Meet the Founders: Women In SMEs & Startups
Tue, 09 Jun 2020 by James Green
Following the success of our #WomenInSMEs campaign, we’ve decided to consolidate our interviews into one easy to find page. The information is packed full of inspiring interviews with female entrepreneurs who have started their own small or medium sized businesses and found success.
In our series of ‘Meet the Founders’ interviews, we spoke to different female entrepreneurs and business owners to draw from their experience of creating a successful business. We talked about the struggles, the challenges, the successes and why it’s important to encourage more women to get into business
Our hope is that these interviews inspire and encourage female entrepreneurs who are just starting out in business or those who are looking to start a business but may feel intimidated by a male dominated industry.
Meet Anaphase Store’s Founder: Supported By The Prince’s Trust
Taken from our interview with Carly Thompsett in February 2019
Anaphase: Based in Cardiff, Anaphase Store is an online shop that stocks clothing for newborns to size 5XL, homeware, cosmetics and accessories – all with unique designs and slogans.
The Founder: Carly Thompsett had been an entrepreneur for three years before she founded Anaphase Store in 2015. Having battled with dyslexia and dyspraxia, Carly has become a successful business mentor and ambassador, giving back to people who have shared similar struggles within the workplace.
What advice would you give to other female entrepreneurs just starting out in business?
‘Most people ask me how was I so brave to start up, and leave work etc. but if I didn’t try, I wouldn’t have known that I could do it. I spent my life thinking I wasn’t going to accomplish anything so I didn’t think I’d lose anything if I failed. The advice I give people is don’t live a ‘what if?’ live, then even if you fail you can still know you tried’
Meet Parent In Biz’s Founder: Helping Manage The Family & Business Tightrope
Taken from our interview with Bridget Daley in February 2019
Parents in Biz: Parents in Biz is a website full of resources to help parents navigate and balance being a parent whilst starting/running a business. Bridget explains it best, ‘Some of the resources parents have access to are our blog, podcast, inspirational interviews with parents, business tools and resources, self-care and productivity challenges also are recently launched Parents in Business magazine etc’.
The Founder: Having founded her first business in 2009, Bridget Daley has over 10 years experience running a business. As well as being an entrepreneur, Bridget is also a mother of 5 children, and her journey balancing family life and everyday business inspired her to share her knowledge and experience through Parents In Biz.
What would be your biggest piece of advice to female entrepreneurs just starting out in business?
‘My advice would be to keep learning and have a growth mindset. Step up, step out and own what you are about. When you launch your first business you think it’s the greatest thing in the whole world and you want it to succeed so much it’s so easy to give up or become disheartened when you hit your first bump in the road. By continuing to learn and by having a growth mindset, this will help you overcome many of the challenges that being an entrepreneur throws at you’.
I would also recommend reading Mindset by Carol Dweck’.
Connect With Parents In Biz
• Facebook: Parents In Biz
• Instagram: @parentsinbiz
• Twitter: @parentsinbiz
• Youtube: Parents In Biz
Meet Momentum4’s Co-founder: People Performance Consultancy Specialists
Taken from our interview with Lara Williams in March 2019
Momentum4: Momentum4 is a consultancy specialising in ‘people performance’. They help businesses build a happy, mutually supportive workplace, instilling teams with a sense of real purpose. Helping ambitious organisations to grow, improve and evolve – Momentum4 tackle challenges ranging from staff attrition to absenteeism, conflict resolution to motivation, onboarding and integration.
The Founders: Co-founded by Lara Williams and her husband Chris, Lara combines the numerous skills she’s gained in her 15 years working as a consultant. She has a style that challenges traditional beliefs of what is realistically needed to be truly effective, encouraging her clients to ensure a healthy work life balance.
Can you tell us why were you drawn to the campaign, and offer a comment on why you think it’s important?
‘The disparity that remains between men and women in the world of business is an issue that I’m really passionate about addressing. I want my daughters to have positive female role models that they can look up to, and to never feel like their options are restricted because of their gender. So much of this problem stems from the ingrained psychological barriers that society instils in us, as women, from a very young age.
Those hang-ups are only strengthened by structures that exist in the workplace, which is why I think that emotional intelligence is so important in that environment; it gives organisations and teams the tools to understand each other’s perspectives and motivations, which is the first step to doing things differently.
We’ve just published a research report that digs into these issues in a lot more detail, building on feedback from more than 100 women in leadership roles to understand the challenges they face, and suggest strategies that may help to overcome them. You can read the Women in Leadership Report here‘.
Connect With Momentum4
• Twitter: @momentum4uk
• LinkedIn: Momentum4
Meet Mini Mealtimes’ Founder: Helping Kids Grow Up Healthy
Taken from our interview with Marie Farmer in March 2019.
Mini Mealtimes: Mini Mealtimes is the first of its kind. A revolutionary app that allows parents to digitally monitor their children’s food intake, breaking down the nutritional information in an easy to understand way.
The app also reads reports that informs parents about their children’s eating habits. All research comes from a team of dieticians and official, published reports.
The Founder: Mini Mealtimes was founded by Marie Farmer. A mother of one, Marie found her own experience of weaning her son onto solid foods a daunting task. She created the app to offer parents ideas, support and reassurance for feeding their children in a healthy, tracked way.
What would be your biggest piece of advice to female entrepreneurs just starting out in business?
‘Take risks but be patient, that may sound like an oxymoron but I’ve found it to be true. When you start a business for the first time there will be delays, you’ll second-guess yourself, people will try to take advantage of you and you’ll make the wrong decisions. That doesn’t mean you should be down of yourself. If you were an overnight success you wouldn’t learn anything.
Take every setback as a lesson learned and keep going. I’m a big believer in transferable skills so whether your business succeeds or fails, you as an entrepreneur will gain invaluable life skills’.
Why were you drawn to the campaign, can you offer a comment on why you think it’s important?
‘I love that this campaign is not only championing women who are already successful, although they rock. It’s also championing women who are just starting out. It can feel intimidating when the few examples the media touts are millionaires so it’s nice to hear about the everyday entrepreneur.
When I was younger it didn’t occur to me that owning a business was a viable carrier path. It’s been amazing seeing the influx of women, especially mothers doing just that and I hope it continues’.
Connect With Mini Mealtimes
• Instagram: @minimealtimesapp
• Instagram: @mriee
• Twitter: @mcp893
Meet Catalyst Collective’s Co-founders: Focused On Female Talent Development
Taken from our interview with Fiona and Katy in March 2019
Catalyst Collective: Catalyst Collective is a boutique female-founded and female-run business specialising in creating transformational resources to equip women to step up in their leadership.
They create online and face to face to programmes, as well as thought leadership pieces, like their recent Gender Pay Gap – What Next? guide. Focusing on female talent development, they also consult with organisations who want to create more inclusive cultures.
Catalyst Collective take an intersectional approach in their work and seek to elevate diverse women’s voices.
The Founders: Co-founded by Fiona and Katy, Co-founders Fiona and Katy met in 2016, both at the point of burnout with clients wanting more and more from them. They discovered that they both shared the same passion and desire to equip and enable women to change the world, shortly after this – Catalyst Collective was born.
Based in the beautiful Orkney Islands, Co-founder Fiona is an International Coaching Federation certified coach and change agent and describes her purpose as helping others achieve their full potential. Katy lives in the equally gorgeous Lake District. She has over 20 years’ global experience leading teams, facilitating change and developing leaders, and is also a INLPTA Qualified Coach.
As female co-founders, what would be your advice to other women just starting in business?
‘Have a financial buffer before you jump into a start-up situation so that scarcity is not driving your business decisions. Know that it’s likely to take longer than you think to reach your goals. And know that over time you can achieve more than you think you can. Get really clear about what you want to create and why. Be ready for massive learning curves.
Surround yourself with role models (can be online as well as IRL) who expand your possibility thinking. Intentionally cultivate supportive and challenging relationships with other women who will proactively cheer lead you’.
Connect With Catalyst Collective
• Readers can access our Working Women’s Guide to Gender Bias and How to Beat It here – it’s a must-read for women and men!
• You can get your own free copy of Gender Pay Gap – What Next here – it’s packed with strategies and tips for individual women to make a difference.
• Twitter: @Catalyst_Coll
• LinkedIn: Catalyst Collective
Meet The Founder Of Making Words Come Alive: Creating Content That Converts
Taken from our interview with Claire Winter in March 2019
Making Words Come Alive: From 1:1 coaching to online training, Making Words Come Alive are able to help with an extensive range of content components; creating your own PR, approaching journalists, generating strong blog ideas and creating effective content marketing schedules.
The Founder: Meet Claire Winter, founder of Making Words Come Alive – the female entrepreneur and wordsmith, equipping companies nationwide with the skills to write content that actually converts.
Having run the Berkshire edition of Families Magazine, for eight very successful years, she now writes for all 41 Families magazines that cover the UK, reaching 9 million parents a year. Nowadays, Claire is also keen to share her wealth of knowledge with other budding entrepreneurs, looking to transcend their content skills into big business.
What was it that prompted you to start your own business?
I set up my business two years ago after deciding to sell my business, the Families magazine that covers half of Berkshire.
I had been the editor and owner of the magazine for eight years, and it was the perfect flexible role for me while my children were small. I bought it when my twins were one; they are now 11! This new role allows me to have clients from anywhere in the world, helping people is where my passion lies.
What would be your biggest piece of advice to female entrepreneurs just starting out in business?
I have three bits of advice. My top one is don’t let fear get in the way, so many women I work with are scared of being visible. You are important and by telling your business story, you will engage with more people and get more customers.
My second bit of advice would be to have a plan, get a qualified business coach to help you if you aren’t sure on your next steps.
My other tip is when you can afford it, grow your team, so you can outsource the work you don’t like doing. This will then allow you to work on your business instead of in it!
Working with Claire:
Stuck for blogging ideas? You can download her blog brainstorm guide here
Join the Facebook community Join her facebook group Cracking Content, for advice on writing and creating great content, how to contact the press, plus much more.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in working with her.
Meet MM Creative Solutions Founder: Independent Consultancy For Nuclear Industries
Taken from our interview with Monica Mwanje in February 2019
MM Creative Solutions: MM Creative Solutions is a specialist management consultancy providing services for nuclear and other regulated sectors. They help their clients to win new business and deliver this via the provision of: Bid Services, Business Development Services and Independent Peer Review. MM Creative Solutions primarily work with Engineering, Construction and Technical organisations.
The Founder: Meet Monica Mwanje who founded MM Creative Solutions in 2015 after gaining valuable skills working in a growing SME. Her previous experience made her realise that she wanted to become an entrepreneur and work with other businesses to help them achieve their goals.
The team at MM Creative Solutions provide the following services for nuclear and regulated sectors:
• Bid Services (training, strategy, management and writing)
• Business Development Services (strategic and operational business development, marketing communications and organisational development)
• Independent Peer Review
We’d love to hear about your business’s achievements, and also some challenges you’ve faced?
My greatest successes to date would be being able to work with a range of clients from microbusinesses through to multinationals and helping them win contracts! I’m also proud of developing and delivering my bid training course, as expanding to delivery training is a new area for me.
In honesty the biggest challenges have been keeping myself motivated on the days when it feels nothing is going right and I question why on earth did I start a business. I’ve learned that time is going to pass regardless, and it is up to me to make the time I spend working count, so that I can develop the business and life I want.
Do you have any other advice for female entrepreneurs just starting out in business?
Know your market and know how to communicate with your market. Ultimately people buy from people, regardless of the sector, so invest in and nurture those relationships.
Know your worth and don’t be afraid to put yourself forward and ask for something or the opportunity.
Take some time to define and clarify your business offering, it needs to solve a problem that your target clients are experiencing. If you’re not sure what issues are keeping them up at night, do some research and find out.
Connect With MM Creative Solutions
• Twitter: @mmcslimited
• Twitter: @monicamwanje
• LinkedIn: MM Creative Solutions Limited
Meet Space At 61’s Founder: Venue Hire For Businesses In Peckham
Taken from our interview with Shona Chambers in March 2019
Space at 61: Space at 61 is a venue for hire in Peckham, South East London. Space at 61 sees themselves as an Airbnb for businesses, clients can book the venue from one hour to a day for all creative uses. The venue can also be used by entrepreneurs and small businesses for hosting events.
The Founder: Space at 61 was founded by Shona Chambers. Shona runs her consultancy business from the venue providing help and support to small business clients.
On the first Friday of every month, Shona holds monthly networking events between 10am and 1pm. Around 30 small business owners attend the events, which are a mixture of networking and listening to the guest speaker.
Recently, Shona and Space at 61 have ventured into evening networking opportunities over dinner. These have proved extremely popular and over time, Space at 61 have developed a large community of over 400 people in the Facebook Space at 61 Group
What would be your biggest piece of advice to other female entrepreneurs just starting out in business?
Get out there and meet as many other entrepreneurs as possible. It is so important to make connections with real people and not rely on the online community which can feel quite competitive and hollow.
Can you tell us a bit about why you set it up?
I started my business originally in May 2012. I moved out of a corporate job working in Marketing to set up the business of my dreams a cafe deli which I renovated from scratch & spent a year training for & sourcing all the products.
The cafe itself was not financially successful so I decided to reuse the space as an event space instead, this is where Space at 61 was born from.
It has not been an easy journey transitioning through all of those three stages of my business from corporate to the event space, but I have kept the faith, and learned a lot from other small business people along the way.
Connect With Space at 61
• Facebook: Space at 61
• Twitter: @spaceat61
• Instagram: @space_at_61
• Pinterest: Spaceat61
Meet Chalk & Moss’ Founder: Homeware Inspired By Biophilic Design
Taken from out interview with Anna Sjöström Walton in February 2019
Chalk & Moss: Online homeware shop Chalk & Moss is inspired by the ideas of Biophilic Design: our need to connect with nature for our wellbeing.
Chalk & Moss sell simple, functional and stylish products in natural materials; from sustainable kitchen cloths to ceramics, home textiles and handmade furniture. Having only been founded in December 2017, they were picked by Elle Decoration as one of the UK’s best online shops for 2018.
The Founder: Meet Anna Sjöström Walton who started Chalk & Mossas a blog about natural interiors, outdoor lifestyles and healthy eating. During these initial six months, Anna built the e-commerce shop in the background and sourced wonderful artisan made, ethical and sustainable homewares. The online shop Chalk & Moss launched in December 2017.
As predicted, the most popular items in the shop are plastic free alternatives – like the organic cotton food bags, all purpose bags, lunch bags and kitchen & washcloths.
What would you say to other female entrepreneurs starting out in business?
Think about what your strengths are, and consider finding partners or freelancers who can support you, so you can focus on the business. I’m guilty of wanting to do everything myself. Setting up your own business is pretty isolating.
I’ve found it really helpful to have an accountability partner – someone in a related field with whom you can throw ideas around with, show your targets to make sure you stick to your plan and even collaborate on co-marketing projects. We met during an online 7-day marketing challenge. We also have a little group of small business owners and Instagrammers who meet up every couple of weeks to share ideas and support each other online and offline.
Is there anything that you struggle with?
I do everything myself, including the website development and maintenance (which is a steep learning curve!). Prioritising and allocating enough time to the tasks is a challenge. As the company grows, I look forward to getting support on the website and bookkeeping side.
Connect With Chalk & Moss
• Instagram: @chalkandmoss
• Facebook: Chalk & Moss
• Twitter: @chalkandmoss
• Pinterest: Chalk & Moss
• LinkedIn: Anna Sjöström Walton
Connect With Photographer Adam Bronkhorst
Meet Belle Bridal’s Co-founders: Sample Sale Wedding Dress Specialists
Taken from our interview with Jo Cowan and Claire Chapman in March 2019
Belle Bridal: Belle Bridal is a small bridal boutique based in North London. Specialising in selling sample sale wedding dresses, they help brides finding luxury dresses at discounted prices for their big day.
The Founders: The company was founded when both sisters, Jo Cowan and Claire Chapman, fell pregnant at the same time and took time off work for maternity leave. It was during this time that the pair explored the idea of becoming entrepreneurs and starting their very own bridal business.
They self-financed the business and operated out of Jo’s North London home — a money-saving option that gave them a personal edge. They began advertising at wedding shows and posting flyers through local doors. It was a slow start, but word soon spread, and more and more women were booking appointments.
Since 2009, hundreds of brides have received a tailored service from Jo and Claire.
Can you tell us about some stand-out successes and challenges so far?
Every day, we are faced with new challenges and always take them in our stride. We consider every bridal consultation a success, as we are able to help each bride in some way on this exciting journey to their big day. Even if we haven’t been able to match them with their perfect dress, we have been able to advise and impart information that will allow them to make the right choice.
One particular success story for us took place just before Christmas 2018. Jo received a phone call from a very teary bride who was due to collect her dress that weekend from a shop but had been informed that the company had gone into administration. With less than two weeks to go until her big day, she pleaded with us to try to help. She came into the showroom the next day and found a fabulous dress, which we took to our seamstress immediately.
Fast forward ten days later and she had the most magical day of her life! For us, that is what makes this business so wonderful — being able to help someone when they need us most and providing an amazing result. Our greatest success is watching our families grow and spreading a little happiness wherever we can!
What advice do you have for other female entrepreneurs starting out in business?
Be organised and don’t be afraid to ask for help and support — whether it be from family members or friends. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice. There are so many outlets on social media that allow you to ask a question and before you know it, there are people reaching out to help. A good online presence is a worthy investment.
Connect With Belle Bridal
• Twitter: @belle_bridal
• Facebook: Belle Bridal
• Pinterest: Belle Bridal