How to Start Your Own Business – An Evening with Female Entrepreneurs

Events, London

Female entrepreneurs

‘The Future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams’ – Eleanor Roosevelt

Esc the city launched its first event in the ‘She Series’ last week, which Adele reassured us was not a women’s event, at least not like the ones that we have become accustomed to.
There was a real buzz of energy and excitement in the room as we heard from Emilie Holmes (Good & Proper tea), Harriot Pleydell-Bouverie (Mallow & Marsh), Victoria Eggs (Victoria Eggs), Lizzie Fane (ThirdYearAbroad.com) and the girls from Broad Minded.

Escape the City’s thoughts
Initially against the idea of ‘women in business events’, a dinner with the ladies from broad-minded convinced Adele that there is a need for opportunities for women to get together and inspire and motivate each other. What makes the She Series different to other women’s events? These ideals:
– Passion and talent are gender equalizers
– It’s not a competition. Not against men, not against other women. There is space for everyone to succeed
– Get your map, compass and supplies in order! (map=your network, compass=you core values and supplies=information and allies)
– The aim is not to turn us all into business women, CEOs, stay at home mothers, adventurers or a juggler of all of the above. It’s about finding out what you want and working together to get there.
– There are no rules. Think outside the box.
– These events are here to excite, engage, inspire, motive, unite women, but they are what you make them, so get stuck in and give as much as you take.

Victoria Eggs (Victoria Eggs)

Victoria Eggs designs premium quality home ware and gifts celebrating Britishness, all handmade in the UK. Founded by its namesake in 2011, Victoria Eggs evokes a true sense of British spirit through playful and punchy designs which bring a smile to the face. Fine Art graduate Victoria has been awarded many critically acclaimed accolades, including winning ‘Gift of the Year 2012’. In addition to featuring in publications such as The Sunday Times, Living Etc, Marie Claire and Time OutVictoria Eggs is also stocked in Selfridges, Southbank Centre and West Elm UK. The Aprons have even made their TV debut on ITV’s This Morning!

Some of her key bits of advice:

– Define your Unique Selling Point
What are you really selling? Think bigger than your product/service.
Who are you selling to?
Brand positioning– are you high end or low end?
Margins– ultimately you have to be making some money to continue operating
Manufacturing– gets a great supplier and have back-ups just in case!
Be realistic– if your product is handmade and takes a day to make what happens if you get an order for 100?
First impressions count.
Marketing
o Trade- make their life easy, include a call to action
o Customers- social media is a must, engage with them
o Press- make an impression. Be the purple cow
Keep in touch with key suppliers, customers, contacts
Be persistent!
Have fun and be flexible: be prepared to change some of your initial ideas

Harriot Pleydell-Bouverie (Mallow & Marsh)

Harriot studied Fine Art and photography before leading emerging market research for a headhunting firm. She then founded De Bouverie, a fine jewellery website making independent designers more accessible. As a business, this became the learning ground for almost every mistake in the book, and is what she now refers to as her ‘MBA for Entrepreneurs’. She was then light heartedly challenged to make marshmallows and founded Mallow & Marsh, which has gone from strength to strength and is now carried in selected Sainsbury’s stores. Since the launch Mallow and Marsh has been ranked in this year’s Startups100 and Harriot has been shortlisted for Management Today’s 35 women under 35.

Advice from Harriot

Be prepared to fail; it really is how you learn. Accept and embrace it.
Don’t over think it. It’s so tempting to spend weeks, months, and years meticulously planning your idea. Don’t.
Stop talking and start doing! ‘The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now’- Chinese proverb
Cut your budget in half. Check out the Lean Start Up by Eric Ries for proof, or come along to the Escape the City Start-up MBA.
Feedback is critical. Be a sponge and adapt.
Micro test your idea– give your customers what they actually want not what you think they want
– Be the best, be remarkable.

Lizzie Fane (ThirdYearAbroad.com)

Lizzie studied in Italy as part of her degree course and, based on the problems and wonders she experienced, she founded ThirdYearAbroad.com in 2006 to support other students through the process and give them a place to pass on advice. The site is now the UK’s biggest network of students who study or work abroad and new high-growth products are designed for the target audience, such as YearAbroadInsurance.com and a Careers Platform. Lizzie is an Academic Associate of The Higher Education Academy and Communications Director for Speak to the Future: the UK’s Campaign for Languages.

Key bits of advice from Lizzie

Solve a problem. What bugs you? Don’t complain, fix it!
– If you don’t know how to do something, learn.
Don’t underestimate yourself or overestimate others
– There are so many resources out there to help new entrepreneurs not least your old university’s business/start-up/ entrepreneur societies.
– Also check out Smarta.comaskstarting.com and hang out at Google campus

Emilie Holmes (Good & Proper Tea)

In 2012, Good & Proper Tea founder Emilie Holmes decided to take off her corporate advertising hat and don a trader’s apron, bringing her obsession for tea to the people of London and beyond. Leaving a successful career at Ogilvy & Mather, Emilie had a vision for tea done right. She parlayed her corporate advertising savvy into establishing a new “classic” brand that restores quality and craft to this quintessential component of British culture. She bought herself a stylish 1974 Citroen H van, had it fitted out for the tea trade, and opened her side window to London’s tea lovers. And the people of London are better for it. Emilie makes a mean cuppa.

Key bits of advice from Emilie

You don’t have to do it right, you just have to do something!
– Be prepared to change
Question every decision, based on your initial goal
– ‘Cash is King’- you’ll hear it repeatedly in the world of start-ups but it’s true.
Get some perspective. Talk it out with someone you trust.
– There is no such thing as ‘I don’t know’ Google is your friend.
Switch of from external negative forces.
– There is no how to manual, each person’s journey is different, that’s the beauty of being an entrepreneur, so get out there and just does it!

A little on Broad-minded

Broad Minded are a group of women who have formed a network to support and encourage each other as individuals and professionals. There three main aims are to:

Inspire: Regular dinners with inspirational speakers and the chance for us all to share ideas and network. We feel there’s a real opportunity here for us to create a voice for women of our age and position.

Educate: The opportunity to sign up for talks or courses on anything from managing your finances to leadership skills to presenting skills.

Motivate: An out-reach program through which we go into schools and universities to offer talks and the opportunity for mentor matching with students.

Click here to for their Facebook page.