Oh Hej Sister | Irene, Prepair NZ
This season, Fancy Seeing You Here is stretching into the wonderful world of the sisterhood. To kick things off we’re yarning to the ultimate big sister to all of us - inspiring speaker, passionate activist, savvy business woman, proud māmā and founder of Prepair NZ, Irene Wakefield.
So many well-deserved adjectives.
Give us a lil’ rundown on Prepair NZ and the amazing work you do with the sisters of Aotearoa.
Prepair is like the older sister I needed when I was younger. An honest voice and straight up answers about relationships, emotional abuse and self-love.
Prepair delivers workshops, talks and online resources to young women across the country. Our work is available in schools, universities and pop up sessions.
I launched Prepair to raise awareness of the seriousness of emotional abuse and help gals along the self-love journey.
NZ has some of the worst rates of domestic violence in the world. Prepair is a creative, relatable and very much necessary attempt to prevent this from becoming a reality for my sisters across the nation.
As the ultimate older sis, what’s the best advice you’ve got for our little sisters out there?
Just one? I would say a few things!
Relationships are an inside job. The way you treat yourself teaches others how to treat you. Do your inside work. Take the time to be clear on what you value and what you love. Learn to get comfortable in your own company. Stand strong in your values, your boundaries & expectations.
You talk about emotional abuse often being more difficult for women to pinpoint. What are some telltale signs it’s time to move on?
Oh, I could write a novel.
Abusive people find it very difficult to take responsibility for their own behaviours or actions. Instead they deny, blame and shame other people to avoid focusing on their own wrong doing. This is a very common trait. You might see it in the way they speak about ex partners, how they deal with confrontation or what they do when you don't do something they say.
Gaslighting is another common one. This is when someone tries to play down their behaviours or make you question yourself. If you partner says one thing to you and totally denies it in front of other people or denies ever saying it to you - alarm bells should be ringing.
Making subtle comments that have you questioning what you wear, your hair, your makeup, your weight, workout routine of general sense of self-worth. Any of this is not OK too. I'd say if you're reading this and it sounds familiar head to the Prepair NZ IGTV for videos where I chat more about emotional abuse.
Is it difficult to use your own personal story in the public sphere?
I am so comfortable with my own story that it doesn't affect me to share it. I did find it difficult to share my story with the people I loved before I went public. It's a lot easier to tell your story to a stranger. One thing I've learned over the years is the importance of mental and emotional preparation for a talk. My story liberates others to share their stories with me. I have to make sure I'm ready and have created space for that. Otherwise, I think this could be very tough on my mental health and wellbeing.
If one of our ladies wanted to offer their support and join the Prepair NZ family, what’s the best way to go about it?
There’s a couple of ways!
We’re on the look out for members to join our collective. A group of 50 individuals or businesses who donate $20 a week to a fund that takes care of our operational expenses. Which frees my team up to focus on what we’re good at!
Share your story on our blog. We’ve had lots of gals share their experience with emotional abuse & the power of the self-love journey. It’s a great way to encourage young women currently experiencing abuse to take action.
Or, simply connecting gals with our online resources and social media. That way you get instant access to our video content which is super helpful!
Who is your big sister or womentor and what makes her so damn great? We just made that word up. You can keep it.
Right now. My Mum. I’m still learning the ropes as a first time māmā. We’ve moved back to my childhood hometown where the support is endless and so helpful for a gal managing a business like Prepair and my daughter.
Have you always been a fearless public speaker or did you start with sweaty palms like the rest of us?
I still remember my first ever speech back in the 90s. It was around the time pulp shoes were cool. I wore my brand new silver pair to the speech competition with a skirt. My knees were shaking the whole time and you could see it. A few years later I remember speaking at Ngā Manu Korero. I realised I had a bit of a gift that day the way the audience responded and the little flicker of a tear in my Dad's eyes. I'm pretty lucky that I have seven brothers and sisters. I've always had an audience to practice in front of. Today, I love public speaking.
Do you think self-love can also be expressed in the way we present ourselves?
Totally. I think the practice of self-love is different for everyone. It depends who you are, what you enjoy as where you draw your energy from.
I totally love the way a well cut garment makes me feel. Or the boldness of a red lippy. And I also love the energy I get from working on Prepair!
What’s top on your hit list for our pop-up store in Wellington this Thursday?
So many things.
Photos by Bonny Beattie
Shop the hej hej Ruffle her Feathers in Indigo