Inspirational Women: Fiona Napier

Today we are celebrating International Women’s Day 2023 and have chosen to highlight a wonderful selection of truly inspirational women who are vital members of the commercial interiors sector, each playing a different role. We spoke with Fiona Napier about being an inspiration to others, the women she celebrates, the advice she gives as a mentor and the potential impact of greater gender equality on her work.

Please could you introduce yourself and your role?

Nice to meet you, I’m Fiona and I’m Sales Director for Edmund Bell!

I have the pleasure of heading up our broad and varied team to match up our offer with the industry’s needs, from curtain linings to contract upholstery fabrics; from the smallest curtain makers to international fabric houses. I aim to cultivate team members who listen to their customers, feedback from the market and are reliable partners for our customers’ growth. The huge variety of characters, conditions and settings we deal with keeps us on our toes. Since the end of the pandemic, I’m back to travelling quite a bit, so I’m never bored!

What does it feel like to be inspired by, and inspire, people around you?

For me, being inspired means taking genuine interest and pride in the achievements or just day-to-day excellence of those around me. I enjoy the people around me professionally a lot nowadays. Each team member is on their own journey of development and it’s great to see and share in their progress, their pride in their new abilities, their newfound confidence.

Celebrate little wins with the big ones: and create those little wins by planning and constantly taking actions towards your big goals together. This is the kind of inspiration that really keeps me motivated.

As for how I seek to inspire others myself, I merely always seek to do my best, to give my best and to share the enthusiasm that comes naturally to me. I want you to be as excited about this (or that, or that!) as I am!

Which inspirational women do you celebrate?

I most admire women who are self-sufficient but like to work with others; who are confident and unafraid to go out of their comfort zone or to be seen trying (or even failing) at something new. I think I know personally and am daily inspired by quite a few of these women!

What are three pieces of advice you give to the women you mentor?

  1. Develop some stamina: persistence and tenacity may be needed if you want to be heard!
  2. Just do it! Planning and preparation are dead important but at a certain point, taking action is the only thing that’s going to expose whether your approach will really work or not.
  3. Cultivate strong relationships and help your partners grow. You’ll need people you can rely on; who judgement you trust and who trust in yours; who have different skills and insights to you.

Would greater gender equality create a more sustainable future for our sector and what would that entail?

I hope we’ll see more and more gender barrier-breaking – in whichever direction! – in terms of roles and seniority in the industry: this can only result in broader perspectives and fresh ideas that will keep things interesting and relevant for clients and end consumers.

Let’s build an environment that makes allowances for the practical considerations women and other groups face in their careers so that we might continue to benefit from the best skill and talent!


About Alys Bryan

Alys is a knowledgeable design editor who is focused on instigating conversations, both online and in-person, with industry experts which challenge, educate and advance the commercial interior sector. Her training and 15 years of professional experience as a furniture designer for the commercial sector makes her uniquely placed to lead Design Insider as Editor
View all posts by Alys Bryan →