Carina Simons has always followed her heart, in both her life choices and her career. This led to her joining the Red Cross, where she is currently managing the Red Cross recycling department, raising money for the most vulnerable groups in Danish society. In 2019, Masai and the Red Cross entered a partnership whereby Masai customers bring old Masai clothes to their local Masai store, and Masai then sends them on to the Red Cross charity stores.
Marketing responsible Red Rross Recycling
After many years in the media industry, I knew it was time to do something completely different. So, I sat down and wrote out a list of my own values on a sheet of paper. I kept that list tucked away in my mind until a job became available at the Red Cross. I applied and fortunately, I got the job. Writing down my values was really important to me, and it was also important to join somewhere that I was proud to work. I'm extremely proud to be part of the Red Cross and the 30,000 volunteers who make a huge difference to vulnerable people, not to mention my dedicated colleagues at the head office, who work hard to support the different activities we have going on in both Denmark and the rest of the world. It's when life gets tough that it really means something to be doing this job, knowing that you're making a difference.
It's important for me to be able to be myself wherever I work and in whatever job I have, whether as a manager, employee or colleague. I really throw myself into whatever I'm doing, which is why it's essential that I believe in what I do.
I work with the recycling area at the Red Cross. We have around 240 shops and sort through 7000 tonnes of clothes a year and have an annual profit of over 60 million. The shops are run by over 10,000 volunteers. The best clothes are sold in the shops, and the rest are sold abroad to textile buyers, among others. The profits go to vulnerable people at home and abroad, and to the different projects we're involved in, such as the Red Cross visitors, holiday camps, networks for abused women, and much more.
The Red Cross is now working with Masai, where Masai collects clothes in the Masai stores for the Red Cross. If you deliver clothes to Masai, you get a voucher to use in the store, and the Red Cross gets the clothes to sell on in one of the Red Cross stores.
I work a lot with women at the Red Cross head office. It's amazing to work in a forum of very different women who want to succeed together, and who aren’t afraid to show their vulnerable side. I'm also part of a women's network, where we share each other's successes and vulnerabilities. I think it's a wonderful strength when women are able to do this. I don't think I'm the type to shout from a soapbox. I'm the one who the woman on the soapbox calls when she's upset. I enjoy supporting other strong women and I enjoy being part of a network of women because it brings a different energy. I'm really proud of my gender because there's a lot of tough women out there. A while ago I was in a lift when a young mother walked in with two child seats strapped to the back of her bike, having probably just dropped off her kids. While struggling to get this enormous bike in and out of the lift, she also managed to conduct a really tough contract negotiation on her mobile. I just wanted to high five her - or buy her a coffee.
In my experience, women have become better at supporting one another. Maybe it's got something to do with my age, but I believe that when us women have had the privilege to choose how much energy to spend on our career versus other areas of our life, then we're much more content with our choices, and we have no reason not to support other women with their choices.
I'm ambitious with my life, but I'm probably not the best career advisor. I've always based my decisions on what I've wanted to do in my life, and not always what was the most sensible option. I've always believed in getting the most out of life, that life's just too short.
I've worked abroad several times and have also had some great jobs. But I didn't really care what job I did abroad - I just wanted to go - my wanderlust was huge, and I wanted to experience as much as possible. Getting out into the world is about that feeling of discovering something brand new and experiencing it all as new. You suddenly feel really alive and you have some real life-defining moments. I believe that every time you have the rug whipped from under your feet, you grow as a person. I think that anyone who has ever ventured out into the world will know this feeling.
I probably use many of the skills I’ve picked up along the way because new things are constantly happening to me. There are always new projects developing in my job, and we need to find out how we get from a to b. I think that my default setting is I've not tried that before, so I'll give it a go, a bit like Pippi Longstocking!
I grew up with a mother who was a type of feminist, even though she took care of all the domestic stuff. My father taught me to change a tire and to rewire a lamp, which meant that I learned to look after myself no matter what. I think my mother has been a sort of role model for me. She made me aware of gender inequality whenever we came across it and didn't treat my brothers or me differently. Otherwise, I've generally been surrounded by men, fortunately, the type of men who allowed me plenty of space. I think we can learn a lot from each other both ways, just as much from men as from women. We don't need to be identical - we just need to support each other's strengths.
Women have become better at helping each other, but there's still room for improvement! What comes around goes around; if you help someone, even if you never see them again, it will come around tenfold. I've always believed that.
MASAI STORIES are portraits of women's lives, presented through thoughts and reflections from a group of dedicated and passionate women. The stories reflect on diversity, openness, courage and, not least, the freedom to be and want to be yourself. Through meetings these women, who all inspired us with their life choices and creativity, we wanted to create a special insight into women's lives. Our stories portray the strength and beauty that emerges when your life passions are allowed to blossom, and when you choose to listen to yourself and pursue your dreams.