Friday, December 23, 2011

Father's Legacy Inspires Susan's 'Mushin Martial Arts Academy'

When Susan King’s father sadly passed away, Susan decided to use the money he had left her to carry on his legacy and do something she knew would make him proud. So she took the brave step to set up her own martial arts academy ‘Mushin Marital Arts’.

Susan started training in martial arts at just 15 years of age when her father expressed his keenness to have her be able to defend herself. Although Susan had built up her career working as a manageress in sports retail, she developed her martial arts training over 26 years offering classes on a voluntary basis in the community.

Now a 5th degree black belt ‘godan’ Susan is one of the few women in the UK to be ranked so highly and she is keen to see more women have a go at the sport. “Women seem to think that they can’t do it”, says Susan, “However, it’s not a sport that uses strength; it is more about self-defence. Anyone can do it; women just need more confidence to try it out.”

At the point of setting up her business Susan had been out of work for several months, and the thought of signing off benefits to work for herself was both daunting and exciting. Susan was directed to The Women’s Organisation for support via another local support service. She said “I did my business plan with one of their business advisers who was so helpful. Capital was the main barrier in setting up the business, so I was glad of help to put together grant applications.”

The Mushin Marital Arts Academy were awarded grant funding from local enterprise initiative Stepclever to enable them to cover their business start-up costs.

“I’m feeling positive that we’ve managed to open the academy, and everyone who has come through the doors has said it’s fantastic. We really have tried to make sure there is something for everyone, from suiting the traditionalists to those who are into their MMA and I think we’ve managed to achieve that.”

Mushin Martial Arts Academy which is located at 180a Queens Drive offers a range of classes including: Japanese Ju-Jitsu, Sambo (which is a Russian form of wrestling),Women’s Thai boxing, fitness classes, Aiki Budo, Thai Boxing, children’s boxing and grappling, little Samurai’s and Combatives - fitness class. To find out more about the classes on offer from Mushin Martial Arts visit or contact Susan on 0790612610. You can also follow @mushinacademy on Twitter or befriend them on facebook.

Reflecting on her achievement Susan said “This is something I have always passionately wanted to do. Working for yourself gives you more drive. It’s your own, not someone else’s and that is a great feeling.”

Susan’s advice to other women considering self-employment is “Get help from someone who knows what they are doing. There was so much that goes into a business plan I hadn’t realised needed to go in it. If it wasn’t for The Women’s Organisation I would still be running around in circles.”

If like Susan you are looking for support in following your dream to start up your own business call The Women’s Organisation on 0151 706 8111 and find out about the range of FREE services we can offer. You can also email or visit

Hatch Biz-Start to Launch in January

Hatch is a ‘one stop shop’ offering a unique opportunity for start up businesses to access a range of professional and advisory services completely free of charge.

You will be provided with professional legal, accountancy and taxation advice to ensure that your business is compliant, has the optimum structure and a solid grounding. You will also receive guidance on business strategy and how to grow and market your venture.

The service includes free initial meetings with a Solicitor, Accountant, Business Adviser and PR Specialist. You will also receive free follow up advice on any topics and concerns raised in the meetings as well as useful resource materials.

There is no initial outlay and no obligation to sign up with any of the organisations involved.

Involved with Hatch are The Women's Organisation Clients Clare Delve PR & Communications and RMC Accountancy.

Hatch are holding a launch party on Thursday 26th January 6.30pm at Hannah's Bar. To get yourself on the guestlist, or to find out more about the network call 0151 229 1171 or email

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Start the New Year with Postive Networking and a New You

Start 2012 Positively with The Women’s Organisation Business Club ‘New Year New You’ networking evening.

Held on:
Wednesday 18th January 6pm-8.30pm
Held at:
The Women's Organisation,
54 St James Street
L1 0AB

As well as enjoying business networking and light refreshments, gather tips from our experts to set you off on the right foot for 2012.

Healthy Body
Owner of ‘One Body Fitness’, Business Club member Jen Mercer will be offering top tips for feeling good and keeping healthy in 2012. As a health and fitness coach Jen says she is “100% Dedicated to getting REAL women...REAL results!!!”

Healthy Mind
The Women’s Organisation Training Co-ordinator and NLP Practitioner Bernie Cox will be offering handy hints on how to stay focussed and keep your mind positive while making plans for your business for the forthcoming year

This event is FREE to members of The Women's Organisation business club. If you are not yet a member, but are a woman running her own business in the north west and would like to find out how to join, contact our team for more details.

To find out more or to book a place, contact us on 0151 706 8111 or email

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Wirral Women Get a Confidence Boost With The Women's Organisation

The Women's Organisation in partnership with Women's Enterprise Breakthrough offered Wirral women a boost to their confidence during the last few months. The 'Step Up' Programme which was part of a 'Neighbourhood Learning in Deprived Communities' initiatve was run over three weeks and covered:

• Positive Thinking and Learning about Yourself
• How to Become a More Assertive You
• Building Your Communication Skills
• Identifying Your Skills and Developing a Personal Profile
• How to Present Yourself with Confidence

Each woman who attended was given chance to reflect on their journey during the programme and were positive to see the progress they had made. Comments left when the course finished included:

"I have really enjoyed this course. It's been very interesting and enjoyable"

"I feel my confidence has grown in myself. My knowledge in my qualities has been uplifiting. Thank you"

"I really enjoyed the course and all that I learnt. Bernie (the trainer) is a warm and inspiring woman"

"This was all really good. I was very impressed and loved the tutor"

The Women's Organisation continue to support women's personal development, both locally and internationally. For more information on how we offer support please visit

Monday, December 19, 2011

Knowsley's Angela Launches 'McAllister Mobile Chiropody/Podiatry' Business

When Angela McAllister graduated from University it had been her plan to pursue a career with the NHS. “With the government cuts I found there were just no jobs, so I thought self-employment was the best way to go” said Angela.

Knowsley resident Angela contacted Business Link for guidance and was directed to women’s enterprise support agency The Women’s Organisation.

“My business adviser was just lovely. She helped me with my business plan, my costings and marketing plan. It was in speaking to her that I realised I definitely wanted to go self-employed. I also did courses on tax and basic book keeping at The Women’s Organisation which were great”

Planning her business was a real learning curve for Angela who reflected “I had always envisioned that my customers would mainly be the elderly, but while I was doing my market research I got in touch with Asda who agreed to let me test my services on staff. It was then I realised younger people could really benefit too.”

Angela was concerned knowing that there would be a lot of trained professionals leaving University in the same predicament as her and realised she needed a unique selling point to help her stand out from the crowd. “In discussions with my adviser Francine I mentioned that I had previously been a beauty therapist. I realised combining those skills with the health care training I had done would give me the competitive edge.”

Upon starting her business Angela was awarded a £200 grant from The Women’s Organisation and £600 from Knowsley Council’s Fresh Start scheme that helped her to buy her equipment. “I was delighted with the funding. It helped me to get what I needed to make me look professional.”

As well as running her own business ‘McAllister Mobile Chiropdy/Podiatry’, Angela takes care of her elderly parents. “Working for myself means that I can organise my appointments around caring for them” she said. “I can do their shopping or nip to see them at lunch or between appointments. It’s a real help.”

Angela is feeling positive about the progress of her business to date and has built up a strong client base of repeat custom, nursing homes and family groups. “Each month I have made more than the month before and that’s great. I love what I do. I love treating feet and I love that I have flexibility to offer appointments at any time between 8am and 8pm and to be able to support clients who don’t want to hang on the 4 or 5 months they can wait for treatment through the NHS. People’s feet are never as bad as they think. Any problems with feet I can either fix myself or refer a client on to the best person to help.”

Angela’s advice to other women considering self-employment is “Go along to The Women’s Organisation to get help with your business plan. I wouldn’t have known where to start without them, and they are great for continued support. Facebook has also been great for my business. I’m going into the homes of people I don’t know anything about quite often, so connecting through facebook helps you to get to know a bit about them first.”

McAllister Mobile Chiropody/Podiatry provide a mobile chiropody service which offers skin and nail treatments combined with lower leg and foot massage in the comfort of your own home. Angela is fully qualified and is registered with the health professions council, The Society of Chiropodist and podiatrist which means she has full insurance cover. For more information or to book appointments call Angela on 07548747475 or find her business on facebook.

If you are thinking about creating your own job by using your skills and qualifications to set up a small business, then contact The Women’s Organisation for advice and support on 0151 706 8111 or

Photography by Abi Booth

Business Women Get Festive With The Women's Organisation

The Women's Organisation Business Club met for the final networking push of the year with 'Festive Fun' networking.

The evening held at 54 St James Street conferencing centre featured stalls from local businesses including Samz Accessories, O'Naturelle and Hours of Fun, business pitches and festive networking and nibbles.

The women who attended said:
‘Loved the freedom of choice re Networking’
‘Thank you for a lovely evening – great to meet all the ladies’
‘Great atmosphere, very friendly’
‘Loved the atmosphere, brilliant people, very relaxed but engaging. Can’t wait for the next one’
‘Spoke to lots of people – some I’ve met before, but most for the first time’
‘Lovely, ‘safe’ environment’
‘The event was ten times better than expected and I would be delighted to attend any further event’
‘I thought this was an excellent opportunity to meet like minded women. Thank you’

If you are a woman running your own business in the north west of England and you would like to join our free business club to take advantage of networking and specialist training events throughout 2012 then contact our team for a membership pack on 0151 706 8111 or

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Bare Face Marketing Thriving Through a Tough Economy

“When recessions hit, marketing is the first place businesses look to cut” says Emma Callaghan of Bare Face Marketing. Having worked in the field for 18 years, Emma found that redundancy had been on the cards too many times. She decided to take positive action and create her own job by setting up a marketing business.

“I’d worked in ‘corporate suited and booted’ marketing for a long time and built up experience working with TV, radio, press, branding and communications. I launched hundreds of products into supermarkets in the UK and Australia from cleaning products, to pharmaceutical products and finally food. Being made redundant also presented me the opportunity to fulfil a lifelong dream of living and working in Australia. Moving back I found the economic climate was tougher than ever. No one was hiring, and no one was moving on. It was time for a change.”

During a weekend away in London Emma had time to reflect on her ideas. “I came back up North with my idea and made a start. I knew what my skills were, but it was how to put it into words. It took around 6 months to finally clarify my business model in a business plan. I wanted to utilise my own skills in branding, copywriting, social media and creativity and link with other freelancers who could fill the gaps in my skillset such as graphic design and technical elements.”

Emma approached The Women’s Organisation for advice and support and said of the service “It was really useful. Obviously I didn’t need support with marketing, but it helped me to focus my mind on writing my business plan. It helped me to answer questions like ‘Why do you want to be this? Who are your customers? Who are your competitors?’ It really helped me to clarify my vision. It was advice there as and when I needed it and a truthful sounding board for my ideas.”

Emma admitted, “In terms of working with a woman focused organisation I suppose I don’t necessarily have the same pressures as some other women in business. I don’t have kids to work around and I come from a corporate world so can adapt to conventional business style events and am not intimidated by suits. I found that the service was really inclusive and offers all women the opportunity to take from it what they need.”

Bare Face Marketing offer support with branding, Content Management System (CMS) based websites, business stationery such as business cards, letterheads, compliments slips, advertising materials such as banners and leaflets, planning campaigns and support with setting up and understanding how to use social media.

“Being self-employed can be lonely. You need to get out there and network” said Emma. “I’d advise anyone going into business to keep on top of their finances. Understand your financial commitments and overheads and make friends with your accountant. If someone suggests support that they think you need, don’t cut corners or dismiss it. Cut your cloth according to what you have, but also to your plan for the future.”

2 years on from launching in Sefton, Bare Face Marketing now support clients across the northwest and are continuing to build their portfolio. “The best thing about running my own business is the real sense of achievement” Emma reflected. “When working as a cog within a wheel, decisions and glory for your ideas can be taken away from you. There is a great satisfaction in seeing something through from beginning to end and knowing ‘this business is succeeding because of me’. When you have completed a piece of work and the client says ‘that is amazing I could kiss you’ you know the hard work has paid off.”

Emma is passionate about marketing and sees that alongside her 18 years of experience as her unique selling point. “I think for most businesses the thought of marketing as a whole can seem so overwhelming. Branding for me is a great place to start. Everything builds from there really. People tend to set up a website or a Facebook page without really understanding why or what the purpose is. You would never, as someone who hasn’t cooked before, dive straight in and make a three course gourmet dinner. You have to start somewhere and branding for me is a logical first step.” Now a member of The Chartered Institute of Marketing, and a Chartered Marketer Emma invites those interested in her background and experience to look her up on LinkedIn.

To find out more about how Bare Face Marketing can help you with your own marketing strategy contact Emma via or call her on 07912 679 955, or visit

If, like Emma you have a passion that you would like to turn into a successful business venture then contact The Women’s Organisation on or 0151 706 8111 to find out what free support is available to women.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Festive Networking with The Women's Organisation Business Club

Join The Women's Organisation Business Club for 'Festive Fun' Networking

AT: The Women's Organisation, 54 St James St, Liverpool, L1 0AB
ON: Thursday 15th December, 6pm-8.30pm

For our last Business Club event of the year we will be enjoying networking and nibbles. We will also have a festive marketplace, so come prepared to grab some last minute goodies from the stalls.


To book your place please contact or call 0151 706 8111.

If you are a women running your own business in the north west of England, and you are not yet a member of our business club, but would like to join and take advantage of regular networking opportunities - contact our team on

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Book Now for 2012 at 54 St James Street!

Conferencing and meeting facilities are filling up fast for 2012 at 54 St James Street. Among the hi-lights of events to be held at the £5.3m Women's International Centre for Economic Development (WICED) will be events for the Global Entrepreneurship Congress coming to Liverpool in March.

If you are planning an event for next year this fully accessible and flexible venue could be the perfect location to host your business meeting, conference or private event. A range of individually styled rooms appropriate for gatherings of 2 to 150 people are available for hire.

With friendly reception staff, complimentary wireless access throughout the building and a range of audio visual facilities including integrated data projectors, blu-ray players and smart boards; plasma screens for projection or TV; and video conferencing facilities this building meets the needs of people who require a highly professional service in a contemporary setting.

A 10% discount is offered on room rates to tenants of the building and smaller charities/social enterprises with an annual turnover less than £250,000. Book early to avoid disappointment.

And if you are looking for a more permanent business solution don't forget that contemporary offices are available on the first, second and third floor of the building. Offering a prestigious L1 address and interesting city views to women led businesses and social enterprises, this high quality, multi-use building offers individual rooms to accommodate businesses of one to twelve people with prices starting at £165 per calendar month and £15 for virtual office services.

For further information, including room capacity, viewings, a competative quote and bookings please phone Sandra on 0151 706 8100 or email

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Fierce Management's Jen Shows Women Can Make Their Mark in the Music Industry

Spend just 5 minutes with Liverpool’s Jen Corrigan and you will experience her infectious passion for the music industry. Jen’s business ‘Fierce Management’, which she set up with friend and business partner Karl Connor, has successfully celebrated its first birthday and is continuing to build momentum.

Speaking to The Women’s Organisation about her journey Jen told us “I’ve worked in the industry for 11 years, from doing an A-Level in Radio Production I went to work at Radio City. I had a hand in organising events there and through that I was approached by a well-known local girl band to work with them as a P.A. Two and a half years on the band sadly split leaving me facing redundancy which meant I had to go back to office work, which was just not what I wanted to do. I carried on organising events and gigs on the side to keep my hand in, mostly with friends or local bands I knew well.”

Jen knew she really wanted to push forward her career in music, so applied for a degree course to widen her experience. “I had always wanted to go to LIPA and so I was delighted when I was offered a place to study for a BA Hons in Music and Entertainment Management” she said. “That’s where I met Karl who is now my business partner. We were similar age, had worked on the same sort of circuit over the years and when we worked on joint projects in LIPA we jelled well. In our final year we worked at Simon Cowell’s booking agency IMG for a practical management project. Through that we were offered placements on the 2009 series of X Factor looking after contestants, bookings, diaries. It was a great learning curve. Following the work with IMG I was offered a job with Simon Cowell’s company, but I decided it wasn’t for me. It was a very controlled environment and I wanted to have more of a say. It was then Karl and I decided to set up Fierce Management. We had both worked for other people and we felt the time was right to do it for ourselves.”

Once Jen and Karl had decided that self-employment was the route for them, there was no stopping the ambitious duo. Jen said “We jumped in feet first really. When we graduated from LIPA we won the Paul McCartney Enterprise award for our business idea that we put together in our final year. We went along to The Women’s Organisation for extra advice and support and were able to apply for a £200 grant that helped us to set up our website which a lot of business has come through since. Since then we have set up our office, been all over the country, signed up good solid artists and a decent set of clients for our event management side of the business.”

In looking for potential artists to work with Jen said “We don’t do fame hungry or karaoke. We wanted artists who write and perform their own music. Some of the artists we have signed up in perhaps unconventional ways. Zara, for example, was a busker who had moved up from Abergele in Wales. Zara is now working with writers from Sony/ATV and writers who have worked with Paloma Faith, Robbie Williams and Plan B. She has performed with artists such as Sugababes, Blue, Pixie Lott and Alexandra Burke.

Reflecting on her leap of faith into self-employment Jen said “I feel 110% that we have done the right thing. Working for yourself allows you to do what you want to do. There is a freedom of following something you enjoy. Don’t get me wrong – it is tough to survive in this industry. You have to take time to develop an artist, and maybe make sacrifices along the way. But we wouldn’t change it. Karl and I see Fierce more like a family than a business.”

Looking back at lessons learned over the time of setting her business up Jen advises others thinking of branching out for themselves “Be forceful and pester. Never leave an email unanswered. It’s so satisfying when people you have pestered then come back to pester you. Go with your gut if it feels right. As long as you believe in yourself you can do it.”

Fierce management currently manage artists such as ’10 Reasons to Live’, ‘Zara’, ‘Paul Thomas’, ‘Rich Lown’ and offer a unique and dedicated event production service to a range of high profile venues and organisations, including producing live tours, entertainment productions, live music events, corporate events, launch events and social events.

To find out more about the event production services Fierce Management offer, and to hear more about their artists visit or contact Or experience a bit of Fierce Management in person by joining them for a Christmas party hosted by 10 Reasons To Live at Eric's Liverpool on 27th December. Tickets are just £5 and can be bought online at

And if like Jen you have a passion you would like to turn into a business, contact The Women’s Organisation on or 0151 706 8111 to find out what free support is on offer.

Photography by Abi Booth

From Unemployment to Self-Employment for Anfield's Angela

Having been long term unemployed, Anfield’s Angela Corser was tired of living on benefits, but was fighting an uphill battle trying to find suitable work in a recession. “There were just no jobs out there” she said, “So I decided to get myself sorted. I had been a hairdresser in the past, so I went back to college and did a refresher course, moving on to do an advanced qualification at Wirral Met. From there I decided to create my own job by setting myself up as a mobile hairdresser.”

Angela had tried to pursue self-employment before, but found her lack of capital to start teamed with lack of business experience just meant doors were slammed in her face. She heard that The Women’s Organisation could offer free help and advice to women setting up their own business and thought she would give them a try.

Angela said “They were really good. The business adviser they gave me just pointed me in the right direction, and showed me what I needed to do. I hadn’t realised how many regulations I needed to abide by for a small business, but I was guided through them and they were made clear.”

The Women’s Organisation let Angela know that there was funding available for new businesses in her area through enterprise initiative Stepclever. Having been given support to complete a grant application Angela was delighted to learn she had successfully been awarded £1000 to help get her business started.

“The money is a big help” said Angela. “It has helped me to get my equipment and a wide range of advertising materials such as flyers, business cards, even a sticker for my car. I’ve also been able to purchase a uniform which helps to make me look professional and makes it feel real.”

Reflecting on her journey so far 25 year old Angela said “I have definitely made the right decision. Coming off benefits isn’t easy, and understanding the different requirements you need to meet to be legal and to get funding can be difficult, but it’s got to be done. You can’t stay on benefits forever. It’s no way to live.”

Angela found facebook particularly useful for beginning to drum up interest for her business. “I’ve started to build a client base through friends and family, and then through facebook through old connections I had perhaps forgotten about. It’s been a god send. I’ve also done taster sessions to show people what I can do which seems to be working. You’ve got to be self-motivated when running your own business. It takes a lot of hard work, but you have to stay positive.”

Lushious Locks Liverpool offer a vast array of hair treatments including: Cut and blow, Curly blow, Hair up, Shampoo and set, Root tint, Full or half head foils, Full or half head foils with tint or semi, Hair SOS for DIY experiments gone wrong, Hair extensions – sewn or glued and made to measure, Extension colouring, Making and application of double hair, Brazilian blow dry (semi-permanent straightening technique), Individual party hi-lights, and Alternative dreads or braiding. As routine Angela always does skin testing to safeguard against allergic reactions and is also offering PPD free hair dying for those who are concerned about possible reaction.

Angela is now on a business management scheme with Job Centre Plus that will hopefully help her to safeguard her business through its first year, and she is feeling positive about the future. “If my friend said they were going to set up their own business I would send them straight to The Women’s Organisation” said Angela. “They were the most helpful organisation I have dealt with. It’s alright talking about what you want to do, but you’ve got to get it done, and The Women’s Organisation were a big help to me.”

To find out more about the treatments on offer from Lushious Locks Liverpool you can visit their website facebook page or contact Angela on 07908 654 082 or

And if like Angela you want support to get off benefits and create a job for yourself, then contact The Women’s Organisation on 0151 706 8111 or

Friday, December 2, 2011

Craft Your Way Through the Recession with 'Hours of Fun'

Craft enthusiast Rachel Garner is hoping to bring ‘Hours of Fun’ to Liverpool and beyond. Rachel’s haberdashery and craft shop can be found online at and retails both homemade items ready-made, and craft kits to be able to make your own bits and bobs and maybe save some money during the recession.

Having come from a family of teachers, 32 year old Rachel had always felt the pressure to pursue a structured career path. She found herself working in admin and HR, but couldn’t resist the pull of her true passion which was crafts and creativity.
“I have been making my own cards and other bits for 10 or 12 years now”, said Rachel. “I just love making things. When I completed my certificate in training practice through my day job and found I’d got a distinction, it got me thinking about what else I could use those skills for.”

A friend Rachel met through a cake decorating course told her how The Women’s Organisation had helped her to set up her own business. Rachel decided to get in touch and see if she could turn her hobby into a business. Having never done a business plan before Rachel was really grateful for the help from her business adviser at the organisation and said “The template they gave me was amazing”.
At first Rachel felt a little overwhelmed having never run a business before and said “after my first meeting I went home and said to my hubby ‘I just can’t do it’. It’s great to see where I am now. I couldn’t have done it without The Women’s Organisation”.

Rachel also attended training courses around book keeping and understanding tax and national insurance with the organisation which she found were “really useful and good for meeting other people”.

As well as an online store ‘Hours of Fun’ are going to be launching training courses in the new year, offering opportunity for adults to meet together to learn a craft such as card making, or to add a bit of fun to a children’s party decorating your own cup-cakes, or painting your own pots.

“My dream is to bring crafts to all ages to inspire creativity and home crafting” she enthused. “Crafts are really back in fashion. I think with the recession people are looking for cheaper options. Crafts can be the fun and affordable way forward.”
Reflecting on the currently popular show ‘Kirstie’s Handmade Britain’ with Kirstie Allsop Rachel said “Much like Kirstie I just love trying lots of different crafts and like to think of myself as a ‘jack of all crafts’, but my favourites at the moment are card making and felting.”

Having turned her dream into reality and launched her own business, Rachel said “It’s been a huge learning curve. I am lucky to have a good support network of family and friends who all have a variety of skills and have been able to help me along the way. If someone else were to ask me for advice on setting up a business I would say contact The Women’s Organisation before you do, attend all the classes for the information and the people you meet, and do it at a speed that suits you. I am a person who likes to carefully research things before jumping in. Sometimes in doing that I found myself making excuses to other people as to why I wasn’t pushing things along faster. But I have realised that it is better to go at your own speed and do all the research first.”

To find out more about Hours of Fun, visit their website or email Rachel on

If like Rachel you would like to turn your hobby into a profitable business then contact The Women’s Organisation to see what free support is on offer on 0151 706 8111 or