As part of our celebrations of 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 help you feel self-assured in any situation.
Morag Atkinson, pictured here alongside her Iris, brightens up our Instagram feeds as @mogzee_m, where she proves that fashion over 40 should be fun and fabulous. And she’s amassed a dedicated following of fashion lovers who agree!
We’re inspired by Morag every day, not least because she had the confidence to start (and so successfully grow) her profile as a style Instagrammer, something so different from her full-time day job in the NHS.
We talked to Morag about female confidence, the nitty gritty of putting yourself out there on Instagram, her ‘second career burst’ after the kids were grown and her all-important style tips…
What have you learnt about confidence through having a popular Instagram profile?
I have gained a great amount of confidence particularity around my style, trying new styles and definitely exploring other brands.
Which elements of developing your Instagram profile have been easier for you, which have taken more time to develop?
Creating the ‘dressing daily, business woman’ look was easy as it’s my daily life. I’m also not afraid of a challenge and I certainly love meeting new people.
The time issue always haunts me, so you have to be very disciplined otherwise it can take over. You need to know your limitations - but one of the biggest hurdles for me when I started was not knowing the [Instagram] system. I actually wasn’t even sure what a hashtag did this time last year.
However, I have learnt from my mistakes and grown with the help of the very supportive environment within the fashion/lifestyle Instagram pod I belong to.
What would you say to people who think that Instagram is a platform for ‘young people’?
Definitely NOT! It’s a platform for all ages. I started at 54 and I engage daily with woman in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and even 70s - some with very big accounts.
What advice would you give to women who want to create or develop their Instagram profile?
Try to go on a basic course or do an online course before you start (because if you work full time you won’t have the time), set out goals on what you want out of Instagram! These are all failings of mine because I commenced just for fun but when I became popular, they changed.
Morag with Iris
Regarding your day job, has it been hard juggling both it and Instagram?
No because I am a professional woman. My job always comes first before social media. However, as you grow you get invited to events which I’ve had to decline due to work commitments.
Your two sons are fully grown, is there truth in the idea that women can have a second burst in their careers when this happens?
Definitely - I actually only went into management when my sons were in their late teens. In addition, one of the reasons I started Instagram was due to ‘empty nest syndrome’ and the fact that ‘a son’s a son until he takes a wife’.
In the past fourteen months I have had so many opportunities via Instagram that have certainly given me a new lease of life!
What advice would you give to women juggling younger children and their careers, as someone who has come through it?
Get a balance! I worked full time the minute both my kids went to school. I tried so hard in the early child years not to work at home after hours (which becomes easier when the kids are older or have left home).
Give your children time, listen to them as that is time you’ll never get back. But don’t beat yourself up about going to childminders, after school clubs and the rest.
At the time I thought the kids disliked this and that I was a bad parent! Now they are men, we often sit around the table reminiscing and they talk about that period fondly – when at the time I felt guilty!
I know some say the price of childcare is high and by the time you factor it all in there’s not much in earnings. My husband and I always looked at this as an investment - you are reliant on paid care for very few years and then it becomes easier and you reap the benefit in your career over the long run.
Do you have female role models you admire in the NHS? If so, why do you admire them?
I admire my manager who is two from the top! She is in what, historically, was male’s role - decided to progress whilst her kids were younger and managed it very well. She has a perfect balance and is an excellent leader.
There have been so many amazing books and conversations in recent years, putting a spotlight on how tough it can be for women to reach leadership roles. Some lines of thought 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?
That’s a tough question so I’ll answer on a personal level. I believe it’s where you are in life with yourself, your own motivation and your own personal circumstances.
In addition, in my day (hopefully this does not exist anymore), whilst I was a professional woman my other half always earned more money in his profession so was seen as the breadwinner.
I certainly was at a career standstill whilst my children where very young and did not start to progress until they were more independent.
I was happy with this, but I can easily see how other woman would not feel the same. I do believe if you want something in this world and have the motivation you can achieve anything male or female.
What people in the public eye have inspired you recently and why?
I find many people inspiring – public or not - however if I had to choose it would be Emma Watson for contribution to gender equality.
Morag with Dahlia
Morag on style…
How has your style changed over the years?
My core style has stayed the same, however, since commencing Instagram I am definitely exploring new styles.
What does ‘dressing for confidence’ mean for you?
If you dress in clothes you really like, it makes you feel good.
Is ‘dressing for confidence ‘important to you, why and how do you achieve it?
Yes, it is! I know instantly when I put something on how it’s going to make me feel! If I’ve worn something I love before and know I need a confident day, then I will wear the items on that day for confidence.
Morag with Ivy
How do you use your Sarah Haran bags?
From morning to night, from work to holidays! I love their versatility.
How do they help you do your job?
They make me feel confident! And they make it easy to turn from work to night wear, plus they are all very functional.
Morag with Marie