Rochelle Courtenay, founder of charity Share the Dignity and nicknamed Australia’s ‘Pad Lady’, is a big believer in using the power of storytelling to inspire men and women to make a difference to the lives of women often fleeing from domestic violence or homelessness. She talks to Leaders in Heels about how she started Share the Dignity and what keeps her working tirelessly for women who don’t have a voice.

How did you inspire others to join you even though you didn’t have any prior experience?

Never having done anything like this before, I made things up as I went along. When I first collected sanitary items with other women in my local community, I didn’t even know I had to be a registered charity, have a board of directors, or even pay for permits in every state!

I used to ask myself (and still do!) ‘What’s the worst thing that could happen?’ All I wanted to do was make a difference. I started surrounding myself with people who had the right knowledge and strengths in furthering the cause.

In the beginning, how did you get the word out about the work you were doing?

I started telling people true stories about women using socks and newspapers during their periods. I couldn’t imagine another woman not being empathetic when she heard this. As soon as someone heard about it, they would ask how they could help.

I would never have managed to reach as many people as I did if social media hadn’t existed. I shared raw, uncut and powerful stories that got shared and talked about. One of the most powerful stories I shared was of a woman who worked as a petrol station assistant in the Northern Territory. She recalled a woman walking in at 10.30pm one night, who looked like she couldn’t even afford basic necessities let alone pads. This woman bled all over the floor, took some pads off the counter, went to the bathroom, cleaned herself up, then came back to return the rest of the pads.

I remember the woman telling me that she had no idea what to do or how to react. That story touched something deep inside me and I shared it on social media. People needed to know what was happening and sharing the power of storytelling was the best way to connect with them, so they would care too.

What inspires you and what’s the best part of your job?

I get so much strength from our volunteers, who are all so incredibly busy, but still give their time selflessly and generously to Share the Dignity. I think we have such committed volunteers because they can see directly the results of the work they are doing. We’ve made it simple for people to volunteer with us, including setting expectations and outcomes. People love it when they can see they have made a difference.

The best part of my job is dropping the donations off to a charity, meeting the women and seeing the smiles on their faces, especially during our Christmas appeal called It’s in the bag.

What’s the toughest part of your job?

I’m always worried that the donations won’t meet the need. In a post Covid world, the need to help women is so much greater than it was before and that’s where we come in. The impact of Covid and the lockdowns on the work we do has given me many stressful and sleepless nights.

What’s your advice to other women wanting to make a difference?

Surround yourself with amazing and incredible people because it’s when we are together that we can make a real difference. I never thought for a second I could ever do so much on my own. Also learn to delegate, delegate, and delegate!


About Rochelle Courtenay
Rochelle Courtenay uses her power of storytelling as the Founder and Managing Director of Share the Dignity, which works to make a real, on the ground difference in the lives of those experiencing homelessness, fleeing domestic violence, or doing it tough. We distribute period products to those in need and work to end period poverty here in Australia. We assist those in need through collecting thousands of period products each year through our collection drives and campaigns and distribute them directly to charities across Australia.


About the author
Rashida Tayabali is a copywriter specialising in writing clear, conversational copy for women in business to help them attract their dream clients. She’s also a features writer with articles published in leading Australian publications. She also volunteers with Share the Dignity as a copywriter.

Major media placements can be a boon to entrepreneurs. They increase brand awareness, build credibility, and generate massive amounts of traffic and sales. To give you a competitive advantage, below is a step-by-step checklist that teaches you how to go about securing media coverage without spending tens of thousands of dollars on hiring a PR firm or onboarding a freelance publicist.  


The best way to start planning for any publicity campaign is to determine what makes you and your business newsworthy. Consider whether your service or business area is trending in the news. If not, then examine what is relevant and timely in your industry or on the local news. Is there any controversy or conflict that you can credibly weigh in on? Is there an event, new product or service, book launch, new location, or even a new hire that you can pitch as a newsworthy event? Answering these questions will give you a solid start to determining what makes your business newsworthy.


Now that you have what makes your business newsworthy, it’s time to look at what makes your business credible. In other words, what makes you and your business believable and trustworthy? Consider your academic and professional training and the types of media exposure you’ve generated for the speeches or talks you’ve given. Do you have a large audience, significant annual sales, or interesting and transformational life experiences? Any of these elements can help make you and your business more credible. 

Media Bio

Since I started in the PR field more than 15 years ago, I’ve had clients ask me if they should use their website bios as their media bios, and my answer is always the same: “no”. Your website bio is generally longer and contains your story about your journey, how you started your business, and anything else that’s relevant. These bios can reach 5,000 words, whereas your media bio is short and concise. This bio is short and usually only two or three paragraphs (including what you want others to know about you and your business).

Your Perfect Media List

With your media bio now complete, you can start looking at where your story can potentially fit. To find the right media, you can Google “Editorial Calendar” + Publication Name to see the editorial calendar of what stories are in the queue. And then, you can Google outlet name + masthead to find out which editors cover specific topics and stories.

You could also go to the website of the publication you would like to pitch, and go to the “Masthead”, “About” or “Contact” pages for a list of all of the editors and their related beats. You can also go to LinkedIn or Twitter to find a media contact. Most editors are also on Twitter.

Your Subject Line

When securing media coverage your subject line is the most important part of your pitch. It should be interesting, and if possible, generate an emotional response from your reader. You can make a provocative statement or ask a question, if you wish. Just be sure to include the who, what, where, when, why, and how. 

You’ll also want to start the subject line with what type of story you’re pitching – such as an interview, product review, feature story, article idea, etc. Here are two sample subject lines: one is good, and the other is not so. 

  • “ABC Company Announces the Launch of XYZ Product”
  • Feature: “From Small Ghetto to Fifth Avenue: How this Entrepreneur Built a Family Empire”

The second one helped secure media coverage on,, and more. 

The Pitch Itself

It doesn’t matter whether you’re pitching a footwear collection, a nightclub, or a software demo, you should consider tying your pitch to the current time of the year, or something trending in the news at that moment: the Oscars, Halloween, the latest viral video, etc. I find that tying product and service pitches to a specific time of the year gets more media interest because it’s timely.

When you pitch a journalist, you also need to make sure that your email conveys that you understand who the reader is, and what they are looking for. That’s how you gain rapport with members of the media. And although it’s a no-brainer, be sure to address your media contact specifically by their first name. Don’t start your email with a generic “Hi there” or “To whom it may concern”. Just because your email isn’t expected, that doesn’t mean that it can’t be personalized.

The body of your pitch should be between 200 and 300 words and devoted to telling a story about you and your brand. Add five to seven bullet points about your product or services that the reader can look over quickly. Remember, editors see the same generic pitches every day, so you have to make yours stand out. These five to seven bullet points should pop off the page. Without these bullets, your pitch will fall flat.

Pitch Follow Up

You’ve pitched your top media contacts, and you’re hoping for a positive response. The wait can seem like an eternity but resist any temptation to overwhelm your contact. It’s critical you are patient yet persistent.

Once you’ve pitched a media contact, only follow up three to four days later to see if they are interested in covering your story or doing an interview. If you don’t hear back right away, you can follow up one more time before pitching a new angle or product. But never call—unless you know the media contact personally.

If they don’t respond after two follow-ups, don’t be discouraged. Your company, brand, story, or product is simply not the right fit for any stories they are working on now. However, that doesn’t mean they won’t be interested in the future. You have to keep moving forward. I’ve pitched myself 10 or 15 times only to be rejected each time before finding success. If you are rejected, don’t let it get you down. It takes a thick skin to be successful. 

Securing Media Coverage With A Press Releases

You can issue a press release when you’re sending a message out to the general public via a wire service company. We usually issue them when a client is releasing a book or a new product, a live event, or to make some type of announcement.

Pitching Angles

Having a fresh set of pitching angles is essential to keeping your brand media-ready. However, coming up with consistently interesting pitching angles for yourself or your business can be tiring and tough. To eliminate this from happening, here are a few exercises you can do:

  • Give a visit to see what people are asking about in your niche.
  • Do keyword research on Google’s Keyword Planner to see what people are searching for. You can also look at
  • Look to see what topics are trending in your niche. Try to find a story angle that relates to national news or current events.
  • Research what’s happening locally and pitch an editor or television producer in your market.
  • See how you can add a new viewpoint to an existing article.

Booking More Interviews When Securing Media Coverage

Sending traffic, getting shares on social media, and generating comments for your press mentions, articles, and interviews will help you gain more media opportunities. This is because the more traction your media coverage gets, the more likely editors, journalists, and producers will ask you for quotes or other types of commentary. Additionally, keep in mind that the larger your social media followings and your audience are, the more likely media members will be to call on you for your expertise.

Striving to secure major media coverage that’s effective and relevant shouldn’t cost tens of thousands of dollars. If you have a strategic plan with newsworthy and credible points to pitch to the media, you will be successful. Just keep in mind patience and persistence are the keys to securing coverage that will help move the needle in your business.

About the Author of 10 Steps to Securing Media Coverage for Your Startup

Kristin Marquet runs, a boutique creative consultancy that designs beautiful and feminine brands in the wedding, beauty, fashion, wellness, fitness cooking, photography and interior design industries. Passionate about learning, Kristin has advanced studies in data and marketing analytics. She has attended MIT, Boston University and NYU, and holds degrees in Literature and Marketing/Public Relations. She has contributed to,,, and

To say that launching a start-up is challenging is an understatement. Particularly when you throw a horrific Australian bushfire season and a global pandemic into the mix.

Frustration with ill-fitting swimwear, that often compromises quality and durability for fast fashion, is where Ellenny Swim began. Most women dread shopping for swimwear, and I, Megan Davis, was one of them. I noticed a gap in the market for swimwear designs that were sun-safe, supportive and sustainable. A brand that caters to the ‘average-sized’ women. 

The launch of my eco-conscious swimwear label was delayed not once but twice. Back in January, the bushfires first delayed my progress and soon after COVID-19 sent the world into a spin. Now that it’s spring and we are coming out of COVID-19 hibernation, Ellenny Swim is already growing a strong online presence. 

Here’s four lessons I’ve learnt since starting Ellenny Swim.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

It is often expected you should know everything about the industry before starting your business, although this isn’t usually the case. I had little fashion experience, but I had a clear idea of what I wanted my product to be. As a graphic designer, I have an eye for design and a strong attention to detail. I knew where my strengths were. 

I knew the importance of creating a strong visual brand was essential to connect with an audience. My skillset was an ultimate strength, but I knew I had many gaps I needed to fill. Realising very quickly that I couldn’t do it on my own, I sought help from business mentors, manufacturing agents and garment designers. 

I joined a number of business groups to learn from the advice and experience of other business owners. Also, don’t underestimate the power of social media. I have collaborated with female models and influencers on Instagram that have continued to grow my strong online presence. 

Resilience is key 

Launching Ellenny Swim was a really challenging time as I had already bought all the stock but had to keep delaying the launch. I kept finding myself back at square one as disaster after disaster hit. Like most businesses this year, I had to shift and find other ways to get my brand out there.  

Despite all of the hurdles I faced launching Ellenny Swim, my passion for the brand never faltered. Maintaining a clear goal in mind for my label helped me stay motivated and on track through those tough times. The reason I created Ellenny was to fill a gap in the market. 

I wanted to create a brand that aligned with my personal ethos of being as environmentally friendly as possible. I can also empathise with women of all shapes and sizes that are often let down by brands that don’t cater to them. I’ve always been curvy and have felt frustrated with swimwear that doesn’t fit properly. I’m very proud to help women feel confident and empowered while relaxing by the pool or beach. 

Be patient – it’s a long process 

I was determined to create swimsuit designs that were sustainable and durable, instead of producing fast fashion that only creates more problems for the environment. However, I didn’t realise how complicated the process was from idea to prototype. It’s much more complicated than other clothing garments.

I had to be patient. Sourcing an eco-friendly fabric manufacturer took time. My research led me to Carvico – an Italian textile manufacturer that uses recycled old nylon products such as discarded fishing nets to create material that is perfect for swimwear. 

There were many features that I wanted to include in my designs that took time to perfect. We’ve all experienced swimwear with removable pads that scrunch and fall out, so I wanted to create a secure rashie design with a built-in-bra that didn’t move around in the water. It was also important to me that my designs provide strong support while also being sun-safe with a UPF50+ rating to block out 98% of the sun’s harmful rays.

Once I got the samples, I tested the swimsuits on myself for at least six months, to make sure they survived the harshest conditions. I tested them in chlorine, salt, 45-degree Celsius temperatures and ran them through the washing machine to ensure they were durable and didn’t fall apart.

Despite the lengthy process, I have created a product that I am incredibly proud of. A range of swimwear designs that are high quality, eco-friendly, flattering and durable. 

Support other business owners 

I couldn’t have launched Ellenny Swim without the support of other small businesses. I feel very proud to support a whole line of small businesses, particularly in Australia, who are benefiting from my business. 

Supporting women in business is also very important to me. I worked with a number of  business owners and leaders, some who are also mothers, that helped me navigate the process.


About the author

Perth stay-at-home mother of two, Megan Davis is a former graphic designer who created a brand aligns with her personal ethos and is environmentally friendly. Check out Ellenny Swim.

I love being a part of the Leaders In Heels community as it offers the ability to network and meet inspiring women worldwide. Sarvin operates her self-titled international sustainable luxury clothing brand from the UK. Leading up to International Women’s Day, I wanted to include her interview about starting a sustainable fashion brand as a source of inspiration to those who are looking to start their own company. Whether it be in the fashion, food and beverage or tech, I have come to realise that entrepreneurs all have the same struggles and doubts, but possess similar qualities to succeed. 

Can you give a background on yourself and your business?

My name is Sarvin and I am the owner of Sarvin,  which I launched three years ago in the UK. It started as a hobby,  sketching in my flat while I worked a full-time job. I always loved dressing exclusively and the feeling of luxury fabric. I decided to work with a self-employed dressmaker, and once the garments were ready, I would upload a few images of myself wearing the samples either as a selfie in front of the mirror or attending various events.  I still remember it as if it was yesterday when I received my first few orders via email and Instagram. It was at this moment that I realised that this is what I love doing. As a result, I decided to create a brand focused on sustainable fashion made from high-quality fabrics and distinct attention to details.

Starting a sustainable fashion brand

What is sustainable fashion to you and why is it important?

Sustainable fashion focuses on reducing textile waste and environmental depletion while increasing ethical treatment of workers; the goal is to slow down the global production and consumption process to form an industry that will be more sustainable in the long run.

At Sarvin, sustainability is the core of our business. We aim to increase the message behind sustainability by providing quality garments and using eco-friendly material.

In our latest collection, we have used ethically sourced, eco-friendly fabrics to create extraordinary garments. All manufacturing methods are sustainably based, with 75% in the UK supporting local artisans.

We keep our supply chain local to the fibre origin to minimise transportation through the production process.

“We aim to increase the message behind sustainability by providing quality garments and using eco-friendly material.”


Were you always interested in entrepreneurship?

Yes, I always loved working for myself. I knew it would not be an easy journey and I was aware I would not be earning a steady income. However, this was a path that I knew would make me incredibly happy and excited to wake up to every day. I grew up in a family where both of my parents were self-employed and from a very young age my Dad would take me to his company and teach me important matters about his business.

What are the three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?

  1. Patience – I have learned in the past three years that nothing comes easy. Nothing happens overnight and you have to stay on top of everything to make and see progress.
  2. Consistency & persistency – You have to stay consistent. Although the majority of time spent goes towards the business in the first couple of years, you’ll find that consistency and persistency pays off immensely.
  3. Faith – Never lose hope if you fall once or even a few times! There have been times in my business where I felt like I couldn’t do it anymore, but once I made it through the difficult times, I became much stronger.

What does a regular work week look like for you?  

A regular day starts with exercise so I feel energetic all day. I work from home for a couple of hours and then head to my second part-time job in the afternoon.

I believe scheduling downtime is essential. In my spare time, you can find me experimenting with new recipes or hiking with my partner.

How was the process of gaining international popularity for you? 

The entire process was very organic and selling from different marketplaces helped me gain exposure.

I honestly never had a feeling of giving up completely, but there were times I would think that it would be much easier if I had a 9 to 5 job and a steady income. After experiencing such thoughts though, I would remember why I started in the first place and think about where I am now. It would only provide me with the courage to move forward and not look back.

I remember the first time I got an international order. I turned around and said to my partner, “Can you believe that there is someone on the other side of the world that loves my design?”. He just smiled and said, “let’s work hard and turn that one into many more”.


“Can you believe that there is someone on the other side of the world that loves my design?”. He just smiled and said, “let’s work hard and turn that one into many more.”


What has been your biggest hurdle in starting a sustainable fashion brand? 

Starting a sustainable fashion brand takes much longer than fast fashion garments; we take our supply chain process very seriously and test our garments many times before launching. Before creating a new line, we take action on a long-term strategy based on a sustainable environmental philosophy. We consider every aspect of our production process, from our handcrafted accessories to our finished garments. We make sure we are using quality sustainable materials and working with the right people. As a small business, this takes a lot of time and energy.

When you are starting a sustainable fashion brand with no background or knowledge in running a company, the lack of experience makes it much harder to find the right people to work with and that understand your vision. I have learned not to be too trusting with people you have just met and to be more diligent with background checks regarding their skills and reputation.

I think it is so important to monitor every aspect of your business and to often look from an outsider’s perspective to see what needs to be done to take your business to the next level.

What do you love most about your brand?

Focusing on quality rather than quantity. I don’t follow fast fashion and I do not follow trends. I love designing for women that love and appreciate the touch of luxury fabric and have a strong desire to look rare wherever she goes. I am also so excited that Sarvin will soon be launching our first ever print collection that is vegan, eco-friendly fabric.

By taking pride in being a sustainable-focused business, I am:

1.  reducing waste by choosing the right manufacturer and fabric companies;

2. one of the first few independent sustainable luxury labels that use vegan fabrics in their garments;

3. increasing productivity and working with like-minded businesses;

4. “doing good” for the planet and creating quality garments over quantity; 

5. spreading the message behind sustainability and caring about our planet’s future.

What is your advice to someone starting a sustainable fashion brand or business of their own?

Do thorough research in the months before launching your business. Take on internship roles for start-up companies because this will help you gain more experience and exposure in your field. If you feel like giving up, take a deep breath and remember why you started this journey. Take the time to celebrate how far you have come.

What do you love most about Leaders In Heels? Any last words for all the fellow inspiring female leaders reading this?

I personally love all the Leaders in Heels products, but my favourite has to be the Phenomenal Woman Planner. It helps me a lot with planning my daily tasks and keeping me on track with my schedules and appointments. What is great about this planner is that it gives you that kick every morning to make you feel like a phenomenal woman. For my fellow female leaders, you can do whatever you want in life as long as you work for it!

Starting a sustainable fashion brand

Follow Sarvin

See Sarvin’s most recent collection for yourself at

Choosing a business name is crucial as it is typically the first thing people will learn about your new brand. Although it is a challenge, these three steps will encourage you to get the most out of your business name. By the end of the process, you will feel confident in your decision (and not like you’re stepping off the edge of a cliff).

Step One: Mission and Vision

Consider your audience when choosing a business name

When choosing a business name, it’s important to know who you want the name to appeal to. The name should be a reflection of you AND your target audience.

For example, a fashion brand targeted at professional women will be nothing like one geared towards fashion-forward students.

The best names are the ones that target a certain audience and engages them with values and emotions that they connect with.

A great example of this is the subscription service, Dollar Shave Club. This company markets themselves as a disruptor within their industry, with a quality product that is mailed to their customers. Unlike many of their competitors, the Dollar Shave Club doesn’t market their razors to a specific gender. Their name implies that it is an affordable subscription service, which are two elements that attract millennial consumers.

Look ahead

It’s important to consider the future of your business and where you want it to be in five years. If you want to start a flexible company that could grow into new areas, be careful not to pigeonhole your business. In the beginning, you might be launching a tech company and creating a new social media app, thus deciding that the name Chit Chat could be a great fit. The problem is that if you plan to expand into other territories later down the line, like adding a photography element to your app, Chit Chat is no longer an acceptable name for your business. If you plan ahead when choosing a business name you can prevent having to go through an expensive rebranding process in the future.


Try to summarise your brand’s mission and values in a short project statement. Here are some great examples of project states to get you started:  

  • We need a name that captures our innovative and unique approach to selling insurance.
  • We need an effective name that sets us apart as a modern, youthful brand.
  • We need a reliable name that hints at our environmentally-friendly practices.


Step Two: Get Creative when choosing a business name

The essentials

It’s a great first step to gather all of your brand ideas in one place and figure out what kind of name you want for your specific business. The fun part starts now; you can begin coming up with name ideas!

A solid brand name should be:

  • Simple to say.
  • Easy to spell.
  • Understandable when heard.

If people have difficulty sharing your brand with their friends and family then they won’t share it at all. This lack of sharing will likely stunt your brand’s rise to success.

Narrow your list

Once you’ve created a list with a wide variety of ideas, you can start crossing off names that don’t work. Keep crossing off name ideas until you only have five or six favourites left. This part of the process is an excellent opportunity to gather feedback from your friends, family and target market.

When approaching your target audience, frame questions neutrally by asking “Which brand would you want to find out more about?”. Rather than “Which of these names is the best?”. 

Keep working your way down by picking a name that you feel is unique enough to help you stand out and supports your business. Your business name is more than a word – it is a tool that can help support your growth.

Remember, when choosing a business name, it is more important to prioritise something that will boost your business over one that you feel emotionally attached to.


Step Three: Check your Boxes

Secure your domain

A solid domain name goes perfectly with a good brand name. Your website is where people will find more information on what you do, so it is vital to have your domain and business name match closely. When you’ve narrowed your list down to just a few names, try searching if there are any available domains for those names.


Choosing a business name can feel like a daunting task before you start, as a lot rests upon a name. The name summarises your brand’s identity and serves as the first point of connection between your business and your target audience.

If you feel like there aren’t any good names left for you to choose, don’t worry! Keep brainstorming and go through each of these three steps and you’ll find your perfect name in no time!  


About Grant Polachek

Grant Polachek is the Director of Marketing at Inc 500 company Squadhelp, a global naming platform, with customers from small startups to large corporations including Nestle, Philips, Hilton, Pepsi and AutoNation.