need and make changes to ensure equal rights for women everywhere!
How have your opportunities in life changed? And what were the key drivers of those changes?
ROZ: In my younger days, I completed a typing course, with the help of my mother-in-law, so that I could apply for a receptionist position. If I hadn’t done that, I don’t know what I would be doing today. I was fortunate enough to be successful in applying for an admin forms designer in the public service, where I received on the job training. There were a few women around me that I looked up to and mentored me.
SANDY: My opportunities, literally everything in my life, changed when I moved to Australia.
SARVANI: I would not be the same person without my husband’s love and support. Starting married life in Australia was the biggest change in my life! Australia has given me the opportunity to explore my capabilities through the practical application of my knowledge. English was so new to me when I arrived here, it was not taught to me at school. This made learning the language so tricky! But people were patient and encouraging as I learned, helping me to grow in my career.
Which women in your local community and around the globe inspire you? And why?
ROZ: Here, in my small town of Airlie Beach, there is no-one that has inspired me. However, I am inspired by Janine Allis, founder of Boost Juice. Such a simple concept, but it works! She found a niche market and now has more than 580 stores in 13 countries. She didn’t even have any experience when she opened her first store in Adelaide, only the backing of her family and a fresh idea. Janine has shown her strengths and weaknesses competing on Survivor. She is also on the panel of Shark Tank and invests in new and upcoming Australian Businesses.
SANDY: I was raised by my grandmother whose positive personality inspired me a lot!
SARVANI: Though my mom is my first here, my real inspiration is Mother Teresa. I am still astonished when I think of her, her achievements and how she made a difference in a country where she was a stranger. She was so strong. Dedicating her life to people in need made her MOTHER to millions across the world.
What hope(s) do you have for the next generation of women?
ROZ: I hop that any woman can complete any education they need to fulfill their dreams and pursue the career they choose. Women need other women to talk to, whether it be a friend, colleague, support team member at their office/workplace, or a mentor. Women take on a lot of responsibility at home with their families and at work. It is a balancing act! Women need other women to provide understanding and support.
My daughter qualified as a nurse in November 2020 and we are very proud of her because she had a really tough time surviving to live and learn during her four years of university. She endured so much pressure during her work experience weeks – not being able to earn any money while she fulfilled the requirements. How is anyone able to eat and keep a roof over their head? Thankfully, we were there to provide financial support, love and encouragement. She has been offered a great job in the private sector in Townsville. Now, it is her time to work, save money and start her life. I hope that life takes her wherever she desires! I am worried that her generation may never be able to afford their own homes.
SANDY: I hope the next generation of women have more opportunities in life and their careers. Women deserve support and understanding from family and society as a whole.
SARVANI: Many organisations and governments have started implementing policies to ensure equal opportunities for men and women but there is still a gap. My hope is that this gap will be erased for the next generation. I would be happy for them to start with equal responsibility shared among men and women. It was overwhelming to see the strong, 15-year old, Greta Thunberg raise her voice at the UN Climate Change COP24. When young women are given opportunities to speak and be heard, better conditions follow!
What does it mean to you to own a NightOwl Franchise in Australia?
ROZ: My husband and I decided to by our first business together in 2010. My husband had the financial experience, and I had the customer service experience. We decided to go with the Australian-owned NightOwl brand because it meant we would have access to a team that could help with marketing, pricing and general support. We had never owned or operated a shop before, but we built a very successful business from scratch in the NightOwl Lismore (Northern NSW).
SANDY: I have been in the NightOwl group for 5 years now. In the past, maybe more franchisees were families, but now, more independent women are stepping up like myself and Stacy from NightOwl Wickham Street. I have to say it is a tough job, especially with the COVID-restrictions, but we are still here, trying to find more opportunities for the store and ourselves.
SARVANI: Owning a NightOwl franchise means a lot to me. Being with NightOwl for more than 9 years, I remember my journey from the first day when I knew nothing to now owning three franchises… AND running them successfully!
From then to now, I have made many personal improvements that have helped me to make important decisions in driving my business towards success. But I have also become stronger in other areas of my life. I am grateful to the NightOwl family – this is where I have learned everything about the business which is quite unlike other franchises. I say this because the franchise support staff are always very helpful and encouraging. They give us compliments and recognise us for even the smallest achievements. This boosts confidence and encourages franchisees to be innovative and creative in store – ultimately adding to our success.
There is always something happening at NightOwl like our current Summer Flip Flop Flap campaign. These things make me feel excited and keep me interested in coming to work every day. When I go into my store, it feels like my second home. I love NightOwl for shaping who I am.