Women Who Inspire Us - Josie Janz, Mentor

As part of International Women's Week, we wanted to celebrate by recognising the strong female figures in our creative community. 

We feature three incredible women who we asked to tell their stories. Each play a very special role in our Vela community, doing things their way and inspiring us with their own trailblazing style. 

Josie is an inspiring woman. She climbed the ranks to become a star defender with West Coast Fever, and off court she is kicking goals too with her work with the Wirrpanda Foundation in mentoring and empowering young Indigenous women. More recently, Josie starred in our launch campaign as one of the faces of Vela.  

Can you tell us a little bit about your career to date and some of your highlights?

I have a sporting background playing elite level netball for WestCoast Fever and had been a part of the club for 8 years since the inception in the ANZ Championship, I was introduced to Wirra many years ago and was keen to work for the Wirrpanda Foundation as a role model and mentor using sport as an engagement tool to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids and community.

One of our most important educational programs in the foundation is the Deadly Sista Girlz Program which focuses on building confident and proud Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls that take an active role in their own self-development and make a positive contribution to the wider community.

I feel the success of this program and the success of the Wirrpanda Foundation is ultimately closing the gap in education, health and employment outcomes for Indigenous Australians and truly seeing yourself out of the job.
Through playing sport I have been able to travel the world and build an amazing sisterhood of female sporting athletes and through my work at the Wirrpanda Foundation I have been blessed to travel our beautiful country and experience indigenous culture first hand. Living my life in my sporting and community role has really been THE highlight!!

You are an inspirational ambassador and mentor with the Wirrpanda Foundation. Can you tell us about the Deadly Sista Girlz program with the foundation and how it started?

The Deadly Sista Girlz Program is designed and delivered by Indigenous Women with the purpose of building pride in cultural identity, encouraging girls to take an active role in their self-development and hopefully in turn having a team of young women that will make a positive contribution to the wider community. The workshop sessions and the way the program is delivered is tailored to the site and community, ultimately we want the girls in school to have a mentor like a big sister that can provide personal and professional guidance to engage them in school and eventually support the girls to transition into a positive career pathway.

The program was originally called the ‘Dare to Dream’ program which focused on building confidence in young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls, we now have a team of 32 empowered Indigenous women leading the program and identifying what the current need is in the community and amongst our young girls. Our Deadly Sista Girlz participants are so important as they are the future mothers of the next generation and will be the first role models in their children’s lives and we want them to be equipped with all the tools to live their healthiest and happiest lives.
What is the driving force behind what you do…what keeps you motivated and driven on an everyday basis?

I have always been a person who wanted to make a difference in the lives of other people even when I was a young person at school I would always try to help and support my friends. I think it is definitely an intrinsic drive and I know what I am capable of doing and achieving with my time and contribution so I will help as many people as I can. I know when I started working at the foundation I was trying to influence the young people I worked with to lead healthy lifestyles and make positive choices but the need in community is far greater than what I can achieve on my own and so I focus a lot of my energy into creating strategies and positive approaches that can be rolled out on a larger scale and try to influence the policy makers and bring on board more of our non-indigenous community as strong allies to help us.

On International Women’s Day, what is an important message to send out to young women thinking about their careers and looking to overcome challenges and adversity?

Whatever we choose to do in life needs to have a real purpose that represents three phases of ourselves- what we choose to do for ME and the impact it is going to have on ourselves personally; what we choose to do for US which includes our family and friends, and finally a purpose that represents what we do for the WE and this is most important because it takes a wider view on where we place ourselves and our contribution to make our community a better place to live and when we have a purpose that stretches as far as this we create a space for others to thrive.
If you find something you love doing that gives you a strong sense of purpose and belonging you will continue to work harder to achieve the outcomes you set out for yourself, all challenges become an opportunity to reflect, reassess and go again.

Who are your female icons?

Oprah and Cathy Freeman.

Who has been the biggest influence of your success?

My school teachers and netball coaches. I loved that they were in a position to influence learning for their students and/or athletes and I always wanted to be a teacher growing up. Education and continual learning is empowering and we’ve grown up in a time with an abundance of opportunities to continually develop ourselves and adapt in our ever-changing world.
Through my parents, my siblings and I were enabled with life skills, taught the value of education and understood the virtue of fairness which also strongly shaped my personality and character.
How did you feel about being part of the Vela Jewellery launch campaign as face of the brand? Was it a fun day on set for something different?

I loved being a part of the Vela Jewellery launch campaign, it was a lot of fun and I had some good laughs and stories to share with the other women who were a part of the day. It is definitely a change of scenery getting out of active wear and having your hair and make-up done, most of my photos on file are jumping around on a netball court so it’s really cool to change it up and not only feel confident in what you’re doing but expressing that confidence through your face and body and being a good canvas for the amazing Vela Jewellery.

What is your favourite Vela piece and why?

I love the Penta Luce Necklace because being from the Kimberley I just LOVE pearls and think it looks amazing on bare skin or even works nicely with a high neck dress/top.

What are you currently:

Coveting: a full body massage
Preparing: to complete a 3.2km Open Water Swim
Watching: Survivor All Stars
Listening: Relax Melodies App with Sounds from: Eternity; Wind in Trees; and Campfire
Reading: Autobiography of a Yogi
Dreaming: to connect back to nature, saltwater and feel good energy from country
Giving: Making someone laugh is my best way of giving but I also enjoy sharing my story and giving people an intimate part of myself.


In celebration of International Women's Day, we're offering our subscribers $50 off any purchases made on Sunday March 8th. Use code INSPIRE50 to redeem your gift from us at checkout.