In the lead up International Women’s Day on 8 March, we’re shining the spotlight on a range of inspiring women who choose to challenge for the greater good of the future of all women.
One of those incredible women is Mandy Dante, Founder and CEO of Flourish Girl – a not for profit organisation that provides transformative rite of passage social and emotional wellbeing programs for teenage girls, parents and teachers.
We took five with Mandy to ask her a few questions about her inspiring work as well as her dreams and how she chooses to challenge every day. Keep reading to learn more and be sure to keep an eye out here as well as on our socials and Kristina’s Your Dream Life Podcast for plenty of inspiring content from a range of inspiring women over the next week.
Q| Tell us about yourself and what you do.
My name is Mandy Dante, and I’m Australian-Sri Lankan, born and raised in sunny Sydney. I have an incredibly loving husband, who is also my high school sweetheart. I also have very supportive family and friends… and, did I mention I have the most adorable nephews?!
A really random fact about me is that I have a bad habit of not closing lids properly, so spillage is a common occurrence in our household. Another fun fact is, as you get to know me, you’ll realise how unique I am!
I am the CEO & Founder of Flourish Girl, a not-for-profit organisation that empowers teenage girls to become unstoppable women by delivering preventative mental health programs in schools.
Q| What inspired you to start Flourish Girl?
I still remember it was mid-2016 and I had just finished up a busy day in the clinic (I used to be a paediatric speech pathologist) and as I got home, I randomly started to reflect on my high school years and how different I was back then. I was an awkward brown girl that felt uncool, shy and insecure, but no one really knew that because I would hide it all with a big smile on my face.
I also remember thinking about some of the girls in my year who came to school with bandages on their wrist from self-harming, and overhearing conversations about girls eating an apple a day to lose weight dramatically. All these things were happening, but no one was having a conversation about it. I then started to go down a rabbit hole of research and noticed how alarming the mental health statistics were in teenage girls, such as:
- 1 in 5 16-17-year-olds meet the criteria of a major depressive disorder
- 1 in 6 teenage girls have self-harmed in the last 12 months
- Girls are twice more likely to experience anxiety than their male counterparts
- The highest risk of early onset of anorexia for females is between 13-18 years old.
I noticed that there were a lot of incredible mental health services out there already that were treating/managing these ‘issues’, but not a lot of attention was on a preventative lens. I started to think… if only there was a program that would empower girls to speak up, share their honest thoughts and build authentic connection to themselves and others. What then could be possible for them? And that’s when I created Flourish Girl.
Q| What does International Women’s Day and this year’s theme #choosetochallenge mean to you?
International Women’s Day is a day for all women to take a moment to pause and celebrate their unique qualities and achievements so far. It’s also time to take a moment to appreciate all the women in your life that have helped you become the person you are today.
#choosetochallenge is an opportunity for women to be courageous enough to share their honest thoughts with the people around them. It’s all about speaking their truth and sharing their own stories and experiences! We have a lot of wisdom to bring to the table and I think this theme and hashtag helps women to be brave and share, no matter how nervous they may be.
Q| Do you have a daily routine or any tips for making the most of every day? If so, please share.
I am a sucker for a good morning routine! I love waking up early. I have my morning coffee in bed as I journal, read my bible and devotion book (It’s a book with little messages for each day) I then like to move my body so I work out – Pilates, Yoga, HIIT and strength workouts are my go-to and if I have time in the morning, I’ll have a morning dip at my local beach.
Once I’m grounded and settled for my day, (I can definitely say there are days I am not grounded) I get started on working for Flourish Girl. In the afternoon, I like to wind down by laying on the couch, having a cool beverage or getting some sunshine.
In terms of tips for making the most of your day, for me personally I’m currently on a journey of simplifying my days. I have my list of things I need to get done and I can constantly get overwhelmed by it. So, a great tip would be to know it’s okay to constantly re-prioritise your to do list as you go about your day!
Another tip is definitely setting up your days with a bit of fun in it – whenever I’m working on things in the business that I find difficult or I have been putting off, I pair it up with something fun – such as listening to my favourite playlist or drinking a delicious cup of tea!
Another tip to make the most of your day is to be kind to yourself, remind yourself that you’re doing the best that you can
Q| What is one thing you enjoy doing that’s just for you?
Call me a girly girl, but I am a sucker for getting my nails done!
Q| Do you have a favourite inspiring quote?
“The best is yet to come.”
Q| Share with us a Dream of yours.
My dream is for Flourish Girl’s programs and resources to be easily accessible to all girls across Australia.
If I think globally, my husband and I are really passionate about giving back to our roots, so I would love to expand the work we do in Flourish Girl to girls in Sri Lanka. I feel like mental health and emotional wellbeing is something that is still quite taboo over there and I’d love to work alongside women who would be passionate about this mission in Sri Lanka.
Q| What is something you Believe strongly in?
I believe in the power of teenage girl wisdom. There is so much we can learn from them. So, in that, I believe that when we can create a safe space for teenage girls to speak up. A place we can be impacted by their wisdom but also so they can see the impact of their own wisdom on the people around them.
Q| What do you want to Challenge?
Feminine Leadership – I believe that girls don’t need to take on ‘masculine’ traits to feel like that is their only way to succeed or ‘be a leader’. I believe in the power of women rising with their feminine traits and knowing it is equally as important and powerful.
Q| What do you want to Change?
The conversations that teenage girls have with themselves and each other. I would love to see girls being courageous enough to have authentic conversations with their friends and family and know how to be there for each other when anyone goes through a tough time.
Q| What do you want to Achieve?
The fact that there are girls in Australia going through our Flourish Girl Programs is a huge achievement in itself and I am really proud of that.
To be honest, I feel like I’m still on a journey of discovering what I want to achieve. Right now, I am following the path that Jesus has placed in front of me and I’m just taking it a step at a time.
Find out more about Mandy and the incredible work she does @mandydante_ and Flourish Girl – and don’t forget to keep any eye out over on our socials this week as Mandy uses her voice to spread her inspiring story and messages ahead of International Women’s Day!
With this incredibly strong theme in mind, this year at kikki.K, we invite every one of you to celebrate and support all the incredible women in your life – and around the world. As a brand, we’re choosing to represent and celebrate women globally and to collectively raise our voice as we choose to challenge and champion change for a more inclusive world.
This International Women’s Day and every day, #choosetochallenge with us and be inspired to dream, believe, challenge, change and achieve, because with challenge comes change. Together, we can all challenge gender bias and inequality, and make our world a more inclusive one.