VIEW: We need to work towards equality for both men and women – Natasha Ritz

Natasha Ritz has owned three businesses, as well as held various senior marketing and brand roles, including Brand Lead for LUSH ANZ. She currently runs two businesses – an online retail business called ARNAonline, and a consulting service.

In this interview, Natasha shares the story behind the scenes, where she enrolled and quickly dropped out of university, managed a team of five from the age of 18, ignited a passion for women empowerment and has used her 15 years of work experience as a 29-year old in the world of business.

  • How have you used traditional or non-traditional education options to build the skill-sets you have today, putting you in a position where you own multiple successful businesses?

I have always been a learn on the job type of person, I feel like we can learn anything if we want to. After finishing high school, I started a business degree while also launching a business with my Dad. I quickly realised that the business degree was purely the theory of business but what I was most interested in was actually the practical, doing side of it all.

So, I dropped out of university and went head first into working alongside my Dad to fully run the business. 

I love to research things and basically hack until I find a solution. I’ve taught myself how to build eCommerce websites. I’ve taught myself digital marketing, social media, and many other skills just by doing it, learning, failing and trying again. The internet is incredible and you can learn anything if you ask the right questions. 

Over the years, I’ve also worked with amazing leaders and mentors who have taught me so many things – people who have believed in me and never once asked me if I had a degree but valued the experience I’d had instead. The most important thing I’ve ever done is to build strong and lasting relationships with people I’ve worked with. Friendships too, that truly last. There’s been nothing more powerful for me in my career than the people I know and care for. 

  • One of your current businesses, ARNAonline focuses on empowering women. Why is this goal important to you? 

ARNAonline’s mission is to empower women to make bold decisions and our vision is to reshape the stories women see and tell about themselves. This is so important to myself and my sister Arianne because we are women and we are learning from our own experiences and setbacks we’ve had at work, and we want to see gender equality happen in our lifetime.

It’s said that there are more than 208 years until we can expect to see gender equality. Not only do we want to change that but we want to recognise in ourselves what behaviours we have that are holding us back from the future we want. We want this movement to be accountable and work on what we can control. 

  • How have your personal experiences shaped the way you approach women empowerment today? 

I’ve been lucky enough to work alongside some incredible women in my life, women who all lift each other up, who support each other and share. I’ve also worked under some pretty tough leaders or people I clashed with – both men and women – and you always learn something so no lesson isn’t a good one to have had.

But the focus on women’s growth, opportunities, pay, self-love, self-talk, gender roles and societal pressures and the leadership I’ve seen at the top of large organisations, this drives me to want to see change.

Did you know there are more Andrew’s as CEOs than there are female CEOs in the top 100 companies in Australia? This is crazy! Especially when there is so much strong female talent and leadership out there. It’s started to make me think that us women are part of the problem that’s holding us back and we need to work on changing those thoughts now. 

Working towards a world where we can see equality for both men and women is what I’m so passionate about. A world where men get equal parental leave, a world where men can openly share their emotions and talk about the hard stuff, a world where women can be breadwinners and CEOs, and a world where all people are seen for their merit. 

  • For those currently deciding between whether to apply for university or get straight into the workforce, what’s a decision-making process you’d recommend they undertake to make the right decision?

It really depends on what you’re looking to do in your career. Of course, anything medical or science based, you have to go to university. But if you’re looking at something in the arts, or business or marketing… you could find a mentor, chat to some other people working in the industry, get an internship, put yourself forward for some opportunities. Get some experience by trying to build something simple yourself, a website, a great set of social media channels, etc. 

The main things to ask yourself when you think about what you want to do with you life are:

  • What is my purpose? Why am I here?
  • What do I value? 
  • What brings me joy? 
  • What’s the vision I have for my future? 
  • What tools do I need to bring that vision and purpose to life?

It’s never going to be about the money if you’re doing something that ignites a fire in your belly. 

About the expert

Natasha Ritz is a storyteller working to build brand advocacy first internally with staff, followed by externally with customers. Relationship building and trust is at the core of all the work she does.  She has spent the last 15 years building brands and teams within fashion, beauty and lifestyle with a key focus on social enterprise and making a positive impact on the world.

Natasha spent 5 years as the Brand Lead at LUSH cosmetics before moving into her own business ARNAonline alongside her sister. Focusing on the vision of reshaping the stories women see and tell about themselves has been the forefront of the work she is doing.

More recently, Natasha has launched another company called Teamo, where she works in partnership business leaders to bring their teams together to collaborate, creating powerful internal brand advocacy followed by even more powerful marketing. 

Image description: Photo of a woman with long black hair presenting on stage with a headpiece she is talking into, holding a clicker in her right hand. She’s wearing a black crew-neck t-shirt, black skinny jeans and a brown belt. On the stage behind her is a sculpture of a hand fist-pumping into the air, which is larger than Natasha. The fist is in front of a purple screen that has Brainscape in the top left corner and CHALLENGE written in bold, white capital letters on the right.