Women of Covent Garden

International Women's Day

Covent Garden is celebrating International Women’s Day by highlighting some of the key women with connections to our world-famous estate. From female founded brands, leaders and inspirations, we’re shining a light on their achievements with our International Women’s Day Q&A.

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Chef Kimberly Lin: creator of Floozie Cookie and Lilly's Café

Introduce yourself! Tell us a little about you and your background…

I’m a professional pastry chef from Canada and studied culinary arts, baking, pastry & French boulangerie. After relocating to the U.K. in 2005, I worked across the country before settling in London. In 2010 I joined the team at The Square (2 Michelin stars), followed by The Savoy, Corinthia & Claridge’s as head pastry chef.

In 2020 I created “Floozie cookie”, a delicious stuffed vegan cookie concept, with an initial pop-up store in Covent Garden followed by the first international outlet in Dubai. Growing up in Canada, I’ve always loved the simplicity of a cookie, and how it can bring such joy! I remember seeing my first cookie shop years ago and thinking what a wonderful idea it was, but never dreamt I’d have my own. For me it’s about creating the tastiest flavours. We make everything from scratch and combine the freshest ingredients to create the most deliciously tasting cookies, and we have a lot of fun doing it.

In 2021 we created restaurant & café concept Lilly’s, an all-day dining concept located within 3 Henrietta Street in Covent Garden. Lilly’s is a forward-thinking café seamlessly blending wellness and fun. Located in the stunning conservatory on the ground floor, the menu and chic interiors take inspiration from the attributes of gems, signs of the zodiac, and the elements. Lilly’s is a destination for incredible teas, beautiful cakes, a global food offering, and plenty of bubbles mindfully bought together with mood-boosting natural ingredients and enjoyed in stellar surroundings.

What empowers you in your role and day to day life?

Surrounding myself with people who are supportive, they allow me to ask questions, make mistakes and be my most authentic self.  Bad days are supported, achievements are celebrated, daydreams or crazy ideas are nurtured to become a reality.

Which female figure has inspired you in your life and why?  

I don’t think there is any single female figure who has inspired me. Instead, I take inspiration for all the powerful, strong and resilient women in my life.  Everyone has their own story, completely different from the next and inspiring in their own way.  I’m in awe of my sister who juggle family responsibilities and a successful career, my friend who is a personal trainer, veterinarian and competes in triathlons and co-workers who are empowered, creative and artistic.

What do you love about Covent Garden?

I love the history of Covent Garden and how it has changed throughout the centuries.  From being a monastery to a vegetable market and now an international destination for shopping and theatre.

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Shackleton Expeditions Manager Wendy Searle

Wendy Searle: Expedition Manager & Guide at Shackleton

Introduce yourself! Tell us a little about you and your background…

I’m Wendy Searle and I’m the Expeditions Manager and Guide at Shackleton, which is basically my dream job. I came to almost by accident, when I was in my late thirties I met a team who was doing an Antarctic crossing. I had never heard of Shackleton or Scott really, the history of polar exploration. I was completely clueless about all of it and I didn’t really think about adventures, I was taken to Dartmoor and the Lake District when I was younger and I absolutely hated it. I just couldn’t see the attraction but as an adult I started trying out running and started out with 5K and then marathons and then fell running just in the south Shropshire Hills after work and just completely fell back in love with the outdoors. Even then I wasn’t determined to go and do polar journeys but there was definitely a seed or an inkling of an idea in there, so when I met this team, I read this history and decided that I just had to do Antarctica.

So I started working towards it and expeditions have this weird ability to gain momentum as you go through and start by telling one person and then they tell another person and suddenly feel like it’s possible but also that you have to do it. Once I completed my first expedition to Antarctica, when I first came back, I realise the world hadn’t changed, but I have changed quite a lot and I needed to fill this void and so I sought out other people that had done expeditions like this and having originally thought that once would be enough quite quickly this idea started to creep into my mind about this desire to go back.

What empowers you in your role and day to day life? 

What I think about is how I’m giving power to others rather than empowering myself by sharing expeditions with others and encouraging them to keep pushing on a door until they feel they can push through and take on that challenge whatever it is. Especially as woman and a mother there is a certain way that people expect us to be but we don’t have to be just one thing it’s just one aspect of who we are and there are all these different facets that we can have simultaneously.

Which female figure has inspired you in your life and why?  

I get asked a lot on which women have inspired me and I do think about people like Amelia Earhart who were such trail blazers who were doing things before and although it’s not necessarily easier now for women we are standing on the shoulders of giants of people like her. But I’m also incredibly inspired by my own Mum, it’s something that I didn’t appreciate when I was younger but she was really quite adventurous and take herself off on her own adventures and she really imparted that to us. To just be curious and try new things.

What do you love about Covent Garden? 

It’s currently home to the Shackleton store!

Women of Covent Garden

From iconic leading ladies to some of the best female entrepreneurs in the world, Covent Garden is proudly home to some incredible women...


Charlotte Tilbury

London-born Charlotte Tilbury is the world’s number one make-up artist with a client list filled with more stars than the Oscars and a make-up brand that has taken over the world. After the ground-breaking success and rapid expansion of Charlotte Tilbury counters in the UK, US and Canada since the brand launched in September 2013, Charlotte has created her first standalone magical makeup haven in none other than Covent Garden.

Charlotte Tilbury’s mission statement is to “make every woman the most beautiful version of themselves”.

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Jemma And Lesa

The British accessories brand was founded by best friend and ex-fashion buyers Jemma and Lesa, who met on their first day at the London College of Fashion. They bonded over a love of design, a passion to start their own business and a mutual struggle to find a watch they wanted to wear.

Lover of vintage, the pair would trawl through antique markets to find timepieces, but, whilst beautiful, the cogs would often stop and store. After graduation, the women went on to pursue successful careers in fashion buying, clocking up time at fiverse fashion brands such as Topshop, ASOS and Selfridges. All the while, the idea of going it alone was gathering momentum until the day in 2011 when Jemm and Lesa made the leap, quit their jobs and set about creating Olivia Burton.

Named after Lesa’s great aunt whose spirited approach and energy was a huge inspiration, Olivia Burton debuted its first collection in September 2012. The pair opened their first ever store in Covent Garden in 2018.

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Eliza Doolittle

“The difference between a lady and a flower girl is not how she behaves, but how she's treated. I shall always be a flower girl to Professor Higgins, because he always treats me as a flower girl, and always will; but I know I can be a lady to you, because you always treat me as a lady, and always will.”

One of the most iconic leading ladies of Covent Garden, Eliza Doolittle was first brought to life by George Bernard Shaw in his career-defining stage play ‘Pygmalion’ and then forever remembered as Audrey Hepburn dancing her way around the cobbles of Covent Garden’s Piazza. Eliza is an independent-minded and streetwise woman who knows she can rise to the challenge of Professor Higgins.

The movie may be over 100-years-old but Eliza’s tune still sings strong.

Lara Petersham

Lara Boglione

Taking the reins of Petersham Nurseries in 2011 as Managing Director, Lara Boglione was the creative visionary behind bringing Petersham Nurseries to Covent Garden in 2017, whilst remaining actively involved in all aspects of the business to ensure brand values are maintained. True to the horticultural origins of the family business and the heritage of Covent Garden’s past, Lara felt there could not have been a more fitting location for this new venture into central London.

Maintaining her passion for simplicity, flora, fauna and responsibly sourced produce, Lara has created an unparalleled lifestyle destination within the urban environment of Covent Garden.

Today, she leads a growing aspirational brand in the heart of central London, inspired by nature and her family’s Italian heritage, yet motivated by the principles of sustainability and ‘slow living’.

Marie Marchand

Marie Marchand is the co-founded Frenchie with the alongside husband and Chef Patron Gregory Marchand. Since the opening of their first site on Rue du Nil in 2009, Marie has used her extensive background in PR, marketing and events in hospitality working for the likes of AOL and the infamous Ducasse Group to build and grow the Frenchie group. Marie’s role goes beyond these three areas encompassing everything from business development, marketing, PR, events, accounting and more - In Gregory’s words she is ‘the backbone of the business’ and this year, Marie was named one of the 15 most influential women in food in London by The Resident.

Since launching Frenchie Rue du Nil and the Frenchie Bar a Vins, Marie and Gregory have launched another two locations, FTG and the Frenchie Caviste. The fourth site, Frenchie Covent Garden is located in the heart of London on Henrietta Street.

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Dame Margot Fonteyn

Dame Margot Fonteyn was an iconic figure in British ballet and was living in a flat on Long Acre, Covent Garden during her time as the Royal Ballet Prima Ballerina Assoluta. Working with Ninette de Valois and Frederick Ashton she was particularly renowned for her performances in the classics & as a muse for Ashton. Fonteyn’s dancing was distinguished by its perfect line and exquisite lyricism, qualities evident in the roles created on her by Ashton. Image courtesy of the Royal Opera House

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Jane Austen

One of the most remarkable female writers, Jane Austen was a resident of Covent Garden's Henrietta Street. Known for her sharp commentary on dependence of women on marriage & their will to be financially independent, Austen’s novels have stood the test of time with her most notable work ‘Pride & Prejudice’ being retold dozens of times including the iconic film with Colin Firth, Bollywood version & the unforgettable Bridget Jones’ Diary. Jane Austen by Cassandra Austen © National Portrait Gallery

Cora Pearl

Cora Pearl

Cora Pearl, named after one of the 19th century’s most garlanded and celebrated courtesans, has now opened on Covent Garden's Henrietta Street.

Cora Pearl was a Nineteenth Century courtesan who started her career in Covent Garden and ended up as the Queen of Parisian nightlife. She was both notorious and yet very refined, able to capture the hearts, and fortunes, of both naïve young bloods and seasoned statesmen alike. Famed for her wit and her lithe sensuality, she bathed in onyx baths and had herself presented at dinner parties on a huge silver platter with parsley covering her bits! She also became a wonderful saviour to wounded and dying soldiers during the Siege of Paris by the Prussians in 1870, turning her palace on the Champs Elysee into a hospital. After this she returned to England, famously being ejected from the Grosvenor Hotel by a manager furious to discover that the ‘Lady’ who’d been staying there in luxury for a week was actually the notorious courtesan, Cora Pearl. She wrote her memoirs to try and boost her dwindling income, and finally died in 1886. What a life!

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Kirstie Gibbs

Starting her career as a Luxury Jewellery Buyer at Harrods, Kirstie Gibbs has become one of the biggest names in the jewellery industry. Whilst working in Harrods, Kirstie identified a new breed of modern, mindful woman, searching for pieces through which they can express their individuality and then in 2015 The Alkemistry was born.

The Alkemistry focuses on timeless jewellery which is exclusively curated from international female designers and complemented by their own unique personalisable collection, handmade in London. The first store opened on Floral Street last year and it's the perfect place to start your own personal alchemy journey.


Xiwen Zhang

Featured on Forbes' 30 Under 30 List for 2019, For Art’s Sake's Creative Director, Xiwen Zhang, is a force to be reckoned with. In only three years, Xiwen and her Co-Founder Yannis Makridis created one of the biggest eyewear brands to come out of London. Stocked in the likes of NET-A-PORTER and Saks Fifth Avenue but having their one and only store in Covent Garden, this brand has been worn by everyone from Beyoncé to Eva Chen, from J Lo to Kristen Bell.


Aurelia Delclos

Bringing a piece of her family heritage to Covent Garden, Aurelia Delclos opened Chez Antoinette in 2014 where it is now it a true piece of France in the heart of London. The restaurant is named after her grandmother and everything on the menu is inspired by the authentic recipes of Antoinette. Since opening, the restaurant has flourished from an insider’s secret to a cult destination where people can eat, drink and be transported to the South of France.


agnès b

The grand Madame of Floral Street, agnès b.! Known for helping create the ideology behind everyone’s obsession with Parisian style, agnès b. began her brand in 1973 and has since then become a fashion icon, activist and an extraordinary woman.

To list all Agnès’ triumphs would be similar to writing War and Peace but from the creation of The Snap Cardigan in 1979 to her commitment to the arts all the way to offering free condoms in her shops to combat AIDS in 1995 this woman is an unstoppable force of nature.

More recently, Agnès launched Agnès Troublé known as Agnès b. endowment fund in 2009 with the goal to put agnès b.’s social conscience into action, in the fight against social injustice, the protection of the environment, and not forgetting her permanent investment in culture and creation.

To find out much more about this incredible women, check out the history of her brand here

Monica Vinader

Back in the early 2000s, jewellery was either a luxury purchase (read: incredibly expensive, and usually a gift) or lower-priced, trend-led and poor quality. Women who wanted to buy themselves jewellery were cut out of the market by eye-watering prices, or disappointed by cheap and cheerful pieces without longevity or conscious craftsmanship.

Enter: one lightbulb moment.

Founder and CEO Monica Vinader grew up surrounded by arts and objects from her parents' antiques business. A lot of which featured a technique called gold vermeil (pronounced ver-may), where gold was applied to sterling silver to create stunning pieces in the 19th century. What if that same technique could be used to make a new style of jewellery that was affordable but no less beautiful? Many told her it couldn't. But it could. Working from her Norfolk studio (still the MV HQ today) Monica innovated a new category between fashion and fine jewellery, using gold vermeil to create beautiful and affordable pieces every woman could buy for herself and style 100% her way. Joined by her sister, Gaby, Monica Vinader became not just a name, but a brand in 2008, offering timeless jewellery to women who wanted something wearable, long-lasting and a little different.