Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Enterprise Hub helps new mum Claire on the road to start up success

After over a decade spent working in various fashion and beauty companies, Claire decided it was time to take charge of her own schedule and put her marketing skills to use with a project of her own.

And so, Clairilla was born.

Clairilla offers digital services for local businesses, including web design, digital marketing and social media. As well as a bespoke e-commerce and brand consultancy offering – specially geared up for clients in the fashion and beauty industries.

Claire says: “I love that by working in these areas it means I can bridge the gap between my love of fashion and beauty with new technology, markets and the future of digital. When I graduated from Liverpool Hope University in 2008 online shopping was booming - being a part of that growth has been such a fulfilling and invaluable experience.”

As a first-time mum Claire decided it was the perfect time to take the plunge and put her experience to the test.

She says: “I had always wanted to set up myself but wanted to gain a varied experience in industry first. Since having my daughter I decided that this would be the perfect time to set up as I can work my schedule around her and work for myself.”

Working from home gives Claire the flexibility to be with her daughter and find a work-life balance, while keeping business costs and overheads down as she continues to grow and develop Clairilla.

So, how did Claire get the ball rolling on her new venture?

Head over to the Enterprise Hub blog to read the full case study, by clicking here. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Former clients Branded Items Group win BIG with North West Family Business of the year accolade.

Our former business growth clients, The Branded Items Group (aka BIG), wins North-West Family Business of the Year at the prestigious E3 Business Awards held at the University of Bolton Stadium.

The St Helens based business, which has been trading for just over two years, impressed a panel of independent business leaders, with their growth, personal approach to customers and their overall business story.

Louise and Steve Fairhurst, co-founders of BIG were presented
with the award by Tracy Heatley, MD of Business over Breakfast.

The family-owned business, run by husband and wife Steve & Louise Fairhurst, Manchester and now provides over 15,000 promotional items and branded merchandise products, from USB sticks and pens to branded clothing.  After launching in January 2017 initially selling just one range of products, BIG has grown and expanded to now supply over 500 customers across the UK,  as well as companies in Sweden, Germany and Ireland.

Speaking on behalf of 1 Events Media, organiser of the awards, Managing Director Mubarak Chati said: "We've seen fast-growing businesses, dedicated staff and employers and fantastic examples of innovation at this year’s awards. To win an award in the face of such impressive competition is an achievement of which Branded Items Group should feel justly proud, and I congratulate them."

Louise Fairhurst, Co-Director of BIG, said: "We took a big risk when we set the business up and we made several sacrifices. I left a well-paid secure job, with no guarantee of a salary to work in the business, but our goal is to build a family business that could create a legacy for our children. We were shocked but delighted to win the award as it’s recognition of the hard work we have put in.”
“The support from The Womens’ Org has been great.  The support provided allowed us to step away from the company and help develop the forward business strategy.”
The business itself, was over two years in the making and only launched after considerable preparation and research into the promotional items industry.
Steve Fairhurst, Co-Director of BIG, said: “We ran an online test company for two years, selling a narrow band of promotional items before launching the Branded Items Group. In the process, we constantly mystery-shopped some of the largest companies in our sector and learned a lot about how they operated.  We felt there was a market for a company that delivered old-fashioned customer service and advice, in an industry that, at times, can be too transactional and e-commerce driven.”
Despite working UK wide and with customers like NHS England, Cancer Research and Ministry of Defence, the business is now focused on raising the profile in the North West
Steve continued: “We like to meet and advise many of our customers, so it makes sense to try and raise our profile in this locality.  We do already work with lots of great businesses in the North West, but in next 12 months, we would like to double the number.”
You can find out more about BIG's services by visiting them online at: https://brandeditemsgroup.co.uk/
If you'd like to hear more about our business growth support for businesses under three years old in the Liverpool City Region, please contact hello@thewo.org.uk or call 0151 706 8111.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

The Legacy of the 2019 World Cup – What’s next for Women’s Football?

The 2019 World Cup tournament in France will long live in the memory, not just for fans of England’s Lionesses, but for a generation of young women inspired to put their boots on.

Since its inception in 1991, the Women’s World Cup has consistently acted as a catalyst for development within Women’s Football, and this year it has catapulted the sport onto a new and exciting level.

Could anyone have predicted at the beginning of the competition, a few weeks ago, the impact it would have?

The semi final between England Lionesses, and eventual winners, the USA, is to date, the most watched UK television programme of the year - a staggering 11.7 million viewers tuned in to watch the game on July 2.

Lionesses and Manager Phil Neville

Figures from the US for the final on Sunday 7 July were close to 15 million, overhauling the Men’s World Cup, in 2018 by three million viewers.

Four of the England team are Liverpool-born, and in their honour, murals have been colourfully etched on to walls around the city area, on Bold Street, London Road, Constance Street and Prenton Park in Birkenhead.

Social media has been a starting block for the artists to showcase their work, other players have also received their own homages in Manchester and London; as public support for the team reached a level never seen before, ahead of the tournament kick off.

This is just one instance of how the women in this year’s World Cup have left an imprint on artists and in turn, on the public that frequent these areas.

The BBC has also risen to the occasion, giving Women’s World Cup matches more air time. They have recently announced they will continue their legacy project of showing Women’s Super League games on UK television alongside their popular ‘The Women’s Football Show’.

Barclays have also agreed a ground breaking sponsorship deal with the WSL, as Women’s Football continues its meteoric rise. In the past month, France has pushed the game to the forefront of attention across the globe – with everyone involved in the game now eager to carry the torch forward.

Twitter has also launched a ‘Women in Football’ emoji, along with a hashtag to support the ‘What If’ campaign. The Women in Football project has developed UK football from grassroots level to the WSL. The 2019-20 season promises even more support for their work, as fans, players and clubs look to drive the sport on, and prevent a dip in participation in the years to come.

Football as a game needs pioneers and individuals that are determined to push the boundaries both on and off the pitch.

2019 has provided many heroes, including Megan Rapinoe, who stepped up and delivered, and refused to have her principles compromised.

Rapinoe, has won admirers on the field as she drove the US onto glory, scoring in every knockout game, while also challenging the President of the United States, with her sincerity and unwillingness to be cowed or bullied by a backlash of social media reaction with her refusal to visit the White House.

Megan Rapinoe: U.S Women's Football Team

Ironically, in 1921 there were roughly 150 women’s teams in England, which was largely a result of WWI. But by December 1921, the Footballs Association decided to ban women’s football, rendering it as “quite unsuitable for females and ought not to be encouraged". The ban was eventually lifted 50 years later, in 1971, and now nearly 100 years later, women are showing their support and love of the game in huge crowds once again.

Female players have consistently had to go the extra mile to break down barriers of discrimination and negative stereotypes to be taken seriously in a once considered, male dominated sport.

But the tide is turning and with Women’s Football at a real turning point, the tournament in 2023 will be the strongest indication yet of where the global game is for women.

- Written by Aimee Owens

Be-Baby on the Worldwide Success and Growth of Innovative Brand 'Tidy Tot'

Be-Baby Ltd has been taking the baby product industry by storm, creating innovative multi-award-winning weaning brand ‘Tidy Tot’ which now sells its products in most of the major retailers in the UK, (Ocado, JoJo Maman Bebe, Amazon) along with exporting to 17 countries worldwide. We caught up with founder Jennifer Unsworth to talk growth. 

Jennifer Unsworth with children

After 7 years supporting long term unemployed and vulnerable members of society to enhance workplace skills, Jennifer decided it was time to take the plunge into self-employment and in 2015, Be-Baby was born “I loved my job, and the decision to leave to set up a business of my own was not an easy one.  But having my daughter helped me find a real gap in the market for effective feeding bibs for when babies learn to self-feed, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take my idea for a product further.”

The Tidy Tot brand was established to make mealtimes less stressful for parents by introducing the Tidy Tot bib and tray kit. The unique products not only close the gap between the baby and highchair to prevent food from falling onto the baby’s lap, but the large tray means food cannot be dropped on the floor.

Operating from a small home office with 4 staff, Be-Baby are aiming high by forecasting 100% growth in 2019.“This year we’re being particularly ambitious - primarily as a result of rapid growing sales in China and the Far East”

To help with the growth of the product, Be-Baby has been receiving support from Greater Manchester based Excelerate Labs programme, working with Senior Business Adviser, Mike Marsden: “We've had regular meetings with Mike and always left every meeting brimming with ideas and new ways to tackle problems. Members of my team have attended training at The Women’s Organisation which has been invaluable to my business”

As a born and bred proud northerner, Jennifer says the North West has helped nurture her entrepreneurial flare, telling us: “The North has more limited top employment opportunity compared to London, I think the entrepreneurial spark is better able to grow” 

Be-Baby started 2019 off on a high, winning numerous awards such as Amazon’s Export Champion of the Year, being crowed small Business of the Year at the North East Cheshire Business awards and have recently been invited to join the Northern Powerhouse as one of DIT’S Export Champions in their 2019 campaign. With all these achievements under their belt, they aren't stopping there.

Tidy Tot product

“We have secured two big name partnerships that will really help support our position as a weaning brand of choice amongst new parents. We are incredibly excited that the partnerships we’ve harnessed will really help to put the Tidy Tot brand and products front of mind as parents research weaning methods and equipment, and all serve to make their weaning journey a little easier.”

And what has been Be-Baby’s key to success?

Jennifer said: “We’ve never been afraid to take risks, sometimes you have to trust yourself and give it a go. In a product-based business like ours, there are some key things that we’ve learned along the way that have really contributed to our rapid growth”

She added: “Not waiting for product to be 100% ‘perfect’ before you show it to your customer is one – there is time to refine and develop product once it’s in the hands of the consumer – they are your very best source of product development and we never stop listening to them.” 

Finally, we asked Jennifer who inspires her in her professional career “Women in business are always inspiring to me.  It’s a real struggle to juggle demands of family and work, and in male dominated industries like manufacturing it can be difficult to have your voice heard.” 

To learn more about Be-Baby and its Tidy Tot products, you can visit their website https://tidytot.com/

If you would like to benefit from the support received under the Excelerate Labs programme, then please contact: exceleratelabs@thewo.org.uk.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

One-Day FREE Course to Help Liverpool Women Manage Stress

Is feeling stressed taking its toll on your mind, body and general health? You are not alone. Recognising and dealing with stress can be a hard cycle to break.

Stress is a reaction to feeling under pressure, and everyone feels stressed sometimes.

However, stress is something which can be managed via your thinking. If you can train your mind to think right and think positive, you’ll be able to cope with stress better.

This year we’ve made it our mission to help the women of Liverpool step BEYOND stress, because we all need a helping hand sometimes.

Our FREE one-day course is open to women living in the Liverpool City Council area who are dealing with stress, living with a health condition or a disability. And this summer, we’re taking Step Beyond Stress on the road to a number of venues throughout Liverpool:

Stoneycroft Children’s Centre – 15th July, 12 – 3pm

Anfield Children’s Centre – 17th July, 9:15 – 12:15pm

The Women's Organisation, 54 St James Street – 18th July, 10 – 3pm

Clubmoor Children’s Centre – 22nd July, 10 – 1pm

Ellergreen Community & Early Years Centre – 7th August, 10 – 1pm

The Women's Organisation, 54 St James Street – 5th August, 10 – 3pm

PAL Centre – 8th August, 11 – 2pm

Women’s Advice Centre – 14th August, 9:30 – 12:30pm

Felicity House – 20th August, 10 – 1pm

WHISC – 22nd August, 1:30 – 4:30pm

The Women's Organisation, 54 St James Street – 3rd September, 10 – 3pm

This course covers:
  • The signs, symptoms and causes of stress 
  • What stops us caring for ourselves? 
  • Lifestyle changes 
  • The ability to categorise reasons for stress 
  • How to develop coping strategies

If you’d like to find out more about Step Beyond Stress or book a place, please contact the venue directly using the phone number below.

Stoneycroft Children’s Centre – 0151 233 4770

Anfield Children’s Centre – 0151 233 4001

The Women’s Organisation, 54 St James Street – 0151 706 8111

Clubmoor Children’s Centre – 0151 233 8500

Ellergreen Community & Early Years Centre – 0151 233 3337

PAL Centre – 0151 708 9669

Women’s Advice Centre – 0151 494 1777

Felicity House – 07572545691

WHISC – 0151 707 1826

This course is part of the Citizens Advice on Prescription: Ways to Wellbeing Liverpool programme.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Women Entrepreneurs Inspire the Next Cohort of Future Leaders at Conference

This morning The Women's Organisation welcomed women from across the region to our Women's Business Start-up Conference. 

Joining the conference to share their story and offer advice to budding entrepreneurs were local women in business Claire Morton of Ell&Dee NLP Consultants and Ruth Hartnoll of JnR Agency.
Claire Morton, Jenny Wallwork and Ruth Hartnoll

Ruth had come through the Enterprise Hub programme around a year and a half ago to set up her digital marketing agency and has already grown it to the point where she is currently recruiting her second full time staff member to work alongside her team of freelancers. 

Claire Morton joined us fresh from winning the 'Entrepreneur of the Year' award at Merseyside Woman of the year for her NLP and training business.  Having run Ell&Dee for 3 years now Claire has grown an impressive clientele of corporate and private clients for her business, setting up a second business Ell and Dees Garden to offer therapy and retreats. 

Hosted by Jenny Wallwork from our training and development team the morning offered women the opportunity to consider what is involved in getting a business off the ground and evaluate if self-employment is the right fit for them.

Ruth started the event off sharing how early on in her business development she had to take the tough decision to split with her business partner.  Her advice is "If you are thinking of starting a partnership, make sure it is with someone you trust and also someone who has a contrasting skillset to you."

Ruth Hartnoll from JnR Agency

Ruth emphasised that networking has been a big part of her success and advises that in business "You get back what you give".  Ruth recommends going to sector specific events that aren't necessarily aimed at you, for example being the only web developer at a property conference can have networking benefits. 

Ruth's parting advice is to know your audience when considering pricing. 

Next up Claire shared how she took the leap from corporate world to self-employment and has had to tackle imposter syndrome, even as recently as last week sharing "in the week leading up to Merseyside Woman of the Year I literally couldn't sleep.  I had imposter syndrome massively thinking someone is going to find me out that I'm blagging it".  But having deservedly won the award as Entrepreneur of the Year she is grateful for the opportunity and realised that how she felt isn't how others see her.

Claire Morton, Merseyside Woman of the Year Entrepreneur of the Year 2019

Claire also believes networking is key for her business and says "When I go networking I go looking to help others.  If you help them, they will more than likely help you.".

While Claire admits starting a business is challenging due to all the different hats you have to wear, business development, accountant as well as the person delivering the service, Claire wouldn't change the decision she made.  She advised "You've only got one life.  You need to do what you love."

After a quick break to top up on pastries Jenny brought the women back together to 'think outside of the box' coming up with innovative ideas. A quick chat through the pros and cons of self-employment we looked at why businesses might fail and what support is available through Enteprise Hub to give your business the best chance of success.

Feedback from the budding entrepreneurs attending included:

"Fantastic Kick Starting event to starting my new business"
"Enjoyed the event. Felt very welcomed and lots of valuable/useful info and the contacts and friends." 
"Thought provoking"
"Great speakers sharing their experience and success story"
"Really enjoyed the meeting. Very informative. Given confidence to start a business."
"Lots of useful information for people at different levels. Friendly experience"
"I really enjoyed coming and listening to different women in different careers" 
"I struggle with my confidence and self worth and it has been a refreshing day"
"Really glad I came. I made new contacts, found out something new and now feel ready". 
"Great event. Really positive to know there is support and what I want to do is possible"

If you are a woman living in the Liverpool City Region who is thinking about starting a business, or have recently gone self-employed, get in touch with our team to find out how you can access free advice and training through Enterprise Hub.  Enterprise Hub is part funded by European Regional Development Fund and free to access.

Call 0151 706 8111 or email hello@thewo.org.uk

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

In the Media: Women on Boards Target is Finally in Sight

Figures released this week show that for the first time ever the FTSE 250 could meet the 33% target for women in senior leadership positions if current progress is maintained. 

Women on boards
Women on Boards

Launched in 2016, the government-backed independent Hampton-Alexander Review set FTSE 350 businesses a target of having 33% of all board and senior leadership positions held by women by the end of 2020. Today’s figures show that if progress matches the same gains made over the last 3 years, then FTSE 100 companies are on track to meet the 2020 target.

The companies in the FTSE 350 who still have all male boards were named and shamed as part of the report and include:
  • Daejan Holdings
  • TR Property Investments
  • Ferrexpo
  • Kainos Group (joined the FTSE on 24 June)
Holding companies to account for lack of gender diversity does seem to be helping to balance the scales, but still more needs to be done to ensure there is a pipeline of young female talent being nurtured by these businesses to future proof the progress. 

Progress on closing the gender pay gap is still slow despite companies being asked to publish their data. This shows that beyond board level little impact is being made.  So while these new figures are encouraging, we hope more is done to look at supporting women right along the journey. Developing leadership skills early on, understanding that flexible working practices need to apply to management as well as their teams, ensuring women are offered the same opportunities as their male counterparts and can see role models who will encourage their development - all of this takes work and the buy in from those in charge. 

Here's hoping these positive figures won't leave these companies and the government feeling that the job has been done in terms of gender equality in the workplace.  Instead let's hope it is a catalyst for further change that will make a real difference to gender equality in the workplace at all levels.

The full The 2019 Hampton-Alexander Report will be published on the 13 November 2019 giving those companies who haven't yet responded to prompts to look at their gender balance time to take action.