Cleo Walters

HOW DID YOU IDENTIFY YOUR PASSION AND THE WORK THAT SATISFIED YOU VERSUS WORK THAT JUST PAID THE BILLS?

I have always been dissatisfied with the jobs I have had even those in the care sector such as community care worker for adults with learning disabilities. I had a great sense of pride and reward when someone I was supporting began to make themselves a drink or put on their own shoes but I always felt like there was more I could do a bigger impact I could make I just wasn’t sure how. I would butt heads a lot with mangers because of the rules that were in place that didn’t actually progress things in a positive way. I sat down and really thought about what it was I wanted to do and where I could make a difference. That was with women and the way they feel about themselves and their capabilities. Too often in conversations I would hear I can’t do that or I would never or I wish I was more like that it got me thinking about my own experiences and how that could help others. I really want women to know their worth, embrace their power and truly feel comfortable and confident in themselves.

Money is a must the bills need to be paid and since having my son who is now two I decided that I didn’t want to go back to full time work. This was the perfect time to create a passion project this was how House of Cleo was born from an idea I had when I was 21 but too scared to manifest. I moved to Watford with my partner last year to be closer to his family and took a night job to pay the bills whatever I could find to save on childcare and I could still be with my son during the day. I went into the night job with the full intention of it being temporary until the business was making enough that I could pull a wage out.

WHO WILL ETERNALLY BE A WOMAN YOU ADMIRE AND RESPECT, AND WHY?

There are so many it’s very difficult to pick one from Oprah, Maya Angelou, Grace Jones, Michelle Obama, Missy Elliott to Tamu Thomas. Each have overcome something and built something with integrity, passion, kindness and creativity. Growing up I loved the way Missy and Grace Jones would express themselves. The way they would talk about being a woman, sex, money and being the best, I think I embodied that a little. They did things their own way and it was quirky, out there and they didn’t fit the mold which was how I felt about myself. Oprah and Maya Angelou have experienced the darkest side to humans and still came away seeing the best and helping others to be and do better. Michelle Obama carries herself in such a way that I have never seen before against all the awful things thrown at her she champions community and empowers so many girls and women. Tamu has built a business in her 40’s and tried her hand at many things but her perspective on life and the way she talks through different topics has me shouting out YES! She helps me to see what is possible.

IN LIGHT OF YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF OUR HASHTAG #WHYITRIBE, WHY DO YOU THINK IT IS IMPORTANT TO CELEBRATE WHO WE ALREADY ARE TODAY?

Celebrating wins full stop is a must as women we must learn to do this and teach our daughters to this daily! The hashtag is a great reminder to be in the moment and appreciate how far we have come because at one point we were hoping and wishing to be where we are now. If you are on a down turn there is a lesson to be had that will get you back on the up and up. Sometimes the same lessons keep coming back to us until we actually learn them.

NAME A TIME RECENTLY WHEN YOU SAID SOMETHING GOOD ABOUT YOURSELF/HOW DID THAT MAKE YOU FEEL?

I do this daily I never use to but this year I decided to live with intention and it has made the biggest difference internally the way I speak to myself and others isn’t automatic it is thought through and intentional. Each day I tell myself that I everything I need to go through the day within me and think of three things about myself that are positive then repeat them. It really helps to stop the negative chatter that occurs every now and again.

WHY DO YOU THINK WOMEN SHY AWAY FROM CELEBRATING OR PRAISING THEMSELVES SO MUCH?

From a young age if not from birth we are taught to be quiet, we are taught that we should be seen and not heard. Girls are pretty, dainty, quiet, meek, servants to others and obedient. The language that is used to describe women and girls, the way they are portrayed in media all has an effect. There are no positive words for women who are in charge, sexually liberated, outspoken or an activist when you really think about the words used to describe women who are these things and think of the words for men there are far more positive words for men. The fear of criticism is real. Who wants to be seen as bitchy, flashy and above their station? Women have been taught to shrink themselves, to not draw attention themselves to not touch themselves where boys have been taught the opposite. Although things are starting to change for the better slowly with more female bosses, artists, women of influence speaking up and living life on their own terms it shows others they can do it too.

HOW DO YOU OVERCOME THE TENDENCY TO DISCREDIT COMPLIMENTS YOU ARE GIVEN?

This has been a process as I would deflect or shoot down any compliment someone made about me then I made the decision to stop and to say thank you and leave it at that. The amount of discomfort I felt within was immense but after a while it got less and less uncomfortable.

HOW DOES SOCIETY REINFORCE THE IDEA THAT WE, AS WOMEN, ARE NOT ENOUGH AND HOW CAN WE TAKE THAT POWER BACK?

The constant barrage of red circles around celebrities’ bodies and close ups of apparent wobbly bits is too much it’s as if they are saying no matter how successful you are you are nothing because of this perceived imperfection. It’s when a woman is in a position of power that only a man has ever been in then she makes a mistake and it’s oh well a woman should never have been in this position in the first place but men can hold the same position make countless mistakes but another man will be hired again for that role! It is in every day conversations when you ask someone what do you do? Usually it is a quick way of gauging someone’s perceived value not actually to get to know them on a deeper level. If society valued the unpaid work women do on a daily as much as paid work that would go a long way in changing the way women are appreciated and seen.
The language we use is important telling someone to stop being such a girl about things puts in the mind that being a girl is a bad thing that we shouldn’t admit we are or like being. If we can start looking within ourselves and become more aware of our own biases, thought processes, what we say, how we say it, the actions we take would help it is a tangible thing each of us could do now.

WHY IS THE TRIBE MOVEMENT IMPORTANT?

It is so important to feel as though you are understood, to feel as though you are part of something that helps you inspire you to think positively, that encourages you to be yourself and shows you what is possible. The family unit use to be that place but increasingly people are searching for this outside of their family and friends so The Tribe is a great movement that can be that place of connection, knowledge and empowerment.

Occupation: Night worker at ASDA / Founder of House of Cleo

Website: www.houseofcleo.co.uk

Instagram: house.of.cleo