These days, when we talk about social media, the conversation often leads to burnout and all the ways we can work on putting down our phones a little more. It’s easy to forget the reason many of us log onto social media in the first place: all of the inspiring instagram accounts still worth picking up our phones for. While some posts can certainly still leave us feeling left out or insecure, there are plenty of women out there sharing not just their wins but the hard work it took to accomplish them—turning their own vulnerability into authentic conversation and actually valuable advice.
This week marks International Women’s Day 2021. Enter my latest inspiration and coolest business woman ever, Amber Wilkinson.
A hairdresser. A wife. A mother. Left her corporate job after being bullied. Wanted to set an example for her two boys. Put a slogan on a t-shirt and gave one to her sister to wear. Founded Kind Is Cool. Prints all merchandise herself. Supported the Alannah and Madeline Foundation. Donates $2 to Bully Zero. Curated National Be Kind Day.
The rest they say, is history.
I’ve been following Kind Is Cool for a while but it wasn’t until recently that I realised that Amber is well and truly putting the kind in cool, producing popular merchandise worn by celebrities and influencers all around the world. Kind Is Cool is so much more than a fashion label. It’s a vehicle for sharing the message that bullying, in whatever form, is not okay.
Amber’s kindness journey started years before she produced the coolest slogan t-shirts in her own garage. Growing up in a household where kindness wasn’t the norm, Amber was adopted in her early teenage years where she began to learn and understand the true meaning of kindness… and how important it is.
Amber has also experienced first hand the devastating effect workplace bullying can put on an adult. The bullying Amber endured started with subtle comments and remarks. It escalated and Amber found she was being blatantly singled out in meetings and being excluded from things. The comments were degrading, made Amber feel unworthy and was told more than once that she was “going nowhere in the workplace.” Amber felt sick every day knowing she had to walk in to such a hostile environment, was anxious and worst of all, this was affecting everyone around her. She courageously approached both the perpertrator and the workplace but nothing changed and no action was taken.
“I was anxious all the time. On my days off before returning to work, I would have anxiety just thinking about it. I was very emotional, I would carry this panic inside me. When people used to talk about having a dark cloud, I never really understood what they meant until I went through that experience. You’re constantly thinking about it, you can’t think straight – I’ve never felt like that before, it was a new feeling for me. I didn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel and felt that my sanity was worth far more than any job.”
Amber was forced to leave and realised she had two choices: continue to let her experience affect her or do something to bring more kindness into the world. Thankfully, Amber chose the latter.
It was in the aftermath of Amber’s bullying experience that something beautiful was born when Amber started designing t-shirts with uplifting messages and one phrase in particular stuck, and ended up being the name behind her clothing company. Kind Is Cool.
Her desire to see more kindness in the world has morphed into a global brand that is not only seen on celebs (actor and Amber’s sister Bonnie Anderson, influencer Erika Shaw, singer Jason Mraz) but is also creating conversation in schools and organisations. Partnering with Bully Zero, Amber is on a mission to make the world a kinder place for us all, raised over $15,000 for them, has held 17 workshops and impacted the lives of over 3,000 students.
Amber and the Kind Is Cool team are behind National Be Kind Day which happens in Australia on the 2 March eeach year. Noticing first hand the inreasing online hate towards influencers and celebrities, National Be Kind Day is a way for our communities to take a stand against bullying. People purchase the famous Janice t-shirt, wear is with pride and #standinguptothebullies.
Amber has not only experienced the devastating effect workplace bullying can put on an adult, let alone children and is determined to use her journey to bring more kindness into the world. She refuses to allow children to grow up in such a society. Amber sees clothing as a blank canvas that could be used to spread kindness and inspire others to be kind. The fact that her idea has grown into a globally recognised brand makes it even more special.
It’s International Women’s Day this week allowing us to celebrate women like Amber. Her journey. Her mission. Her purpose. Her brand. Thank you, Amber for helping to show the world that being kind is in fact, very, very cool. It’s a better place with you in it.