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Supporting the sisterhood in Ireland one woman at a time


By Nikki Walsh
30th May 2022
Supporting the sisterhood in Ireland one woman at a time

Brand mentor Sive O’Brien is giving back to the sisterhood – with her business smarts. Nikki Walsh finds out how to book a power hour with a female high flyer, while contributing to a women’s charity 

It was in the weeks following Aisling Murphy’s tragic death that brand mentor Sive O’Brien decided to make a long-held idea – to create a support network for women in business – a reality. “I’ve worked with and for women all of my career,” she tells me, “and I had an amazing network. For years I’ve been wondering how I could give back. So the question was: how could I tap into my network and make that happen?” 

On International Women’s Day she launched Sisterhood Supports, a charity initiative offering female entrepreneurs hour-long consultations with leading women in business, for €100.  All fees are donated to women’s charities, in this case, Women’s Aid and WorkEqual. Women don’t have to be entrepreneurs to support the initiative or to book a power-hour, they can also donate, as little as €5 via: siveob.com/sisterhood-supports

Overwhelming response

When Sive first floated the idea, the response from her network was overwhelming. “I could have filled the calendar four times over,” she admits. Now some 40 women from across the country in fields as diverse as law, psychology, technology, retail, sustainability and PR have committed to giving four hours of consulting time over four months, until July 8th. “It’s a real mix of female talent,” she says. 

There is so much out there for start-ups, but once you are in business a few years, getting the support you need can be tricky.”

“That was important. The women involved are at the top of their game. They are leaders in their field. Getting an hour with them for €100 isn’t really possible outside of this support structure.

Women who have already availed of their sessions have given incredible feedback. “They tell me the sessions have saved them hours of time trawling online looking for solutions or answers to how to do specific things. They might have come with one specific question which might have taken a month to get if they had gone through other channels.” Not all female entrepreneurs need in-depth support. “It might just be the inside track on how to do a certain thing,” says Sive. “There is so much out there for start-ups, but once you are in business a few years, getting the support you need can be tricky.” 

Gender stereotyping

Picking the charities was hard. “There are so many good ones! But I’m a big fan of WorkEqual, having suffered from gender stereotyping in the workplace myself. They are advocating so much around childcare and inequality in leadership and I love the support they give women returners. They are also doing amazing work getting Ukrainian women based in Ireland into the workplace here.” 

Working for yourself can be isolating. When I started out I really missed bouncing ideas off people.

Women’s Aid was another obvious choice. “They have a 24-hour helpline that needs to be funded, a maternity outreach service and a drop-in service for women  and children who need it. People often think Women’s Aid is for women experiencing domestic abuse but it also supports the children in this situation and it acts for justice and social change by engaging in policy, representation and communications and campaigns activity at a national level.” 

With a Masters in marketing and a career in publishing, Sive made the decision to go out on her own as a brand mentor five years ago, following a 14 year stint at this magazine as fashion editor and several years in digital publishing. 

Brand mentor

“Working with brands on the commercial side of digital marketing, I met many businesses who were confused about their brand identities,” she says. “They didn’t know what their USP was or what they stood for. I saw a real gap in the market for a brand mentor and it seemed an obvious progression for me, enabling me to combine my marketing background with my media and digital publishing experience and my brand strategy accreditations.” 

Working for yourself can be isolating. When I started out I really missed bouncing ideas off people.

She launched Sive O’Brien in the winter of 2016, and has not looked back. “I love working from home and the flexibility that brings as a mother of two and I love being there for my clients and working on a one to one basis.” But she understands its challenges.

“Working for yourself can be isolating. When I started out I really missed bouncing ideas off people. I learned I had to reach out to people, that it wasn’t just about the hours at the desk.” She sees all to clearly the obstacles for women with families. “There needs to be a flexible affordable childcare model,” she says, “and employers need to embrace flexible working.” 

She hopes Sisterhood Supports is here to stay. “I would like to run it annually, rotating the charities, and I would like to branch out with sponsored networking events. Championing women is at the heart of everything I do, so I would love to do more generally to help women help women.”

Go girl. 

Sive O'Brien / Sisterhood Supports

Check out: 

www.siveob.com/sisterhood-supports 

www.instagram.com/sisterhood_supports 

www.linkedin.com/company/sisterhood-supports