Thursday, July 31, 2014

Mother of 2 Hayley Patterson Is a Perfect Example of How Self-Employment Can Compliment Family Life With Her Business ‘Hayley’s Flowers and Cart Hire’

After having her second child, Hayley Patterson found it impossible to manage the work hours she had been given and was forced to leave. This left the Liverpool resident looking for other avenues that allowed for more flexibility around her family. She found this flexibility in self-employment.
Credit: Lucy Hannah Photography
Blessed with a creative streak and prior experience in floristry, Hayley decided to combine floral arrangements with a cart hire for parties and events. ‘I started by posting a few pictures on my Facebook and Instagram. I got really good feedback and as interest started to grow I started up a business page on Facebook and Twitter.’

In the early stages of starting up Hayley’s Flowers and Cart Hire, Hayley spotted an advert for free business start-up support for women in Merseyside with The Women’s Organisation. After getting in touch, she started meeting with a business advisor and booked herself onto free workshops including basic bookkeeping and tax and national insurance.

‘My advisor Jo was brilliant. It was great to have someone to help me look at things from a different point of view and talk about them. She helped me with the different aspects of setting up a business, especially the business plan, which helped me a lot. The workshops were also really good.’

‘When I first set up my business, I felt nervous and unsure but with the response I have had from people and the help from The Women’s Organisation, it has helped me be more confident and move forward.’
Hayley is very pleased with the benefits going self-employed has provided. Her business is based from home meaning that there are no overheads and no commute to work. Despite her commenting that it can get a bit hectic, it works for her because it allows for quality time with her children.

‘Being a mum of two young children makes it hard to juggle both sometimes, as I do work most weekends and evenings, but I am lucky that my friends and family are all so supportive in what I am doing.’

Things are going really well and the business is quickly growing in popularity. What makes Hayley’s Flowers and Cart Hire unique is the new addition of an ice cream car available for hire. Decorated in a walls ice cream theme, it serves Cornetto ice cream which has made it very popular.

‘The best thing about running your own business is the sense of pride and achievement you have in doing something you love doing and seeing the customer happy. I would recommend it to anyone who is really passionate about what they do.’

If you’d like to impress at your party or you would like a tasteful floral arrangement for a special occasion, contact Hayley on 07875 742535. You can also find Hayley’s Flowers and Cart Hire on Facebook.

If you would like more time to spend with your family whilst earning an income doing something you enjoy, contact The Women's Organisation for free start-up advice and support on 0151 706 8111 / 

Portrait photo by Lucy Hannah Photography

By Beckie Kinsella

Friday, July 18, 2014

Knowsley Resident and Photography Graduate Jessica Lang Goes Freelance at the Age of 22

When asked what motivated her to start a business so young, Jess replied: ‘Why not? I’m only young once so I may as well take the chance now whilst I’m in a good position financially and have nothing holding me back. I didn’t want to fall out of love with the practice after working so hard at University and going Freelance was just what I wanted to do!’
Credit: Lucy Hannah Photography
Based in Liverpool City Centre, Jess shares a studio with some friends whose own businesses are complimentary to her own. This, combined with her BA(Hons) in Photography, has set her up nicely as her client base steadily grows.

Throughout her time at university, the Kirkby resident built up quite a substantial following on social media. Utilising Facebook particularly well, she now boasts over 2000 followers of her page. Already pretty clued up on networking and marketing, she felt she needed support with the paperwork side of starting up a business. Admitting that she started out ‘messy’, with odd jobs here and there whilst having no idea how to charge or bill correctly, she contacted social enterprise The Women’s Organisation who offered her support through the Big Enterprise in Communities (BEiC) initiative funded by European Regional Development Fund.
Credit: Jessica Lang Photography
‘I found The Women’s Organisation greatly supportive and understanding. My advisor was there in those baby stages so she witnessed me breaking down at times when I had no idea what I was doing. The workshops I attended were very informative and slowly introduced me to the world of tax and made it seem much less daunting. I feel taller and more confident!’

A Fashion Photographer at heart, Jess aims to work primarily in commercial and fashion in the future. For now, however, she is happy experimenting and finding out what works in regards to growing her business.

‘I’m trying loads of different genres and experiencing what sells and what doesn’t, what I’m good at and what I’m not, and which aspects I enjoy more and wish to improve. Photography is quite open and I’m doing a lot of different things at the moment because I’m still figuring out what genre I want to concentrate on.’

Credit: Jessica Lang Photography
Being a freelance photographer and having her own studio, Jessica Lang Photography is able to offer a whole range of services including occasions (weddings, birthdays, christenings), commercial, model portfolios, portraits (single, family, pet), maternity/pregnancy/newborn, fashion and editorial.

Jess has come a long way through her start-up journey and offers this advice to anyone considering self-employment: ‘Don’t rush, and don’t expect for results straight away. See it through and keep trying if it’s something you’re really passionate about. Most of all enjoy it!’

Credit: Jessica Lang Photography
Pleasing clients is the number one priority for Jessica Lang Photography. Nothing makes her happier than seeing happy customers enjoying the photographs she has shot for them.

‘It makes everything worthwhile. Also, making money doing something I love is so, so satisfying! I am very proud of how far I have come.’

Since her journey began back in an after-school class aged 14, Jess has continually grown her skills and portfolio. She has worked on a commercial campaign for a national holiday park, with local model agencies and magazines, shot weddings/events/portraits and most predominantly worked with a mass of models/stylists/make-up artists for fashion and editorial projects.
Credit: Jessica Lang Photography
If you are looking for a passionate photographer that can deliver high quality photographs on location or at her city centre based studio, visit to view her wide portfolio and follow Jessica Lang Photography on Facebook and Twitter @JessLangPhoto where she posts updates and news.

And if you like Jess you would love to make money doing what you love, contact The Women’s Organisation on 0151 706 8111 / to access free business start-up support via one to one business advice appointments and training workshops. You can also visit our website for

Portrait Photo by Lucy Hannah Photography

By Beckie Kinsella


Friday, July 11, 2014

Women in Business Recognised at Inaugural Manchester Women in Business Awards

Mass celebrations took place as women from The Women's Organisation's Venture Accelerator business growth programme snapped up awards at the Inaugural Women in Business Awards with Downtown Manchester yesterday.

Dr Nichola McChrystal
celebrates with nan and mum

Dr Nichola McChrystal of Bioclinics who had received support from the programme snatched the award for 'Young Entrepreneur of the Year', and celebrated with her mum and grandmother who she says are her greatest female role models. Claire Harper of Harper Innovations was the well deserved winner of 'Business of the Year' having turned over her first million following support from the Venture Accelerator programme. 

Claire Harper wins
'Business of the Year
Venture Accelerator Programme Manager Mike Marsden said "We were pleased to sponsor the event and to be able to invite some of our women currently working under our business growth programme along to network and to be inspired by the achievements of the women there. I was over the moon to see our clients Nichola and Claire receiving very much deserved recognition for their hard work and business success. This event just served to highlight what we as an organisation are very well aware of. There are amazing women in Greater Manchester running some fabulous businesses. We just want to let them know that if they have the ambition to grow, fully funded support is available."

The full list of winners are:
  • Best New Start Up: Zoe Holland, Zebra Consulting
  • Employee of the Year: Jen Smith, JMW
  • Legal Advisor of the Year: Christine Oxenburgh, Freeths
  • Financial Advisor of the Year: Sarah Bell – Duff & Phelps
  • Hospitality& Service Sector Award: Lou Kemp, GG Hospitality
  • Business Support Award: Laura Harper, Shoosmiths
  • Best Marketer Award: Sarah Rowley, Baker Tilly
  • Best Property Professional Award: Rowena Burns, Manchester Science Park
  • Young Entrepreneur of the Year; Dr Nichola McChrystal, Bioclinics
  • Female Leader: Angie Robinson, Manchester Central
  • Business of the Year: Harper Innovations
  • Entrepreneur of the Year: Carole Kane,
  • Social Enterprise of the Year: POPS
  • A Decade of Excellence in Business: Jennie Johnson, Kids Allowed

Michael Taylor, Chairman of Downtown Manchester In Business said: “These awards, and all the very worthy winners, are helping to break down stereotypes and promote positive female role models within business and enterprise across Manchester and the north west."

If you are a woman running a business in Greater Manchester that is ready to expand through taking on staff, accessing new markets or with innovative ideas of ways to increase turnover get in touch with to find out how you can receive FREE tailored support.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Impropriety CIC Prove That With A Lot Of Hard Work and a Little Imagination Anything Can Happen (Literally)

After organising and running Liverpool’s first improvathon in memory of Ken Campbell, former Artistic Director of the Everyman Theatre, Rosie and Angie had no idea that almost 5 years later they would embark on their greatest role yet, as directors of a successful Community Interest Company (CIC).
Photo: Lucy Hannah Photography
Formed in 2008 by the group behind the first improvathon, Impropriety have been performing shows and running workshops ever since. Angie and Rosie decided to register the business a Community Interest Company after positive audience responses and growing interest.

Impropriety CIC are Liverpool’s premier improvisation theatre company. ‘We use fun, games and messing about a bit to create scenes, songs and silliness never seen before, or to be seen again! With professional performers from a variety of backgrounds, Impropriety creates its own unique style that’s high on improv, low on script.’

Between them, the pair boast a wealth of performing arts experience which has laid a solid foundation from which the company has grown.
Angie: ‘I am a founder member of Kabosh Theatre Company in Belfast (20 years this year!) and was a touring stage manager and actor for many years. I had previously received a BA hons in Theatre Studies from the University of Ulster.'

Rosie: ‘As well as working in an arts cafĂ©, I’ve been working on various shows and events as a director, technician and stage manager. I also attended Liverpool Hope University where I got a BA hons in Drama and Theatre Studies with English Literature.’

Both run the company alongside full time jobs to ensure that as well as any funding they may receive, they can rely on themselves with finance being key to their business.

‘The main barrier to starting any artistic business is money.  Funding for the arts is always tight so we had to be sure we were in a position to self-fund. Working in the arts for so long means we understand that sometimes you need to take jobs that aren't necessarily related to your chosen profession to pay the rent.’

During the process of registering Impropriety as a CIC, the duo received support from The Women’s Organisation.

‘Starting up a business sounded very daunting, especially taking on the responsibilities of being Directors. It was really nice to find out it wasn't as daunting as we first thought!’

‘Claire our business advisor helped us a great deal, especially with our business plan and financial forecast. We got help with the actual setting up as a CIC and a business bank account. They also gave us a £200 grant package which was nice!’
Becoming a CIC has enabled the Liverpool residents to do more work in schools and access more funding opportunities, which has dramatically increased their reach which has of course had an impact on the size of the company. Impropriety CIC has now seen its most successful year to date, with 80% of their projects coming from people and organisations who have approached them.

‘Being a theatre company, the outcome of our hard work in the office results is seeing audience members laughing a lot, both loyal followers and new audiences. We are also able to spread “improv love” to many more people now, whether that is local schools or public workshops.’

The pair are extremely proud of where the decision to become self-employed has taken them. Along with others who have been involved in running the company for the past few years unofficially, Rosie and Angie feel privileged to be the ones to take Impropriety to the next stage of its evolution.

‘We are very grateful to The Women's Organisation for all their help and support in setting up the company and are excited to take Impropriety to the next level.’

Impropriety CIC are a shining example of how choosing to move forward with something you love and having a good understanding of an industry can be very rewarding and beneficial, both to themselves and the organisations, people and communities they reach.

If you would like to get involved in the unpredictable world of improv, visit to find out more about the workshops you can get involved in, both public and private. For more information, you can contact directly via and to see what it’s all about, Impropriety can be found on Youtube: ImproprietyUK   Twitter: @impropriety   Facebook: 

If you would like support with a business idea or passion of your own, contact The Women's Organisation for free 1-2-1 business advice sessions and business related workshops / 0151 706 8111 or visit 

Portrait photograph by Lucy Hannah Photography

By Beckie Kinsella