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

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

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