To show our support towards boosting female confidence, we’re photographing some of the most confident and inspiring women we know alongside their favourite Sarah Haran handbags. Each of our bags help women organise their lives at work and at play and are designed to give you confidence in any situation.
Jean Johansson, pictured here with her Dahlia tote in Dusky Pink, has appeared on our screens presenting “Animal Park”, “The One Show” and - in warmer climes – “A Place in the Sun”. It’s safe to say she knows a thing or two about confidence. She was born in Kenya but grew up in Glasgow and has a son with husband Jonatan, ex-Rangers footballer, now manager of Greenock Morton.
We talked to Jean about female confidence, getting ahead in her career, and how she dresses with style for the workplace….
What has being a TV Presenter taught you about confidence?
Being a TV Presenter has taught me that confidence comes across on screen and in person and when I've not had the confidence it's shown and it's not a good look. I think confidence is sexy and attractive to other people and in my job that means viewers, confidence is a huge part of being able to do my job, I've had to work on it and for me, it's something that has come with age. I thought I was confident at 20 but I was faking it, now in my mid-thirties I FEEL confident so it's what I give out as a woman and a Presenter and I think it serves me well.
What advice would you give to women who might struggle with workplace confidence?
If you struggle with workplace confidence, you have to get to the root of it, what's making you feel not confident, unhappy or insecure, find out what it is then work on eradicating it. Self-belief doesn't always come easy but if you don't believe in yourself, no one else can. Just be nicer to yourself, you wouldn't be in the job if you weren't good at it, so challenge yourself to be the best version of you, one who is confident and happy.
You’ve had huge success! But there was a four-year period where you were out of work, what motivated you to keep going and how did you come out of the other end still confident?
The four-year period I was out of work, really dented my confidence. I was off doing the hardest job in the world – motherhood - but being away from TV for so long made me feel like a has been who had nothing to offer and the industry had moved on. I was motivated to keep going by my son, he was going to nursery and I was dropping and picking him up every day which was a treat but he didn't know what I did. He'd tell people daddy went to work and mummy goes to the gym - I hated that. I was determined to get back into the industry as I'd worked bloody hard since I was a teenager and I wasn't prepared to let my 'pre-mum' career amount to nothing. I knocked on doors and was told 'no' many times but rather than putting me off, it made me more determined.
I went out and shot my own footage which got me in with The One Show and things snowballed from there, I was nervous and it took me a while to have that confidence back after my first shoot but I kept reminding myself I'm good at what I do, then that turned in to I'm great at what I do and when I believed that, others did too. I don't dwell on that quiet time in my career, it was meant to happen, and I was meant to learn lessons from it - namely there's no job more important than motherhood.
What advice do you wish you’d been given in your career?
I wish someone had told me to 'play the game' a bit more, there's a massive amount of schmoozing and ass kissing to be done in this industry and I didn't do enough of it, in fact I've never been any good at it. You may think that's a good thing, but I reckon I've missed out on jobs because of it. When I should have been networking at showbiz parties and gatherings, I was out getting drunk with my friends in the gay bars of Soho.
There have been so many amazing books and conversations in recent years that put a spotlight on how tough it can be for women to reach leadership roles. Some put an emphasis on women holding themselves back through a lack of confidence. Do you think that’s the whole picture, or are there other factors at play?
In some cases, I DO think women hold themselves back through lack of confidence. It's just not something we're saying about men. I think as women we're harder on ourselves, we're bad at self-promotion. Men are generally paid more than us, hold more senior positions and are rewarded for demonstrating confidence where women can be judged as arrogant or unlikable for doing the same thing. It's unfair and no one can even out the playing field except ourselves.
Confidence has to be felt first of all, so work on that, then you have to show it by being happy in yourself, assured about what you can do and make sure you take that aura with you in every room you walk in to.
Jean on style…
Who in the public eye has inspired you recently and why?
Meghan Markle is inspiring me with her fashion choices and lifestyle choices. She's slaying the fashion game with her stylish looks on public engagements and she's breaking all the rules from wearing off the shoulder dresses to refusing to name her babies God Parents. We have a rebel in the Royal Family and I'm loving it.
How has your style changed over the years and why?
My style has changed dramatically over the years, I've gone from being a total fashion victim in all the latest trends to finding my own laid-back style and dressing for my age!
What does ‘dressing for confidence’ mean for you and why?
Dressing for confidence, means feeling comfortable, it's that simple.
If I'm comfortable in what I'm wearing, I'm confident. I like garments that fit well, look good on me and show the best parts of my body. And I have to be in heels, being that little bit higher gives me confidence, they make me walk differently and they're feminine, I also like the sound they make.
How do you use your Sarah Haran bags?
My Sarah Haran bags are like some of my best girlfriends, they come everywhere with me. I love my Ivy mini bag in leopard she's sassy and goes with any outfit. My Dahlia Tote in blush pink is fun and flirty and looks great with my summer outfits but I also take her in to business meetings as she says I'm confident, I do well, and I have style. My Rose mini handbag is small and cute and loves a red-carpet event!
What are your favourite clothing brands for your work wardrobe?
For my work wardrobe I love Whistles. The label is my go-to for a gorgeous dress, they're usually day-to-night, bright coloured, well-tailored and look more expensive than they are.
Meet the Dahlia
Designed by Sarah Haran with the busy working woman in mind, the Dahlia is our original tote bag. It’s roomy enough for your laptop so you can travel to meetings with one bag for your computer, notebook, purse and phone, and it has six interior pockets to keep you organised.
The detachable Ivy front works as an in-built evening clutch or shoulder bag, so if you’re packing for a weekend away, or day-to-night events, you know it’s really two-bags-in-one and has you covered.
Thanks to its modular design you can wear it ten different ways, matching in different colours, patterns and texture for even more looks. Handmade in Europe from full-grain leather that’s soft and luxurious to touch, the Dahlia is also durable and improves with age.
Follow Jean on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/jeanjohansson/