Growing your business
#BeBoldForChange and Be Inspired this International Women's Day
It was back in February 1909 that 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.
It is important to note that IWD is not only organised as a day of celebration, but one of purposeful collaboration that is striving to forge a better working world for all genders. In light of this, this year the day has been framed with the theme and media hashtag: #BeBoldForChange. The goal of the tag is to encourage individuals to take real action in drive the greatest change for women, whether this be through building upon social awareness or taking civil action: it is a vehicle of change.
Arguably the most vital area that calls for change is the position of women in world of business. This is a space in which women have continuously struggled to contest beside men, with only 20% of small businesses in the UK being majority led by women, and 38% partially led.
However, it has been reported that the number of women starting their own businesses has grown by a strong 42% since 2010 . Now almost a third of new businesses are being founded by women, contributing an estimated £75 billion to the economic output in the UK.
And so, today - this week, this month, and beyond - we are celebrating the achievements of just five successful business women in the UK.
Louise Leolin, Founder of DinoByte Labs
During her time at the University of East London, Louise found herself astonished at the statistics she researched for her dissertation; learning that 52% of gamers in the UK are female, yet only 14% of the UK games industry is made up of women. She felt inspired to do something about it and so towards the end of 2015, Louise set up DinoByte Labs – a small, yet dynamic, indie games studio based in London. As with most entrepreneurial endeavours, it was a brave move to make, but Louise believes it is important to be a little fearless:
"being an entrepreneur requires taking a big leap of faith and while it can be extremely rewarding, the prospect of failing can scare people away from even trying. Talk to as many people as you can and soak up as much advice as possible, but at the end of the day, always follow your own instincts."
DinoByte Labs is striving to improve the gaming industry, and holds the gamers at the very heart of what they do, focusing on user experience and testing their products with groups of over 5,000 respondents. They also offer consultation on UX, game and branding design.
Through the independent company, Louise has found freedom in what she chooses to create and contribute to the gaming industry: "working in games, there are a lot of older ways of thinking and designing which I don't agree with. I love that when I create my own games, stories and characters, I'm not bound by any stereotypes or conventions."
Aneeqa Khan, CEO and Founder of eporta
Born out of a love for technology and the frustrations of furnishing her first flat, Aneeqa set up eportaback in 2015 with the intention of “connecting global communities and making to easier for people to ‘do business’ day-to-day”. As the only furniture, fixtures and equipment sourcing platform exclusively for professionals, eporta is transforming the design industry by allowing interior designers, architects and companies alike to discover and order directly from a community of furniture and product designers.
This is executed through presenting complete design catalogues of thousands of suppliers in a simple, searchable format alongside a bespoke messaging & management software. This struture allowed members to negotiate and tailor orders, saving a huge amount of time while getting the best possible prices.
It’s smart, it’s innovative, and thanks to Aneeqa’s bold willingness to take a risk, eporta has also secured backing from several blue-chip businesses including members of Zoopla and sofa.com.
Toni Skinner, Director and Co-Founder of Pig’s Ears Beers
Despite being a wine drinker at heart, after discovering what Pig’s Ears describe as ‘pale ales as fresh and fruity as a Sauvignon Blanc’, Toni has never since looked back. Instead, she has gone on to co-found and head the wholesale team of Pig’s Ears, and to help the business keep pace with the rush of the ‘craft beer revolution’.
Whilst sourcing and supplying London and the South East with some of the best beers on the market, Toni has taken the business from the storage space of a pub, to an 8,000 sq ft warehouse. They’re still operating out of their bar and restaurant in Richmond-upon-Thames, but with Toni’s hospitality experience and a turnover of over £1 million behind them, the future is looking bright for Pig’s Ears.
Hanna Naima McCloskey, CEO and Founder of Fearless Futures
Driven by her resolute passion for social justice, Hanna founded Fearless Futures in 2014. It is the UK’s only company that engages directly with girls and young women through gender and leadership development programmes, combatting structural inequality and aiming to provide an overdue education on its root causes.
Hanna has not only led the business independently in both schools and the workplace, but has also succeeded in Fearless Futures’ campaign to include female musicians in Edexcel’s A Level Music course, a change to be implemented in this Septembers new syllabus.
With one educational triumph after another, there’s no doubt that Hanna has made valuable strides for equality in the working world - clearly mirroring the values of the #BeBoldForChange campaign too!
Suzanne Brock, Founder of Nutriment
“Have confidence in your product, and in the team that helps you sell it. The rest will follow” she says. And in her case, she was absolutely right.
Nutriment produces all-natural gourmet pet food, made up of human-grade meat, vegetables and superfoods like spirulina. As a healthier alternative to mass produced pet foods, the Nutriment range has grown to become an international success in the four years its been in business, now exporting to six national markets. Closer to home, Suzanne is keen to keep supporting local businesses and stocks her products in 350 independent stores, as well as her own website.
After acquiring a turnover of £1 million in its first year of business, Nutriment went on to win Lean Start-up of the Year at the Startups Awards 2015 and now produces 200 tonnes of pet food a month.