International Women’s Day: In conversation with Heather O’Neil

International Women’s Day: In conversation with Heather O’Neil

  • 08 March, 2020
  • Emily Taylor

Our Beyond Sustainability Leader in Morocco, Heather joined the Sana Jardin team in mid 2019 but her work has already been felt. With a background in international development, gender development, and as a previous Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco, Heather works closely with and represents the women of Annamaa. She also runs her own accessories business where she collaborates with female artisans, so she couldn’t be a better fit!

 We sat down for a conversation about her journey…


Tell us about how you work with Sana Jardin in a couple of sentences?

I am thrilled to be part of the Sana Jardin Beyond Sustainability team! I have lived in Morocco for 15 years and Sana Jardin’s point of contact 'on the ground.' I liaise with the women of Annama – the cooperative - and communicate their desires and needs to the Sana Jardin team. I speak darija, the local dialect of Moroccan Arabic, which helps me communicate and connect. 


How did you fall into this role – what is your background?

I have a background in international development, gender development, and was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco. I also started Mushmina, a handmade accessories business through which I collaborate with women artisans. My role with Beyond Sustainability was a natural fit because my passion is employing and empowering women. 


If there is such thing as a normal working day, what does it look like?

I love that each day is different. I consider myself a busy working mom and I love that Morocco is such a family friendly place. The people we work with ask about our families and it's an integral part of life here. Some days I am in the car for hours on dirt roads traveling to work with women in rural regions. Those days are my favourite!


What do you feel makes Sana Jardin special?

I am in complete support of Founder Amy Christiansen's vision that commerce can create social impact. I have always felt this and have seen results first-hand when women are empowered economically; they have more power to make decisions in their homes, marriages, and family life. Their quality of life improves, and they pass that on to their children. Sana Jardin is also addressing environmental impact and being creative with commercial waste. The vision is full-circle impact and that is new to the fragrance industry. 


There’s something special about women empowering women – do you have a life motto/favourite quote or best piece of advice that you use time and time again?

'It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?' - Marianne Williamson


What would you like to tell the world about Annama?

Annama is a cooperative of lovely and enthusiastic ladies. They are mothers, workers, creators... eager to learn, to grow, and are so grateful to have a team of supporters rooting for their success. I look forward to seeing what they create next. 


What have been your biggest achievements or most memorable moments since working with Sana Jardin as part of the Beyond Sustainability Movement?

I am new to the team and so grateful to have the opportunity to be a mentor and 'coach' to such a wonderful group of women. We had a successful holiday pop-up sale in Rabat, Morocco's capital and I was so thrilled to see the women blown away by what they can earn. They see the potential and customers want to support the movement by buying products that tell stories of communities and sustainability. 


What is the best part of your job?

The ability to show up each day and serve others. 


Which flower is your favourite? And why?

Tuberose! I smelled this flower for the first time the day I met the women in the flower fields where they work. I have not been able to get the scent out of my mind. It's divine!


Which is your favourite Sana Jardin scent?

Jaipur Chant.... with Tuberose and Moroccan Jasmine. That's the one!


Follow Heather at @Mushmina and @heatheromorocco

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