Chrissi Harcourt Wood – Future Female

I had the very good fortune of meeting the wonderful Chrissi when local friend and artist Milli McGregor introduced us. Chrissi is a woman who believes in the power of the mind and body to help support healing. A thought process I am very much in tune with.  Chrissi discovered when she lost her hair, that some health conditions can be brought on and manifest through emotional blockages and turmoils not yet dealt with. Chrissi Owns a Jewellery brand Rubi Warren creating and making beautiful bespoke peices, available on Rubi Warren Online Store Or visit Chrissi’s studio at The Consortium in Winchester.

 

FF: Can you tell us a bit about your background?

 

CHW: I was born and raised in Gloucester by my mum and grandparents. My career is one of two halves… the first half was spent in the corporate world – from around age 17. I got offered a job with a building society after about 3 days in sixth form, and took it, as I was itching to earn some money and be in some way independent.  From there I built a career in HR performance, change and communications. Although I didn’t go to Uni, I never stopped learning and I did eventually formalise my workplace learning with a Masters degree in Business Admin at age 31.

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Rubi Warren Studio At The Consortium Jewry Street Winchester.

A few years after that, I started to feel restless in the corporate world, and wanted to do something with my creative talents. So I returned to study again – interior design initially, and later jewellery design and manufacture, which is what I’ve stuck with to date.

 

 

FF: What does Future Female mean to you?

 

CHW: For me it’s about where we are heading – not just as women, but as a race. It’s a place where being female defines nothing more than being in a female physical body. We’re coming out of a long period of patriarchal governance, under which masculine characteristics have dominated our value system, in society, economy and business. These old patriarchs have viewed women as subservient, dependent or something to be possessed.

Equality has opened many doors for women but we’ve still been operating in what’s largely a masculine world, where you have to behave like a male to get on the playing field.

I see Future Female as re-writing the rules of governance – recognizing and respecting, once again, the value and power of feminine characteristics, and engaging those alongside the masculine. We’re moving to a place of balance between the positive masculine and feminine forces in each of us, which is ultimately a much more powerful place to be, whether you are male or female.

 

FF: You recently wrote a book called ‘Losing my hair, finding myself: How I reversed universal alopecia, naturally.’ I’m fascinated by how effectively you healed yourself and would love you to share some insights as to how?

 

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CHW: Yes the book emerged out of a particularly challenging but evolutionary period for me. Developing alopecia was a bit of a shock, especially when it spread to my entire body. It was confusing as well because I had been so health conscious throughout my adult life. I had to re-evaluate what I considered to be ‘healthy’. The medical profession didn’t offer much understanding or acceptable solutions, so I decided to follow my own, natural path. Healing myself was a process of reflection – getting to the route cause of the condition on an emotional level and detoxing both physically and mentally.  The book charts that journey – my thoughts, feelings and actions – as a map for others faced with health challenges that are looking for guidance, as I did.

To buy Chrissi’s book follow the link to Amazon click here – Losing My Hair, Finding Myself. How I reversed Universal Aplopecia Naturally

 

FF: Future Female promotes everyday gender equality, by raising awareness of daily casual sexism. What advice would you give for other women for calling it out?

 

CHW: Remember to stand in your own power, and understand that nobody can take it away without your permission.

Don’t slip into the role of ‘victim’, no matter how ‘comforting’ it seems. Be honest with yourself and take responsibility for your life, which can be hugely challenging physically and emotionally. What matters is how we respond to challenges – in the moment, and beyond.

Whatever we’re faced with, we always have a choice, it might not be a great one, but it is a choice.

Most of all, don’t give in to fear, and have faith that someone’s got your back no matter what.

 

FF: Have you faced any gender- based barriers in your career and what advice would you give others?

 

CHW: Yes, mostly about being taken seriously – both in the corporate world and as an entrepreneur. But if I think about it, perhaps others didn’t take me seriously, because I didn’t take myself seriously enough.  That’s what I mean when I talk about not playing the victim in life. I’ve also faced barriers raised by other females in business.

In both cases the issues behind them were usually jealousy and / or their own insecurities. When you get that, you can just let it slide.

 

My advice to others is to understand that, when you buy in to whatever ‘B-S’ someone’s dishing out, you give it power. Don’t buy into it, stand in your own power, and if empathy doesn’t work, walk away / say no thanks.

 

FF: What action do you take in the everyday to promote female equality?

 

CHW: There is a saying that goes “if everyone sweeps the path in front of their house, the whole world will be clean”. Which is essentially about being the change you wish to see in the world. In the daily humdrum, the question of equality doesn’t enter my consciousness, as in my own mind, I am equal and so is everyone else.  I don’t define or limit myself by stereotypes or accept others’; whether that’s just taking out the garbage instead of expecting my husband to do it or pitching for a top job. Growing up I would do the same household jobs as my brothers – from decorating to laying paving stones! It was a standing joke that I had more balls than they did!

 

FF: What do you love about being your own boss, and what are the challenges?

 

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CHW: Being your own boss is empowering and I get to determine my business values, how I work and with whom. But with empowerment comes responsibility. You have to be responsible for every aspect of your business, for showing up, being reliable and delivering.

However, if you think going into business for yourself means you don’t have to answer to anyone – think again. You have to answer to your customers or clients – they are my boss(es) now!

 

The challenges come from keeping the faith and keeping going, even when things look dire. Most people give up just as they are about to hit success. It’s testing at times, not only for me, but also for those close to me.

Equally, if something’s not working, you have to know when to let it go, and most importantly, start again. No matter what creativity, resources, blood or sweat you’ve invested. Success comes from determination, getting up again and again until you hit the right formula.

I’ve had to make sacrifices to go into business – financial and lifestyle. The benefits are that I am doing something I really love, and no longer suffer from ‘imposter syndrome’ – that feeling that someone will one day find out you’ve been faking it all along!

I open the door to my studio and feel like my true self.

 

FF: Can you tell us about a project/cause that is inspiring you at the moment?

 

CHW: Before moving to Winchester we lived in Crystal Palace, South East London, where there is a strong community of people striving for sustainable living practices. It’s something I feel really passionate about. Palace is a ‘Transition Town’ and there are loads of projects run by community volunteers to get people doing things like growing their own veg on patches of scrub-land, recycling, up-cycling and craft-working. I’d love to see more of this kind of effort happening everywhere, and soon. It inspires me to do as much as I can to walk lightly on this beautiful planet that we’re so fortunate to inhabit.

 

FF: What is inspiring you at the moment?

 

CHW: The ancients, their wisdom, cultures, language and art.  I love its simplicity and innocence, which lends a certain elegance. I’d love to know how they created their jewellery too,  with relatively basic tools.

I’m fascinated by the latest archeological discoveries of ancient civilisations, which are re-writing the history books and what we know about the origin of our species.  There is so much that we have yet to understand, about how they lived, and what they understood. I think that in many ways, modern man has been devolving rather than evolving. There’s a lot to be learnt from the ancients.

 

FF: If there was one thing you would change about your life as a woman what would it be?

 

CHW: That the media would scrap this ‘image of perfection’ that’s portrayed for women – especially young, impressionable women. It affected me in my teens and twenties, which I touch on in the book. Whilst I’ve learnt not to buy into it – it’s more challenging for women who are still growing, physically and emotionally.

I think men are now experiencing some of the pressure that comes along with that too.

 

FF: What are you reading at the moment?

 

CHW: I always have open in Kindle ‘Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom’, by Christiane Northrup. It’s one of those books that you have to dip into from time to time if there is something you need to understand. A must-read for any woman, or man, for that matter.

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I prefer non-fiction mostly but I’ve just opened up the sequel to ‘A woman of Substance’ by Barbara Taylor-Bradford, which I read years ago. It’s not a particularly intellectual read or literary triumph, just a story about a woman who built her own retail empire in a time when it was mostly men in that space. I think it was one of the books that inspired me to do my own thing. By chance – if there’s such a thing – I spotted the sequel in the ‘book-swap’ box at Basingstoke station, so thought I would give it a go!

 

FF: How would you describe your personal style?

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CHW: I follow fashion but I invest in style. I tend to go for simple, elegant pieces, with a bit of street or vintage thrown in to funk it up a bit.

Footwear is important – you can change your entire look and the way you feel with the right pair of shoes!

A very big thanks to Chrissi, who has enlightened me with that idea that self care of spirit and mind can support self healing. I am a believer in really listening to your gut instinct and tuning into that feeling you get when something feels right or wrong is one of the biggest lessons I have learned this year.