Thursday, December 16, 2010

Festive Networking with The W.O.

Business women from across the north west joined together last night to round off 2010 with festive networking at The Women's Organisation.

Speaking at the event were Elaine Courtney of Courtney Consultancy (pictured left) who gave some great insights into what businesses should be considering from a H.R. point of view, and Carly Phillips (pictured below)who was introducing the new support available via the Stepclever Business Mentoring programme.

The women who attended were asked for suggestions for what they would like to get out of networking opportunities with The Women's Organsiation for 2011, some great ideas coming forward. If you would like to put your ideas into the mix join our online discussion here.

The event was a roaring success with some of the feedback comments included:

"Fab informal event. Brilliant"
"Tonight was very motivational. I will leave more inspired, thanks"
"Met some good contacts, nice friendly event, well organised"
"Really enjoyed the evening and being around like minded women, thank you"

Our first networking event for the New Year is planned for Thursday 20th January 6pm-8.30pm with the fantastic Sylvia Walker, Business Consultant who will be giving some insights into using NLP and accelerated learning, helping women to let go of any limiting self beliefs, set goals for 2011 and visualise a successful year!

Places are limited and for women who are running their own business withing Merseyside or Greater Manchester. Call 0151 236 6601 or email to book.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Knowsley businesswoman becomes PR guru to the stars

AFTER a busy career promoting celebrities - when Danielle Freedman became a mum she decided to leave her work behind – but when a former client got back in touch asking for her PR expertise it re-ignited her interest and she decided to start up her own business.

Now, Freedman PR provides public relations support and expertise throughout the entertainment industry with Danielle at the helm gaining PR contracts with the National Opera, the DVD release of Bad Day staring Girls Aloud’s Sarah Harding, the promotion of footballers and much more.

Danielle, who has two children aged two and four, said: “I have always been very career minded, but when I started my family I decided I wasn’t going to go back into PR because the kind of work I do within the entertainment industry is very demanding and you have to give long hours.

“I love being a mum and enjoy spending time with my children. But, when a former client got in touch and asked me to help with the PR for Bad Day, the film staring Sarah Harding from Girls Aloud everything changed. I got involved with the project; really enjoyed it and things just grew from there, so I decided to start up my own business Freedman PR.”

Although Danielle runs the business she also works alongside a number of freelancers who assist with the PR, media relations and events organising.

Danielle added: “Because I have been out of the industry for a couple of years I have noticed that things have changed, so it has taken some getting used to and it is very difficult to juggle work with being a mum, but I am thoroughly enjoying the challenge of being my own boss.”

41-year-old Danielle, who is from the Knowsley area, says she is delighted with being asked to represent a number of high profile events and celebrities since starting up the business and has been pleased with the success she has had in gaining numerous PR contracts over the past few months.

Prior to starting up Freedman PR Danielle came along to The Women’s Organisation (formerly Train 2000) where she received help and support under the business start up support programme, where she worked on a one-to-one basis with a business adviser who supported her with putting a business plan together.

“My adviser Amanda was brilliant” said Danielle, “I was really pleased with the support I received. It was nice to have some one there who could answer my questions and who I could turn to for advice when I needed it.”

Danielle says that working in PR in the entertainment industry is very difficult to break into but she ix extremely pleased with how well her business is doing so far.

She said: “I am thoroughly enjoying being my own boss and feel as though I have got the best of both worlds, I am a mum to two lovely children and am once again enjoying my career.”

To find out more about Danielle's business visit

And, if like Danielle you’re a woman who would like to start up your own business then contact The Women’s Organisation on 0151 236 6601, email or visit to find out about the FREE services on offer.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Women's Organisation Discuss Equality in Business on City Talk

City Talk Business will play host to a panel of enterprise experts debating local business issues this Sunday.

CEO of The Women's Organisation, Maggie O'Carroll who is among the panel members, will be focussing keenly on the topic of equality in the workplace and the representation of women on senior corporate boards.

City Talk Business which is hosted by Frank McKenna, Chair of Downtown Liverpool in Business will also be looking at: Extreme weather conditions and measures employers should be taking to ensure business productivity; Implications of the Royal Wedding and the announcement of an additional bank holiday day; The Liverpool Embassy in London.

Tune in to this interesting debate on 105.9FM this Sunday 12th December between 10am and 11am.

For more information on how The Women's Organisation strive to support gender equality in the workplace visit our website

Friday, December 3, 2010

Businesswoman Lesley proves illness is no barrier to success

FIVE years ago Lesley Rawlinson suffered a serious mental breakdown and subsequently discovered she was bipolar - it was at this point she had to give up her fulltime job.

But, determined to get back into the workforce mum-of-two Lesley has just started up her own business Cupcakes in the City providing home-made cupcakes and vintage tea parties throughout the area.

“Because I am bipolar, which means I suffer with terrible depression and manic episodes at times, it is extremely difficult for me to be able to hold down a fulltime job,” said 41-year-old Lesley, “but this doesn’t mean that I don’t want to work.

“So, I decided to start up my own business. Being my own boss allows me to work flexible hours and I can manage my work around the times when I am unwell.”

For now, Lesley is working no more than 16 hours a week whilst she gets used to working again.

Lesley, who has two children aged 18 and 14 opened up the business just two months ago and already she has provided cupcakes for a number of large charity events across the area.

Lesley considers herself to be very creative and has always enjoyed baking – so she decided that a cupcake business would be perfect.

“I am pleased with how well business is going” added Lesley, “I had a stand at charitable event which supports people with mental health problems which is obviously very close to my heart. I have also done a McMillan Coffee Morning and am getting several individual orders for cakes.”

At the charity events Lesley donated all of her cupcakes and raised £560 which she split between the Mental Health Foundation and Mind.

“I absolutely love being able to work again, added Lesely, “it has done so much for my confidence and self-esteem. When I wasn’t working, I felt bad for not being employed and that would add to my depression. Now I feel so much better about myself, it is so nice being able to work without the pressure of being answerable to a boss. If I am unwell and feeling low, then I just don’t work that day.”

Lesley says that becoming self-employed has made a ‘huge’ difference to her life and she describes it as being ‘ideal’.

“It is very difficult for other people to understand bipolar” she said, “sometimes when I am depressed I literally can’t get out of bed, I can barely lift my head above the covers because I am so down, it is the worse feeling in the world. And sometimes I go completely manic, I have so much energy and then I have to go to my doctors to get medication that calms me down. It is very difficult not knowing how my mood is going to be, but now that I am self-employed I can manage my life so much better.”

As well as starting up her own business Lesley is very keen to help people understand more about mental health illnesses such as bipolar because she feels that there is still too much of a stigma surrounding mental health.

She said: “I hope that by starting up my own business I can inspire other women to do the same, particularly women who may have suffered with mental health problems themselves. I want them to know that like me they too can become self-employed or get back into work if it’s what they want.

“There is still such a stigma around mental health and I want to talk about my illness and experiences in the hope that it will help to get rid of this stigma. After all there are millions of people who suffer with depression and it is very common.”

Prior to starting up her business Lesley, who is from the Knowsley area, came along to The Women’s Organisation where she received help and advice under the business start up programme. She worked on a one-to-one basis with a business adviser who helped her to put a business plan together.

She said: “I initially came across The Women’s Organisation when I came across the organisations’ Facebook group. When I learnt that The Women’s Organisation provides free business advice to women I mad an appointment and went along. My adviser was extremely helpful and it was great to have some support along the way, particularly in putting together my business plan.”

Through Cupcakes in the City Lesley provides a variety of delicious freshly baked cakes made to order. To find out more please contact Lesley on 07792 942 770 or visit

And, if like Lesley you are a woman in the Knowsley area who is interested in starting up your own business please call The Women’s Organisation on 0151 236 6601 or email

Week 34 - completion of the new centre draws closer

WITH just weeks to go until The Women's Organisation moves to it's brand new purpose built centre work at the site is in full flow.

In the past few days - week 34 of the project - the building has really started to take shape with light fitting going up, plastering being completed, windows and doors starting to go in, block paving in the car park and much more.

Work on the centre, which will be the new home of The Women's organisation by the end of January 2011, is expected to be completed by the end of December / early January 2011.

Not only will the centre provide entrepreneurship and economic development support for women, but it will also offer incubator space for women-run businesses and will house an international research and knowledge hub.

The new facility, is being developed by The Women's Organisation following a £2.4 million investment from the Northwest European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) programme – part of a £5.3 million finance package.

The ERDF programme is backed by the Programme Monitoring Committee (PMC) – a group of senior representatives from across the region. The group was formed to monitor, oversee and advise on the delivery of the programme and improved invaluable to the development of the new fund.

Train 2000 renamed 'The Women's Organisation'

As we head towards 2011 we would like to let you know that Train 2000 has changed its name to The Women’s Organisation.

We feel it captures what we do, who we are and everything that we stand for.

We also believe it is a perfect fit for our identity, values and ethos – as we continue to encourage and champion women’s economic development; influence policy and perception and pioneer new ideas.

As we move forward our continuing commitment centres around having a positive impact on women’s lives and we look forward to working with you as The Women’s Organisation.

To find out more or to get a copy of our new flyer email or call our usual number 0151 236 6601.

And, watch this space for our brand new website coming soon.

Women still struggle to get top FTSE 100 jobs


The number of female executives in top jobs at the UK's leading 100 firms is almost unchanged for a third year running, a report says.

Cranfield School of Management found 135 female directors out of 1,076 people on FTSE 100 boards, or 12.5%.

The figure was 12.2% in 2009 and 12% in 2008, suggesting that the situation is stagnating, the report argues.

Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone said that the figures were "worrying".

Cranfield's 2010 Female FTSE report said that this year's incremental increase is due to three additional women on FTSE 100 boards.

The company in top place this year is retailer Burberry with three out of eight female board members, or 37.5%.

In Burberry both the chief executive and the chief financial officer are women, and there is also a female non-executive director.

Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone said: "While I'm pleased to see the number of female-free boardrooms continuing to fall, it's worrying that women - who make up more than 50% of the population - still account for just one-eighth of FTSE 100 directors.

"Making boards more diverse is not about political correctness - it's about making sure companies draw senior staff from the widest possible pool of talent, which is good for business, good for staff and good for customers."

The research also looked at FTSE 250 companies, where 52.4% (131) of companies have no women on their boards. Just 7.8% of FTSE 250 board directors are women.

To read more click here

New 'Violence Against Women Plan' Launched

On UN Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (25th November) Home Secretary Theresa May set out her vision for ending violence against women with a focus on:

- Preventing violence and challenging attitudes and behaviours
- Providing support for victims
- Working in partnership with public bodies and community groups
- Reducing the risk to women and girls and bringing perpetrators to justice

This replaces the previous government's strategy and follows years of campaigning by members of the EVAW Coalition to comply with UN obligations to take such an approach.

Professor Liz Kelly, Chair of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, said:
"We are delighted that the Home Secretary is championing this as a priority issue. This sends out a strong message that rape, domestic violence, trafficking and other violence against women is totally unacceptable. We believe that all public bodies have a role to play in ensuring support for victims, bringing perpetrators to justice and beginning the long-term task of preventing violence before it begins."

An action plan will be published next Spring and EVAW is calling for it to include:

- A long-term programme of work to prevent violence, including teaching young people about healthy relationships and respect for girls as well as ongoing public awareness raising campaigns similar to drink drive campaigns
- Funding to ensure specialist women's services in the community are funded such as Rape Crisis Centres, domestic violence projects and support for ethnic minority women
- Coordination across all government departments so that all schools, police forces, social services and health authorities play their part
- Regular monitoring and reporting of the plan

Visit to download a campaign leaflet and template letter to Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Train 2000 clients showcased at Knowsley networking event

Knowsley Council’s Fresh Start celebrated Women’s Enterprise Day on Wednesday 17 November by sponsoring a free event hosted by Knowsley Chamber of Commerce. The event showcase a selection of businesses that have benefited from the Council’s Fresh Start funding and business support from Train 2000.

Local business women were given the opportunity to network and listen to the experiences of other women in business including Suzanne Scott (Sandfield Natural Play Centre) and Sharon Carroll (Chill Out Spa and Beauty). A Bazaar / Market Place provided a chance to browse, buy goods and services or talk to the interesting business women taking part.

Jackie Williams, Enterprise Manager for Train 2000, said: “It was an excellent event, both Suzanne Scott and Sharon Carroll from Chill Out Spa gave inspirational speeches. It was brilliant to see so many Knowsley business women sharing information - networking at its best"

Lesley Martin-Wright Chief Executive of Knowsley Chamber of Commerce commented “The Chamber was delighted to be co-ordinate this Womens Enterprise Event; it’s important to actively share, engage and support the entrepreneurial spirit that exists in Knowsley.

“Whilst the UK economy is facing major challenges, our female entrepreneurs are continuing to boost the borough’s economic development. I am delighted to confirm that we are seeing new entrants into the market, who are bringing valuable business ideas and turning them into profitable ventures. Now more than ever, the Chamber, Knowsley Council and Train2000 are here to provide advice, support and mentoring for female members of our business community”

Networking on National Women's Enterprise Day

NATIONAL Women’s Enterprise day saw women join together for a special networking event themed around ‘Using Social Media for Business” put on by Train 2000.

The event which was held at the Strand’s Wellington Buildings, included a talk by guest speaker Amanda Daniels who set up her own internet marketing company through the help of Train 2000.

During the evening Amanda gave eager listeners tips on how to use the likes of Facebook and Twitter to benefit their businesses.

Following the talk women enjoyed light refreshments and spent time networking with one another.

“As a business novice this event has been really useful and fun. Thanks!” – this is just one of many examples of positive feedback received after the event.

Train 2000 will be holding a further networking event on December 15 from 6:00pm until 8:30pm. During the evening there will be a talk from guest speaker Elaine Courtney of Courtney Consultancy who will speak about HR and there will be an opportunity to network and enjoy some festive nibbles.

For further information or to book your place call Train 2000 on 0151 236 6601 or email

Global Enterprise Week hailed a huge success

THIS years Enterprise Week has been hailed a huge success by Train 2000 with events well attended throughout the area.

Coffee morning, afternoon teas, business advice surgeries, one day business workshops and networking events all took place during the course of the week with many women coming along to find out about starting up their own businesses.

And, at Eastcroft Park School in Kirkby Year Six pupils enjoyed running their own business for the day – a young enterprise initiative which was organised by Train 2000 as part of the School Gates project. The Year Six pupils were tasked with producing a 2011 calendar to be sold, in a bid to raise school funds.

Jo Dunn, Enterprise Enabler for Train 2000, said: “It was a fantastic day and all the pupils enjoyed taking part and really got into the spirit of it. They really came up with some great ideas and the winning group Sixessful will now sell their World War II themed calendar on Kirkby market, at Christmas fairs and to local pensioners.”

“The day provided the pupils with a great opportunity to think about what it is like to run your own business and hopefully this positive experience will remain with them for the future.”

Feedback from the event was excellent with one pupil saying “‘I really enjoyed myself today making our own business and presenting our work and working as part of a team. I had an amazing day.”

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Alberta Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) celebrate 15 years of success

ALBERTA Women Entrepreneurs, an organisation set up to help women in the Alberta province to achieve business success has been celebrating after achieving 15 years reaching out to women.

In a celebratory brochure, the organisation talks about it’s achievements from throughout the 15 years, including success stories of women who have started up their own businesses.

And, featured in the brochure is Train 2000’s Executive Director Maggie O’Carroll who attended the Diana International 2010 Research Conference in Banff to learn from some of the world’s leading female entrepreneurship researchers, namely Karen Hughes and Jennifer Jennings from the University of Alberta.

She said: “We’ve been very familiar with their work over here in Europe and it has been hugely influential in terms of helping us not only influence policy in the U.K. and Europe-wide but also in terms of being able to develop effective services and support mechanisms and frameworks to help women start and grow their own businesses.”

AWE acts as a connection point helping women entrepreneurs to connect to whatever they need to help their business succeed and grow. It has supported growing numbers of women entrepreneurs, celebrating their successes and recognising the important contribution they make to the economy.

To download the full brochure you can read it on the Train 2000 website, please click here.

Women hit by latest budget


WOMEN in Scotland will be hit hard by the latest public spending cuts announced by Finance Secretary John Swinney during last week’s Scottish budget.

The warning was delivered by business expert Professor Ailsa McKay, of Glasgow Caledonian University, who said women would be hit particularly hard because of the high number of public-sector jobs they held.

She said that the sector accounted for, one in four jobs in Scotland, and of those, 43% were held by women. In local government, the percentage was even higher at 67, with women employed “typically in the five Cs – catering, cleaning, caring, clerical and cashiering”.

Clearly the same can be said for women in England where many public sector jobs are also held by women with families across the country felling the cutbacks.

Prof McKay, vice-dean of Caledonian university’s business school and a member of the Government’s Equality and Budget Advisory Group, said: “Women contribute to household incomes as never before and, in some cases, are the sole breadwinner.
Therefore, when women lose their jobs, whole families suffer.”

Chancellor George Osborne’s emergency Budget earlier this year faced a legal challenge from women’s equality group the Fawcett Society which claimed £5.8 billion of the £8bn he announced at that time would hit women.

To read the full article please click here.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Entrepreneur Viki cooks up a treat

A business set up by budding Stockport entrepreneur and mum Viki Lee producing home-cooked ready meals is proving to be a real family affair.

Whilst Viki’s toddler daughter Lauren serves as chief taster, her mum Anna Lee helps to prepare and sell the meals at farmers’ markets across the area, along with partner Julian.

And despite only setting up her business Delishdish weeks ago with help from women’s enterprise organisation Train 2000, Viki’s wholesome meals are already proving a hit with customers.

“I am really encouraged by the popularity of my meals,” said Viki, 39, from Hazel Grove. “We completely sold out of stock during the first few farmers markets we did and I am currently selling around 70 meals a week.

“My food is proving popular with a wide range of people, from older retired couples to single people and young families.”

Viki, previously worked as a sales manager in the motor industry but had been considering setting up her own business for some time. Redundancy earlier this year gave her the push she needed.

“I’ve always been passionate about good food and felt even more strongly about it when I had Lauren,” explained Viki, who uses some recipes that have been handed down from previous generations. “When I was thinking about what to do it seemed like an obvious choice as cooking is also something I really enjoy. I went away on holiday and came back armed with ideas.

“Within a week of being back I was made redundant which I saw as a clear message to go for it.”

Viki produces and then freezes a range of wholesome dishes including beef casserole, vegetable crumble and lasagne and a selection of soups and puddings. Where possible she uses locally-sourced produce and ingredients, including meat reared and butchered in Cheshire and vegetables grown in Cheshire and Lancashire.

“I’m developing my range of dishes all the time and trialling new ones, guided in part by the feedback I get from people trying my food at the farmers markets,” she said. “I find that children are particularly open to taste testing my food and have plans to introduce a new baby and toddler range.”

Viki is currently working on developing her brand and has lots of plans for next year including developing calorie-controlled meals, hopefully with input from slimming organisations to support their dieters.

“I have had so much encouragement from Train 2000 in Stockport which has been invaluable, especially in these early weeks,” she added. “I would recommend other women thinking about going it alone to go and see what Train 2000 has to offer.”

For more information on Viki’s meals see

For more information call Train 2000 on 0161 833 8800, email or visit

Ninety years on - gender equality still slow


A RECENT poll has revealed that gender inequality is still a big problem in the United States both inside and outside of work – 90 years after women’s suffrage was enacted in 1920.

The Harris Interaction Poll, which was conducted amongst 2,412 adults, was designed to measure general attitudes and beliefs of American adults about the changing roles of men and women in society.

Three-quarters of women surveyed agreed with the statement that the country still has a long way to go to reach complete gender equality. Just over half of men (52%) agreed with the statement, and 73% of LGBT respondents agreed with the statement.

Focusing on the workplace, 69% of survey respondents said that women do not receive the same pay as men for doing exactly the same job, according to Harris Interactive. In addition, 62% of respondents agreed that women are often discriminated against in terms of promotions to supervisory and executive jobs.

“In 90 years, many things have changed for women in this country,” according to Harris Interactive. “And some may argue things are better, but there is still the undercurrent that there are issues, especially when it comes to pay and employment, where things have not yet approached an equal footing with men. Women are sitting in more boardrooms and at the helms of more companies today, but there is a sense they are not yet getting paid the same as men in those positions.”

To read the full article and to see the survey results please click here

Enteprise Week - join one of Train 2000's activities

THIS week is Enterprise Week and to celebrate Train 2000 is holding a variety of activities across Merseyside and Greater Manchester.

If you'd like to get involved book your place on one the following NOW.

Women’s Enterprise Day Open Coffee Morning – A chance for women from Liverpool to come and meet our business advice team to find out more about the option of self employment. Light refreshments will be served.

Wednesday 17th November 9.30am-12.30pm, Old Police Station, Lark Lane, Liverpool. No need to book, just turn up!

Enterprise Week Afternoon Tea - A chance for women from Sefton to come and meet our business advice team to find out more about the option of self employment. Light refreshments will be served.

Thursday 18th November 1pm-3pm, Starbucks, Lord Street, Southport. No need to book, just turn up!

Enterprise Week Coffee Morning - This will give women the opportunity to have an informal chat with a member of our business advice team, about the FREE support that Train 2000 can offer.

Friday 19th November 9.30 – 11.30am, Coffi, South Road, Waterloo. Noo need to book just turn up!

And, throughout the week we will be showing visitors and guests around our brand new Women’s International Centre for Economic Development (WICED) which is set to open this December.

If you are interested in attending on or more of our events and would like further information please call Train 2000 on 0151 236 6601 or email us at

Enterprise Week is a national initiative which celebrates and promotes enterprise. Events will be taking place across the country with many being held in the Merseyside and Greater Manchester areas.

Watch this space for updates of events taking place during Enterprise Week (November 15 – 21).

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Harvard sheds light on closing the gender gap


WORLD class researchers and global political and business leaders joined forces at Harvard’s Kennedy School for a two-day intense conference to consider the latest research surrounding gender equality.

Led by Iris Bohnet, Director of the Kennedy School’s Women’s and Public Policy programme leaders explored the business case for gender equality around the world.

World academic leaders brought their latest research to the forefront - and new data revealed the following;

- Women tend to make less risky calls in business when investing

- Quotas do work

- There is a strong correlation around the world between gender equality and poverty. The greater the gender inequality the greater the poverty.

To discover more of the findings and to read the full article please click here

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Hammer Down - Train 2000's Ebay Course a Success!

Women's Enterprise and Employment agency Train 2000's latest course was considered a "resounding success" upon its debut in The Ark Children's Centre yesterday.

As part of the 'School Gates' initiative Train 2000 are now offering 'Buying and Selling on Ebay' courses throughout Liverpool and Knowsley.

Enterprise Manager at Train 2000 Jackie Williams said:
"Learning how to trade on ebay opens a door into enterprise for those who may not have even considered it before. For mum's it can be a way to generate an income that can fit around childcare responsibilities, for those new to enterprise it can be a way to test the waters selling unwanted items around the home."

The course covers:
- What is Ebay?
- How do I set up an account?
- Buying Tips – How to grab the bargains
- Paypal
- How to sell on ebay
- How to get the best price for your items

Feedback from the women who attended the pilot session included:

"Fantastic and interesting course, lots of ideas and tips received"
"Easy to follow and understand, Cannot wait to start Selling!!!"
"Feeling very motivated and empowered to go and join ebay and get with it!"
"Good hints and tips, knowing what to put in listings, how to word listings, prices etc."
"Will definitely start a business on ebay"

This course is available for parents at the following schools:

Monksdown Primary School, Norris Green - Wed 17th Nov 9.30am-12.30pm

Middlefield Primary School, Speke - Tues 23rd Nov 9.30am-12.30pm

Kingsley Primary School, Granby - Wed 24th Nov 12.30pm-3pm

If you would like more information about this course, to book on any of the above dates, or to register interest for future dates, please contact our team on 0151 236 6601 or

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Stockport businesswoman launches new events company

ON November 28 this year mum-of-two and founder of RDA Events Anna Stocks will host ‘Mothers Instinct’ in Manchester – the latest of her hugely successful events which she has single-handedly pulled together.

“I am just so passionate about what I do” said 29-year-old Anna, who started the events business up earlier this year, “I love organising events, promoting them, getting people on board and turning an event into a real success.”

Stockport resident Anna, who also works as a part-time customer services manager got the idea to start up her own event management company when the recession hit.

She explained: “I pick a theme such as mothers instinct which is my forthcoming event and the entire event will be themed around everything for mums, babies and toddlers. I have got some leading companies coming along such as baby premier, kids unlimited, run of the mill, family magazine, Gulliver’s World and many more.

“Other event organisers charge a huge amount to exhibitors but I charge just a minimum fee to entice them along. And, because there is a recession and companies don’t want to pay huge amounts to exhibit they are happy to pay a smaller fee and it is an excellent way for them to promote their products. Although the price is very reasonable we never compromise the quality of the event or the amount of marketing undertaken.

“Visitors to the event can also enter free of charge. Mothers Instinct promises to be fantastic; I have got all areas covered; nurseries, photography, baby clothes, children’s entertainment, beauty; everything that could possibly be wanted by mums with young babies and toddlers.”

Anna has a degree in fashion marketing and has worked in the retail sector for more than ten years now – and is able to use these skills in her new venture.

And, for the New Year Anna is already planning her New Year New You event. Later in the year Anna will also be bringing Mothers Instinct to Liverpool in March and to the Wirral during June.

She added: “I have got so many ideas for future events, I am really driven and am thoroughly enjoying the challenges and opportunities that running my own business brings.”

Anna, who has two children aged three and six, says that running her own business allows her greater flexibility around being a mum. Once she had decided to become self-employed Anna set to by looking on the internet to see what business support would be available to her.

“I couldn’t believe it when I came across Train 2000” she added, “I didn’t know that there was organisation that provided free business advice to women, so when I saw it on the internet I made an appointment and went along to meet with an adviser.

“Mike was extremely helpful, he gave me lots of support and was extremely enthusiastic about my business idea and helping me to push my business forward.”

Anna received help and advice under Train 2000’s business support programme where she received one to one advice from a business adviser as well as help with putting her business plan together.

“I know it sounds a cliché but I really couldn’t have done with without Train 2000” said Anna.

Mothers Instinct takes place on Sunday November 28 at the Waterside Hotel, Didsbury in Manchester. Anyone who is interested is in finding out more should call Anna on 07791 070 457 or email

To find out more about RDA Events visit

And, if like Anna you are a woman from the Stockport area and area and are keen to start up your own business please call Train 2000 on 0161 833 8800 or visit

Gender Inequalities - India fares lower than Pakistan


WHEN it comes to gender inequalities India fares lower than all other countries in South Asia apart from Afghanistan – according to findings of the 2010 Human Development Report released by the United Nations Development Programme.

In the report India came even lower than Pakistan – a country which is frequently in the news for its treatment of women.

Reproductive health is the largest contributor to the inequality index. The other indicators, based on which it is calculated, include women's participation in the labour force, their level of empowerment based on educational attainment and parliamentary representation.

India, however, does better in female participation in the labour force, with the figure being 36% for the nation as opposed to 23% for Pakistan.

India ranks 122 among 138 countries for which the gender inequality measure has been calculated. Pakistan is at 116, and Bangladesh is a notch higher at 112.

The other area, where India needs to do better is at the level of Parliamentary participation.

To read the full article please click here

Friday, November 5, 2010

Women drive forward small business exports


LATEST figures from UK Trade & Investment have revealed that women are driving forward Britain's small business exports efforts.

At the start of the millennium only 13 per cent of the thousands of businesses preparing to export and taking part in trade fairs were majority owned or run by women - but, since 2008 that annual figure has almost tripled to 34 per cent of the 25,000 businesses that are assisted by UK Trade & Investment each year.

Kristina Bobs, who moved to Britain in 1993 to complete her chemistry studies from her native Lithuania, is just one of the successful exporter. She has set up a blown glass and linen design business called Svaja that is now selling around the world. "I always think before saying 'yes, we are doing very well'. But I am quite proud to say we are doing well," said Mrs Bobs.

To read the full article, which includes case studies on women who are successful exporters please click here.

And, if you are a woman from the Merseyside or Greater Manchester area and are looking to start up your own export business please call Train 2000 on 0151 236 6601 or visit and one of our experienced advisers will be able to help.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Join Train 2000 to celebrate Enterprise Week

AT Train 2000 we are inviting women from across Merseyside and Greater Manchester to get involved with a number of activities taking pace during this year’s Enterprise Week.

Throughout the week we will be offering free courses to women including Turn Your interest Into a Business, an introduction to self-employment day as well as an open coffee morning, afternoon tea and much more.

Enterprise Week is a national initiative which celebrates and promotes enterprise. Events will be taking place across the country with many being held in the Merseyside and Greater Manchester areas.

Details of events being held by Train 2000 are as follows;

Turn Your Interest Into a Business – If you’re a woman and are considering your career options or would like to turn your interest or hobby into a business success, then this one day course could be just what you’re looking for.

Tuesday 16th November 10am-3pm, Held at Train 2000, 5th Floor, Wellington Buildings, The Strand Pier Head, Liverpool, L2 0PP. Booking is essential via 0151 236 6601 or

Introduction to Self Employment Day – If you are considering self-employment then why not join us for this one day course that will give you an introduction in what being your own boss is all about.

Tuesday 16th November 10am-3pm held at Broadstone Mill, Broadstone Road, Stockport. Booking is essential via 0161 833 8800 or

Women’s Enterprise Day Open Coffee Morning – A chance for women from Liverpool to come and meet our business advice team to find out more about the option of self employment. Light refreshments will be served.

Wednesday 17th November 9.30am-12.30pm, Old Police Station, Lark Lane, Liverpool. No need to book, just turn up!

Enterprise Week Afternoon Tea - A chance for women from Sefton to come and meet our business advice team to find out more about the option of self employment. Light refreshments will be served.

Thursday 18th November 1pm-3pm, Starbucks, Lord Street, Southport. No need to book, just turn up!

Enterprise Week Coffee Morning - This will give women the opportunity to have an informal chat with a member of our business advice team, about the FREE support that Train 2000 can offer.

Friday 19th November 9.30 – 11.30am, Coffi, South Road, Waterloo. Noo need to book just turn up!

And, throughout the week we will be showing visitors and guests around our brand new Women’s International Centre for Economic Development (WICED) which is set to open this December.

If you are interested in attending on or more of our events and would like further information please call Train 2000 on 0151 236 6601 or email us at

Watch this space for updates of events taking place during Enterprise Week (November 15 – 21).

Call for more women in leadership roles


A REPRESENTATIVE of the American National Assembly’s majority party is calling for a legal amendment to ensure that more women will be involved in leadership roles – believing the move would have a positive impact on gender discrimination issues.

But – others remain sceptical about the approach stating that to single out women would be discriminatory in itself.

During a discussion at the National Press Club, which focused on changes in Armenia’s gender-related legislation and their possible impact on legal and social policies in the country, Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) parliamentary faction member Karine Achemyan said an examination of international experience led the faction to propose a draft law under which the number of women in the 131-seat National Assembly shall be at least 10 percent.

Jemma Hasratyan, chairwoman of the Association of Women with University Education, an organization promoting leadership among women, said that international practice has long moved farther in this matter and discussing such a limited participation of women in the legislative process is simply meaningless.

“According to a Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly pledge to which Armenia should also be committed, women in the National Assembly should occupy at least 40 percent of seats, and if a woman MP resigns, it is another woman who should replace her,” said Hasratyan.

To read the full article please click here.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Liverpool businesswoman launches Bo's Place

AFTER being in employment since the age of 16 when it came to retirement Eileen Shaw decided it wasn’t what she wanted – so instead she seized the opportunity and started up her own business.

Now, the 64-year-old, who is from Liverpool, runs Bo’s Place a dog boarding service from the comfort of her own home, offering residential stays for dogs whilst their owners are away.

“I have worked all my life” said Eileen, “and it’s just not in me to stop. I decided to set up Bo’s Place, because I had my own rescue dog for eight years, who unfortunately died in March this year, he went everywhere with me and when he went I was just completely lost without him. But, I didn’t want another dog it just didn’t seem right.

“I was even struggling to go out of my own house, because I didn’t have him with me. Then one morning I woke up and thought, I can’t have another dog of my own, but I can look after other people’s dogs here and that’s when I decided to set up my own business.”

Already business is doing extremely well for Eileen – and she has dogs booked in up to the middle of next year.

“I am really pleased with how well business is going” she said “and I have had some great feedback from customers. When the dogs come to my house it is like home from home for them and they have the full run of the house. I never have more than two dogs at once, so they are really well looked after.”

Eileen, whose children are now grown up, says she is thoroughly enjoying being self-employed and adds that it is nice getting to know the dogs she looks after.

Prior to starting up the business Eileen came along to Train 2000 where she received help and support under the business start up programme. She worked on a one to one basis with her business adviser in putting her business plan together.

She said: “I went to see Barclays Bank about opening up a business bank account and my adviser there told me about Train 2000. So, I made an appointment and went along, the support I received was extremely helpful.”

Eileen started up the business in September 2010 and she is very positive that it will be a real success.

Anyone who is interested in finding out more about Bo’s Place should visit where an application form can be downloaded.

And, if like Eileen you are a woman from Merseyside who is interested in starting up your own business please visit or call 0151 236 6601.

New Brazilian President pledges to fight for women’s rights


‘Yes women can’ – that is the battle cry that can be heard from Brazil’s first ever female President Dilma Rousseff.

Speaking after her historic election on Sunday night, Dilma Rousseff echoed US president Barack Obama's "Yes, we can" slogan, telling supporters: "Equal opportunities for men and women are an essential principle of democracy.

"I would like for fathers and mothers to look into their daughters' eyes today and tell them: 'Yes, women can.' I would like to register my first post-election commitment: to honour Brazilian women so that this unprecedented fact becomes a natural event."

Fátima Pacheco Jordão, a Brazilian sociologist, said "Most important in this feminist-tinged speech was that she described the advance of gender equality issues as one of the foundations of democracy," she said. "Never has a [Brazilian] president treated the gender question in this way."

Maggie O’Carroll, Train 2000 and WICED Chief Executive Officer, commented: “It is good to see that Brazil now has a female president who will be pushing forward the very important issue of gender equality.

“At Train 2000 and WICED we very much support the notion ‘yes women can’ and believe that this is a very positive step forward for the women of Brazil.”

To read the full article click here.

And, to find out more about the free services offered by Train 2000 to women in the Merseyside and Greater Manchester area visit or further details about the new Women’s International Centre for Economic Development (WICED) opening up in Liverpool this December visit

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Train 2000 clients scoop top style award

TWO Train 2000 clients scooped a top award at Juice FM’s prestigious style awards held in Liverpool last weekend.

Kate Morris and business partner Julie jones, who launched earlier this year, were presented with their award during a glittering ceremony at Liverpool’s Anglican cathedral and were joined by a host of celebrities including Steven Gerrard, The Saturdays and cast members from Hollyoaks and Eastenders.

Kate and Julie won the award in the ‘Fashionista’ category after Juice FM listeners and other members of the public voted for them to win.

The ‘Fashionista’ award was given out in recognition of who or what sets the trends in Liverpool and where everyone goes to for the latest must-have outfit.

Kate and Julie’s business features photographs of people from all walks of life as well as a description of their outfits / accessories and links to the retailers they were purchased from.

The idea behind ‘’ was born out of the realisation by Julie and Kate that most of us like to people watch and are interested in and intrigued by the outfits that others are wearing.

Kate said: “We were absolutely delighted to win this award and the ceremony was brilliant. We have only been going for about six months and there is a lot more to come from us.

“We were up against some one who is very well known in the area and never really thought we had a chance of winning this award and just couldn’t believe it. Being award winners has really spurred us on and given us a great boost.”

Friends, Julie, 27 and Kate, 29 came along to Train 2000 for help and advice earlier this year prior to the launch of their business.

Jackie McGee, Enterprise Enabler at Train 2000 who advised Julie and Kate, said: “On behalf of Train 2000 I would like to say how pleased I am that Kate and Julie won this award. is an innovative and exciting new business and I expect that we will be hearing a lot more about it in the future.”

To find out more visit

And, if like Kate and Julie you are a woman in the Merseyside area and are interested in starting up your own business visit or call 0151 236 6601.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Trendyvend Get More Award Attention

Train 2000 caught up with Liverpool business Trendyvend run by sisters Kayley and Talia Baccino as they were shortlisted for a Liverpool John Moores University 'Graduate Entrpreneurs Award'.

The talented twosome were one of just three finalists for the 'Enterpreneurial Alumnus of the Year' award at the ceremony which took place on Thursday 14th October 2010.

Speaking to Trendyvend on the night they said they were delighted just to be shortlisted, especially as they had already won another award earlier this year.

Having started from humble beginnings being fed up working part time in a call centre, Kayley and Talia utilised support from LJMU, Stepclever and Train 2000 to turn their dream into reality and set up their own business. Since developing their innovative cosmetic vending machines they have watched their business go from strength to strength and are now looking to roll their product out on a national level.

A big congratulations to Kayley and Talia from all at Train 2000!

Cupcake Delicious for Knowsley Businesswoman

SINCE graduating from university Kellie Doherty-Green has dedicated most of her time to bringing up her young family – but earlier this year she decided it was time to get back into work and that’s when she started up her own business.

Now, the mum-of-four runs Cupcake Delicious from the comfort of her own home and because she is her own boss she can work flexible hours, giving her plenty of time to still look after her young children.

“Through my business I make and decorate large occasion cakes, cupcakes and cupcake towers” said 30-year-old Kelli, “I have always enjoyed cake making for friends and family and everyone has been encouraging me to set up my own cake-making business.

“But, I have always been put off because I thought it would be very difficult to set up and quite daunting to have the Food Standards Agency out to my home. But, I decided to go for it and soon realised that all the worries I had, turned out to be nothing to worry about at all.”

Kelli says that since starting up the business she has already had a lot of work and she is gaining new custom all the time through word of mouth. Kelli adds that her cupcake towers are proving to be particularly popular.

Before starting her family Kellie studied English Literature and Imaginative Writing at university and had intended to train as a teaching assistant. But becoming a mum halted her career plans and now she has got four children aged seven, five, two and seven months old.

Kelli said: “I am really enjoying working again, it’s nice to do something else as well as bringing up children. I absolutely love being a mum but it is nice to have my own business as well.

“Becoming my own boss was the perfect solution because it means that I work around looking after my children and it means I don’t miss out at all.”

Prior to starting up Cupcake Delicious Kellie, who is from the Knowsley area, came along to Train 2000 where she received help and support under the business start up programme.

“Train 2000 was a real source of support,” said Kelli and my adviser John was extremely helpful, particularly in advising me on how to put my business plan together. My adviser also helped me to access a business start up grant, which I was really pleased about.”

Anyone who would like to find out more about Kellie cake creations should visit her website at or if you would like to order a cake from her email

And, if like Kelli, you’re a woman from the Knowsley area and are interested in starting up your own business please call Train 2000 on 0151 236 6601 or visit

Friday, October 22, 2010

Sefton businesswoman gets tips from TV's house doctor

FORMBY grandmother Jacquie Pickett decided it was time for something new in her life so she turned her attentions to becoming her own boss and started up a brand new business Staging Rooms.

The 55-year-old had always been interested in interiors and soft furnishings. So after completing a course with TV’s original House Doctor Ann Maurice she felt ready to set up her own property styling business.

“I have always been interested in this kind of thing” said Jacquie, who has three children and four grandchildren, “I have been doing my own properties up for years and then selling, but I wanted to learn more about property styling so when I saw this course with the House Doctor I thought it would be a great opportunity.”

Through Staging Rooms Jacquie now advises people on what furnishings to use in their house and how best to make rooms look if they want to sell the property.

Jacquie added: “People don’t realise that just by staging a room it can increase the property value by ten to 15 per cent. Through the skills I have, I can now go into a some one’s house and make it look like a show home.”

Prior to starting up her business Jacquie was unemployed having spent many years bringing up her children. And, once she decided to become self-employed she came along to Train 2000 for free help and advice under the business start up programme.

“I hadn’t heard of Train 2000 before” said Jacquie, but I was talking to another woman in Formby who has her own floristry business called Bloom Room and she told me all about the organisation, so I made an appointment straight away.

“The help I received from Train 2000 was brilliant. My adviser Rhian really was a great help particularly in supporting me to put my business plan together.”

Jacquie also took advantage of some of the free one day workshops and courses on offer at Train 2000 and she attended courses in PR, Bookkeeping and Tax and National Insurance.

She added: “Although I knew some of what was on the courses, I really did learn a lot and they were most helpful.”

Jacquie is now working tirelessly to build her new business up and whilst she says that it isn’t easy she is very much enjoying both the challenges and the flexibility that being her own boss brings.

She is currently networking and working hard to build up partnerships with estate agents in the area.

If you are looking for help with selling your property or you want to know how to style and de-clutter your rooms you can contact Jacquie on 01704 877922 / 07962 115 203 or email

And, if you’re a woman from the Sefton area and are interested in starting up your own business, please call Train 2000 on 0151 236 6601 or visit

UK business leaders attempt block on women's rights legislation


In the run up to the European Parliament vote on the proposed revision of the so-called ‘Maternity Leave Directive’, UK business leaders have been descending en masse on Brussels in an attempt to block legislation designed to protect women’s rights and economic independence throughout the 27 country block. If successful, it is the 26 other member states of the EU which will have to pay the price, gender equality associations are warning.

‘It is absolutely scandalous that short-sighted business interests from one member state should put at risk the human rights of millions of women throughout the EU, as well as the sustainability of European economies’, says Brigitte Triems, President of the European Women’s Lobby. ‘For UK MEPs to vote to block this legislation would be misguided; for the representatives of the peoples of all the other European countries to follow their lead would be a serious democratic failure.’

Under UK law, women are entitled to 39 weeks of paid maternity leave, and a total leave period of 52 weeks. Employers advance 90% pay during the first six weeks, 93% of which is subsequently reimbursed by the state. Increasing the duration of fully-paid leave to 20 weeks would, according to the British Equality and Human Rights Commission, cost the state an extra £1.3 billion.

The long duration of maternity leave (as opposed to parental leave provisions in most member states encouraging a sharing of care responsibilities), combined with the financial burden on employers, has led to high levels of discrimination against women in the UK labour market, and a record-high gender pay gap of 21.4%. According to a 2007 survey cited by the British Equal Opportunities Commission, 70% of employment agencies have been asked by their clients to avoid hiring pregnant women or women of childbearing age. British women are 23% less likely to be employed than men and women with a child under 11 are 49% less likely to be employed compared with men. There is also evidence that in the UK discrimination again women in the workplace – with the loss of tax revenue and increased welfare benefits it causes – costs between £15 billion and £25 billion each year, adding up to as much as 2% of GDP.1

‘The UK would very much benefit from changing its maternity leave provisions, and EU legislation could be the trigger for this’, says Ms. Triems. ‘In the long run, all member states stand to benefit from increased equality.’

To read the full article please click here.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Liverpool businesswoman sets up arts consultancy service

EARLIER this year Karen Green was made redundant – but just six months on and now she is successfully running her own business offering her arts consultancy skills to organisations throughout the region.

“My background is in the creative sector, with a focus on the visual arts, film and new media” said Karen, “my skills and experience are in engagement, interpretation and education work and now I am able to use these skills in running my own business.”

Karen Green Arts Consultancy now provides programme development and management, fundraising and evaluation services to arts based organisations that have specific projects that need to be developed and completed.

Since starting up the business Karen has had commissions to work on and further are lined up for the next six months. She has already completed work at art galleries in Liverpool and is currently working with Cornerhouse, Manchester’s International centre for contemporary visual art and film, programming their schools and colleges film programme, Projector,

She has also recently been commissioned by National Museums Liverpool to develop a resource for the new flagship, waterfront Museum of Liverpool. Aimed at early years practitioners, families, group leaders, primary and secondary schools, the resource will enable these groups to easy access the museum, its’ facilities and activities.

Karen said: “So far, I am really pleased with how well things are going, I have got work coming in and I am working on some really exciting new commissions. I have been working for internationally renowned organisations and I have been fortunate to have enough work at the moment but obviously when you are self employed you have to get used to the uncertainty over what work you will have for the future.

“But, I am very much enjoying being my own boss. Through my two previous jobs I have built up a lot of skills, experience and contacts and that’s how I have been getting the work so far, through people I know, I haven’t had to do any marketing at all yet.”

Prior to being self-employed 36-year-old Karen, who is also a mum, was working at Liverpool’s FACT – where she conceived and developed their Education programme before moving onto heading up a team overseeing the Education, Young People’s, Family and Collaboration programme.

She said: “It was difficult when I was made redundant, but jobs are difficult to come by at the moment so it helped me make the decision to go it alone and I’m really glad that I did.”

Karen says that being her own boss suits her much better and she can manage her work with greater flexibility around bringing up her child.

After being made redundant, in April this year Karen came along to Train 2000 where she received free help and support under the business start-up programme.
“A colleague of mine was also made redundant” said Karen, “and he came along to Train 2000 and then recommended the organisation to me. The help I received really was great. I really don’t think I could have done it on my own.”

Karen worked on a one-to-one basis with her business adviser Amanda who helped Karen put her business plan together.

Now, Karen, who is from the Edge Hill area in Liverpool wants to concentrate on the future and is hoping to build her business up further.

If you are interested in finding out more about Karen Green Art Consultant Karen can be contacted at

And, if you’re a woman from the Merseyside or Greater Manchester areas and are interested in starting up your own business you can call Train 2000 on 0151 236 6601 or visit

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sandwich heaven for Stockport businesswoman

FORMER teaching assistant Zoe Unswoth had always wanted to start up her own business – so earlier this year she packed in her fulltime job in favour of becoming self-employed when she opened up Sandwich Heaven in the Bramhall area of Stockport.

And, Zoe couldn’t be happier with how well business is going having already taken on three part-time members of staff.

“I never would have imagined that business would be this good so soon” said 37-year-old Zoe, “when I set up I anticipated running the sandwich shop on my own, but we are so busy that I have already taken on staff, so I am absolutely delighted with how well things are going.

“I live very close by to the shop and for months I had seen it empty and was contemplating taking it over, it was a big decision to make giving up my job, but I’m so glad that I went for it now.”

Sandwich Heaven sells freshly made sandwiches, cakes and snacks to businesses and people in the area and Zoe prides herself on sourcing all of her produce locally.

She said: “Everything is fresh and made to order in the shop and I get everything from local suppliers. I use the local butcher, greengrocer and all of my cakes are home made and provided by another woman who has recently set up in business too. It’s very important to me that Sandwich Heaven is a real local business.

“Before I opened the shop it was a florists and it was then empty for months. No one likes to see an empty shop so when I took it over I think people in the area were pleased that something was being done with it.”

Despite the shop only being open since May this year Sandwich Heaven has already been awarded ‘four stars’ following an inspection from the local health authority – an achievement Zoe is delighted with.

Prior to starting up the business Zoe, who is mum to her two young children aged ten and seven, worked as a teaching assistant in a local primary school.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my job” said Zoe “and although it was very difficult to leave, I will never look back.”

Before opening up the shop Zoe came along to Train 2000 where she received help and advice under the business start up programme. She worked on a one-to-one basis with an adviser who helped put her business plan together.

Zoe said: “The support I received from Train 2000 was most useful. It was good to have some one there to help with my business plan and in the initial stages of business start up.

“I have also attended some of the workshops such as book keeping which was really helpful and have also been along to a networking event.”

Sandwich Heaven is based on Fir Road in Bramhall and Zoe can be contacted at the shop on 0161 439 6146.

Helping hand for Chinese businesswomen


MORE than ten thousand women in China have been given support to start up or keep their existing businesses going thanks to a government-backed initiative.

Tianjin, a women’s business incubator, was launched in 2000 just years after the Chinese government started a major restructuring of loss-making state-owned enterprises that resulted in massive lay offs across the country.

Millions of workers, many of them women aged in their 40s and 50s, lost their jobs during the overhaul and struggled to find new employment.

The Tianjin initiative - backed by the northern port city's government, Australia and the United Nations Development Programme -- has helped more than 10,000 women start up businesses or keep their companies afloat, said programme official Li Jing.

In many cases, state-owned commercial banks are not prepared to lend money to entrepreneurs because the size of the loan is too small or they have no assets to offer as collateral.

"Banks have their own standards and need to consider your ability to repay the loan and consider the problems of risks," Li Jing said.

“While many women have no experience running a business, only a "very, very small" number default on their repayments,” she added.

To find out more about the initiative and to read case studies on women who have been helped by the scheme please click here.

If you're a woman in Merseyside or Greater Manchester and are interested in starting up your own business, find out about the free advice and support available from Train 2000. Call 0151 236 6601 or visit

Friday, October 8, 2010

Liverpool businesswoman launches unique furniture collection

UPHOLSTERER and designer Kirsty Hull loves nothing more than to re-upholster and restore vintage chairs transforming them into something truly special – with this in mind she decided to start up her own business.

“I offer a bespoke service” said Kirsty, who recently founded Kirsty Hall Ltd, “all of my chairs are upholstered using traditional methods and materials, with tied springs and hand embroidered covers. This includes my ‘collection’ of repeatable designs and my ‘vintage’ collection of one off restorations.

“I also offer a full re-upholstery service and due to the traditional way I work, I can alter designs and fabrics to suit the needs of the customer.”

Kirsty has put a lot of time and dedication into developing her collection of handcrafted furniture and uses her unique creativity and craftsmanship combined with traditional methods of upholstery to produce her work.

“I am really pleased with the work I have produced so far,” added Kirsty, “I know I am producing unique pieces that will last a lifetime and I am delighted that I will be exhibiting at the Liverpool Design Festival this year, where I one of my vintage chairs is being offered as a prize to visitors. This will be a fantastic opportunity to gain further exposure for my work.”

Prior to starting up her own business 28-year-old Kirsty was working as a recruitment consultant and with bosses urging her to go for promotion she knew it was now or never to start up her own business.

Kirsty said: “I was working long hours in recruitment, but earning a good living from doing so. It reached the point where I was expected to further my career and as much as I enjoyed my job my heart wasn’t really in it, I knew I wanted to return to something more creative.

“I left my job, which was a big gamble, not knowing what my income would be. As soon as I decided I wanted to start the business I knew I had to do it ASAP, before I lost my nerve! I still can’t believe I took the risk but am so glad I did.”

Back in 2004 Kirsty graduated from the Glasgow School Art and went on to train in traditional upholstery with AMUSF, the Association of Masters of Upholsterers. It was always her intention to use the skills she had learned along with her natural creativity and it was this that spurred her on to start up her own business.

“I absolutely love what I do now” says Kirsty, “and I have been very lucky to have a supportive partner and family. I feel fulfilled now that I am doing something I really wanted to do and already I have been asked to complete some really interesting pieces of work including re-upholstering and restoring a 200 year old day bed.

“It’s amazing to be able to take an old piece of furniture and completely transform it so that it fits in with contemporary design. I live in a very modern apartment but have a vintage dinning table and odd, oak and mahogany chairs all upholstered in different vibrant fabrics, the contrast with the contemporary building looks fantastic.

“My work is quite unusual and it is starting to get noticed, I’m hoping that more people will hear about what I do through word of mouth and showing at exhibitions like Liverpool Design Festival.”

Once she had decided to start up her own business Kirsty came along to Train 2000 after finding the organisation online. Kirsty accessed free help and advice under the business start up programme.

She said: “Train 2000 was fantastic, I came away £500 better off after receiving the Liverpool Vision grant. Huda, my adviser was extremely helpful and she looked at all areas of my business plan with me.

“I also attended a number of the one day courses on offer and they proved to be very useful. It’s daunting striking out on your own but the support offered by these courses can really improve your knowledge and confidence, filling in the gaps around tax, accounting, PR etc. and making your ideas achievable.”

To find out more about the unique, creative work of Kirsty Hull you can visit her website at or email

And, if you’re a woman in the Merseyside area and are interested in starting up your own business call Train 2000 on 0151 236 6601 or visit

Commission adopts new gender strategy

THE European Commission has now adopted a five-year strategy for promoting gender equality in Europe which is set to bring in a number of measures including getting more women into company boardrooms and tackling gender based violence.

These actions will be based on five key priority areas: the economy and labour market; equal pay; equality in senior positions; tackling gender violence; and promoting equality beyond the EU.

The Commission will also set up an annual high-level Gender Equality Dialogue with the European Parliament, Council Presidencies, European social partners and civil society to assess progress in implementing the strategy.

The strategy is expected to be adopted by national ministers at the Employment and Social Affairs Council on 6 December.

Further information can be found on the Commission website.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Stockport businesswoman has designs on success

WHEN Andrina Johnson became a mum she decided it was time to leave her job behind and instead started up her own business.

“I really needed something that would give me flexible working hours” said Andrina, “once I had by little boy I no longer wanted to work long hours, staying late at night to meet deadlines. I just didn’t want to miss out on him growing up, so I took the decision to leave my job and become my own boss, it seemed the perfect solution.”

And, in November last year Andrina opened up The Design Boutique providing a range of creative graphic design and print services to individuals and organisations throughout the area and afar.

She said: “I like to describe my business as a design boutique where customers can order anything that is creative; whether it be a corporate brochure or a unique piece of art for a child’s bedroom.”

Andrina has been working with advisors from women’s enterprise agency Train 2000.

She heard about Train 2000 via word of mouth and contacted them back in October 2009. Since then she has been working with an advisor on a one to one basis to develop her business plan and marketing plans to launch the company as part of the business start up programme.

“Train 2000 has really given me loads of confidence” added Andrina, “and it’s so nice to have somewhere to go to for advice. I worked on a one-to-one basis with an adviser to put my plan together and it was extremely helpful.”

Andrina, who is from the Stockport area, has worked in the graphic design industry for 10 years after completing a degree at Salford University.

“I am really enjoying working for myself” continued Andrina, “so far I have sourced a number of clients through networking with other women who have started up in business through Train 2000 as well.

“I have found that the best way to get new clients and to develop contacts is through networking. I do find networking quite daunting, but it is the best way and the more I do it the more I get used to it.”

Through The Design Boutique Andrina is keen to set up an online shop which will enable her customers to order on the internet. To find out more about The Design Boutique visit Andrina’s website at or email

And, for further information about Train 2000 visit and if you would like more information about the help available to women in Stockport call 0161 833 8800.

WICED panel member at Whitehouse Women's Entrepreneurship Conference

WICED’S leading expert panel member Professor Patricia Greene moderated a panel at the Whitehouse Women’s Entrepreneurship Conference held yesterday, Monday 4 October.

The Conference, being held in Washington D.C. brought together a mix of business owners, leaders from the women’s community, academics and officials to discuss the challenges and opportunities needed to move the women’s business agenda to the next level.

Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President and Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, said: “Women-owned businesses are a critical part of America’s 21st century economy. Between 1997 and 2007, the number of women-owned businesses grew by 44%, twice as fast as men-owned firms. During this period, women-owned businesses added roughly 500,000 jobs, while other private firms lost jobs. The most recent data show that women-owned businesses have annual sales/receipts of $1.2 trillion. Even during this trying economic time, women-owned businesses continue to create jobs. As we continue on the path to recovery, women-owned businesses will play an essential role in growing the economy and putting Americans back to work.

At the same time, women-owned businesses have their own unique set of challenges and we must find the best way to solve these problems.”

To read the full article click here

And, to find out more about Professor Patricia Greene who moderated at the conference and is one of WICED’s leading panel members please click here.

You can view videos from the conference by clicking these links:
Opening session video
Closing session video

Monday, October 4, 2010

Train 2000 Awards Knowsley New Business

The 8th Annual Knowsley Business Awards were held last Friday and Train 2000 were there in the thick of it to encourage local women in business. 10 Awards were presented to local businesses at the event hosted by Knowsley council and Knowsley Chamber of Commerce. Train 2000 were delighted to sponsor the 'New Business of the Year Award' which was scooped up by a thrilled Sharon and Steve Carroll for their business 'Chill Out Spa'. Steve and Sharon are pictured here with Jackie Williams Enterprise Manager at Train 2000 and members of their team.

For more information on how Train 2000 can support women in Knowsley and other areas of Mersyeside and Greater Manchester visit