Monday, March 29, 2010

Spain pushes for Europe 2020 gender equality goal

Posted on 29th March 2010

Women's equality should be part of the EU's 'Europe 2020' strategy, Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, current holder of the EU's rotating presidency, said yesterday (28 March). EurActiv Spain reports.

Spain's socialist government led by José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero has made gender equality as one of its priorities. Zapatero's government counts nine women and nine men, including the prime minister.

Among the Spanish government's key commitments are protecting women and fighting against abuse and gender violence, keeping men who harass their partners with aggressive behaviour away from their victims.

Some of Spain's laws are unique in Europe, such as a law on comprehensive protection from gender violence, which has been in force since 2005.

During its EU presidency, Spain plans to promote initiatives such as an EU centre for monitoring gender violence, to gather Community-wide information and to diagnose the problem at European level. This should allow comprehensive solutions to be found.

More on this topic
LinksDossier:The Spanish EU PresidencySpeaking at a conference on 'Women for a Better World' in the Mediterranean city of Valencia, Zapatero stressed that during its EU presidency, Spain would continue to support the inclusion of the "complete affirmation of equality between men and women" within the Union's new economic strategy.

He said the aim was to increase the level of female employment to 70% by 2020 and to reduce the salary gap by as much as possible. Zapatero, whose speech closed the two-day event attended by some 500 women, mostly from Europe and Africa, said that throughout the Spanish EU Presidency he would continue to promote new ways to support, at European level, the struggle against gender violence. Among those present were Finnish President Tarja Halonen and former Chilean President Michele Bachelet. The Spanish prime minister stressed that Europe is not only the most important reference for Spain, but also a significant international player that other regions of the planet look up to and are inspired by. For this reason, he supported the notion that equality should be a "homogenous reality throughout Europe," both in rural areas and in cities, and in both professional and family environments.

Zapatero also stressed the Spanish EU Presidency's plans to take decisive action against gender violence.

"When we encourage equality throughout the world, we are building a fairer future, and when we cut back on discrimination, we are gaining ground for the dignity of everyone," he said.

The Spanish prime minister added that gender equality begins with the eradication of both direct violence against women and structural violence, which perpetuates "customs which threaten [women's] dignity".

An 'Eventful' Career Change for Local Business Woman

WHEN professional businesswoman and mum-of-three Cathryn O’Grady took redundancy from her job in November 2008 she set her sights on something she had been ‘threatening to do for years’ and started up her own business.

As an Events & Communications Specialist, since becoming self-employed, Cathryn has already organised a number of high profile events across the region and is confident of her ability to succeed as an entrepreneur.

“With more than 15 years experience in the industry I knew I could make it on my own” said Cathryn, “it was just difficult taking the plunge and actually making that first step.”

But 40-year-old Cathryn, who has three year old twin boys and a one year old baby boy, knew it was the right decision to make.

She said: “When I was working in Manchester I was travelling up and down the M6 and doing 12 hour days, and seeing my kids only to put them to bed. As a working mum it is extremely difficult to get the balance right, but now that I work for myself all that has changed and it is so much more flexible.”

Cathryn worked for the most part of her career for Trinity Mirror starting off in newspaper sales before working her way up to Regional Head of Sponsorship, Events & Exhibitions, where she organised and developed a number of large scale corporate and consumer events. She later moved on to work for an events agency in Manchester as Operations Director.

And, having built up a good name and reputation for herself Cathryn found the transition of being employed to becoming self employed far easier than she thought it would be.

“Luckily for me” continued Cathryn, “I had built up a great deal of contacts over the years and this made it much easier when setting out on my own. I got work straight away off my own reputation and have already organised events for a number of prestigious companies and charities across the region.

“All of this work has given me a fantastic start to the business and has also triggered a number of collaborations with contacts I have established over the years, which will enable me to secure work that wouldn’t have been open to me on my own due to having only just set up in business.”

Cathryn, who now lives in Burscough, has set up her business in the North Liverpool area and as well as receiving help and advice from women’s enterprise agency Train 2000, she has also benefited from the Stepclever programme. Cathryn received a grant from Stepclever which she used to help fund office equipment and also to develop a strong brand for her business, as well as stationery, a website and a marketing campaign which will allow her to compete for tenders on a larger scale both inside and outside of the region.

She said: “The support I have received from both Train 2000 and Stepclever has been excellent and being awarded the Stepclever grant has really helped me in these initial stages.”

As a confident entrepreneur, Cathryn undertakes a great deal of networking and socialising and is always looking for opportunities to meet new contacts and develop business relationships. But, she recognises that as a woman in business this can be extremely daunting.

“There are so many barriers that women face when they become self-employed” said Cathryn, “and for many women I think the biggest barrier is confidence. I consider myself to be an extremely confident person, but even now when I go to a networking event I can still feel a little uneasy about it and can see how for some women this would be completely daunting, it is always easier to go with other people first.”

Cathryn believes that other barriers faced by women include accessing financial support and managing a family round having a career.

“Despite the barriers” continued Cathryn, “there are so many positives about becoming self-employed and I would certainly urge any other women who are thinking about it, to have a go.”

It is early days for Cathryn’s business but already she has big plans for the future. She said “I am making more and more contacts all the time and am really getting my name about. I plan to continue to work collaboratively but am also very keen to develop more of my own projects, so watch this space.”

“I have massive plans for the future, but for now I am thoroughly enjoying my work and am so glad I took the decision to become self-employed.”

If you need support with project or events management and would like to find out more about the work undertaken by Cathryn O’Grady please contact her on 07918174176 or email

And if you are a woman from the Stockport or Merseyside area who is interested in starting up your own business please contact Train 2000 on 0151 236 6601.

Business Performance, Leadership and Gender Diversity

According to Sylvia Ann Hewlett, an economist and the founding president of the Center for Work-Life Policy.

Research conducted by both Catalyst and McKinsey & Company demonstrates that companies with significant numbers of women in management have a much higher return on investment. In addition, a recent study from London Business School shows that when work teams are split 50-50 between men and women, productivity goes up. Gender balance, the research posits, counters groupthink — the tendency of homogenous groups to staunchly defend wrong-headed ideas because everyone in the group thinks the same way.

Her favorite study, published last October by CERAM Business School, showed that firms in the CAC 40 (the French equivalent of the Dow Jones Industrial Average) with a high ratio of women in top management showed better resistance to the financial crisis. The fewer female managers a company has, the greater drop in its share price since January 2008.

The facts couldn't be clearer: smart women equal stronger companies.

As we begin to emerge from the global recession, far-seeing firms are building bench strength through programs that provide traction for both their high-performing and high-potential women.

Intel created career development workshops aimed squarely at retaining one of its most at-risk populations: mid-level female engineers. Data collected from exit interviews had revealed that many of these talented technologists were leaving not to spend time with their family but because they no longer felt challenged by or passionate about their work.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Knowsley Mum Starts Up New Business

AFTER being unemployed for 18 months Lindsey Grosscurth took the decision to start up her own business – and now she provides mobile hairdressing services throughout Knowsley and surrounding areas.

And not only does Lindsey now have a job she thoroughly enjoys but it also means that the 30-year-old single mum of two can manage her work around bringing up the children.

“I trained to become a hairdresser straight from leaving school, gaining qualifications in NVQ levels 1, 2 and 3, as well as five years experience in a salon,” said Lindsey. “But once I had my children it became extremely difficult to find a part-time job that I could fit round being a mum.”

Lindsey says that despite getting offered numerous jobs none of the potential employers were able to offer her part-time employment – it therefore soon became apparent that self-employment was her best option.

“I was in the job centre one day” continued Lindsey “one of the advisers there told me about Train 2000 and the free services that the organisation provides to women looking to start up their own businesses.

“So, I contacted them straight away and I am so glad I did. I worked with a business adviser Amanda, who helped me to put together my business plan. This is something I had never done before, but Amanda made me feel really supported and it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be.”

Lindsey, who is from the Knowsley area, received free support from Train 2000 as part of the ISUS (Intensive Start-Up Support) programme.

She added: “I love being my own boss and now I can plan my appointments around the children, it really is the perfect solution for me.”

Anyone who would like to make an appointment with Lindsey or to find out more about her mobile hairdressing services should call 07872 304 874.

For further information about Train 2000 visit or call 0800 587 0383.

Vietnam War Survivor Inspires Refugee Women at Train 2000's Manchester Home

Vietnam War survivor Kim Phuc visited Ada House in Manchester to share her experiences with women refugees in the city and children who have suffered burns.

Train 2000 were delighted to host such an inspirational woman who shared her story with the Red Cross WIST group.

For the full story of the visit the BBC Website.

Train 2000 Plays Host to Researcher Dr Isolde Anderson

"I have felt very welcomed and for sure want to come back" said Dr Isolde Anderson following her research visit with Train 2000.

Isolde whose research interests include organisational culture and leadership has been visiting Liverpool Hope University from Hope College in Michigan in the US. She came to Train 2000 to learn more about how the organisation operates, and to see what the "personality" of the company was.

Isolde commented:
"I have always performed cultural analysis on organisation I was a part of, so I was interested to be an 'outsider' looking in."

When asked what her impression of Train 2000 was Isolde said
"Without giving away too much of my reserch at this point, I would say Train 2000 is an organisation that empowers women - not only by the services offered, but through the way those services are delivered in supportive and consistant way."

During Dr. Anderson's final day with Train 2000 on Wednesday 24th March 2010 we asked her what she would take away from her experience.
"I think it would have to be the importance of feminism, whether you idetify it as 'the F word' or not. Women are powerful and can be empowered with the right support."

Referring to how the staff team works together Isolde said
"There is a real female way of caring for one another shown here - not in an unprofessional way, it's through sharing."

Train 2000 look forward to the final report from Dr Anderson's research which she referred to as "uncooked porridge" at this point. Her hopes were that her "notes will become insights to share and use once cooked".

Inspiration for WICED Women from the US - An Incubator of Her Own

Genevieve Thiers, CEO of, an Inc. 500 company, has a new mission. “What I really want to do is show people that women’s problems are big business when you figure out a way to solve them,” she says. She’s done exactly that with her own Chicago-based company, which is a web-based service that matches babysitters with parents nationwide. And now, she’s started her own small business incubator within Sittercity’s offices, hoping to help other women business owners achieve similar success.

Thiers, who is featured in my book, Upstarts!, stated her company in 2001 when she was an IBM employee in Boston; she was rebuffed continually by investors who dismissed her company as a “babysitters club.” Seven years later, she had proved the naysayers wrong by landing $7.5 million in venture capital in the middle of a recession. Her business is growing, she says, because “in the recession, a lot of moms are going back to work and they need care-giving.” Sittercity saw a 128 percent increase in job postings in the last quarter of 2009 over first quarter postings. But while business is booming now, Thiers struggled on her own for many years. “My first three and half years, I was alone and lonely,” she recalls. “Every week, I went to the Post Office and that was my entertainment.” It wasn’t until she moved her company to Chicago in 2002 that she finally started getting the help she needed from the city’s Women’s Business Development Center. Still, she says, she lacked proper office space and longed for more consistent contact with other business owners.

So with more than $5 million in revenue (her VCs won’t allow her to reveal specific numbers), Thiers decided last November that it was time to “play it forward.” After trying unsuccessfully to sublease spare office space at Sittercity’s offices, on the 22nd floor of Chicago’s Merchandise Mart, Thiers came up with an alternative way to fill the empty space: she started her own incubator for women-owned companies. “We spent about 20 hours setting up private cubicles, putting in desks, a conference room and a library,” she says. “We’re now incubating three companies and we have room for another four.” Her criteria: companies must be run by women and serve a predominantly female client base. The space is free and available from 7am to 7pm weekdays. Current tenants include Cotton Seed Clothing, a children’s clothing company, Chit Chat Brands, which makes baking kits, and It’s Hip Hop Baby, a producer of DVDs for children. Both Thiers and her COO/husband Dan Ratner are informal advisors and mentors to the entrepreneurs.

“We’re all targeting moms with young children, so we all bounce ideas off one another,” says Candi Carter, the CEO of It’s Hip Hop Baby. Carter, who still has a full time job as a television producer, met Thiers at a Boston College alumni event and was the incubator’s first tenant. “My interns used to work from home, but now they work here and they’re getting advice from Sittercity’s web optimization and marketing staff,” she says. Another incubator tenant, Corliss Hale of Chit Chat Brands, is arranging for her financial advisor to make a presentation to the group. “What happens is, you end up having several extra eyes looking out for your business,” says Carter. “It’s been a jewel.”

For her part, Thiers isn’t lonely any more either. She’s part of a loosely organized peer group of Chicago women entrepreneurs, each with companies of over or close to $1 million in revenue. They share best practices and have also introduced one another to investors. “I think that many women entrepreneurs reach a certain milestone with their companies and the standard networking events don't work anymore since it's a lot of people that want to seek your advice, but not a lot that can give you advice,” says Theirs. “This is why I began doing both the peer group and the incubator. It’s the best way for me to both gather advice from women in a similar situation, and also help women trying to break a million with their own companies. Who’s going to pull us up other than us?”

Source Posting on

Friday, March 19, 2010

Green Economics Conference Venice

This is the first ever Green Economics Conference in Italy. The Green Economics Institute is very active in Italy this year, writing books for the Italian Government, and also providing events in several parts of Italy from the Italian Alps down to the Sicilian area. Venice is particularly hard hit by climate change and this conference is an attempt to provide solutions that various parts of Italy are experiencing under global environmental change. The Conference is:


HELD AT: Venice International University - San Servolo Island, Venice, Italy

FROM: 23 – 25 April 2010

Subjects the conference will cover amongst others

Legal Aspects of Environmental Law and climate change implications, gender equity, environmental science, costs of climate change, costs of biodiversity loss, how to asses an project from an environmental point of view, environmental impact assessment, The Green New Deal, switching to renewable energies, energy security and availability, Global Institutional issues and governance, Global corporation and corporate social responsibility, whole life costing, water management, water scarcity, Hydro electric power, eco taxes, carbon taxes, lower carbon economies,poverty, equity, aid, international trade and development, slow travel and green transport, green accounting, resource management, green procurement, development economics, recycling. How to run a green economy. Gender and environmental and social justice discourses.

It will discuss Green solutions to the global financial crisis, the global ecological crisis, the global biodiversity crisis and the climate crisis, green construction and green planning issues, and green tourism.

It will also introduce and explain the different strands of environmental, and green economics newly emerging disciplines in economics

Registration fees

Conference Attendance and Registration Fees

Fees are £200 a day or €250 a day for days 2 and 3 of the conference

Concessions are available for undergarduate students, if paying in a personal capacity, if you are based in a less developed country and if payment is received by end of February 2010, please contact the institute for further details

Evening of day one dinner is £40 or €60

Field Trip fees are £100 or €150

Please email for details

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Train 2000 Supports European Bid to Tackle Gender Inequality

Train 2000 was delighted to read reports indicating that the European Commission are making moves to tackle gender inequality.

The commission has put in place a 5 year plan and will focus its efforts on addressing the gender pay gap, pushing for a higher representation of women in decision making roles, eradicating violence against women and promoting gender equality on an international level.

Read the full story here. You can read up on some of the research reports Train 2000 has commissioned and supported on Gender equality by visiting the 'Research and Reports' section of our website.

Unequal Rules for Women Entrepreneurs and Workers Across the World, New Report Finds

The World Bank recently reported that only 20 of 128 economies have equal legal rights for men and women in several important areas for entrepreneurs and workers, according to a new World Bank Group report, Women, Business and the Law 2010. Inequality occurs across all regions and income levels. But many economies have been legislating to reduce these inequalities.

The new report looks at legal equity in such areas as a woman’s ability to register a business, own and use property, and go to court on her own account. It also looks at differential tax treatment of women and at constraints on women’s ability to work in different industries and during different times of the day.

“Increasing women’s economic opportunities improves the well-being of families and communities, reduces poverty, and stimulates economic growth,” said Rita Ramalho, lead author of the report. “Many factors shape women’s opportunities to run successful businesses and get good jobs. Equitable business regulations are one piece of the puzzle.”

Women, Business and the Law 2010 analyzes differences in formal laws and institutions affecting women’s prospects as entrepreneurs and employees across six topics—accessing institutions, using property, getting a job, dealing with taxes, building credit, and going to court. The report is the first to measure the gender gap in policy variables using quantitative and objective data. It does not measure all aspects that matter for women’s economic opportunities. For example, it does not measure access to childcare, education, or personal security.

“Gender differentiation in law sometimes arises out of a desire to protect women, but it may inadvertently limit their opportunities,” said Penelope Brook, Director of the Global Indicators and Analysis Department of the World Bank Group. “We hope that by setting out objective data on legal inequality we can stimulate debate and research on which provisions help, and which constrain, women in their lives as workers and as businesswomen.”

For more information about Women, Business and the Law, please visit

For more information on how Train 2000 are working towards supporting gender equality visit our website.

Local Women in Business - Nicola's Story

FOLLOWING a five-year stint working for Liverpool’s Culture Company Nicola O’Boyle decided it was time to go it alone and that’s when she set up event management company Auriel Events Services.

Now the 24-year-old has put all her contacts to good use bringing in work that helps make her company stand out from the rest. Having only set up in September 2009, one month later, Nicola’s company organised the ‘Taste of Shanghai’ – two events staged in Liverpool which allowed visitors to experience the food, culture and performances of Liverpool’s twin city Shanghai.

“I was delighted to organise these two events so early on through Auriel Events Services” said Nicola, “but I built up a lot of contacts and experience during my time at the Culture Company and now I am putting these to best use.”

Nicola, who undertook a HND in Event Management before completing a BA (Hons) Degree in Major and Cultural Events Management at Leeds Metropolitan University, is based in the Knowsley area but offers her services through Auriel across the North West and further afield.

She said: “We offer a one-stop shop of event services or individual assistance with elements of events and work in partnership with the UK’s leading event suppliers and agencies.

“Through Auriel Events Services we organise a variety of events including festivals, concerts, corporate events, sporting events and private functions such as birthday parties and charitable events.”

Although Nicola says she was quite nervous about becoming her own boss she is confident that all the hard work will pay off. She added: “When I decided to set up Auriel Events Services I turned down a really good job to do so, but I am already seeing the benefits of working for myself and there is no turning back now.”

Prior to setting up in business Nicola came along to Train 2000 where she received help, advice and support through the ISUS (Intensive Start-up Support) funded programme, which enabled her to work on a one-to-one basis in putting her business plan together.

“The help and support I received through Train 2000 was excellent” said Nicola, “it was really good to have somewhere to turn to when it came to putting my business plan together, in particular, as I had never done this before. My adviser was extremely patient and helpful and spent a lot of time with me getting it right. I couldn’t believe that all the support I got was absolutely free as well.”

Nicola is now planning a range of events for 2010 and is building up new work and projects all the time. As well as her event management qualifications she has also gained accreditation in health and safety and is a personal licence holder, enabling her to run a bar at events.

She offers event management services for both large and small events – anyone interested in finding out more should visit her website or email

Train 2000 offers business support services to women throughout Merseyside and Stockport. To find out more please visit the website or call 0151 236 6601/0161 833 8800.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Train 2000 Client Launches Great Company

Jacqueline Boylan (pictured) started Social Enterprise 'Great Company' to help isolated over 50's to improve and manage their social life. Having previously worked for age concern, she realised the important role social activity plays in the lives of those who are more mature.

She said: “I initially decided to set up Great Company because I am aware of how difficult it can be at times for people aged 50 and over to find social activities that they are interested in and comfortable attending.

“Through my organisation I am able to offer a variety of lively, exciting and non-patronising ways for people of this age to socialise. We organise a number of events including walks, day trips, theatre trips, meals out and much more.”

Whilst setting up her business Jacqueline received help and support from womens enterprise agency Train 2000 where she worked on a one-to-one basis with a business adviser. She also received support from the local enterprise initiative Stepclever and was awarded a £10,000 start-up grant for social enterprises.

Great Company held their launch party in the Isla Gladstone conservatory in Stanley Park Anfield on Thursday 25th February. Train 2000 business adviser Jackie McGee attended the event which was a chance for local over 50's to come and find out a bit more about the activites on offer.

Jackie McGee said
"The event was a great success! It was lovely to meet some of the people who have benefitted so far from what Great Company do. Train 2000 will continue to support Jacqueline to take her venture from strength to strength, and look forward to seeing how things progress from here".

To find out more on what Great Company is doing you can call Jacqueline on 07715 102321 or email

For more information on how Train 2000 can support women or for advice on accessing Stepclever support please call our team on 0151 236 6601.

WICED President Leads the Way for Women's Economic Development

"We will make the rest of the world sit up and take notice of what women can, should and will achieve" said Councillor Flo Clucas OBE as she was inaugurated as the first President of WICED (the Women's International Centre for Economic Development in Liverpool).

The presentation of the presidential broach and offical inauguration took place on International women's day in conjunction with WICED's annual lecture - "Developing Women's Entrepreneurial Talent" presented by Professor Colette Henry.

Chair of the board for WICED Alison Price commented that she was "proud and delighted" to inaugurate Councillor Flo Clucas and praised her for her continued support and hard work on women's enterprise.

Held at the Novas Contemporary Urban Centre the lecture was attended by local council members, leading local enterprise initiatives, representatives from the Universities, and female entrepreneurs.

Following on from Councillor Clucas' moving speech where she told the attendees
"As women we are making a statement about what we want other women to be able to do"
Professor Henry gave an insight into ways to help women to overcome the barriers that prevent them from making their dreams a reality.

Making it clear that she believes in empowering women to believe in their own ability, Professor Henry also added that it is essential to
"give women a realistic picture of their journey to where they want to be. It won't be easy, but with the right support they CAN do it".

To keep informed of the developments with WICED follow this link. And to see more photographs from the event check out our flickr album.

Liverpool Gets the Taste for Camp Cupcakes

AS a single mum and mature student when Natasha Odita embarked on her degree at Liverpool John Moore’s University it seemed both daunting and scary - but little did she know then that it would lead to the start of her very own successful business Camp Cupcake.

Now 30-year-old Natasha is inundated with orders for her fresh and funky cupcake creations.

“I just can’t believe how Camp Cupcake has taken off” said Natasha, “it all started when a fellow classmate announced it was his birthday, but being from Canada he had no family to celebrate with, so I baked him a birthday cake which we shared amongst friends.

“After this I was taken aback at the amount of friends and family who started to ask for my cakes. The catering department at John Moore’s University noticed that students were eating my cakes, but not the ones they supplied, so they commissioned me to make all the cakes for their catering outlets.”

Natasha, who had always enjoyed baking and is extremely artistic, decided to turn what had started off as a hobby into a real business and studying for a Business & PR Degree really helped her on her way.

She added: “I wanted to become an entrepreneur for both myself and my two and a half year old son as I knew that in the long-run it would help to provide us with some stability and direction for the future.”

Whilst setting up her business Liverpool-born Natasha came along to Train 2000 where she received help and advice in setting up her business and putting together her marketing and business plans.

"Train 2000 was brilliant” she said, “The staff were really helpful and my adviser Huda really supported me along the way, it was great to have somewhere to turn to for advice and support and even now they are still there for me and I know there is some one at the end of the phone to help out if I come up against any problems.”

Camp Cupcake is a fresh, funky cupcake and cake business which produces hand-decorated cakes using an explosion of colours and unique designs. Through Camp Cupcake Natasha caters for weddings, christenings, religious festivals, birthdays, corporate events and any other occasions.

Natasha added: “The idea behind Camp Cupcake is that we produce ‘edible pieces of art’ that can be enjoyed by everyone. We have developed a strong vibrant brand that we have built up, so that it will eventually be recognised by all.

“To date we have supplied our cupcakes at the Juice FM Style Awards, on set at Hollyoaks and most recently we have been asked to provide our products at the official launch of Liverpool’s Hilton Hotel, a red carpet event which will be attended by many celebrities. Our cupcakes have also appeared in Ok! Magazine.”

In the future Natasha’s aim is to move into new premises comprising of a coffee shop and gallery area were cakes can be viewed and orders placed. She is also hoping to involve her local community and anticipates creating new jobs.

To find out more about Camp Cupcake or to place an order call Natasha on 07525 065 642. Alternatively you can email her at

Train 2000 provides FREE business advice and support to women throughout the Merseyside and Greater Manchester areas. To find out more, visit or call 0800 587 0383.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Sefton Raises A Cuppa To International Women's Day

Sefton businesswomen took time off to celebrate International Women's Day with tea and cakes at Cafe D'Art in Fromby.
Rhian and Joanne from Train 2000 were on hand to welcome new faces and meet up with existing clients.
Kiki Polgase of Aliki Handmade Bags said:
"This is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate what we do and a great way to network with other businesses such as The Bloom Room which sells my bags."
Clare Mason who owns the handmade gift company With Love said the morning had been a good way to share ideas with other local businesses.
Staff from Barclays and Nat West were also on hand to provide advice.
Left to right: Standing Rhian Pavitt, Joanne Wadeson, Ann Stinson of Barclays and Tracy North from Nat West
Seated left to right: Kiki Polgase of Aliki Handmade Bags, Helen Greenhalgh of The Bloom Room, Clare Mason of With Love and Stephanie Grant and Jennifer Gore of Everyday Homecare.

Stockport Woman Sets a Business Trend

AFTER being on maternity leave with her second child Stockport mum and fashion designer Tracey Shahlavi decided she no longer wanted to return to work – but instead set her sights on becoming her own boss.

And, in September 2009 she did just this, when she opened up Serenity Co a fashion design consultancy.

“This is something I have always wanted to do” said Tracey, who has worked in the fashion industry for more than ten years, “when I went back to work after having my first child it was very difficult leaving her and I didn’t want to do it again, so becoming a mum for the second time gave me that final push I needed.”

Since launching Serenity Co Tracey has secured her first client and business is building all the time.

Having originally undertaken a Fine Arts Degree at the Cumbria College of Art & Design in Carlisle Tracey went on to train as a fashion designer and since then she has been involved in designing high street fashion collections for retailers such as Top Shop and Debenhams.

As well as working on a consultancy or freelance basis designing fashion collections for other companies Tracey is also looking at developing her own range of bridal products and is currently in talks with three factories in China who will work on the manufacturing side of the business with her.

“I am really enjoying working for myself” said Tracey, “Not only do I get to spend more time with my children who are aged one and four, and save a great deal on childcare costs, but I also feel that it is very rewarding working for myself.

“Self-employment really is the ideal solution for me as in the fashion industry you have to work very long hours but now I can plan my work round family life.”

Tracey recently designed some clothing for an outlet based in the Trafford Centre and said it was a great feeling to see her designs in the window. She added: “It was a really good feeling and it meant so much more because I am working for myself and not somebody else. When you make your own money you really feel proud of your achievements.”

After taking the decision to become her own boss Tracey made contact with women’s enterprise agency Train 2000 which has been contracted through Stockport Council with Stockport Boost to deliver business support that is specific to the needs of women.

Since then Tracey has worked on a one-to-one basis with a business adviser to develop her business plan and launch Serenity Co – services which have been delivered free of charge to Tracey under the Intensive Start-Up Support (ISUS) contract.

“The support I received from Train 2000 was fantastic” said Tracey, “I worked with my adviser Mike Marsden to develop a comprehensive business plan which really gave me the confidence to move forward. I had never done anything like this before but Train 2000 really supported me through this process so that it didn’t seem to daunting.

“I also accessed a marketing workshop through Train 2000 which gave me ideas about how to promote my business and the best way to use the internet and develop my own website. It’s really good to know that there is an organisation there who can offer me the advice and support I need.”

To find out more about Serenity Co visit or contact Tracey on 0161 486 0551, and for more information on the free business support you can receive from Train 2000 click here.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Train 2000 Celebrates International Women's Day 2010

International Women's Day will be celebrated all over the world this year on Monday 8th March 2010, and Train 2000 are excited to be hosting a number of events in conjunction with the festival.

Our Women's Circles Project which supports isolated women to connect with each other and their local community, are holding a joint celebration. All the groups who completed the programme last year are meeting together on International Women's Day to share their experiences over a Women's Breakfast.

Sefton women are invited to join our team in Cafe D'Art for an informal International Women's Day Coffee Morning from 10am-11.30am. This will be a chance for local women to chat to our advice team about what free business support is available to them over a cup of coffee and a slice of cake. Anyone can drop in, no need to book!

This year we are offering a fantastic networking opportunity for Northwest business women. Train 2000 have joined forces with Women in Business, Knowsley Chamber of Commerce and Business Link to present 'High Tea at Sea'. Held at the Liner Hotel in Liverpool from 1.30pm-4.00pm the afternoon includes:

Business Opportunities in Europe Workshop
International Business Woman Jessica Houghton of Expert Language Solutions
Trade & Networking Opportunities
Information on Shanghai EXPO 2010
Afternoon Tea, Free raffle and much more!!!

Places are strictly limited. For more details or to book email or call 0151 236 6601.

And finally...WICED presents our annual lecture 'Developing Women's Entrepreneurial Talent' given by Professor Colette Henry. Being held at NOVAS Contemporary Urban Centre from 3pm-5pm, the afternoon will also include the inaugeration of Councillor Flo Clucas as the First President of WICED. If you are interested in finding out more about this event please contact

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

WICED to join EU debate on Gender Equality & Social Inclusion for International Women’s Day

WICED is set to be showcased at an EU regional debate being held in Brussels next week after being selected as one of six successful projects to be included on the agenda.

Train 2000 and WICED’s Executive Director, Maggie O’Carroll, will speak at the debate sharing good practise and successes with her regional counterparts from across Europe.

She said: “This is an excellent opportunity to raise the profile of WICED on a European platform and to share our knowledge and the successes we have had here in Liverpool, Merseyside and throughout the wider region.

“I will be addressing the role that WICED plays in achieving economic independence as the path to gender equality and social inclusion for women in our region.”

The debate, which is being held on March 10, just two days after International Women’s Day will add to the debate on relieving women of poverty, their full participation as economic subjects and the organisation of working life in order to achieve a good work-life balance.

With 2010 being the European Year of combating Poverty and Social Exclusion the main focus of the debate will be on the inclusion of women in the labour market.

For further information about the event please click here.