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Working Girls: "I feel the journey she went on was valuable"

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Dana Stevens | 17:01 UK time, Thursday, 3 March 2011

Amazingly, there are some women who believe that unemployment is a lifestyle choice. Can they be inspired to stop relying on benefits for a fulfilling future in the workplace? That's the task facing successful businesswomen in the new series Working Girls, as they try to motivate women with a non-existent work ethic.

Working Girls (Sandy and Zara)

Sandy and Zara in Working Girls

But be prepared, it's a bumpy ride as the attitudes of the young women put their mentor's patience to the test. I caught up with one of the businesswomen taking part, Sandy Verdon, the Creative Director for fashion company Hobbs, to ask her why she wanted to get involved.

I am extremely passionate about the industry that I have been fortunate to work in for the past 20 years and felt that by instilling a work ethic in someone like Zara, viewers would also be enthused and it would ignite their passion for this amazing business.

What were you hoping the young women would get out of it?

A sense of self worth and motivation and the joys of achievement through teamwork that the girls could take with them into whatever career field they chose to go into. It was quite obvious early on that we would not convert Zara into the fashion industry. However, I hoped that the experience she had with the business would give her more confidence.

Did you enjoy the experience of filming the programme?

Working Girls (Sandy Verdon)

Sandy Verdon, Creative Director of Hobbs

Filming for eight days in a row was intense, although I am very used to working at the weekends! We had a few really key projects to deliver during the period. Our Spring Summer 2011 advertising campaign shoot was taking place together with the opening and launch event for our new store, it would always have been a stressful time but the filming added an extra dimension of pressure.

Were there any surprises or things that shocked you?

I was quite shocked that Zara's CV consisted of her name doodled on a ripped out piece of A4 notebook with a few words jotted down!

How did you feel that your advice was received?

Zara was quite reluctant, shy and bolshy to start with which was difficult for my teams to manage as they are all extremely motivated. Zara was never going to become a fashionista overnight but I feel the journey she went on was valuable and we connected a little over creativity where Zara showed some talent. At the launch party, which was her last task, I was impressed with her tenacity to get the job done. I hope she goes on to achieve her goals and dreams for the future whatever these may be.

What did you learn from making the programme?

Patience is a virtue.

What are you hoping that viewers will take away from watching the programme?

A sense of excitement in the fashion business and an idea that there are a plethora of careers out in the fashion business from hair and make up stylists, photographers to design researchers and events production.

Sandy Verdon is Creative Director for Hobbs. You can see how Sandy and Zara got on in episode 2 of Working Girls next Thursday 10th March. Working Girls starts tonight at 9pm.

Add your comment.


  • Comment number 1.

    Why do you insist on keep showing pointless programes on women and how they should live with men, how dare you show somethink so insulting to men. Women are equal to men but this channel is making out that women should be treated with more respect when they should not be. the programe ''how men should live with women'' you have chosen three abnormally male like women that are not like the population of most women in britain and ireland. this does'nt proove anythink and the women that send their boyfriends and husbands off are clearly idiots themselves as the advert suggests. Stop showing such rubbish and just show interesting and smart or factual or comedy programes such as being human, top gear, coming of age, eastenders, lunch monkeys, how not to live your life and others like that. Not the rubbish about women that is time wasting and agrovating to hard working men.

  • Comment number 2.

    Working Girls – episode 1

    I would love to have a mentor who would give me an opportunity to prove my abilities. It is a pity that these opportunities had been wasted. I wish I had been given that valuable experience of working with a mentor! Sign.........

  • Comment number 3.

    Wow, Kaycie's attitude towards her two mentors literally left my blood boiling! I cannot believe the cheek of some people. How has Great Britain become a country that pays for such arrogant, ignorant wasters?! To be fair, by the end of the programme I had mellowed a little as she seemed to have had a complete personality change...until the voiceover at the end...ABH...well done love, you've obviously taken the amazing opportunity given to you (more likely your 15 minutes of fame) and learned a lot. Kaycie - you should be ashamed of youself - disgraceful.

  • Comment number 4.

    Why are these girls doing glamorous jobs??!! These jobs are for the minority. They need to work a 12 hour shift in an NHS ward to appreciate hard work and tax payers. What a depressing image of society. What does the BBC expect to achieve from showing this programme??!! It just pi**es people off.

  • Comment number 5.

    I would like to say my daughter is in a small group of young people who wants to do something with her life! however when i was trying to get help for her the government turned their backs on her and she fell through the cracks in the system, she ended up no qualifications, but is interested in fashion as she has talent artistically.

    She would die for the chance to work with a designer such as these girls are but not appreciate the chance they are been given.

    If someone would give my daughter a chance i think it would do her self esteem a chance and not feel useless because she cant get a job.

    It would be great if someone could get intouch.


  • Comment number 6.

    Young people are unemployed because of the jobs market – not through lack of trying. 90% of applications are ignored, as companies don’t have the resources to process the massive quantities of applicants. One ad, in one local paper, for one low-paid, bottom-rung graduate position resulted in 70 applications. For grad schemed it is more like 200 per place. People with several years experience are being driven back into graduate positions following redundancy, pushing the grads of the employment ladder altogether. Tomorrow there will be fresh grads for those positions, without a year’s worth of unemployment on their CVs. I know this from first hand experience, after leaving an Cambridge university, doing unpaid work experience, and applying for jobs 9-5, I finally got a job 6 months after graduation. Some of my classmates are still looking. But compared to most young people we have had it easy, many employers do not even look at CVs of those people who didn’t attend a top 5 university. This is stupid, and a massive amount of potential is being lost. In the economic situation, employers can’t afford to do it any other way, and many are exploiting graduates to stay afloat – many of my friends are forced to work evenings and weekends to hold on to their positions.
    I found this program very interesting, but I found it massively depressing that these girls were given hope and a glimpse of a role they would have enjoyed and been good at, but is completely unobtainable for 99.999% of young people. They were told that all that stood between them and their ambitions was hard work. This is a fairy tale, I have friends who are throwing their all into 12hour days – what are they doing wrong? Are they not trying hard enough?

  • Comment number 7.

  • Comment number 8.

    alexwebleybbc89 - I'm not sure which show you are criticising as this is a comments board for "Working Girls" ... You should also practise spelling as I think you meant "anything" when you typed "anythink, it's "aggravating" and "prove". Perhaps you might have been working a bit too hard to have the time to bother with spelling?

    Onto the actual topic ...

    The show is hard to watch sometimes. It seems that these girls are quick to say that their mentors are "disrespecting" them when they haven't done anything to earn their mentor's respect. Perhaps this is a symptom to some people feeling that they're ENTITLED to some things without having put in any work or stepping up to take responsibility!

    I know that these girls are a minority but I think this show should have more deserving people (men and women)!

  • Comment number 9.

    What makes me most sick about this program is that I am a fashion graduate - I have spent the last three years getting myself into horrific debt and spending endless sleepless nights working towards deadlines whilst completeing multiple unpaid work placements. Now having achieved a 2.1 with some great references, portfolio and experience I still can't get a job. I would KILL to have the chance towork personally with pioneers in the industry like Melissa Odabash and Sandy Vernon and these girls can't even get out of bed?? How is this fair??
    Surely the whole point of going to university and working dam hard your whole life is so that you can achieve these sorts os opportunities?? not lie around expecting everything handed to you on a plate!
    I think its about time the bbc satrted giving people like me who actual deserve these opportunities, not these low life wasters.

  • Comment number 10.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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