Oh my stars, my heart is just pounding! I am so excited for this very special blogpost today! I have been sharing with you that I am part of a truly beautiful campaign called “Bridging the Gap”. It is a grassroots effort to build bridges and friendships between people, across different generations, knocking down walls of every kind so that we see each other for the person we are inside, not with any bias due to age. At the core of it, we are all human beings that want to be loved and respected and to have a place at the table.
And so out of this dream came the vision to begin the process of taking some beautiful souls of one generation and introducing them to some beautiful souls of another generation, with the goal of growing relationships like a beautiful garden! Each volunteer involved holds the precious belief that we should not let labels or anything else hinder us from reaching out in friendship to all humanity, for we believe with all our hearts that #WeAreStrongerTogether!
So the process began… one hundred bloggers who are in the general vicinity of my age (upwards of 40- ok I’m extremely upwards of 40!) were to be paired up with bloggers that are Millenials (basically in their 20’s-30s) We would build a reciprocal relationship in which we learn about one another and mentor and support one another. I was paired up with an extraordinary young woman, Jacynth Bassett, from London, England.
May I just tell you right now, I feel like I stumbled on a pot of gold. I could search the world over and never find anyone with a more beautiful heart. She truly is like an angel! Her kindness seems to know no boundaries, and I cannot even find words to express my gratitude that my life story now includes a genuine friendship with this young woman. I am utterly inspired by her, she is in a league of her own.
It is my great honor and pleasure to introduce you to Jacynth Bassett!
“No woman is invisible or irrelevant.” ~Jacynth Bassett
Jacynth is a young entrepreneur from London, England. She is the owner of her own fashion company, and champion of raising awareness of the prominence of ageism in this world, specifically in the fashion industry.
Jacynth and I have been exchanging notes all over the place, via email, on her blog, my blog, Facebook… its been absolutely delightful! We scheduled to Skype a few weeks ago, honestly friends, it was my first Skype, so she talked me through it, sending me messages and she was a very good teacher because we were able to make it happen! And oh how I enjoyed that call! I didn’t want it to end! Like a blissful vacation where you are meeting someone new who is absolutely fascinating! She is extremely successful with huge accomplishments already in life, and yet so genuine and authentic and kind. And, I must also tell you she created the collage images at the top and bottom of this post as she explained to me, showing how people from different ages and stages can fit together beautifully, “Bridging the Gap” much like pieces of a puzzle that were always meant to be joined.
I sent her several questions to share her thoughts on, her journey is fascinating! I will share those below and interject a few thoughts and pictures as well. Her list of accomplishments is extraordinary but is only surpassed by the love in her heart for people. She places compassion for the feelings of others at the top of her priority list, her successes and accomplishments all seem to point to making this world a place that embraces everyone, and celebrates their own unique style unhindered by preconceived notions and exclusions with respect to age.
As I began to research a little about her when I first received her name, my jaw just dropped as I read article after article on this young beautiful champion. Tears filled my eyes and my heart smiled so big, I don’t know why I was blessed to be paired up with someone of such incredible character, but I am so so grateful! What causes a young lady with so many talents and gifts to choose to use the best of her abilities to help fight someone else’s battle? Someone who out of love, puts the needs of others before herself.
Jacynth, can you tell me a little about your family and where you grew up?
My parents are called Marilyn and John, and I have an older brother called Joss who’s 28 (I’m 25).
I grew up in South East London, in Lewisham, which is notoriously quite a ‘rough’ part of London but I love it and it is very multicultural. I now live about 15 minutes away in Greenwich near the Cutty Sark.
My parents had me at an older age than most – my mum was 40 – so I guess I’ve had quite a different childhood to a lot of people, both in terms of growing up in a city and also with having maturer parents. I’ve not really had the experiences of running around, riding a bike etc but I wouldn’t have chosen to grow up anywhere else. London is such a hub for multiculturalism, and in my view has everything you could ever want.
How do you feel living in the city has impacted you?
Aside from what I’ve already said about appreciating lots of different cultures and background, I think the other thing is it has made me a mover and has given me a large sense of ambition. It’s opened my eyes to a world of opportunities and possibilities, but equally because there’s so much global success around, it has made me more critical of myself.
Can you share a little about your path in education and some of the stepping stones of your career?
I guess this is quite a big one with my journey so far…
From the age of about 10 I was a very high achiever, and made sure I was able to succeed in every subject. I was very driven and, at times, I’m sure came across as rather obnoxious. But in all honesty I used grades and achievements as a shield as I was bullied quite badly at several different stages at school.
When I was 13 I decided I wanted to become a lawyer. It wasn’t to do with my parents, just the idea of solving puzzles really appealed to me. My school also told me they saw me as a Cambridge candidate. So that became my only focus and goal, and I became my school’s first person to go to Cambridge in 9 years, and I went to study law.
However, just before I went to Cambridge one of my closest friends died of cancer, and it caused me to reevaluate things in my life. Suddenly academia wasn’t so important. Whilst I still did do well at Cambridge, grades increasingly became more empty to me. I found I didn’t enjoy law as much as I was expecting and because I didn’t care so much about accolades, I was tired of not really having a passion for anything I did work wise.
And that’s when I realized I didn’t want to be a lawyer, and the journey to starting my business began. As soon as I graduated I started researching and developing the business. I first launched a blog in July 2015, and then I used my savings to finally launch the business in March 2016.
Jacynth with her mum, Marilyn. Jacynth shared this was such an honor as this photo and the one above were photographed by Yuval Hen, one of the premier photographers in the fashion industry, and styled by Claire Ginzler, a leading fashion stylist. Both of these icons are keen on Jacynth’s concept behind The-Bias-Cut.
Can you expand a bit on your relationship with your mum?
My mum and I are both Geminis, so we have a lot of similarities. People often call us a double act! That inevitably means we can clash at times, but it always comes from a place of mutual understanding and love. We speak almost every day and she’s also incredibly supportive of my business, as is my dad.
From a career perspective, she has shown me that you can be successful whilst maintaining a strong sense of integrity and being kind and friendly.
With regards to fashion, she loves it as much as I do, and she would always take me shopping from a young age. She used to spoil me quite a bit with beautiful clothes, because she would say “well if I can’t find anything for myself then I’ll buy it for you instead.” And it was this that made me want to focus on fighting ageism and celebrating women like her with the-Bias-Cut.com, because I just wanted to give her back the joy she allowed me to feel with fashion.
Can you share how you chose to take the leap from law school to the business/fashion world, how did that change how you feel about your career and life direction?
So, as I said, it first came from a place of wanting to do something I really loved and cared about. But what really gave me the push was through being President of the Cambridge Law Society. When I became President I inherited a budget of nearly £100k and it was really struggling. So I restructured the whole society to operate more like a sustainable business.
One day my now-ex pointed out to me “you do realise that you procrastinate no end if you have to do anything law related, but you get straight on it and go above and beyond when you have to do anything business like with the law society.” I still sort of dismissed his comments, but one night in my second year I was wide awake because I couldn’t sleep with exams coming up. And I started just thinking “hypothetically, if I were to start my own business, what would it be? Well in fashion because I love it. And it would be for my mum and women like her due to the ageism in the industry.”
When I finally told my family a year later they said “you have to do this!”. Them, combined with the law society had finally given me the confidence to realise perhaps I did have the right skills for business, and the rest was history.
Not a single part of me regrets my decision. I’m still just as focused, just as ambitious, and just as driven. But I’m finally doing something I really love, and am hopefully making a difference.
How has your path molded you thus far?
It’s given me a sense of resilience. There have been ups and downs, and because I’ve had chronic anxiety and depression since I was 12 (but it wasn’t diagnosed until I was 19), I have struggled at times. I do take things more to heart, and when something upsets me I can get quite knocked back for a moment. But then I just pick myself up again. If anything it just drives me on further as I refuse to let it dictate me.
Jacynth speaking with an audience member after giving a speech this summer at PURE London, Britain’s leading trade show on ageism and The Bias Cut.
Jacynth was named by Global Health Aging as an “Ageism Fighting Trailblazer” and by The Style Podcast as a “Fashion Ageism Crusader”. She has spoken in front of some of the leading fashion and professional business women’s organizations, She has written for The Huffington Post, The Guardian Online and so many otherplaces of influence.
Can you explain how you chose the name “The Bias Cut” for your business/blog?
I really wanted a double entendre that encapsulates both the fashion and the anti-Ageism side of the business/blog It refers to cutting through the age bias in the industry, as well as a cutting technique in fashion.
Photo taken last year at one of the-Bias-Cut’s private pop-up parties in Brighton. I love her shoes!
What do you see as some of the misconceptions people have about someone in your generation and with so much ambition and success at such a young age? How do you deal with those “relational roadblocks” ?
Ooh good question…
In general people talk about young people today being unmotivated, lazy and entitled, which has actually caused me to really struggle with identifying as a ‘millennial’. There are young people like that, but that’s the same at every age. It’s about mindset, not age.
But because of that, some people underestimate or unfairly judge younger people who are driven and ambitious. They can think we’re just unrealistic, sometimes even arrogant, dreamers. We can be accused of having ulterior, selfish motives. Or that we must have had a lot of assistance rather than being capable of being successful on our own.
I have had some nasty trolling over it from older women, but I’m learning to shrug it off. It’s a shame, but more for those people who make those assumptions. Those who matter know the truth, and it also helps me work out who shares the same values as me, and who I truly want to work and connect with.
What excites you about the Bridging the Gap campaign? How does it resonate with you?
When I first signed up I was so excited to meet and connect with someone new. But I couldn’t have dreamed I’d end up with you Amy! I find it incredible how I’ve met someone so kind hearted and generous, who I can now call a friend, and who lives across the Atlantic! Every interaction with you has brightened up my day and I can’t believe my luck.
More generally I think it is a really important campaign because I strongly believe the way we can end ageism is through integration. We need to break down barriers and stereotypes, and the only way to do that is through connecting with different generations so we can better understand and respect each other.
What inspires you from a fashion perspective for your personal style and for choices you make for your line of clothing you offer?
Ultimately fashion, or more technically style, should be personal. It’s a form of self expression. Even those who say they don’t like fashion, dress in a way to make a statement about that. So both personally and for the-Bias-Cut.com I look for pieces that have character, and will really say something about the wearer.
I also think fashion should be fun. As much as I think style is important for self confidence, sometimes it can be taken too seriously. Fashion should be playful and joyful. So I look for anything with a bit of attitude, or a bit of whimsy.
Tell us about the extraordinary leaf hat, (its just fabulous!) How did you find it, where? What was that day like? (I’m smiling in anticipation of this one…I imagine it was a very fun day!)
It’s by hat legend Stephen Jones. I love hats and I went with mum to his shop as we both needed ones for Royal Ascot. There was something about the palm hat that spoke to me. I liked that it was wide and flat, whilst most dramatic ones have height. There was something fun, but equally mysterious about it. It was truly unique.
I don’t get to wear it that often (for obvious reasons!) but a couple of weeks ago I was invited to a 55th birthday lunch for the fabulously eccentric founder of the networking group Sister Snog. The dress code was wearing a hat/fascinator and the theme was fascinating stories. And everyone there really did have ones!
Plus two weeks ago I was invited to London Fashion Week, and I happened to actually met Stephen Jones! I was rather star struck!
Your favorite fashion tips you’ve gleaned that might be helpful to women.
My number one tip is to give anything a go. A lot of women confine themselves to a small box, and will only wear a very small range of things. But you’ll have so much more fun stepping out your comfort zone, you might be pleasantly surprised, and if not you just take it off again!
Your most exciting moment or memory in your career thus far.
Professionally I’d say it has been the incredible, highly revered people who have wanted to help & support me. I have 3 amazing mentors/advisers who are all very senior in different sectors of the Fashion Industry, and I also couldn’t believe it when Claire Ginzler, one of the biggest fashion stylists, offered to style our current shoot for free as she just loves the concept!
Personally, it has to be seeing and hearing the delight of customers. My mum and her friends tell me they now go to sleep dreaming of new outfits they can wear, and it always makes my day when I get an email from someone who can’t believe how many compliments they’ve received.
We’re about encouraging our customers to aspire to be the best versions of themselves, rather than someone else. ~Jacynth Bassett
And you can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @the_bias_cutcom
Two women jumping into the journey of life on opposite sides of the Atlantic, and separated in age by 30 years, but both of us sharing this moment in time. I am honestly so blessed to be part of this campaign but mostly to have met and now call Jacynth my friend. We’ve met on the “Bridge” and there’s no turning back!
I’ll be back Friday for another Fashion Friday, and as well, a chance to share a little more about my new friend Jacynth. Jacynth has written a blog post about me as well to be released sometime today (I can’t wait to see it!). I invite you to go and learn more about this amazing young woman fighting to make the fashion world a place where all can be represented and find something just for them.
Bridging the Gap is Always in Style! Thank you, Jacynth for sharing your inspiring story with us!
Have a great week!
I think a hero is someone intent on making this a better place for all people. ~Maya Angelou
Amy is married to her high school sweetheart, Troy. They have raised two sons and live in Michigan. She graduated with a degree in education, and loves fashion, fitness, food, fun and most of all she truly loves all people.