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5 women-owned businesses to support on International Women's Day

3-minute read

Catriona Smith

8 March 2022

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As we mark International Women’s Day 2022, we wanted to take the opportunity to celebrate women-owned businesses – plus share a few ideas on how you can support them today (and all year round).

Inspiring female entrepreneurs we're talking about

Here, a range of small business owners and Simply Business business insurance customers share their advice and experience of being a woman and running their own business in the UK.

From children’s books that address gender bias to artisan baby wraps and post-surgery lingerie, these businesses are run by inspiring women.

Butterfly Books

A black and woman-owned publisher addressing bias in the industry, Butterfly Books writes children’s books with a mission to help reduce gender bias in job roles.

To inspire future generations, author Kerrine Bryan has published a range of career-themed titles, including ‘My Mummy is an Engineer’ and ‘My Daddy is a Nurse’. She shares how having passion and belief in your product is an important quality as an entrepreneur:

“What drives me is that, in some small way, we are helping to make positive changes to attitudes that have historically hindered people – be it in careers or otherwise – because of gender.”

Children's book series from Butterfly Books

Tailor Made Living

Tailor Made Living is a retail shop founded and directed by Antonia Sanchez-Toomey. Both in their London shop and online, you’ll find gifts, homewares and fashion accessories from a carefully curated selection of independent brands.

Antonia says she’s faced many challenges in her first five years of business, but offers some great advice on building a support network as business owner:

“Make time for networking with other business owners. There are some great online communities if you can't get to in-person events. Share knowledge, exchange ideas and be honest about your challenges and successes.”

Wild Rye Sourdough

Jessica Robson owns Wild Rye Sourdough, an artisan bakery in Trowbridge born out of the pandemic.

After leaving a corporate career behind, Robson started baking during the first lockdown in 2020. When it comes to important lessons in business, she says:

“Learn when to say no. You can quickly turn a passion into a chore by saying yes to everything. Only supply the things you enjoy, everything else can go.”

Rowan Bay

This artisan textile business produces woven baby wraps and slings from sustainable yarns in Norfolk. Owned by Larissa Cooper, Rowan Bay uses ethically produced soft Shetland wool from their own flock of sheep. Rowan Bay was also the winner of our 2020 Business Boost cash grant.

Speaking of the importance of networking as a business owner, Cooper said:

“I’m autistic and find that making connections can be difficult, but I will try and put myself out of my comfort zone to meet people wherever I can, and just allow for a bit of extra downtime after so I can recover.”

Valiant Lingerie

After a double mastectomy in her early twenties, Eleanor Howie wanted to help other women to feel confident in their bodies after a life-changing diagnosis or surgery. That’s why she created her own lingerie business, Valiant Lingerie.

Highlighting the qualities needed to be a successful business owner, Howie said:

“I think resilience and tenacity are important characteristics to be a successful business owner and entrepreneur. Starting out is thrilling, exhilarating and challenging. You will find you’re working harder than you ever have before and it can at times feel isolating. The ability to keep going, keep learning and adapting after setbacks and challenges is so important.”

Karren Brady to speak at our first small business webinar

Our research shows that women business owners feel greater access to mentorship and networks would improve gender equality. In fact, 34 per cent of female entrepreneurs say this needs to happen.

That’s why we’re running our very first small business webinar, Empowering Women in Business, to share tips and stories from three inspiring women entrepreneurs as part of International Women’s Day 2022.

Karren Brady will be joining our panel, along with diversity and inclusion business Watch This Sp_ce, on 17 March 2022 to discuss the importance of building connections and challenging stereotypes as a business owner. Find out more and sign up.

Karren Brady CBE

How can you support women who run their business?

Beyond spending money with them, there are other ways you can support and champion women-owned businesses. Here are just a few ideas:

  • become a mentor – if you’re experienced in a particular area of running a business, you could offer to mentor someone who’s looking for advice or support on something you know well
  • offer a skills exchange – this can be an informal way to trade skills with another business owner in your network for free, as both of you can benefit by learning something new or getting help with a task. For example if you’re a photographer and you need help with writing your business website, you could offer to take photos for a business in exchange for support with your web content
  • tell them what their business means to you – if there’s a business owner you admire, tell them so. It’s fantastic to leave a Google review, but why not also send them a message or let them know in person too?

For more ideas, read our article on how to support local businesses.

Are you thinking about setting up your own business?

Here’s a few guides to help get you started:

Are you inspired by any women-owned businesses? Let us know who they are in the comments.

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We create this content for general information purposes and it should not be taken as advice. Always take professional advice. Read our full disclaimer

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