International Women’s Day
Start Up Loans proudly celebrates the UK’s female entrepreneurs on International Women’s Day
“To mark International Women’s Day, we’re celebrating all the amazing women across the UK who have taken the leap and started their own business. We’re proud that 40% of Start Up Loans have gone to female founders and we hope these inspiring women will encourage even more to start their own business.”
Richard Bearman, Managing Director of Start Up Loans
Razan Alsous — Yorkshire Dama Cheese
Razan Alsous and family escaped war-torn Syria in 2012 and settled in Huddersfield. With no citizenship and unable to find work, Razan had to create her own opportunities.
Noticing that UK-based producers of halloumi cheese were few and far between, Razan decided to start her own company. She applied to Start Up Loans for finance and received a loan of £2,500. With this financial backing, Razan began making her own cheese.
After just four months of production, Razan’s Yorkshire Dama Cheese won the World Cheese Award Bronze Medal. It has since gone on to scoop the Gold Prize, alongside a number of other prestigious awards.
Razan’s great success has allowed her to expand the company’s product range and relocate to a new, larger factory.
Alexandra McCabe — FittaMamma
Alexandra McCabe wanted her pregnant sister-in-law to feel good and stay active throughout her pregnancy. Finding fitnesswear options for pregnant women to be extremely limited, Alexandra designed and developed her own range of clothing.
Having established her FittaMamma company and built a strong customer base in the UK and US, Alexandra applied for a Start Up Loan and used the money to grow and market the business.
FittaMamma has since increased its clothing ranges, developing luxury garments for women who want to work out comfortably during pregnancy. And the FittaMamma website has become a valuable resource, giving pregnant women the inspiration and confidence to continue exercising.
Alexandra aims to launch more products — including work-out equipment — and collaborate with other brands and fitness professionals across the world.
Maria Caruana Galizia — Candle & Bell
Maria Caruana Galizia started her production company Candle & Bell to pursue her love of film-making, bring more diversity to the screen and champion regional talent and stories. After spending over a decade working for HBO, Sky, Scottish TV and the BBC, Maria launched the business in her home city of Newcastle upon Tyne with a Start Up Loan of £7,000.
And thanks to that financial support, Candle & Bell is going from strength to strength, having been named as one of Creative England’s top 50 Emerging Creative Companies in England in 2017.
Are you a woman looking to start her own business?
Executive coach and mentor Kim-Adele Platts provides invaluable tips and advice:
On starting out:
“Define your niche. Be really clear what your business is about and who it’s for.”
On potential challenges:
“When you start out, you don’t have a whole team of people — someone to do IT, marketing, PR. It’s a learning curve and you need to build that network around you.”
On the changing workplace:
“In the 28 years I’ve been in business, the environment has changed significantly for women. And changed for the better —we’re getting much closer to finding that perfect balance of equality. And that will be better for all of us, and for society.”
On being female in work:
“Sometimes it can be a challenge. I’ve been very fortunate in that it’s never been a major problem. But that’s because I’ve used it to my advantage through my ability to talk to people and build relationships.”
On building networks:
“Find people who are skilled in the areas in which you need help. I joined a business network, I’m part of a ladies group, and I have an amazing social media network as well. All of which allows me to go and meet people who can make a difference to my business.”
Kim-Adele Platts’ top tips
1. Build your social presence — make sure you’re consistent across all channels
2. Be kind!
3. Go out there and find out about other people’s businesses4. Understand how you can help people. And I promise you, the rest will happen.