Mary Portas: ‘Femininity is needed at work’

Jessica Carpani
Mary Portas - 2016 David M. Benett

Broadcaster Mary, 58, lives between Primrose Hill and the Cotswolds with her wife, Melanie Rickey, and children Mylo, 25, Verity, 23, and Horatio, six. She takes us through a typical day

I get up at about 6.30am because my youngest, ‘Master Horatio’, as we call him, wakes then. But I’ve had 25 years of being woken in the morning, so... 

Mel and I get him dressed and by 7.15am we’re all in the kitchen along with the live-in manny and my daughter,  Verity. My son Mylo works in Manchester but comes home most weekends. 

I don’t tend to eat breakfast, but I have granola and yogurt at about 11am. Then,  I always do yoga to wake up my body, plus Pilates stretches.

I spend three days a week at Portas, my creative agency, or in one of my 26 Mary’s Living & Giving Shops, which I set up for Save the Children. The other two days I might be giving a talk or doing radio or TV. And I’ve just written a book, Work Like a Woman, about the workplace.

In my experience, most women take on more than men do in life and yet, when it comes to work, fewer make it to the top. I played the business game for years, but suppressed my natural energy and sensitivity as a woman, which I think it’s important to have. I asked myself, what if I took the values that I respect in women that are seen as feminine and put those into the workplace, why would that not work? So then I wrote a book on it.  

When it comes to family life, we always eat dinner together at the table, never in front of the telly, except as a Saturday-night treat when Strictly is on. Mel always cooks, which I’m glad of because I cooked for years and she loves it. I’m quite good at clearing away, as long as I have a glass of decent wine in my hand. By the time I’ve read Horatio his bedtime stories, there’s not a lot of evening left.

My favourite things

Votary Super Seed Facial Oil    

Votary Super Seed Facial Oil 

I always massage and cleanse my face using this and a hot flannel. (£70, votary. co.uk)

Mimi Holliday bras

Mimi Holliday bras

I have most of her lingerie; it fits really well. (Silk padded push-up bra, £69, mimiholliday.com)

The Pocket Pema Chödrön 

The Pocket Pema Chödrön

I always have a book by my favourite Buddhist nun, Pema Chödrön, by my bed. (£6.99, Amazon)

Hughes & Hughes Pinot Noir, Tasmania 2018   

Hughes & Hughes Pinot Noir, Tasmania 2018

I’m obsessed with good wine. If I don’t have that in my life, then what’s the point? 

Aromatherapy Associates Revive Evening Bath & Shower Oil 

Aromatherapy Associates Revive Evening Bath & Shower Oil

When I want to relax, I put this in the bath. (£49, spacenk.com)

My lifestyle tips

  1. Be courageous not brave. Bravery is physical and risky, but courage is from the heart. 
  2. Strive for excellence, not perfection. The first is a goal and the second is  a straitjacket. 
  3. Be kind and give  something back to  those around you.  Aim for legacy rather  than status.
  4. Have life ambition rather than business ambition. We need to have a life. 
  5. Use your instincts. How many times have you made mistakes in your  life when you’ve gone against your gut?
Model, Linda Rodin  Credit: Getty images

My inspiration is model, Linda Rodin. She has a great look and carries it really well.

Mary Portas will be speaking about how  to supercharge your career on 10 May at Stella Live at Saatchi Gallery. Tickets cost from £53.75, and new and existing Telegraph subscribers get a free £200 goody bag. Book now  at telegraph.co.uk/event/stella-live