Thursday, November 16, 2017

From Books To The Body Shop; Our Top British Entrepreneurs For #GEW2017

It's Global Entrepreneurship Week! So in the spirit of all things entrepreneurial we took some time out to take a look at some of our favourite british entrepreneurs. When scouring the endless list of top entrepreneurs on the internet, we were shocked by the lack of women topping these lists. In the words of our CEO; Maggie O'Carroll; 'One of the critical things is that women are not visible. When we think of entrepreneurs, we automatically think of the likes of Richard Branson and Lord Sugar." (Read Maggie's full interview here!)

Well of course, at The Women's Organisation, that's not what we're about! We see these female entrepreneurs and we want to celebrate them. We want to tell the whole world about their accolades, shout it from the rooftops about the fantastic work that they have done and that they will continue to do!

We have the privilege of working with amazing female entrepreneurs every single day...And on this day, we wanted to take a moment to tell you about a few of our favourites...

Do you have a favourite entrepreneur? Someone who inspires you and motivates you? We want to know who! Get in touch and let us know...

And read on to find out who's on our list...

Sharmadean Reid MBE –Founder of WAH Nails

Sharmadean Reid is a British Jamaican entrepreneur and founder of WAH Nails. Sharmadean started WAH whilst she was at University, where it was originally a hip hop zine focussing on a new wave of street smart feminism. WAH Zine developed into a blog and events as the brand continued to grow – it opened up opportunities for women to get together and discuss careers and ideas.

Sharmadean was driven by the idea of WAH being a place for women to ‘hang out, form friendships and build communities whilst being able to have whatever you wanted on your nails’ and she opened her first nail salon in August 2009.

Today WAH Nails has pop-up shops around the country, including its longest standing at Topshop Oxford Street founded in 2010. She also has a brand in Boots, two published books and worldwide following.

Last year, Sharmadean also launched FutureGirlCorp, a pioneering female business training camp for today’s entrepreneurs. In 2012, The Women’s Organisation were delighted to have Sharmadean visit us in Liverpool at 54 St James Street when we were part of a live recording of BBC Woman’s Hour!

Born in Sussex, Dame Anita Roddick, DBE was a British businesswoman, human rights activist and environmental campaigner, best known as the founder of The Body Shop, a cosmetics company producing and retailing beauty products that shaped ethical consumerism.

Roddick was involved in activism and campaigning for environmental and social issues, including involvement with Greenpeace and The Big Issue. In 1990, Roddick founded Children on the Edge, a charitable organization which helps disadvantaged children in Eastern Europe and Asia. In 2003, Queen Elizabeth II appointed Roddick a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire. In 2004, Roddick was diagnosed with liver cirrhosis due to long-standing hepatitis C. After she revealed this to the media in February 2007, she promoted the work of the Hepatitis C Trust, and campaigned to increase awareness of the disease.

Roddick was known for her campaigning work on environmental issues and was a member of the Demos think tank's advisory council. Children on the Edge (COTE) are an organization that Roddick founded in 1990, in response to her visits to Romanian orphanages. Upon seeing the conditions the children were in, she created COTE to help manage the crisis and worked to de-institutionalize the children over the course of their early life. COTE's mission focuses on disadvantaged children affected by conflicts, natural disasters, disabilities, and HIV/AIDS.

On 13 December 2005, the National Post reported that Roddick had decided to turn her back on the world of commerce and give away her fortune, worth some £51 million ($104 million). Roddick also wrote the book Take It Personally, which encourages equality and an end to the exploitation of workers and children in underdeveloped countries.

Kanya King MBE –Founder of the MOBO Awards

Kanya King MBE is the founder and CEO of MOBO. Founded in 1996, the MOBO Awards is one of the most televised urban music awards shows in the world, reaching in excess of 400 million viewers across 200 countries.  The MOBO platform has helped launch and propel many of today’s biggest musical talents such as Emeli Sandé, Tinie Tempah, Rihanna and the late great Amy Winehouse.

The youngest girl of nine children born to a Ghanaian father and Irish mother, Kanya grew up in a ‘crowded council flat’ in Kilburn, North London. While her family faced a huge amount of discrimination, Kanya chose to be influenced far more by her father’s advice to ‘be the best you can be’.  It was that advice which motivated her to start contributing to the family finances from a young age. It drove her to study English Literature at Goldsmiths College.

Following her studies in English Literature at the renowned Goldsmiths College, London, Kanya took up a job as a TV researcher where she soon identified a gap in the market for a mainstream British awards ceremony celebrating music influenced and inspired by black music.

Since its inception in 1996, Kanya has built MOBO into a globally respected brand. With Kanya’s expert guidance, the MOBO organisation has established itself as a champion of diversity, inclusion and recognition for BME talent within music, culture, arts, fashion, media and larger society as a whole.

In Kanya’s own words: “The reason I became successful, is because I refuse to quit, I see obstacles as opportunities. I’m proud of what I created with MOBO. Twenty years in, the organisation has a social and cultural responsibility to motivate, elevate and celebrate today’s creative talent and future generations. Something that is much bigger than music alone, and something much bigger than me.”

JK Rowling – Author

Joanne Rowling, who goes by the pen name J.K. Rowling, is a British author and screenwriter best known for her seven-book Harry Potter children's book series. J.K. Rowling was living in Edinburgh, Scotland and struggling to get by as a single mom before her first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, was published.

The children's fantasy novel became an international hit and Rowling became an international literary sensation in 1999 when the first three instalments of Harry Potter took over the top three slots of The New York Times bestseller list after achieving similar success in her native United Kingdom.

The series has sold more than 450 million copies and was adapted into a blockbuster film franchise. Twelve publishing houses rejected her original Harry Potter manuscripts, but eventually small publisher Bloomsbury gave her a chance with a small advance. Little did anyone know it would become the bestselling book series in history. Her seventh and final Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows broke sales records as the fastest-selling book ever.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Meet Our New Trainee Business Adviser, Cynthia!

Cynthia joined The Women’s Organisation back in August as a Trainee Business Adviser. If you’ve visited us recently, you may have had the pleasure of meeting Cynthia, as she’s been working closely with our Business Advice Team. Although Cynthia is still relatively new to the office, she’s definitely a part of our W.O family and we’d like you to get to know her too. 

What’s your full name and where are you from?

Cynthia Elima Bosafola – Born in DR Congo – Grew up in London and now adopted scouser.

Tell me how you first found out about The Women’s Organisation and become part of our team?

I found out about the women’s org about 5 months ago, I wanted to start my own business and was looking for support and courses and found WO online and booked onto a course. About 3 months later, while I was working as an Intern at Launch22 there was a Future BOSS club event being hosted which I really enjoyed, which brought me back to WO, so whilst looking for a job, I went to look at what opportunities were at the organisation and found an opportunity as trainee business advisor and went for it and here I am. 

What kind of things have you done prior to coming to The Women’s Organisation?

I came up to Liverpool in 2009 to study Drama & English Literature and fell in love with Liverpool! After working in retail for 2 years I finally landed a job at the BBC in Salford as a Production Coordinator, working on such programmes as, Newsround, The one show & Songs of Praise. I worked at the BBC for 3 years and 1/2, although I miss the people I worked with I do not miss the 4-hour daily commute!  Other places I have worked are H&M, Liverpool airport & Chester races.

What has surprised you about working at The Women’s Organisation?

The office atmosphere- everyone is so friendly & welcoming and so supportive to each other. It’s chilled environment but everyone is still focused and getting the job done, but with a few tea trips and laugher along the way.

What’s the best thing about working at The Women’s Organisation?

The commitment to WO values and beliefs, in some places, people are either working for the money or just because it’s a job! Everyone whole heartedly believe in the vision of the women’s org and know that their job is vital to making this vision & mission a reality.

Could you describe one of your typical workdays?

I know it sounds cliché, but every day is different, so this doesn’t happen every day but is a general outline.

As soon as I get in, I check my emails and calendar, see what meetings are ahead and what 1-2-1 I will be shadowing, I go ahead and start looking up what the client’s ideas are, such as a beautician, consultant or tutor. Gather information, workbooks that might be helpful for these clients, end up finding out a lot about different industries. Attend 1-21’s hears about all the woman's ideas, their history and where they want to get to! It great when you leave the end of that meeting and the client is so excited and confident about starting their business.

In between these meeting, I help the rest of business advisors with any and work or anything they need help with.  I also read up on a lot of business website, templates of business plans and blogs, so that I can be in the know of what’s going on in Liverpool! Occasionally might get asked to take an Usain bolt style photograph with my colleagues for a bid photo! All of that in a day’s work! Who says you can’t have fun in work!

The 'Dabbing Dance' photo Cynthia refers to! 

What might (someone) be surprised to know about you?

That I have a twin sister?? We are not identical! I wish we were, I would have got up to so much mischief when I was younger! I also have a fake dimple! It was caused by laughing so hard! Ask me and I’ll tell you the full story!

What do you do when you aren’t working? 

I love to work within my local community, I am involved in my local church in different ministries, such as community events, media & Kids club. I love to sew and bake, one after the other, sewing is hard work! I love spending time with my Godson, he has the cutest cheeks EVER! I love spending time with my boyfriend and family, I force them to watch Pitch perfect with me again and again (I’m on my 12th re-watch and counting). Accabelieve it!

Thanks Cynthia – we love having you here as part of the team! 😊 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

'Feel The Fear, And Do It Anyway!' Says Katie Bigelow of Little Sunshine Yoga

Knowsley based Katie Bigelow has some incredible words of wisdom for us all! Her tip for anyone starting a business (but we think it applies to all areas of our lives) is...

'Feel the fear, and do it anyway!'

Here's Katie's story...

Katie started working with children over 20 years ago in a number of settings such as schools, nurseries and educational environments.  At the age of 32 she decided to further her career and train to become a teacher. 

During her teaching degree she completed a children’s yoga course which allowed her to teach children’s yoga in the schools that worked in on placement.  She had practiced mindfulness and yoga herself for many years and recognised the impact this had on her well-being such as improved resilience, positivity, self-awareness, determination and focus. 

Some of Katie's young yogi's!
Once she qualified she went on another children’s yoga course which gave her the inspiration to focus on mental health support for children rather than education.  She then completed a mindfulness diploma.

With the help of The Women’s Organisation and Senior Business Adviser; Francine Taylor, she says she was given the confidence to leave her job and focus on her new business ‘Little Sunshine Mindfulness and Yoga’ which began in April 2017. 

Katie says ‘This is the best thing I have ever done as I am so passionate about how yoga and mindfulness can improve children's and adult’s well-being and mindset.  It really changed my life so the passion comes from the heart’. 

Katie has taught yoga in Calderstone’s Storybarn bringing yoga and literature together and is now teaching in a number of schools across Knowsley and Liverpool providing mindfulness strategies for children and teaching staff that calm the mind, reducing stress and anxiety.

A relaxing space to practice!
She says the benefits include improving children’s cognitive development, relationships with others, resilience, performance, self-esteem, concentration, determination and how to support their emotional intelligence. 

Not only does she work in schools but she also provides a 4-week mindfulness course from her home in North Liverpool which have become very popular, supporting people in her local area. 

Katie says; ‘The Women’s Organisation helped me to realise that everyone starting a business has a fear of failure but if you have a passion you just have to go for it regardless! Knowing that everyone feels the same way.’

‘My mottos is; Feel the fear and do it anyway!’

Little Sunshine!
Katie says it hasn’t been easy with being a mum to 2 children, training to be an adult yoga teacher, advertising and working it is hard but determination, passion and focus keeps you going.

‘The Women’s Organisation provided me with information, advice and training that were invaluable!’

For more information about ‘Little Sunshine Mindfulness and Yoga’ visit her website

And, if you’ve been inspired by Katie’s story and would like support to start your own business, then get in touch with us today! Email or ring us on 0151 706 8111

🍸 The Women's Organisation Helps Manchester Business Defiance Gin Launch & Grow! 🍸

Now, you might be thinking – aren’t you The Women’s Organisation? Don’t you only work with women?

BUT that isn’t the case! As part of our work in Manchester under our Excelerate Labs project we can support women AND men running businesses in the B2B (business to business) sector which enables organisations in the Greater Manchester area to innovate, diversify and grow creating new jobs.

Paul Sheerin and his business Defiance are one of the businesses that we’ve had the pleasure of working with this year, and this is their story…

Paul told us; ‘Defiance is a premium, distilled, small batch gin. Foraged across Lancashire, Yorkshire and Scotland…Our professional forager Alysia of Yorkshire Foragers, who works with the top restaurants across the country, sources and collects our wild botanicals. We use these fresh botanicals to give Defiance it’s truly unique flavour and characteristics.’

Paul started receiving support from ourselves after his wife Jo, who works at accountancy firm; KPMG, met CEO of The Women’s Organisation; Maggie O’Carroll and explained about the idea for a business that Paul had. Paul was then partnered up with one of our Manchester Business Advisers; Mike Marsden, and that’s where it all began!

‘I started working with Mike at the beginning of this year, when Defiance Gin was just in the concept stages. Since then we have been having regular meetings and it has been an absolutely brilliant process.’

Mike and Paul worked together on a number of different things, looking at laying down objectives and a timescale for the product and a business plan specific to Defiance Gin, as Paul owns another business wholesaling other gins. Paul says; ‘Mike made me say that it was important to have a business plan that was bespoke for Defiance Gin.’  

And, he had some great words to say about Mike; ‘I’ve really enjoyed working with Mike, it’s been terrific. I don’t say this about many people, but I actually looking forward to meeting up with Mike and having our meetings! He’s enthusiastic and knowledgeable and it’s been great to have a sounding board to bounce ideas off of.’

Defiance Gin launched last month and so far, things are going great for Paul, having already sold over 400 bottles! And it’s no wonder people love it so much, it sounds incredible!
Paul told us that; ’14 botanicals create Defiance Gin. We distil all of these ingredients separately to extract the best characteristics from each botanical.’ ­­– Their steep and boil method of distilling means that Defiance is an absolute treat for the taste buds!

‘It gives Defiance its wonderful and unique depth of flavour. An earthy backbone gives way to fresh citrus and wonderful notes of anise.’

And what are Paul’s plans for the future of Defiance Gin?

‘We’ve got big expectations for the future. I’m looking to export in Summer 2018 and continue expanding our national strategy here in the UK. Defiance can already be found in Michelin and 5 star restaurants and hotels across the country, so I’d like to continue working on that.’

To find out more about Defiance, and the incredible story behind their name, you can check out their website here! And check out their social media too

If you are in Greater Manchester and would like to find out if The Women’s Organisation can support you and your business, then get in touch with us today! Email us on or ring us on 0151 706 8111

You can find out more information about our Excelerate Labs programme here.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Behind The Board | Meet Our Incredible Trustees | #TrusteesWeek

This week (13th- 17th November) is Trustee’s Week!

And as always we want to take the opportunity to thank the wonderful trustees of The Women’s Organisation for all the hard work they do to support us. And this year, we’re going to delve a little deeper and tell you all about some of our trustees.

We think Trustees Week sum up the importance of Trustees perfectly. Here’s what they have to say;

‘Trustees play a vital role in running charities, volunteering their time and working together to make important decisions about the charity’s work. Trustees Week is an annual event to showcase the great work that trustees do and highlight opportunities for people from all walks of life to get involved and make a difference.’

So, let's delve behind the board and find out about our trustees…

Gill Moglione

Gill Moglione is the chair of the charitable arm of The Women’s Organisation and a woman who has plenty of experience of working closely with women! An expert in the voluntary sector, she is now focussing her time on domestic abuse within Black, Asian, Minority and Ethnic and Refugee communities. Gill has a background of being a pioneering and persistent woman and we couldn’t be prouder that she’s the chair of our charitable arm. In her own words, she is; ‘Totally dedicated to women’s equality and progression both in and out of the workplace.’

Pat Shea Halson

Pat Shea Halson is the chair of the trading arm of The Women’s Organisation and an entrepreneur and business woman. She first became involved in The Women’s Organisation after undertaking one of our business courses which she loved so much that she joined the board of directors as part of her commitment to ensuring other women had similar opportunities to access our support. She has been running her own successful business for over 12 years; the Centre for Personal Development, and is a regular at 54 St James Street which is a lovely treat for us!

Mona Navin Mealey

Mona Navin Mealey is a qualified accountant and has over 25 years of experience in the private sector! Having someone with such extensive experience is such an honour for The Women’s Organisation, and Mona’s presence on the board has helped The Women’s Organisation immensely and she has undertaken lots of research which has continually helped us to develop, differentiate and grow.

Lynn Howes

Lynn Howes is currently the Business Development Manager at the Chartered Institute of Housing, but previously held the position of Business Development Director for Merseyside Special Investment Fund which was developed in 1996 in response to the fact that entrepreneurs were struggling to get the full financial support that they needed. Lynn’s years of experience working with entrepreneurs and businesses mean she is an absolute asset to our board!

Angela Foulton

Angela Foulton is a local entrepreneur with a particular focus on equality, diversity and social inclusion – values that exactly match ours! As well as being a trustee for The Women’s Organisation, Angela is also works closely with the Liverpool Dyslexic Project Steering Group and Liverpool Dyslexic Association, and she is keen to promote awareness of dyslexia.

Susan Oshikanlu

Sue is the Finance Manager for HEAT; the Health, Energy Advice Team and she is extensive experience of working within the charitable sector. Sue in her own words says; ‘I am acutely aware of the issues faced by women in local communities and am committed to ensuring that local services are in place to reverse this trend of social and economic exclusion’

Maya Mitter

Maya Mitter is currently a Development Manager for La Bomba and OLC Productions, but was previously a lecturer in Psychology and Essential and Core Skills Communication. Maya understands the different issues that women face at the different stages of their lives and works closely as a member of the board to ensure that women have the support and encouragement that they need to face these challenges. 

These incredible women are just a few of our board, and we are so grateful to have all of them! Trustees Week gives us the opportunity to celebrate their hard work they do all year round, so we'd like to take a moment to say thank you! Thank you to the trustees of The Women's Organisation - You're simply fantastic!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Global Entrepreneurship Week With The Women's Org #GEW2017

Celebrating the 10th birthday of Global Entrepreneurship Week, The Women’s Organisation invite you to join us for an exciting programme of events and activities…

During our programme of events please also connect with us if you want to receive one to one business advice and are starting a business in the Liverpool City Region.

From building confidence to expanding your existing enterprise, we’d love to offer you support this Global Entrepreneurship Week to take the next step on your entrepreneurial journey.

Follow @TheWomensOrg @GEWUK #GEW2017

Monday 13th November 

Become a More Confident You

The Women’s Organisation 54 St James Street, Liverpool, L1 0AB

This one day course is for women who feel like they need a bit of a confidence boost! It’s interactive and engaging and will give you the tools to improve your self-esteem and build your confidence.

Book here!
FREE Open to women living in Liverpool City Region

Wednesday 15th November

Blogging for Beginners

The Women’s Organisation 54 St James Street, Liverpool, L1 0AB

This course covers different blogging tools that are available as well as advice on how to build great content and a following

£25 Open to all
Book here!

Wednesday 15th November

Business Club: The Accidental Entrepreneur

The Women’s Organisation 54 St James Street, Liverpool, L1 0AB
6:30pm - 8:30pm

The Women’s Organisation are teaming up with University of Liverpool Management School paying homage to ‘The Accidental Entrepreneur’.

A panel of enterprise experts will explore how to overcome the ‘imposter syndrome’ when finding yourself as a business owner, and sharing expertise in how to build a really successful enterprise.

£5 for Business Club Members/£10 for non-members 
Open to women
Tickets here!
Thursday 14th November

Entrepreneurs Clinic

Liverpool Central Library Business & IP Centre

Our Business Adviser Ali McGrath will be joining the mentors at the Entrepreneurs clinic to support enterprising people from the region with any business queries. Whether starting or growing a business people can drop in for 15 minute consultations to be given initial advice and guidance and signposting to support.

FREE Open to women and men looking for business advice
No need to book, just drop in. 

To find out how to get involved with The Women’s Organisation and these events follow @TheWomensOrg & #GEW2017 @GEWUK on Twitter

Or contact us on 0151 706 8111 or email

At 3:34, We’re Out The Door! 👋 Equal Pay Day 2017 ✊

Another year, another 52 days where women aren’t being paid.

You’ve guessed it, today is one of our least favourite days of the year; Equal Pay Day!

Equal Pay Day means that from 3:34pm on Friday 10th November 2017 until the end of the year, women effectively stop being paid because of the enduring gender pay gap. So that’s why our campaign slogan this year is…

3:34 – We’re out the door!

Every year at 3:34pm on Equal Pay Day, women, you may as well turn off your computers, put on your out of office, pack up your things and head on home!

Why? Because guess what!? You’re not getting paid for the rest of the year! 

Each year Equal Pay Day angers us, but also fires us up, because things must change, and the gender pay gap must close. Despite the Equal Pay Act being passed 47 years ago (!) half of society is at a disadvantage and being paid less for doing the same work.

The mean full-time pay gap currently stands at 14.1%. In other words, women earn just over 85p for every £1 that a man makes. 85p compared to every £1 – Just let that sink in! And this year’s Equal Pay Day comes around only ONE day later than last year, which really does reflect just how slow progress is in reducing the gap.

And, in even worse news, progress in closing this gap has stalled. It hasn’t changed in the last three years and the gap widens if you are an older woman, a BAME woman, if you’re a woman who works in certain sectors or if you’re a woman with higher earnings.

So WHY? Why does this gap persist and exist? We found these fantastic words from Sam Smethers, chief executive of the Fawcett Society, published last year, who said that the work being down by women is constantly undervalued;

“As we mark Equal Pay Day this year we are focussing on the fundamental question of who and what we value and asking why is that we don’t value women and the work they do – paid or unpaid. Equal value goes to the heart of the fight for pay equality, because the reality is that if it is a sector dominated by women the pay will be lower.”

This is reflected in the shocking and sad statistics such as the fact that women make up 80% of care and leisure workers but only 8% of those working in the better paid skilled trades. Women also make up 61% of those earning less than the real living wage set by the Living Wage Foundation.

The statistics and home truths feel like they are shocking and never ending. And it’s certainly a sobering read. You can read the Fawcett Society’s full Gender Pay Gap and Causes Briefing here.

But what can be done? Change needs to be significant and action needs to come from the key areas of; government, businesses and society.

Mandatory gender pay gap reporting is a step in the right direction but there should be the businesses who don’t comply should be held accountable for their actions. 

Once again, The Fawcett Society have some strong and needed recommendations for what can be done about the pay gay that you can read about here.

So! On Equal Pay Day, November 10th 2017 – We’re angry!

But realistically we’ll never stop being angry. We’ll keep fighting and keep persisting until gender parity and gender equality is achieved. Until the gender pay gap is closed.

But, today, at 3:34, if you want to head out the door…We won’t blame you.