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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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...

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Aimee Smale

Forbes 30 under 30 2023

Aiming to become a fashion buyer, Aimee studied Fashion Buying and Management at University in London, however the idea of starting her own business was always in the back of her mind.

After landing a job at ASOS , Aimee swiftly developed the skills that she had learnt at University and gained valuable industry experience. Realising that fast fashion brands capitalise on people with low incomes and promote vast overconsumption, Odd Muse began with Aimee's desire to change the narrative surrounding fashion in the modern day. Odd Muse encourages the idea that buying high-quality and timeless pieces is far better than buying fast fashion garments in bulk, to wear once and throw away. The slow fashion brand is targeted at the fashionistas with lower incomes, to invest their money in the odd, timeless piece.

Visit Aimee's very own Odd Muse flagship store on Monmouth Street to discover the collection of timeless pieces.

→ Odd Muse

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”.

→ Charlotte Tilbury
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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.

→ Olivia Burton
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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’.

→ Discover The Petersham
Emmanuelle Moeglin

Emmanuelle Moeglin

French perfumer and entrepreneur, Emmanuelle Moeglin is taking the world of perfume up a notch with her Seven Dials based perfume house, Experimental Perfume Club (EPC). EPC is on a mission to help people create and enjoy the process of making their own personal scent, whether it's through a workshop or an advanced training academy.

→ Experimental Perfume Club
Jen Rubio

Jen Rubio

American businesswoman, Jen Rubio is the co-founder, President and CEO of Away, a luggage manufacturer and retailer with a store in our very own Seven Dials. Away aims to make travelling more seamless with their suitcases, bags and accessories built with thoughtful details, designed by travellers for travellers.

→ Away
Cora Pearl

Cora Pearl

Cora Pearl, named after one of the 19th century’s most garlanded and celebrated courtesans, 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!

→ Cora Pearl

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.

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.

Discover Monica Vinader here 

Xiwen Zhang

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.

→ For Art's Sake

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.

→ Chez Antoinette
Agnes B

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

→ agnés b
Marisa Hordern Missoma

Marisa Hordern

Founder of cult jewellery brand Missoma, Marisa Hordern first launched her brand from her kitchen table. The A-list approved jewellery sensation is now loved by the most stylish women in fashion is seen everywhere from Instagram starts to red carpets. Marisa's focus with Missoma was creating beautiful jewellery pieces that were delicate and durable, but also affordable and accessible.

→ Missoma
Aine Donovan And El Jones

Aine & El

Partners Aine Donovan and El Jones founded They Made This in 2018. The female and LGBTQ founded, contemporary modern art print shop and gallery represents the work of over 60 of the world's best graphic artists, photographers and designers.

→ They Made This
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More Female Founded Brands

Gudrun Sjödén - Founder of Gudrun Sjödén

Sjödén grew up in a village in Sweden and studied textile and fashion from 1958 to 1963.  Along with her husband she opened the first Gudrun Sjödén in Stockholm in 1976. The brand concept started and remains, colourful clothes crafted from natural fabrics and with a Nordic design, with an increased focus on sustainability over the years. Today, the clothes are sold online and in more than 70 markets.

Maria Levin -  Founder of Nudie Jeans 

Artistic advisor and co-founder of Nudie Jeans, Maria Levin, started the company Nudie Jeans over 20 years ago and has since lived a life of artistic output through her denim designs and ambitions for sustainability.

Noura Sakkijha - CEO & Co-Founder of Mejuri 

As the third generation in her family to work in the fine jewellery industry, Noura was exposed to the ins and outs of the business from a young age. Noura built a brand which spoke to women buying fine jewellery for themselves, since she never agreed with the traditional positioning that fine jewellery should be saved for gifting for special occasions. Mejuri has empowered women to make their own choices, prioritise themselves and in turn, empower those around them.

Lowell Harder - Founder of Radley 

Starting out by trading her bags on Camden Market in 1984 under the name "Hidesign", Lowell Harder sold her product as an escape from her busy, domestic life as a mum. The bags grew in massively in popularity and she was approached by John Lewis regarding them stocking her bags. With financial backing, Lowell was able to expand her handbag line to include new colourful designs which were "fun", which was an immediate success, and Radley was found.

Dinny Hall - Founder of Dinny Hall 

A Modern British jewellery brand with 30 years heritage, Dinny Hall is the creative force behind her jewellery and is personally involved in every piece.  A year later after her graduation from Art and Design college in 1985, the brand was founded and was an instant success with its experimental pieces made from unique natural materials such as leather and wood. The following years have seen the brand's jewellery adapting with changing trends, while maintaining the same quality and flair that brought her success originally.

Emily Weiss - Founder of Glossier

Founder of the cult beauty brand Glossier, Emily Weiss transformed the way in which people us makeup, promoting a natural but enhanced look. Before Glossier was launched in 2014, Emily started 'Into the Gloss',  a beauty website and community devoted to sharing real information with people about amazing products. This is where Emily realised that beauty shouldn’t be built in a boardroom—it should be built by the customer. Just 5 years after being founded Glossier was valued at $1.2 billion.

Yael Aflalo - Founder of Reformation 

Founder of the most successful, sustainable fashion brand of all time, Yael Aflalo has revolutionised the fashion industry with her effortlessly cool silhouettes that celebrate the feminine figure. Alongside her ambition to make fast fashion socially responsible, the brand also focuses on creating pieces that appeal to a wide variety of cool, young women.

Dame Margot Fonteyn (2)

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