Friday, September 13, 2013

Inspired By Her Daughter, Former Hollyoaks Actress Kelly-Marie Stewart Turns Her Love For Fashion Into a Business

‘Fashion has always played a huge part in my life and I love sourcing unusual pieces. When I had my own daughter I decided I would love to do this for children too.’

Her passion for fashion has led to the opening of Kelly-Marie Designer Children's Boutique. The shop finds and supplies unique children’s clothing, shoes and accessories by the best designers from around the world in one fabulous store based in Cherry Tree Shopping Centre, Wallasey.

Kelly-Marie has had to overcome a lot of barriers on her journey to opening her own business. Prior to her role as Hayley Ramsey in Channel 4’s Hollyoak’s, she faced various issues with applying for jobs because of her disability.

She explained: ‘I am disabled and I know only too well the barriers that a disability can have when looking for work as I lost my first job with a huge company as a result of becoming disabled and could not even seem to get past the application process with employers after ticking the disabled box.’

The Liverpool resident has managed to overcome these problems by passing by application forms and interviews, and creating her own job doing what she loves.

Another barrier Kelly-Marie has managed to overcome is that of childcare. ‘I am juggling being a mummy and family life with work…one of the beauties of my business is that I can do this quite easily as most of my customers are mums too they don't mind Daisie my daughter being here with me on the odd occasion I'm very thankful for that.’

When the idea initially arose to become self-employed, Kelly-Marie began searching online for help in moving her idea forward. This was when she discovered the free support The Women’s Organisation can offer to women who wish to start up their own business.

‘The first thing I needed to set my business up was a business plan and if I'm honest it was all new to me so I found The Women's Organisation and they guided me every step of the way, from placing me with my own amazing business advisor to putting me on lots of great courses from marketing to social media. I have opened my business without any fears due to the support I received which is great.’

Kelly-Marie’s main fear was her finances. She worried that she would not be able to make them add up. However, after working with her advisor at The Women’s Organisation, she quickly realised that there was every chance of her business being successful. She said: ‘I realised that things really could work and I soon realised that I could start my business with confidence.’

She continued: ‘the service I received from the women's organisation has been life changing looking back at an idea in January and here I am now with my business going from strength to strength. I really cannot praise the women's organisation enough.’

When asked what her favourite part of being self-employed is, the former Hollyoak’s star answered: ‘The best thing about running my own business is knowing that when my customers leave happy my hard work has finally paid off… I'm really proud of how far I have come…and with continued support from The Women's Organisation the only way is up.’

Moving forward with her newly found confidence, Kelly-Marie is proving with the growing success of her business that no barrier is too big when you really wish to achieve something.

If you want to dress your children up in style this winter, Kelly-Marie Designer Children’s Boutique can be found on Facebook or you can follow on twitter @KellyMarieKids

If like Kelly-Marie you would like to turn an idea into a business, contact The Women’s Organisation to find out what FREE services and advice we can offer – 0151 706 8111 /

By Beckie Kinsella

Friday, September 6, 2013

Serial Entrepreneur Siobhan Noble Tells us How She ‘Caught the Bug’ of Starting a Business

For Liverpool resident Siobhan Noble, the idea of being stuck in a corporate office job forever just didn’t appeal to her creative flare. 

“I worked at a bank,” remembered Siobhan “and I absolutely hated it. It just wasn’t me. I had a wardrobe full of vintage clothes and would regularly be at vintage fairs, my biggest love was bohemian 70’s vintage. As I would look around I would think ‘I could do this’.  A former colleague from the bank introduced me to The Women’s Organisation and let me know I could get help with a business plan. I also discovered I could get a grant to help me buy stock. Within a year of discovering them I had left my job at the bank and gone self-employed.”

In 2011 Siobhan (then just 25) launched not one but two new businesses, ‘Tatties Vintage’, running vintage fairs and retailing imported vintage clothing and ‘The Lantern Theatre’ which she set up in partnership with her creative mum Margaret.

“When I started Tatties I had a friend who had moved to L.A. who introduced me to a supplier. Since then things have changed with vintage becoming a massive craze, and tons of ‘vintage clothing’ businesses started popping up.    Tatties is different from the norm as everything I sell is really high quality and true vintage, but I am always looking at ways to develop the business further and stand out from the crowd, so now I am working on a new project to expand into teaching people about reworking clothes. I can link this nicely with my other business holding classes at The Lantern Theatre.”

As the market became more flooded she decided to adapt her business to have a more online focus, exploring social media marketing.

“I have managed to get over 6000 likes for ‘Tatties Vintage’ on facebook.  I find that people who have come to events at the Theatre were aware of Tatties which is great to see how the one supports the other. We had over 1500 visitors turnout for our Christmas Fair last year, which I think was mainly down to our online advertising.”

Like Tatties, taking over at the Lantern Theatre, a fringe venue for theatre, music and comedy, came at the right time for both Siobhan and Margaret

“When mum was made redundant from her previous job we heard that the Lantern Theatre was for sale, so it seemed like perfect timing. We took over the Lantern Theatre nearly 2 years ago now. My mum has always been in theatre so I grew up in rehearsal rooms. We love that Lantern is one of the only springboard theatres in Liverpool, a place for upcoming artists.”

Working with family isn’t always easy as Siobhan has found out. “We have our moments. Because I’ve got a business brain I’ll interrupt her creative flow and make sure she is thinking about making money. The great thing is that you can say a lot more to family. We get things out in the open and can be honest with each other.”

Lantern Theatre is based on Blundell Street in the heart of Liverpool’s up and coming creative quarter the Baltic Triangle. Siobhan told us “I just love the Baltic Triangle. It is becoming a real creative hub.  An area that was dying has had a resurgence which is fantastic.  I think it is great to have an area bringing all creatives together.  We need creative people. Without them it’s hard to market, and they are really great at networking.”

Through running both businesses Siobhan has learned a lot of important lessons and would offer this advice to those considering going self-employed:

“I’d say getting advice is very important when setting up your business. Without advice I don’t think I would be doing well enough to have left my job at the bank. Self-employment can keep you awake at night, but it is more rewarding I think. I think people have more respect for me knowing that I am a business owner. I’m proud of what we have achieved, I would definitely do it again.”

Siobhan is now expanding her fashion reach as fashion editor for Collective Magazine. She says “I think once you branch out and do one thing that you enjoy you get a bug for it. Doing one thing leads to another, and if you are anything like me you will find you end up with your fingers in loads of pies.”

To find out more about Lantern Theatre and how they are supporting emerging performing artists visit To link with Tatties Vintage head over to facebook and ‘like’ their page

If like Siobhan you have a burning desire to branch out and follow your business dream, then contact The Women’s Organisation today for FREE advice and support on 0151 706 8111 or