Let's All #EmbraceEquity for International Women's Day 2023

International Women's Day Header

International Women's Day on March 8th, 2023, is the world's opportunity to celebrate the contributions of women. This day is honoured with events like marches, rallies, and demonstrations to raise awareness of the challenges that women face and to call for change. But what we are most thrilled about, is the opportunity to shout out about women in British Retail! Women who have been forging their own paths for quite some time!

Our story

Women are fundamentally the backbone of Mad Lilies and our bustling flower shop on Banstead High Street. Since taking over the shop 10 years ago, Alison has cultivated an inspirational and wildly creative team.

It is a team of women who make a huge contribution in the shop everyday, creating stunning floral designs, styling beautiful weddings and sourcing an eclectic range of homewares. And so, on this International Women’s Day, we thought we'd share with you some of the women who have inspired us along the way.

Alison, Creative Director and hands on owner of Mad Lilies says ….

“My female hero is Jo Malone.  What inspires me most about Jo is her commitment and down-to-earth approach to life, work and family, making her such a likeable and well-respected personality in British retail.  Her honesty, hard work and entrepreneurial grit is such an inspiration. I have personally fangirled Jo now for many years and always remember an interview she gave on lessons she would pass onto her younger self.  They struck a real chord with me and have stuck with me as very sound advice by which to do business by:

  1. Never settle for second best
  2. Be passionate about your product
  3. Invest in the currency of creativity
  4. Learn to be a great storyteller
  5. Don’t take the easy route
  6. Remember failure is vital
  7. Enjoy the moment
  8. Collaboration benefits everyone
  9. Be brave
  10. Never make big decisions on bad days.

And, I couldn’t mark this day without mentioning my late mum and grandmother. They were both a huge inspiration to me. They owned a floristry business together, back in Belfast before I was born. But in 2011, my mum sadly passed away and at her funeral back home in Northern Ireland I reminisced with friends and family, remembering my mother’s green fingers, her creativity and the passion for flowers that ran right to her core. I started to wonder whether I too had the floristry gene, and when I returned to England, this seed of an idea sprouted into something that just wouldn’t leave me alone! I enrolled in a floristry course and five minutes in, my life changed! It was like a lightbulb had been switched on inside my head – and I knew I just had to follow my Mum’s footsteps and forge a career in flowers!”

Katy – Shop Manager

My inspirational woman of 2023 is retail guru Mary Portas.

From a Saturday job at John Lewis to Creative Director of Harvey Nichols, where she created the groundbreaking window displays that became part of the guided tours of London, her dedication to small business’ and to keep shopping local is definitely something I believe in! 

Her vision in retail displays inspires me in my everyday work as it is key to a small business to showcase your products in a way that can really engage and inspire the consumer. Not just leave them making a purchase decision based on price.

More recently, I've been inspired by her philosophy that for independent high-street stores to survive they’ll need to provide something beyond the everyday retail – excellent service that can’t be replicated online, expert knowledge, or a space where people like to get together. It really resonates with me and how I'd like our shop to be perceived.“

Kerry – Our Admin Superstar (yes, that's her official title!)

The woman who inspires me most is Liliya Kryvolap.

Up until February last year Liliya was living with her three children in Chernihiv in Northern Ukraine.  When a Russian missile damaged their house, and with enemy troops in their city, Liliya hid with her children, mother, 10 other family members and their pets in an underground potato storage cellar (measuring 4m square) for five long weeks.

She then managed to get herself and her children to a church away from the city where they hid with others for several long weeks. Through the magic of Facebook Liliya reached out to a Ukrainian friend already living in the UK and eventually she was picked up by a humanitarian aid driver, driven across Europe to Calais and then to England, and the village where I live.  

I have never met such a courageous, selfless person, who even now whilst holding down a full-time job, juggling family life and learning English, still does whatever she can to help people left back in the Ukraine. 

Alison wrapping some flowers at the counter

Alison and the Mad Lilies team are super skilled at what they do, and bring stacks of interior style inspiration and botanical services to the flower lovers of Surrey, including.

  • Running floristry workshops - for budding creatives who want to find their inner florist. They share their expertise so that you can create an arrangement of beautiful, seasonal blooms and fabulous foliage to take home with you.
  • Creating the prettiest potted plants for your Surrey homes and gardens, along with plenty of botanical books to help you nurture them and grow them on.
  • Curating gorgeous seasonal flowers to be delivered fresh to your door, every week, fortnight or month (you decide)- with our Bare Naked Stems flower  subscription service.
  • Working with our fabulous artisan candle suppliers, Ester & Erik, Plum & Ashby and True Grace to bring the most uplifting fragrances and styles to your home.

Our team is always ready to welcome you into our Banstead store, so do pop in and see us if you're on the High Street. And this year, to do our part for International Women's Day, for every Bouquet, Gift Voucher and Mad Lilies scented candle purchased on or for delivery on Wednesday 08th, we'll donate £1 to the World Association of Girl Guides & Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) as our IWD charity of 2023.

So if you want to get involved and help us support WAGGGS in their mission to educate and empower girls and young women around the world, just head over to our IWD Collection and treat yourself or an inspiring woman in your life to a bit of Mad Lilies luxury.


The aim of the IWD 2023 #EmbraceEquity campaign theme is to get the world talking about Why equal opportunities aren't enough. People start from different places, so true inclusion and belonging require equitable action. You can read more about this here.

International Women's Day (IWD) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Significant activity is witnessed worldwide as groups come together to celebrate women's achievements or rally for women's equality.

Marked annually on March 8th, IWD is one of the most important days of the year to:

  • celebrate women's achievements
  • educate and awareness raise for women's equality
  • call for positive change advancing women
  • lobby for accelerated gender parity
  • fundraise for female-focused charities

Everyone, everywhere can play a part in helping forge gender equality. From a wide range of IWD campaigns, events, rallies, lobbying and performances - to festivals, parties, fun runs and celebrations - all IWD activity is valid. That's what makes IWD so inclusive worldwide.

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