IWD 2023 – Michelle Warren

Q: What does International Women’s Day mean to me?

International Women’s Day means celebrating my life as a woman, applauding the work that women in all walks of life do every day and recognising the achievements and the impact made by the brave, trailblazing women who fought for the things we take for granted today. It also gives us a chance to talk about how far we still have to go.

Q: How did I start and what are the highlights of my career?

For most of my career, I worked in corporate administration and then the past 15 years, alongside my husband, running businesses in transport, heavy haulage and civil. I am also a mum to 3 amazing kids, the youngest of whom lives with Autism Spectrum Disorder which sometimes adds a little extra ‘trickiness’ to my life. But as crazy and hectic as my life already was I had a craving for something more, something for me, an urge to fulfil my creative side and follow my passion or ‘do what lights me up’.

In 2019, Holabox was born after trying to source a gift to send to my sick grandmother in hospital. There was an obvious gap in the local market and that was my lightbulb moment. I could fulfil my creative heart and bring joy to others at the same time. Holabox was initially an e-commerce business, but overcoming thyroid cancer in 2020 gave me the push to realise my longheld dream of opening a shop space. So the bricks and mortar journey of Holabox began, firstly within SIP Cafe in Walker Street and then our move to a bigger and more accessible location in Bazaar St, along with a rebrand to House of Holabox with the introduction of homewares and fashion to our gifting range, another gap in our local market.

The highlight of my career is the evolution of Holabox to what it is today, and the happiness of our customers for having brought such a beautiful space and unique shopping experience to my much loved hometown.

Q: How can we encourage future women leaders?

We can encourage women to embrace their innate value, step into their power and defy their doubts. Its important that we cheer on women to succeed, raise awareness of equality and motivate each other to reach our potential. I strongly believe in the importance of role models – seeing people succeed who look and sound like you helps.

Q: What does an equal future world look like?

An equal future would is one where every person is seen, heard, loved , respected and championed – no matter their gender, their race, their religion, their ability – they know that they have equal opportunity. We will know it when every girl or woman is able to live in their full power, choose their own pathway, define their own dreams and live life on their own terms – safely and freely.