February 19, 2020 8 min read
Bronwyn is an exceptionally gentle and relentlessly kind woman who resides in the small seaside city of Perth, Australia. She is a woman that I have loved dearly for the past two decades of my life, and will continue to do so for decades to come.
When you spend time with Bronwyn you are instantly met with a smile and a feeling of her genuine warmth and openness. She leaves you feeling as though you're in the presence of something more than human, something angelic.
Bronwyn founded Mettle Women over a year ago, and when we began our new project 'More than Skin Deep', focusing on the magical and endlessly diverse variety of women that represent the essence of IMBIBE - I knew I had to reach out to Bronwyn to be involved.
Mettle Women is an organisation founded early in 2019 by Bronwyn and her younger sister, Alesha, as a way to ensure survivors of domestic violence were safe, supported and empowered to be independent, ultimately preventing them returning to homelessness or to their abuser.
Mettle is an ethical gift delivery service employing women who experience homelessness due to domestic and family violence. They equip survivors of domestic and family violence with the skills, confidence, and financial security required to secure and maintain employment, and in turn, safe and stable housing.
To learn more about the incredible woman empowering other women to find a safe, supported and successful life after domestic violence, watch our video and read our transcript below.
My name is Bron, I'm 29 and I'm the CEO and co-founder of Mettle. Um, I love going to see live music, going for walks with my amazing beagle Murphy...and cooking.
I think most recently I quit my career path to found mettle. So, we're a social enterprise set up to support women who are experiencing homelessness because of domestic violence. I set about founding this charity to try and bring about change to some really deserving and inspiring women.
But the change that I've undergone in working alongside these women has been immeasurable. I think the level of perspective that I've gained working alongside them is just, yeah, I didn't know it was possible. They're just some of the bravest humans I've ever encountered.
So yeah, it's been one of the most transformative experiences for me.
I think the older I'm getting, I'm realising it's much less of a physical milestone. Um, simply, I think if you do nice things - if you're nice, and the more good that you're putting into the world, the more beautiful you feel.
You know I equate that 'feeling good' with feeling beautiful, rather than a physical 'tick'.
I'm someone who is eternally curious. I think that's why I get restless quite easily.
I am really curious to see what the next generation; the children of my peers are like - what kind of radical change they'll bring into the world. My mum is a teacher and I have some really beautiful friends who are teachers. And speaking to them about how the curriculum is changing to challenge gender stereotypes and rally focus on the environment.
You know, it's really exciting to me that young boys are being taught that they're allowed to be gentle and they're allowed to cry and that they should cry when something makes them feel emotional.
I'm really excited to see how that evolves.
I think, um, I feel most confident at work, absolutely. I wouldn't necessarily align my most confident moment with my most happy moments. I kind of have a work alter ego in which I'll go to work and be super motivated and amped up - but when I'm having my happy moments, it's when I'm switched off and really engaged with my family or my friends drinking wine with them. Spending time with my beautiful partner.
So I think I'm someone who is really driven by a tangible result. So when I can see that my hard work is really coming to fruition at work, and I can see my impact, that's when I feel most confident. But my happiness is definitely when I'm around my favourite people; they're very good at nourishing my soul. [giggles].
I think I'd just generally say, be a little more gentle and kinder to yourself. When you're 18 there's a lot of pressure to have things figured out, and you know 11 years later, I am definitely not there yet, and that's totally fine.
I'm friends with a completely different group of people. My values have completely changed. So, don't think that when you're 18, that's it - because it's not. There's a big and exciting road ahead, and please allow yourself to make mistakes while you're kind of figuring out what feels right for you.
What is your best tip for making the world a more beautiful place?
I think listening is a really underrated tool for making the world more beautiful. I've learned this year, and last year, that the power of sitting down, and really, unreservedly devoting your attention to someone who has built up the courage to be heard is incredible.
Because, it's not easy to reach out for help, so when someone can articulate that need, it's really important that you hear what they have to say and then act. I think there are so many incredibly well-intentioned people with really great ideas, but if they're not informed by the people who actually need the assistance or change then maybe it's not as sustainable.
So I think some really beautiful results can come out of listening first, and then acting.
I've read an incredible book called The Hate Race by Maxine Beneba Clarke. She's a brilliant Australian author, and she articulates in a really gentle but powerful way her experience with racism in Australia.
And for me, it was a really important read as a white Australian to, um, understand the importance of checking my privilege and knowing that even though some judgement is passed out through lack of education, and it may not even be intentional, understanding the weight of that judgement on the receiving end was really powerful. So highly recommend the Hate Race.
Firstly, I'd be 100% lying if I said i had it figured it out. My friends and family can attest to the fact that I'm awful at balancing work and life.
I think first bit of advice would be recognising that social media isn't the real world. I think there's a lot of pressure to match what you're seeing projected from all of these incredibly successful women who are balancing work, and life, and gym, diet and their friends, it's not real life and it's okay if you can't balance a lot of those things. I definitely can't and I think not comparing yourself is the first thing.
Secondly, I don't know if this is something that everyone just does but it's been quite transformative for me - um my partner started serving dinner at the dinner table and whenever I'd cook as well he'd say you know 'let's eat at the dinner table'. And it seems so so little but it was so important for me to step away from my laptop or the tv whilst I was eating. Because I wasn't really enjoying and indulging in my food, I wasn't paying attention to this really beautiful person who lives with me and has so much to give, and I wasn't receiving it because I was constantly in work mode.
So I think allowing time to really connect with the people who are there for you, and in my case quite tolerant of how awful I am at balancing work and life, and really thanking them for that tolerance, and giving back when you do have the capacity to is important.
It would be remiss of me not to speak about my work in the domestic and family violence space. I founded Mettle with my sister a year and a bit ago, and one thing I've found that we'd really love to change is the way that people hear the word 'homeless' and the stigma that is attached to that word. We try to use our platform to reframe the way that people respond when they hear that word because at the moment there is a negative perception. We want people to know that homelessness needs to be met with nothing but kindness and support rather than judgement.
Women in our program, for example, have slept in their car because it's a matter of life or death - it's not safe enough for them to be at home. They've slept in a shower block because there are no beds at the shelter. There should be no judgement attached to decisions that are literally a matter of life or death and I think if everyone can just reframe any unconscious bias they may have toward that word, then I think we'll be able to offer support in a much more nurturing way.
Linking it back to work again, ah, the motivators that I have to pull myself out of any rut are the women that I work alongside. They've endured some of the most horrific experiences imaginable, yet they still come to work every day with a smile on their face and optimism like you wouldn't believe. In the past I might have been frustrated if there was an IT glitch or the website wasn't working properly, something really trivial like that, those things are now in my mind 'trivial' - I view them for what they are. Because I'm working alongside women who, regardless of their hardship, are still just pushing through.
So using that as a motivating drive has been really helpful. In saying that though I think that it's important if you are feeling yuck or overwhelmed to acknowledge that and feel it. I'm so on board with this movement of how strong and capable women are, because yeah we can do it all - I know we can, but if there are days when you do feel fragile and you do feel emotional and overwhelmed it's so okay to actually feel that and to articulate that. Or, if you're someone like me, I'm quite private, my partner is my one confidant, that's okay as well but as long as you have a way of acknowledging and releasing how you're feeling, even through a notebook, then give yourself time to identify all of the great things in your life as well, to help you move forward.
I think there's more danger in pushing emotion aside than there is in addressing it. So if you feel like you want to be lazy on a couch one day, that's totally fine you haven't failed. [giggles]
End Transcript 12:29