#PressForProgress: Celebrating Inspirational, Innovative Women this International Women's Day
It was back in February 1909 the very first Women’s Day was observed in New York, and since then, this day of respect and appreciation has spread rapidly across the globe to establish the International Women’s Day (IWD), now held each year on the 8th March.
Over the years, IWD has grown to mean many different things to different people, but the emphasis on equality and celebration never wavers; uniting global communities in commendation of the economic, political and social achievements of women.
Each year, the organisation takes on a theme to headline their campaign and build their community on social media; and this year, that theme is #PressForProgress.
With the World Economic Forum's 2017 Global Gender Gap Report findings telling us that gender parity is over 200 years away - there has never been a more important time to keep motivated and #PressforProgress. And with global activism for women's equality fuelled by movements like #MeToo, #TimesUp and more - there is a strong global momentum striving for gender parity.
In honour of the campaign, this week we will be sharing the achievements of just seven businesswomen based in or originating from the UK; celebrating their determination, passion and creativity in their fields.
Phoebe Gormley, Founder of Gormley and Gamble
After dropping out of university in 2014, Phoebe decided to take what she knew and put it into practice by reinvesting her tuition fees to launch Gormley and Gamble, the first exclusively women’s tailor on Savile Row.
Gormley & Gamble makes made-to-measure clothes exclusively for women, primarily suits for business and smart occasions. Clients discuss their requirements with her before being measured up, and then their measurements are recorded digitally and dispatched electronically to a factory in the Czech Republic, where the suits are then made by machine.
“Women prefer the cleaner finish of machine-made clothes; they don’t like the imperfections that give a handmade suit its individual, bespoke look,” says Phoebe. “Men like these small imperfections as they represent a secret signal to those in the know.”
Phoebe estimates that only 40% of Savile Row tailors currently tailor to women. They are also considerably more expensive, with prices starting at around £3,000 versus Gormley and Gamble’s £800 starting mark.
Nisha Kotecha, Founding Director of Good News Shared
Having worked and volunteered for charities in the UK for over 10 years, Nisha had experienced much difficulty in getting in touch with communities and individuals to let them know about the charity work and improvements they would benefit from. And so, in 2014 she launched her website, Good News Shared, to share stories about all the great work charities are doing across the UK.
“We are on a mission to get people noticing and appreciating the good stuff because there are so many amazing things happening in the world, and it’s important for our mental and physical wellbeing that we hear about them" says Nisha.
Since then, Nisha has been listed as one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30, as well as receiving mentions in The Independent’s 2017 Happy List, The People’s Friend Magazine 2017 and many more.
We asked Nisha what advice she would offer other young entrepreneurs looking to develop their business ideas:
“I would advise new entrepreneurs to find some support somehow- whether that's through a great local networking group or through a coach or a mentor. Having someone to bounce ideas off of is really important, and it's so helpful to have someone you can go to for advice.
When I first started I joined the Impact Hub Westminster Launchpad programme. I also went on the Community Links Enterprise Programme, and more recently I have been a member of the Institute of Directors, and a participant on the Erasmus for Entrepreneurs programme.”
Temi Mwale, Founder of The 4Front Project
Temi if the CEO and founder of youth-led social enterprise The 4Front Project. 4Front is an organisation that aims to understand and reduce serious youth violence by empowering young people and putting them at the forefront; it is a cause close to Temi’s heart, following the murder of her childhood friend Marvin Henry in 2010.
At just 21 years old, Temi has received a Cosmopolitan Ultimate Women Award and David Cameron’s Points of Light Award, in addition to bring named IARS Peacemaker of the Year. She has also been listed in Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Europe.
Of this accolade, Temi says: "I am humbled to have made the list and to be recognised for making an impact through social entrepreneurship. Everything I do is in the memory of my friend Marvin, but many more young lives have been lost since he was killed. I do believe that we can end serious youth violence by addressing its root causes, such as trauma. I want to show young people that anything is possible, don’t let where you come from determine where you are going, I grew up on a council estate just like you".
Phoebe Hugh, Cofounder of Brolly
Whilst working as an underwriter for insurance company Aviva, Phoebe noticed that “millions of people were out of pocket. There were all sorts of payments to be made every year and people were losing out on hundreds of pounds often by just staying loyal.” And so, she left to start an insurance company of her own with the aim to solve this problem. This was Brolly.
“Starting out, you've got all of these ideas, but insurance is such a massive market,’ says Hugh of the early stages. ‘It's not an easy job so we had to make some quite big decisions early on. Every week we went to see customers, work with ideas, figure out whether or not it was something we could do and eventually things kept coming back to us about control. That’s what we decided to look at with Brolly.”
Iseult Ward, Cofounder of FoodCloud
Iseult Ward is cofounder of FoodCloud, a mobile and web platform that connects businesses with surplus foods to local charities.
The idea came to her, and her business partner Aoibheann O’Brien, at university where they were shocked to learn that 1 million tonnes of food were being thrown out by Irish consumers and businesses each year, whilst 1 in 10 people were living in poverty. Working to combat this disjunction, FoodCloud allows retailers and businesses to upload details of their food surplus to the app where local charities will be notified.
Iseult previously won the Marie Claire UK Future Shapers Award and funding in Virgin Media Business VOOM 2016 Competition.
Jane Wurwand, Founder of Dermalogica
After moving to America with her husband in 1983, the Wurwand couple founded The International Dermal Institute, where Jane began offering $10 skincare classes to fellow cosmetologists. During this time she began developing a range of products free of common skin irritants that would be compatible with conditions such as dermatitis or eczema. And following this work, she launched Dermologica.
Today Dermalogica sells its products in small salons in over 100 countries. By selling products through professionals and offering education through 40 training centers worldwide, Jane’s initiatives have helped cultivate female entrepreneurs globally — the salon industry is 64% women-owned and is a blueprint for women’s entrepreneurial success.
In 2011, Wurwand pushed the company’s commitment to women’s small businesses a step further when she launched the Financial Independence Through Entrepreneurship initiative to help women and girls around the world access education, vocational training, loans, and leadership opportunities. To date, the program has helped fund more than 91,000 loans and has given educational scholarships to women and girls in 15 countries.
Sarah Pennells, Founder of SavvyWoman.co.uk
Sarah has worked as a finance journalist for over 20 years, across a range of media outlets; then taking her passion for money management and female thinking to launch SavvyWoman. SavvyWoman is a straightforward, finance advice site; running with the aim to help women everywhere get more from their money. The site has been ranked 5th in ‘The Times’ list of 50 Top Websites To Save You Money’.
“SavvyWoman isn’t about making you feel guilty about spending the money you have, “ says Sarah. “Rather it’s designed to help you afford what you want today without jeopardising the life you hope for tomorrow.”
Alongside the running of SavvyWoman, Sarah also presents a range of personal finance programmes on Share Radio and continues to write for both print and online publications.
30 World Changing Women In Conscious Business 2018 - Conscious Company Media
Meet The Entrepreneur Giving Insurance An Upgrade - Management Today
Meet The 23 Year Old Changing The Face of Savile Row - Country & Town House