3 Female Entrepreneurs championing a way for other women through their businesses…

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Lisa Forde, Meena Chander and Abi Wright are shaking the business space, using their platforms to give women a chance and debunking some of the long standing gender stereotypes.  

On International Women’s day, 3 successful women entrepreneurs share with me how they’re shaping the business sphere. There’s this notion that women need to take the back seat when it comes to business and politics, one of the reasons most organisations find it difficult to have women in the executive board. Just few days ago I brought you story of Revlon’s first ever female CEO in its 86 years of selling to women. That to me is shocking and never anything to celebrate, however here we are celebrating that because it just shows how far women have had to go to get here. So, when women get up, start and run their businesses successfully, it gives me the greatest joy to let the world know of them.

I’m particularly thrilled to bring you my 3 women entrepreneurs to celebrate and draw inspiration from this IWD.

Lisa Forde: Director of Dotty About Paper. 

Lisa Forde

Lisa has developed an all female team at the company, with a focus on offering apprenticeships to young women. Lisa wants to offer equal opportunities to women in the design and creative industries and help them develop their skills and experience in a non competitive and judgmental or intimidating environment. 

Many of the women Lisa works with are either entering back into work after having a baby, or changing career and Lisa offers a platform for them to ease back into, whilst continuing to grow. 

Lisa offers amazing employee perks including childcare vouchers, exercise classes and  extra holiday to keep the team focused and motivated, but who are also able to attend to family and create a work life balance. 

Tell me of any thrilling moment to remember in your business growth.

We changed the name of our business, The Card Gallery, to Dotty about Paper in 2017. Changing the name we had used since our launch in 2004 was a huge moment for us. Our old name no longer fit in with our growing business, and it caused some confusion about the products we offer. After much research and planning, we decided to take the risk. Since then, we’ve received great feedbacks from customers and been able to pursue new projects, like branching out into desk stationery.

Have you had any setbacks and what successes experienced within a short time?

One of the biggest milestones for me was moving our studio into a beautiful Grade II Listed building by the River Severn in Bridgnorth. We had outgrown our previous building, so moving into the new studio really showed just how far we had come. There were some setbacks we had to deal with, such as planning a few modifications and ensuring it was fit for our needs. This involved a lot of work, but it was worth it – we now get to work in a stunning office space that is very social media friendly!

Launching our wholesale trade website was another big moment for the business. The main setback there was time – we had to create a whole new site and prepare to attend our first trade show at the same time. Everyone in the team pitched it, working hard to make the most of the time we had. By the time the trade show began, we’d designed a lovely stand and got our new website ready for business.

How has your business shaped or debunked female stereotypes?

I believe my business defies the stereotype that an all-female team can’t work together and perform as well as a mixed or all-male business. By finding each employee’s unique skills, as well as taking advantage of the positive traits many women naturally have, we’ve been able to create a productive team.

I also want to personally show how a female business leader can succeed in building a strong company; I think it’s important to inspire other women starting on the career ladder by showing them they can reach their dream role with hard work and determination.

How would you like to use your platform to continue to give women a chance?

We offer local women a chance to become a part of an exciting, growing stationery company. In addition to progressive full-time roles, we put a big emphasis on our apprenticeship training. This gives young women the opportunity to develop their skills in a range of areas, as well as providing practical work experience. We also aim to develop women’s confidence in the workplace, as females tend to feel less confident at work.

Meena Chander – Events Together Founder of This Is Us.

Meena Chander

This Is Us is an annual conference in Milton Keynes, focused around making work places more inclusive for LGBTQ+ individuals. Meena works with businesses through workshops, seminars and talks to help them create better polices and to make businesses more diverse and tap into the skills and experience on offer from the community. 

Meena, who is an events consultant and owner of Events Together set up This Is Us after working with LGBT mentors and associates and identifying the challenges they faced when working within some companies. She wanted to use her experience and network to help develop an event targeted at making companies more desirable for LGBTQ+.

Tell me of any thrilling moment to remember in your business growth.

Being finalist in the New Business Category for the MK Business Achievement Awards after being in business for just a year.

Any Set-backs and successes experienced within a short time? 

Set back was not being recognised as a smaller company having had 20 years’ experience of organising and managing global exhibitions and event.

Success was producing my own event about LGBTQ+ diversity and inclusion in the workplace in my first year in business. Having the guts to produce my own event about such a big topic.

How has your business shaped or debunked female stereotypes?

We work with LGBT individuals and run This Is Us Conference, helping businesses become more inclusive and diverse. This includes tackling sterotypes and discrimination around gay women and transgender women, helping them gain the support and opportunities they need in employment.

How would you like to use your platform to continue to give women a chance?

There are two parts to this answer. We want to ensure that more women have access to resources, funding and training to run better, and more successful events, and we also want to work with businesses to help create better working environments for LGBTQ+ women, make work environments more inclusive, safer and beneficial.  

Abi Wright – owner of Inspiring Margot 

Abi Wright

Abi is an expert in Alexander Technique and she works to help women Own Their Space. Next week, myself, Abi and Jennifer Toll will be announcing the launch of the first ever Festival of a Girl in London – Inspiring girls to become inspiring women. 
Abi works with women looking to progress in their career, by helping them develop their posture and body language to help 

Any wow moments to talk about? 

Being asked to speak at the Hackney Inspiring Young Women Career’s Day where I shared my story and learnings to an audience of young teens.  Speaking to them after and watching them using the tools I offered to help them to stand tall and own their space made me realise just how important the work is I’m doing and the massive impact it will have on the next generation of inspiring women.

Any set-backs and successes experienced within a short time? 

One day I met with a women’s network within a bank who, after I explained the work I did, told me they wouldn’t be requiring my services as it wasn’t something their female staff needed.  I’m still not sure that every female staff member they have has perfect posture and the best confidence but you never know.  To going to a meeting at Google who I have worked with on a regular basis since.  It was a day of rollercoaster emotions!

How has your business shaped or debunked female stereotypes. 

A strong female stereotype is a woman who apologises for taking up space.  Something I did for years.  By working with women and helping them to improve their posture and change their mindset they are no longer apologising for taking up space but standing tall and owning their space.  It is so powerful.

How would you like to use your platform to continue to give women a chance.  

I want all women to have the tools to stand tall and own their space.  I want all women to be seen.  As a posture specialist I’m using that to help women do just that.  And not only for themselves but as role models for the next generation.

Faustina Anyanwu
Faustina Anyanwu
Faustina Anyanwu is a features writer focusing on people's stories, entrepreneurship, start-ups, social media marketing, and profiling. Follow her on Twitter - @fauntee Official Website: www.faunteebon.com Mantra: Real Women Think Legacy.