Through our online magazine Ideas Hoist, we have been fortunate to interview lots of inspiring people with really amazing ideas.

So as part of International Women’s Day today we are highlighting ten fantastic women from our archives of interviews – all with ideas that are making a positive difference in the world right now.

#1 Hollie Gordon – Milaana

Hollie Gordon (above) is a young Australian working to increase community engagement through social enterprise. She developed her passion for social entrepreneurship and community engagement during her post-high school travel experiences, particularly in India.

During her final year of university Holly founded a social enterprise called Milaana, meaning “to connect people” in the Hindi language. Milaana does exactly that – connecting passionate individuals with community oriented organisations by promoting project-based, impact placement opportunities. It also exists to empower youth by increasing both their job readiness and their community engagement.

Milaana was selected as the winner of the “Education Pillar” in the 1776 Challenge Cup in Sydney – part of a global startup competition where she will contest the final in Washington DC this year. And Milaana was also a recipient of the Brisbane Lord Mayors Budding Entrepreneur Award Program. This Award provided a grant that funded Hollie’s attendance of the G20 YEA Summit as an Australian Delegate.

With so much already behind her, she is certainly a young change-maker to watch in the future!

For more on Hollie Gordon, read our interview here.

#2 Melanie Perkins – Canva

Melanie Perkins

Melanie Perkins is the CEO and co-founder of Canva, and is a bit of a rock star of the Australian start-up scene, having raised one of the biggest seed rounds (more than 3 million dollars) for an Australian start-up for her online design platform. Since launching less than two years ago, Canva has grown to well over 1 million users who have created more than 7 million designs.

With a background in graphic design and a serial entrepreneur, Melanie has been able to democratise design; Canva is opening up the world of graphic design to professionals and everyday people alike.The Canva platform makes it simple to create social media graphics, presentations, posters, blog graphics, invitations and much more. In the male dominated tech industry, Melanie is a beacon of light for women entrepreneurs, though her success is perhaps not so surprising given her incredible drive and highly adventurous spirit. Melanie is not just a tech entrepreneur but an intrepid traveller and adventurer.

Want to know more? Read our full interview with Melanie here.

#3 Phaemie Ng – Two Rags


Phaemie Ng is a social entrepreneur and founder of Two Rags, a modern underwear brand with heart. Her brand provides a tangible way for customers to give back and help others in need. Having been struck by images of poverty and inequality, she seized the opportunity to create something meaningful and worthwhile to make the world a better place.

Originally from Singapore, Phaemie attended college in the USA and afterwards lived and worked in New York City. She has worked in the digital and marketing space in both New York and Sydney – experience which came in very handy while building Two Rags. In August this year, Phaemie took the plunge to working on the development of Two Rags full-time in Sydney.

Read more about Phaemie and Two Rags in our interview here.

#4 Jane Martino – founder of Smiling Mind (amongst other things!)


Jane Martino is renowned for developing thriving businesses, having founded and one of Australia’s most renowned communications agencies, Undertow Media, and subsequently recognised as a finalist in the Telstra Young Business Women’s awards in 2005.

Based in Melbourne, Victoria, Jane is a published author, with 72,000 copies of her ‘Thank You’ books sold nationwide. She has combined her personal love of young people, giving back and meditation to create Smiling Mind, a not for profit, modern approach to meditation for young people – with a mission to create happier, healthier and more compassionate young people. She also co-founded and is CEO of Shout. – a micro-donation app.

Read more in our interview with Jane here.

# 5 Rosie Thomas – Project Rockit

Rosie Thomas

Rosie Thomas is a ‘pocket rocket’ with a ferocious passion for life. In 2006, Rosie and her sister Lucy started PROJECT ROCKIT: A youth-led anti-bullying and leadership organisation that runs creative workshops in school settings.

PROJECT ROCKIT has worked with over 40,000 young people and earned the reputation as the “students’ choice”.

In 2012, they launched P-ROCK Online: A youth-friendly anti-bullying curriculum available from anywhere with an Internet connection. Designed by young people for young people, it’s been described as an Aussie-first.

Read more in our interview with Rosie here.

#6 Brook McCarthy – Yoga Reach


Brook McCarthy is a marketer and business coach who empowers and enables wellbeing professionals to lift their game, define their deeper purpose and take on the world with authentic marketing and compelling communications. She is the founder of Yoga Reach and co-founder of HealthComm. As a long-time yoga practitioner and senior qualified teacher, she is over seeing the wellbeing sector languish in the sidelines because practitioners treat their business like a hobby, become overwhelmed and intimidated by technology, or feel guilty and shamed by money.

Brook is keen on smart, intuitive technology and empowering people to focus on their message and not be intimidated by the medium.

Read more in our interview with Brook here.

#7 Lisa Fox – Open Shed


Lisa Fox is the co-founder and CEO of the peer-to-peer rental site, Open Shed, where people can rent or rent-out items that they only occasionally use. She is passionate about spreading the word about the Collaborative Consumption movement in Australia and helping Australians access what they need when they need it!

Open Shed (or “the travelling start-up” as it is sometimes called) is Lisa and her partner Duncan’s own personal contribution to reducing waste and excess, and promoting a positive message about consumerism and consumption.

Read more about Lisa and Open Shed in our interview here.

#8 Pip Russell – Juiced TV

Pip Russell

Pip is on a mission to give sick kids back their childhood, with Juiced TV – a TV show made by the kids in hospital, for the kids in hospital. She hopes it will improve the hospital experience for sick kids, and create a unique way for them and their families to engage and communicate with one another, while also reducing the alienation felt in an environment that can be scary and sometimes painful.

In previous years, Pip has been a presenter for two of Network Ten’s national children’s shows, Toasted TV and Totally Wild.  While Pip gained extensive production skills working on national and international shoots, she also used her public profile to champion many charitable organisations such as The Children’s Hospital Foundation, Care Australia, The PA Research Foundation and Cerebral Palsy League.

Pip’s deep passion for supporting meaningful causes has already seen her raise over $20,000 for cancer research at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research, present a documentary on Australian Aid in Cambodia, and volunteer in remote villages in Africa, as well as with many local organisations such as s.p.a.c.e (Specialised Programs and Community Endeavours), and the Children’s Hospital Foundation.

Read more in our interview with Pip about Juiced TV here.

#9 Amanda Reed – The Roundabout


Amanda Reed is a social entrepreneur from Brisbane, who has taken the leap from the corporate sector into social enterprise.  She feels a strong sense of responsibility to ensure that all people, regardless of their level of ability, be able to live independently and have quality of life.

Amanda is the founder of The Roundabout, a socially innovative company that provides a cost effective and accessible option for people who need assistive technology, by giving unused equipment new life in a new home.

Read more about Amanda and The Roundabout here.

#10 Elise Bialylew – Mindful in May


Elise Bialylew is a medical doctor and wellness innovator, who has combined her passion for community with her professional expertise in the field of psychiatry, integrative coaching and mindfulness, to create the Mindful in May campaign.

The campaign supports the development of a conscious community interested in creating personal sustainability in an increasingly stressful world, while bringing compassionate action to alleviating issues of global poverty. Through Mindful in May, hundreds of people have been inspired to bring more calm, clarity and connection into every day life, while helping to bring clean water to the developing world.

Read more in our interview with Elise here.