What International Women’s Day 2021 means to me…

There are many times when I wish there was no need for an International Women’s Day – yet that need is still great.

In 2012, at the age of 22, I took on one of the UK’s leading free-from and superfood brands.  At that point, the company was struggling.

Over the last few years, with my team, which includes my fiancé Matt, the company has grown and developed into an award-winning brand. In 2018 we were awarded, UK Small Business of the Year.

I marvel at this given the number of times I’ve had to stand up at own being the female leader of this business as others have assumed it’s not me – it’s Matt. Working in such a big and male-dominated sector is not always easy.

Apart from Matt and Dale, my team are all female. I #choosetochallenge the belief that successful business owners have to be white, males. Anyone with the right commitment, passion and belief can be successful regardless of gender identity, age or ethinicity.

My journey

Being a young mixed-race female, has not stopped me from building a very successful business I am passionate about.

My own problems around allergies and anaphylaxis inspired me to grow and develop Creative Nature.  It has been hard work, but every minute has been worth it, and now I have gained a huge amount of experience within a challenging and competitive industry sector.

In turn, alongside running the business, I am also a professional business mentor, often supporting challenger brands in the same sector to move forward. It doesn’t bother me who started the brand at all.

I am able, as a strong female role-model, to support start-up young business owners coming in to the food and drink industry. My support is based on the skills, qualifications and lived experiences I have gained during my business development and growth.

From a report in 2020, it was found, out of the 22,257-business surveyed, approximately, 7,205 were launched by female entrepreneurs. This sets the number of UK businesses currently owned by women at 32.37%   Four years ago only 17% of founders of businesses were female. We are on the up and we are a force to be reckoned with.

What advantages do female entrepreneurs bring to business?

  • Women focus on collaboration and we are generally more sociable than our male counterparts.  Collaboration is important when it comes to being successful, and we prefer collaboration compared to men.
  • More opportunities for female mentors in business. The fact that there are so many more female entrepreneurs than previously, is hugely beneficial for the younger generations of women coming into business. This sharing of skills and expertise can only help the growth of women leaders.
  • Emotional intelligence is a competitive advantage and we score higher than men. Leadership studies have shown that high emotional intelligence may prove an advantage in business. An important factor in leadership where we have an edge over men. Generally, we understand their own emotions as well as that of our peers, and are able to use the information to help guide how to think and react to different situations.
  • It has been said that women make better leaders because employees today are looking for leaders who can balance soft and hard power traits. We are better at soft skills.

Employees like the flexibility and patience of women, and transparent, authentic leaders who can recognise their own weaknesses. Yet again, this is an area where we have an advantage.

  • Good communication, is a skill women have been recognised as having for years. This is very important in a business setting, because often, when problems arise, they are due to poor communication.
  • Women also value relationships. We also find it easier to forge stronger relationships on many more levels than men. Part of this is due to our open communication skills.

Don’t get me wrong, men bring a huge amount to business and having a gender mix in any business makes it healthier. However men generally don’t have to think about whether or not they are going to be taken seriously, struggle with imposter syndrome, make sacrifices around caring responsibilities or grapple with period pains each month – and then later the menopause. Our business world is generally set up around male needs and we need to create some balance.

The number of women entrepreneurs are rising year by year… we are here to stay!

In our Creative Nature’s blog this week, you can read about how we embrace women in our workplace.