Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Join MSB and Business Club at Constellations For Our Summer Social!

Just one week until our favourite event of the year, the Summer Social, and we are delighted to announce that we will be joined by special guests; MSB Solicitors who are kindly sponsoring this event!

Tickets here!

This year, we are inviting you all down to the fantastic Baltic Triangle location; Constellations on Wednesday 23rd August from 5pm-8:30pm



There will be some drinks and nibbles for you all as you arrive and the whole evening will be dedicated to simply networking! And we’ve got our fingers crossed for some summer sunshine so we can be out in the garden catching some rays whilst we network!

There will also be the opportunity for you to pitch yourself and your business in 60 seconds as always, and The Women’s Organisati


on Business Club team will be on hand networking alongside you and making sure you are meeting exactly who you need to meet.

Tickets here!

SO! What are you waiting for? You can grab your ticket from Eventbrite, and join us and MSB as we network, the Summer Social way!

See you there…

Thank you to our event sponsors MSB Solicitors for making this event possible! 




Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Networking Was Super Speedy At #WOBizClub

Speedy networking! That was the theme of last week’s Business Club event and boy was it speedy! We had a room full of business women who turned up raring to go and they didn’t disappoint.

To kick off with, our Training Coordinator; Bernie Cox, welcomed everyone and introduced the idea of speed networking, as some of our guests hadn’t taken part in anything like this before. Bernie also gave us her own networking tips and tricks, such as remembering to always give 2 business cards instead of just the 1!

After the welcomes and introductions and with everyone familiar with the rules, it was time to get networking! Half of the woman moved around the room every five minutes, whilst the other half stayed in their seats, this meant that in under an hour nearly everyone had spoken to each other!

Each pair was given 5 minutes to speak to each other, and once this was up, it was time to say goodbye, exchange business cards and move onto the next person, giving our business woman a real challenge of staying focussed and on topic!


We had some fantastic feedback from the event like this…

‘I have met some amazing people! I came in feeling really nervous but left feeling really excited. Thank you!’

‘Friendly, inspiring and lovely to meet lots of people open to the idea of sharing and collaborating!’

‘Really good fun and helpful. It was my first networking attempt and I think I managed not to mess up!’

‘Really good opportunity to meet interesting people in a relaxed atmosphere’

So, all in all, our speedy networking was a success!

Thank you so much to all of the business women who attended and networked with us. It definitely got us in the mood for our next event...

The Summer Social at Constellations on Wednesday 23rd August, see more details and grab your tickets here! 


Monday, July 31, 2017

An Open Letter to the Women of Liverpool ..

Meet Maureen. Maureen recently completed our confidence-building programme, ‘Change It: Progress to Success’. Now, Maureen would like to share her story and experience through an open letter with women across Liverpool who are thinking about signing up to the programme. 


 

An open letter to the women of Liverpool,

A friend told me about a free course she was starting at The Women's Organisation. It sounded good and she asked me if I wanted to sign up too. I considered it, but after the tough few months I'd been through, I felt anxious at the very idea. Eventually I agreed, albeit half-heartedly, to attend the first session, then decide if it was for me. 

It turned out to be exactly what I needed. The trainer was lovely, putting everyone at ease and making us all feel welcome. The other group members had, in fact, all felt as nervous as I had about attending, and were all equally lovely. It wasn't long before we were chatting and sharing experiences together, all interspersed with warm-hearted laughter. 

Despite our different backgrounds and stories (yes, we all have a story, even you), we quickly realised we had more in common. There was never any pressure on anyone to speak, and thankfully no 'role play' (a particular horror of mine). As a counsellor, I am passionate about helping people to change, grow and learn more about themselves, but now it was my turn, and getting back to basics was really useful. 

By the end of the 8 weeks, we each had a different perspective, a new drive and clearer direction. I discovered a deeper level of confidence, increased assertiveness, and I finally found my voice. And all of this enabled me to push through some recent crushing fears, to finally make a life-changing decision I had been wrestling with for a while. Over the weeks, as well as learning more about ourselves, we were also given practical information on how to access other local services, that offer help and support in areas including employment, finances and childcare. The other services available at The Women's Organisation were also discussed. 

On the final day of the course, we were each presented with a certificate - but much more importantly, we had cake. Yes CAKE! All fluffy and creamy and yummylicious. Cake changes everything. But seriously, if you get the opportunity to sign up for the 'Change It' course, I encourage you to GO FOR IT. Yes, YOU! You won't be disappointed. And I'm, already, looking forward to reading YOUR blog. 

Good luck. Maureen. X

A huge thank you to Maureen for sharing her story with us!


We currently have two four-week programmes scheduled in, which you can book your place on today. The dates are as follows:

Wednesday 2nd August 2017, 10am-3pm (Following three weeks: 9th, 16th, 23rd)

Wednesday 20th September 2017, 10am-3pm (Following three weeks: 27th, 11th, 18th)
*please note there is a one-week break in this course after week 2

This programme also runs from a number of Children’s Centres in Liverpool. We will be releasing more details on these venues and dates in due course.

If you would like to book a place or find out more about the programme, contact a member of our engagement team on 0151 706 8111 or email hello@thewo.org.uk


Friday, July 28, 2017

Expert Panel Assemble to Reflect on Development and Impact of 'Change It; Progress to Success' 🙌

This week we had our first expert panel meeting as part of our Change It; Progress to Success.

Change It; Progress to Success is an 8-session confidence and resilience building programme led by The Women's Organisation that aims to inspire women to feel more positive about what they can achieve.

The programme was designed in collaboration with Liverpool City Council Children’s Services and the Children’s Centres to benefit over 500 local women. We decided to pull together an expert panel from various fields to offer their specialised input and recommendations for the development of the project.


The panel includes representatives from Job Centre Plus, Troubled Families Team, Nugent Care, Health Teams, Liverpool In Work, and Local Council. They listened whilst we told them about just how we have been supporting the women of Liverpool through Change It; Progress to Success. We were also delighted to have two women who have participated in the programme as panel members. They were able to make contributions based on their own personal experience of Change It; Progress to Success and will continue to help steer the programme as it develops. Who better to share with us what our women need , than the women themselves!

The meeting offered our panel an insight into the context of the programme, including the research and development that went into the bidding process, as well as the programme we have designed and are actively delivering throughout the city to meet the needs of women.

We also took some time to reflect on the story and outcomes of the programme so far. Up to now we have delivered two rounds of Change It; Progress to Success and of that, 80% of attendees claim to have more confidence in building their own self-belief; 84% feel more able to say ‘no’ to things they don’t want; and 98% have improved trust and confidence in dealing with support agencies.

Here are some comments made prior to starting the programme:


Here are some comments made when finishing programme:


We want the panel to be our champions as well as our critical friends. As we look beyond this programme we hope that it can reach out further to more women who we know need our support. The group will meet again in November for another meeting – stay posted for updates!

We are currently recruiting for two four-week programmes over summer, throughout both August and September.

If you are a woman and would like to book a place or find out more about the programme, or if you are an organisation and would like to refer someone onto the programme, or contact a member of the Change It team about opportunities, please contact a member of our engagement team on 0151 706 8111 or email hello@thewo.org.uk.


Friday, July 7, 2017

Women Paving the Way: Congratulations to Friend of The Women's Organisation, Melissa Henville!

Here at The Women’s Organisation, our global reach continues to grow and we are delighted that one of our international sector experts panellists and special advisors Melissa Henville has been appointed to a new role as Group Trading Inventory Manager at SBS where she will contribute to developing their digital offer.

SBS is a national public television network in Australia. Launched on 24 October 1980, it is the responsibility of SBS's television division and is available nationally. The company was founded on the belief that all Australians, regardless of geography, age, cultural background or language skills should have access to high quality, independent, culturally-relevant Australian media.


SBS On Demand’s distinctive streaming service is available on more platforms and devices than any other Australian broadcaster’s service, and includes over 6000 hours of programs, with 900 movies of which 70% are in languages other than English.

Melissa has been a champion of equality all of her career and having over 20 year experience in the commercial sector she will no doubt make a huge contribution to SBS in her new role.

Maggie O’Carroll CEO of the Women’s Org said “We offer our warmest congratulations to Melissa in her new role and of course we want to thank her for her continued support in promoting gender equality.

"Melissa has volunteered her valuable time to share her considerable knowledge and expertise with us and thereby helped to support female entrepreneurs within the UK and across the globe. It is through this type of global collaboration that we can learn and make progress toward equality of opportunity. We wish Melissa every success in her new role.”

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

5 Speedy Networking Tips - Get Ready For #WOBizClub's Summer Speed Event! ☀

It's that time of the year again - Our Summer Speed networking evening on July 25th at 54 St James Street! Grab your tickets here! 


This annual Business Club event invites all women in business to come along and join us for some speedy networking which will be facilitated by The Women’s Organisation Team. 
We’ll setting our stopwatches and setting up some speedy networking so that you’ll have the chance to speak to each and every business woman present, and be sure you’re not missing out on the chance to make that all important connection!

But, don’t worry, the pressure is off and the time limit won’t be too tight! As we know it’s important that you are able to get to know each other’s businesses properly so you can find out how you can help each other best!
The Women’s Organisation team will of course be on hand to help facilitate this purely networking session and assist you with to speedily network your way around the room!
AND, in preparation for the event, here's some great speed networking tips

1. Have an Elevator Speech ready - Prepare a short elevator speech which summarises the key elements of your business. Practice articulating this information in a smooth way! Since speed networking is a two way process, it's also important to listen carefully to each of your partners!
2. Bring business cards - All important at a networking event, so don't forget yours! 
3. Prepare some sample questions to ask - Showing a genuine interest in your partners during speed networking will help you to develop a solid rapport with people there! And prepare some sample questions to ask. 

So, if you're ready to come and speedy network with us, you'll need to grab your tickets! Head over to Eventbrite to get your hands on one. Remember! If you're a member of our Business Club, tickets to our events are half price, so just £5! 
Grab them here!
And if you'd like to find out more about Business Club and becoming a member, email us on businessclub@thewo.org.uk to find out more! 

Did You Learn To Harness The Power Of Body Language With #WOBizClub?

Last Thursday Laura Taylor was back in the building by popular demand! After the massive success of last year’s body language Business Club workshop we couldn’t not ask Laura back again this year!

Laura is an experienced Corporate Trainer who specialises in areas such as body language, procurement and influencing. Laura has trained over 2500 professionals in these areas within the UK and globally for multi-national organisations and Laura is currently the only qualified UK Body Language trainer from the world’s largest human behavioural Lab, the Science of People!

The event got off to a great start, we had a full room of Business Club members and business women ready to learn about body language and the tips and tricks they can use to be viewed as positive, credible and authoritative.


Laura led an amazing seminar and talked us through how to make a positive first impression through using warmth, confidence and competence and that a first impression is made in as little as 4 seconds! And other little tips and tricks were dished out such as ensuring that when we are standing directly in front of someone and engaging them in eye contact and ensuring you aren’t standing at an angle. Another tip and trick which many of us hadn’t realised is sometimes are clothing can sometimes be a distraction especially big necklaces!

A lot was learnt in the session, and afterwards our business women got the chance to put their tips and tricks into action with networking at the end of the event. It was fantastic to see a room full of women, networking with confidence like pros! And we had some great feedback too!

‘A very useful and informative event! It’s really important to be aware of body language and I will be using the tips in my future interactions’

‘Very good input from Laura, lots of body language tips and things to think about’
‘Interesting scientific studies and useful practical tips to implement’

‘Excellent, thank you! The Halo Effect was fascinating and useful and the networking was great too!’

‘The body language training was fantastic! What an incredible event, I could listen to Laura all day. I would love to do more of this. Thank you!’

We think that’s amazing praise! Thank you so much to Laura for her workshop, it was amazing and insightful and we are so grateful that she took the time out to come along and share her knowledge with Business Club!



If you would like more information on becoming a member of Business Club, please get in touch! Email us on businessclub@thewo.org.uk for more information.



Tuesday, June 27, 2017

‘Change It’ and ‘Progress to Success’ this Summer with our Confidence-Building Programme!

We have been helping the women of Liverpool ‘Change It’ and ‘Progress to Success’ through our confidence-building programme, and we are now delighted to announce two more dates for August and September.

Our personal development and confidence building is designed to help you see your true potential and turn that potential into success. Whatever age, background or stage of life you are at, this programme will help you build positively for your future.


The programme covers many topics including becoming more assertive and breaking negative thinking habits in order to develop a more positive outlook in all aspects of life. ‘Change It: Progress to Success’ enables you to identify the clear and practical steps to take in order to build a better world for yourself at work, at home and in relationships. 

We caught up with ‘Change It’ Trainer, Jenny, who said: “We all lose our confidence at some stage in life – ‘Change It: Progress to Success’ helps you learn more about yourself, plan for the future you want and rebuild that confidence one step at a time. On this programme, I have met so many women from different backgrounds who have each faced challenges for various reasons, and being a part of their journey and watching them grow in self-esteem has been a privilege.”


We also caught up with Vicky from the last cohort of ‘Change It: Progress to Success’, she said: “Jenny was my trainer for the Change It Course and she was brilliant, she was very supportive and offered many open doors. Jenny is the type of person you would like as a friend! Thank you anyway to The Women's Org, absolutely immense!”

Our confirmed August and September dates will both run for 4-weeks at 54 St James Street, home to The Women’s Organisation. The dates are as followed:

Wednesday 2nd August 2017, 10am-3pm (Following three weeks: 9th, 16th, 23rd)

Wednesday 20th September 2017, 10am-3pm (Following three weeks: 27th, 11th, 18th
*please note there is a one-week break in this course after week 2

This programme also runs from a number of Children’s Centres in Liverpool. We will be releasing more details on these venues and dates in due course.

If you are a woman and would like to book a place or find out more about the programme, please contact our engagement team on 0151 706 8111 or email hello@thewo.org.uk.


If you are an organisation and would like to refer someone onto the programme, or contact a member of the Change It team about opportunities, please contact a member of our engagement team on 0151 706 8111 or email hello@thewo.org.uk.



Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Marking 21 Years of The Women's Organisation and our Collaboration with dot-art 🎈

2017 marks 21 years of The Women’s Organisation. Never one to shy away from a party, we celebrated this milestone alongside those who have helped us along the way. 

We were joined by a whole host of people, from clients to tenants, local businesses and local authorities, our Baltic neighbours and Board Members, partners to funders and anyone else that has played a part in our history and success.


The occasion also honoured our collaboration with local, independent art gallery, dot-art. Some of you may have noticed the artwork that has appeared around 54 St James Street, a flagship facility for women and business.

For the next 18 months, our lovely building will double up as an art exhibition, showcasing the work of local artists Joanne Thompson and Olga Snell. We were joined by Founder of dot-art Lucy Byrne, who championed art as an integral part of everyday life and detailed some of the huge benefits of art in the workplace.


As our guests headed around the building to view the artwork, the artists were on hand to offer an insight into the thought behind the artwork.

We also had a speech from CEO of The Women’s Organisation, the incredible Maggie O’Carroll. Anyone who’s had the pleasure of meeting our Maggie will know that she has a way with words and can capture the eyes and mind of every person she speaks to. And she certainly didn’t disappoint – on 21 years of The Women’s Organisation, Maggie said: “I really have no comment to make because I can't remember most of it". 


Our Chief of Finance, Helen Millne, made sure to grab the mic and acknowledge Maggie’s incredible leadership and dedication to achieving women’s economic equality.

Maggie may be modest – but we’re happy to shout her amazing successes on her behalf. Maggie O’Carroll is an inspirational woman that has paved the way for equality and change in her own indomitable way. For 21 years, Maggie has devoted her time to levelling the playing field for women in all aspects of life.

From day one, our mission has been to ensure that women have a voice at the highest level, in business, community, political life, and in the wider world. At 21 years, we celebrate having impacted the lives of over 50,000 women, locally, nationally and internationally. However, Maggie reminded us that whilst we celebrate our success and the positive impact we have had, we still have an incredibly long way to go.


Thanks to all those who joined us yesterday and an even bigger thank you to every person who has played even the smallest role in the history and success of The Women’s Organisation. Here’s to 21 more …

The artwork is displayed throughout the building including at Reception, Siren communal areas and meeting rooms. So, if you pay us a visit anytime soon, please remember to take a look at the artwork and let us know what you think!

You can check out the photos from the event here.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Training Coordinators Jenny & Mandy Had Picnics In The Park With LMH!

Two wet weekends in May - and two different picnics with Liverpool Mutual Homes! 

Training Coordinator Jenny attended LMH's Picnic in the Park in Princes Park in June along with our advice stand and Guess The Bear competition. And Training Coordinator Mandy attended LMH's Picnic in the Park in North Liverpool's Stanley Park!



Mandy said; ‘It was one of those rainy days in North Liverpool but that didn’t stop the fun! As a mum of three kids I don’t think we have ever missed this event as it has become the one that myself and the local residents really look forward to. However, on this weekend I attended as a stallholder ready to give out information about services and training that we at The Women’s Organisation can offer to local people.’


‘There were many who passed through our information tent gathering the leaflets and taking refuge from the deluge of rain that was pouring down! But the rain didn’t put people off asking for information on how to set up a business and ask for the details of our new personal development programme; Progress to Success; Change It, which is proving to be a huge success for the women of Liverpool!’

‘So, yes it was raining but that did not dampen the North Liverpool spirit and judging by the many requests for start-up advice, we were glad to be there!’

For Jenny's day the main event was choosing the winner of Barnaby the Bear! The residents of the Princes Park area were invited to guess the name of the Bear (which had been chosen by WO staff in the office) and young James correctly guessed Barnaby!



All in all, two great days out at Stanley Park and Prince Park – thanks so much to Liverpool Mutual Homes for inviting us to be part of these events. 

Liverpool Mutual Homes are strategic partners of the Enterprise Hub project. Enterprise Hub is the enterprise gateway for business start-up support in Liverpool City Region, offering expert advice and support to those who are thinking about starting a business. Enterprise Hub is receiving funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

DIGA Project Resources Now Accessible for Enterprise Trainers and Educators

Over the past two and a half years, partners of the Erasmus+ DIGA -  Digital Innovations for Growth Academy - Project have been developing an innovative learning programme for enterprise trainers and educators (ETEs).  

Recognising how digital technology is rapidly transforming how people communicate, learn, work and manage new enterprises and its central role in personal and professional contexts, the DIGA Project partners are delighted to share the resources they have developed.

DIGA Project Partners at their latest meeting, Kaunas, Lithuania, May 2017

The DIGA Learning Programme is designed to support colleagues delivering vocational education and training in the fields of entrepreneurship and business development so that entrepreneurs and small business owners better integrate digital technologies into their business start-up and development activities.

Our DIGA Learning Programme has been informed by extensive research into the needs of enterprise learners, teachers, advisers and entrepreneurs.

 It is structured into 5 modules:
  • Enhancing Digital Awareness and Knowledge
  • The Role and Use of Digital Technologies and their Benefits to Business
  • Making Digital Deliver for the Start-up and Small Business
  • Enabling and Supporting the Development of an Entrepreneurial Digital Strategy
  • Designing Integrated (Digital Competence) Entrepreneur Support / Programmes

Each module involves information and knowledge, as well as small group and individual activities. Reports, case studies and a range of learning tools are integrated throughout.

The DIGA Learning Programme is available in Bulgarian, English, Lithuanian, Slovenian and Spanish. Visit the official DIGA Project website for more information and to access the learning recources.

The research and publications underpinning our work are also available, including reports and briefing papers by Dr Briga Hynes from University of Limerick and DIGA Project partner leading research activities.

As the DIGA Project enters its final stages to an end, we are pleased to have worked on such a great programme alongside our partners.

To find out more about DIGA Project check out our new videos in 6 languages and head to http://digaproject.eu/videos/. You can also follow DIGA on Twitter.

After Craving A Career In Counselling, Alison Simone Left Behind her Retail Management Job And Pursued Her Interest In Counselling; Pineal Counselling.

Alison decided to follow her dream and start up her counselling business.  Pineal Counselling is a counsellor / psychotherapist business offering a mobile facility in Runcorn, Warrington, Widnes and surrounding areas. 

Alison’s business motto is, ‘To see the light again, and to feel, without confusion. To end the turmoil and again walk in sunshine.’

Once Alison decided to take the plunge, she took her first steps to business by designing and setting up a website. As well as this, Alison designed flyers and business cards to promote Pineal Counselling.  Setting up her own website was the biggest obstacle. 

However, after receiving various help from The Women’s Organisation, Alison soon got to grips with the visual aspect of her business. The Women’s Organisation helped Alison to create flyers and tackle the initial daunting financial part of her business.


Alison has gained many qualifications that compliment her business. She has attended Riverside college, Halton and Staffordshire University, attaining Counselling level one and two. As well as this, Alison has recently achieved her Foundation Degree in counselling.

Business is currently going slowly for Alison but she has high hopes for things to progress. The best thing about running for own business is Arranging the timing to suit myself (weekends off).’ 

So far, Alison feels ‘Brilliant!’ about what she has achieved since starting up her business. In terms of the future, Alison hopes that once she has achieved her BSc Hons, her business will continue to progress.

If you are interested in the services Alison offers, you can contact her on:


Email: pineal.counselling@sky.com

If you've been inspired by Alison's story and would like support and advice to start your own business, then contact us! Email us on hello@thewo.org.uk or ring us on 0151 706 8111


Caz's Kitchen | A Cake Institution 🍰

Caz’s Kitchen is an institution. 

If you haven’t heard of this little nugget of gold located on St John’s Road in Waterloo, where have you been? Caz’s Kitchen might be defined by some as simply a cake shop, but to those who know, it is so much more than that!

Photo Credit: Mark McNulty
Caz and her team supply cakes to local restaurants, coffee shops and delis, but customers can also enjoy her gorgeous cakes in her quirky little premises. Caz also sells whole cakes, desserts, tartes, tortes, cheesecakes and puddings, plus cake platters and cake towers for parties and functions and even wedding cakes!

But Caz’s speciality is cakes for specific dietary requirements, what’s so unique about Caz’s cakes is that they are REAL. She uses nothing artificial in her cakes, choses butter over margarine and the flavours come from in-house roasted nuts, Belgian couverture chocolate and fruits from her allotment. In fact, everything about Caz herself, her kitchen and her team is REAL. When we visited Caz at her Waterloo premises on St John’s Road she told us; ‘We are passionate about ‘proper’ cake. Good food is good for the soul and a well-deserved treat (not a chemical cake from the supermarket) is a beautiful thing!’


As well as real, proper cake, Caz has also developed a range of innovative treats, her HappyHealthyYum range; ‘These are gluten free, dairy free, vegan, refined sugar free treats that are designed to fill you up and satisfy you with slow releasing energy and are chock full of superfood, vitamins and minerals.’ – So, it seems that you can have your cake and eat it too with Caz!

The journey to Caz’s Kitchen has been a long one though, and we were delighted to sit down with the woman herself; Caroline Hill, and get the full story!

Before Caz started her business, she graduated with a degree in Food Science & Nutrition and began to work in the field of Product Development, working on new products for most of the major retailers starting with a job in Safeways and then moving on to developing chilled desserts for Marks & Spencer.

‘I was the person that worked with a chef on a kitchen recipe then project managed that recipe to become mass producible. I would work alongside buyers, a production team and technical and engineering departments to taste recipes in a test kitchen and then the pilot plant before they went into full production.’

Matt Wilkinson Photography
Caz says that when she first started this job there was a massive buzz when she would see her products on the supermarket shelves at the end of an exhausting project. But, things began to change. Caz began working for a smaller company and found that the job became less about researching the marketplace adequately and all the other details and processes that make up developing a proper product, it became more about the bottom line.

‘When I started my career in Product Development I was developing 10 products over the space of a 6-month critical path. By the end I was juggling 200 products with a 3-week turnaround from concept to launch. And the products that were being launched were rubbish.’

Caz is a pro-independent, massive foodie who is down to earth, friendly, unpretentious, caring and ethical, so it might not come as much of a surprise that she decided at this point, a future of developing products from big brand supermarkets wasn’t for her!

This was over 10 years ago, next Caz decided she would try and set up her own business, a coffee shop and deli and she got in touch with The Women’s Organisation, back when were known as Train 2000, and we helped Caz with a business plan. Now she is back in the fold of The Women’s Organisation again, working closely with Senior Business Adviser; Claire Pedersen on our growth programme; New Markets 2.


But, rewind to 10 years ago when Caz began working on her own business plan; ‘A deli and coffee shop in my local community. It would be ethical, it would be cosy, it would support other local businesses and it would be healthy and wholesome.’

Caz negotiated on numerous premises for this business, after a few years and a series of knockbacks she started to feel that maybe it just wasn’t to be; ‘I was starting to run out of steam on hunting for the right place, it was all consuming; planning and hunting and failing to be successful in bidding for properties for one reason or another. So I just put it out of my mind for a while.’

During these years Caz worked for numerous start-up foodie businesses in Liverpool and small businesses that were looking to develop; ‘I was working on and off for various SME’s in all aspects of their business, office, front of house and cheffing. I was enjoying assisting other people with their start-ups and offering help and advice in the areas that I have good knowledge of from my years in the food industry. As well as this I was also gaining more relevant experience within the independent sector.’

Caz now sees this as invaluable as it formed the perfect building block on which to base her own business. ‘I actually started baking from home alongside my day job as a bit of a favour to a friend. I never at that point thought it would become a full-time thing! But actually, it suited me as I’m generally less of a cheffy chef and more of a control freak with my cooking, a tip of the hat to how I was trained working for the supermarkets, always working to very strict specifications and recipes.


‘Baking was something that combined my love of food but also my nature of precision and accuracy. Baking is a science and I have a Food Science degree! It was then that the thought of baking as a way to earn a crust was born.’

As word spread about Caz’s cakes and the contracts increased, she took the plunge and after 3 years of baking from home moved to the premises on St Johns Road in Waterloo. The name ‘Caz’s Kitchen’ was derived from the fact that it did start in her own kitchen!

Caz then got back in touch with The Women’s Organisation and began to work with Claire on our growth programme; New Markets 2. Claire said; ‘When I met Caz her business was doing really well, but she was still running as a sole trader. She needed to professionalise her systems and image and bring it all band up to date with where she is currently with her business. She also wanted to grow and expand the wholesale side of her business. We developed a strategy for growth starting with updating and formalising some current systems, looking a timeline for a rebrand and a new website to be built.’

And Caz has been receiving some fantastic feedback from her customers; ‘We have been blown away with the encouragement and support. Honestly, I am humbled by the positivity surrounding the shop, it means everything to us.’ Because for Caz, it’s not about the hard sell and she says; ‘Our marketing strategy has been more of a whisper than a shout.’ But it’s one that worked, she has a fiercely loyal customer base and is passionate about providing the best for her customers, with their happiness being her priority rather than profit or growth.

Matt Wilkinson Photography
Caz adds; ‘What’s unique about my business is that it is genuine. I haven’t created a business idea to generate money or jump on a bandwagon. It’s something that has come as a natural progression from my previous work. It’s just like everything has come together as a happy coincidence, at the right time for me personally and the right time for my community. I do truly believe that the reason I have such a lovely bunch of supportive customers is because they see the authenticity in me and the shop.’

‘I’m extremely conscious of providing more than just cake. I want all our customers to feel well looked after, welcomed and appreciated. I want to add to my local community and for customers to feel they are very much a part of my business, to put smiles on their lovely faces.’

And what is Caz’s key to success? What would her advice be for other business women? ‘If, at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again. I pushed so hard to get my first business off the ground and everyone who knows me knows the trials and tribulations I went through trying to set up that business.’


‘In the end I did launch one! Granted it wasn’t the one I was expecting, but in hindsight it was the perfect one for me, combining lots of aspects of my previous work, experience, education and hobbies. I’ve had my allotment for 15 years and never expected to use it as part of my business. It’s also really satisfying to use my nutrition degree and product development experience to create the healthy eating cakes.’

So, what is next for Caz and her kitchen? Caz told us that she would like to just continue along the road that she is already one, and it’s a successful road! ‘I want to carry on doing the best I can for my customers, my staff and my community and continue to support other local businesses and charities. Every day is a school day and I’m learning all the time about how to run a better business.;

So, if you would like to visit Caz and try some of her cakes, and believe us, they are INCREDIBLE, you can find all of Caz’s details over on her website and by following the links below. And if you’ve been inspired by Caz’s story and would like to find out how we can help you start or grow your business, get in touch with us! Email us on hello@thewo.org.uk or ring us on 0151 706 8111


Website
Email - info@cazkitchen.co.uk  
Address - 47 St John's Road, Waterloo, Liverpool, L22 9QB

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Anastasia's Story: Taking Steps to Mental Health Recovery Through 'Change It: Progress to Success'

We caught up with Anastasia, who completed our first round of ‘Change It; Progress to Success’, to find out her thoughts on the programme and see what she’s up to now. 

Anastasia is a mother of two, her son is aged 5 and has been diagnosed with Autism, and her daughter now nearly 3. Originally on a zero-hours contract, Anastasia has been out of work since entering maternity leave when pregnant with her first child; “I tried doing voluntary work between my two pregnancies but the time wasn’t right. I was under a lot of stress as a first-time mother and a single parent with no family support”. 

Feeling the strain of juggling so much at once, Anastasia neglected herself and couldn’t control her moods or behaviour, “I was spiralling into psychosis and when my younger child was only four months old I had to spend a month in a mental hospital”.



However, 2 years on and Anastasia is working towards recovery and on a personal journey of hope and empowerment. She is finding meaning to life through engagement with others, developing new supportive relationships and furthering her skills and learning.

Anastasia signed up to ‘Change It; Progress to Success’, a programme led by The Women’s Organisation that supports women into feeling more positive about what they can achieve. Here she met our Trainer, Alison, who she was full of praise for: “Alison was open about how various difficult experiences in her life had impacted her, and this helped us to speak about our own stories”. Anastasia enjoyed being part of a ‘warm circle of like-minded women’, meeting up weekly and tackling new topics such as assertiveness, positive thinking and how to manage change.

For Anastasia, the hardest part was putting her new skills into practice once leaving the session, “this is where you need motivation to combat your negative thinking – it takes you out of your comfort zone”. She valued the fact that every woman who attended the programme had a different background and story to tell as they were able to learn from each other. Anastasia also appreciated the option of one-to-one support from her tutor, Alison, as she felt this allowed each woman to reflect individually and move at their own pace.


So how did the course help Anastasia? She now uses personal development as her motivation for making positive changes in her life and Anastasia has successfully applied the things she learnt at ‘Change It’, into her real day-to-day life. She feels more confident about applying for jobs, “I have got all the faith in myself now that when an interview comes I will present myself with confidence”.

Anastasia is now looking for voluntary work and is aiming to be give back by being more involved with organisations of which she was once a service-user. She has been working on her CV, but claims that she “will not forget about a good work-life balance to keep well”.

Finally, we asked Anastasia what she would say to other women who were thinking about signing up to the next ‘Change It: Progress to Success’, she said: “making a change in your life, however small it might be, will cause a chain reaction. You will look at things differently and begin to open new doors – you will surprise yourself!”.

Thank you to Anastasia for sharing her experience with us!

If you would like to find out more information about ‘Change It: Progress to Success’, or express your interest in the enrolling for the next programme, please contact a member of our Engagement Team on 0151 706 8111 or hello@thewo.org.uk.




Friday, June 9, 2017

Jo and Dawn combined their passion and started up their own business; Your Homestay

Jo and Dawn recognised the extra demand placed on language schools to recruit and vet hosts ready for their peak period of June to August. So, they joined a partnership to create their new thriving business; Your Homestay. 

This business provides services to the language travel industry. ‘Thousands of foreign students travel to Liverpool and Southport each year to attend short or extended stay English language courses and therefore boost the economy in these areas. 60% of these students choose homestay accommodation to consolidate their language education and experience English life in a typical home.’

Jo
Prior to running Your Homestay, Jo took a career break from secondary school teaching to bring up her three children and then went into supply teaching. During her career break she began hosting students for a school in Liverpool to introduce her children to diverse cultures and languages. Before teaching in England, Dawn taught English as a foreign language in South Korea and has recently worked at a senior level for the Association of Language Travel Organisations (ALTO).

Since her break from teaching, Jo has been a homestay host for a language school in Liverpool for four years. It was through their separate work areas that they began to acknowledge there was a valuable place for their business. Through this recognition, Jo and Dawn conducted various research in the numbers of schools and their student capacity in Liverpool. They met with senior figures from those schools to explore the potential areas in which they could support them.

Dawn
At first, starting-up was a ‘bit daunting’ for the duo, but they sought advice from as many sources as possible. ‘It has been a huge learning curve and we underestimated how much work it involved.’ Jo and Dawn were initially going to spend more time developing networks and setting up systems but certain opportunities emerged which they felt they should embrace. The overwhelming feeling during this phase of their venture was of a determined excitement. 

Jo and Dawn contacted The Women’s Organisation where they received ‘invaluable support.’ They were assigned to one of our business advisors who guided them through all the processes. This included creating an action plan, identifying product and definitions and advice on essentials such as insurance and tax. The pair also attended various courses to support them with various aspects of their business like ‘Building a Social Media Strategy.’

‘In doing all of this we have been able to network with other women in the same situation, and retain the support of our business advisor.’


As Jo and Dawn are both mothers, they had to find that balance between work, home life and setting up a business. And as a result, they feel many sacrifices have been made with regards to family and friends. ‘We have been working seven days a week to get the business up and running but once everything is in place it will ease a little, we hope!’

‘The best thing is being your own boss and managing your own time and workload.’
So far, they are proud of what their business has achieved which has only been possible through hard work and sacrifices. ‘One minute we were teachers and the next we are business women!’

For anybody thinking of starting a business, Jo and Dawn would advise you to not ‘rush into it…Keep it simple and where possible keep your start-up costs low.’ They suggest seeking advice but don’t get over burdened with it! ‘Make decisions based on your needs not those of others.’

If you’re interested in the services Jo and Dawn offer, you can contact them on:


Tel: 07795023506

And if you've been inspired by Jo and Dawn's story and would like support and advice to start your own business, then get in touch with us! Email us on hello@thewo.org.uk or ring us on 0151 706 8111