To celebrate International Women’s Day we are bringing you a list of 9 powerful female entrepreneurs and their stories of how they created astounding success from scratch. The theme for 2017 International Women’s Day is Be Bold For Change, asking women to step up, take action and become a leader in their own sphere. Through innovation and collaboration, women of the world can prove themselves powerful and limitless. This inspiring list helps us all to realise that with drive, determination and a strong team behind you anything is achievable. These 9 powerful female entrepreneurs and their humble beginnings allow us all to celebrate the success of those around us who have been bold for change.
After spending some time in New York, Sahar was missing her daily coffee fix from the cool bars on every street upon her return. With a great corporate background, but no entrepreneurial experience, Sahar set out to transform Britain’s tea drinkers into coffee lovers, so you can now blame her for that double shot macchiato addiction you have.
Nurturing an entrepreneurial spirit through impersonating her customers, Sahar’s persistence and creativity led her to build her empire, The Coffee Republic. Fostering a creative mindset and championing the belief that anyone can do it, Sahar’s entrepreneurial journey is truly inspiring, she now boasts a multi-million-pound turnover and was awarded an OBE for services to the UK economy and charity in 2016.
With nothing but family support and optimism, Priya grew her fresh Indian food brand from her kitchen table. Leaving her secure profession as a libel lawyer, Priya risked it all to make her dream a reality. Taking her homegrown recipes to food festivals with her mum cooking and her dad providing moral support within 6 weeks, Priya had won orders from giant labels such as Harrods, Harvey Nichols and Waitrose.
Not only incredibly tasty, Priya's sauces also do good. Each pot of sauce sold provides a hot meal to a homeless person in India. Her brilliant business built from a strong support network and unwavering determination firmly place Priya on our list of powerful entrepreneurs.
After catching the travel bug, Tamara was set on combining her love of culture and travel with her linguist skills. Alongside her co-founder and partner James Lohan, the pair worked as a team to create a luxury business model, Mr and Mrs Smith.
Addressing the important questions like the cotton count of the sheets, and whether the bath can fit two people in it, Tamara put together an aspirational yet accessible list of the best hotels. Running this business alongside her partner, whilst also bringing up their kids, Tamara is truly a modern day superwoman.
With just £600 in her pocket and a determined vision, Julie created The Cambridge Satchel Company. Seeing her daughter suffering from being bullied in school, Julie set herself the goal of paying for her to attend an alternative school and turned her seed money into a multi-million-pound business.
Facing manufacturing issues alongside demands that well outstripped the initial ability to supply, Julie overcame these adversities by staying true to her core business goals.
Despite enormous pressure to satisfy demand with an overseas production model, she has ensured that each stage in producing every bag sold has taken place on British soil. Furthermore, she has used the company's success to drive a re-skilling of the British population from its Leicestershire-based factor by taking on apprentices, engaging disillusioned youth and encouraging people to embrace craftsmanship.
These strong values and an incredible product have led Julie is collaborate with numerous prestigious designers, including Vivienne Westwood, Comme des Garcons, Christopher Shannon and Chris Benz. From just £600 to the catwalks of London and New York fashion week, Julie proves to us all that anything is achievable.
Growing up surrounded by black music, Kanya knew she needed an outlet to help celebrate original talent. Striving with sheer dedication, Kanya re-mortgaged her house in order to launch the first MOBO awards.
Acting as CEO and founder, she built an incredible brand which hosts an annual awards ceremony, considered as one of the music industry’s biggest highlights. Inspiring the next generation to dream big and create something they believe in, Kanya’s experience has led her to firmly cement her place on our list of great female entrepreneurs.
The only woman to have worked on London’s iconic building ‘The Shard’ Roma paved her way through a male-dominated industry and to carve a name for herself as one of the UK’s finest structural engineers.
Taking this further, she launched You Life campaign, inspiring young people to get into the fields of science, technology, engineering and maths, helping the next generation forge their way into careers they might not have initially expected.
Engaging women in male-dominated professions, promoting the future of design and encouraging us all to join the conversation surrounding the future of engineering, Roma is a brilliant example of women breaking through the glass ceiling and that we all have the ability to build your own path against the grain.
A child prodigy, she took GSCEs at 10, A-levels at 11 and was awarded a masters by Oxford at the age of 20. Founder of Stemettes, Anne-Marie is the figurehead behind introducing girls into STEM careers. A figurehead in the world of tech, Anne-Marie also co-founded Outbox Incubator, the world’s first tech incubator for teenage girls.
Pioneering the tech revolution and asking women to consider careers in the digital sector through her own start-ups, Anne-Marie’s astounding intelligence and ability to put this into powerful practice makes her one of our most admired entrepreneurs.
Leaving school at just 16 with only six O levels, Jo Fairley rose to sweet success with her organic chocolate brand Green & Blacks. Focussing on corporate social responsibility, business agility and slick marketing, Jo built her brand and nurtured it to the heights of success, as she sold it to Cadburys in 2005.
Remaining an ambassador, Jo oversees the brand’s international growth. Sharing the Green & Black’s story, Jo leaves us all with an inspiring message that it is possible to build a brand that no only tastes good, but gives back to the planet it takes from. Despite not having the typically expected experience, Jo was able to develop her business and grow her brand into a global player. An inspiration force, Jo’s entrepreneurial journey is admirable.
Going blind at the age of 25 would not stop Liz Jackson building her marketing empire. With £1000 grant from the Prince of Wales Trust, Liz can now boast a million-pound turnover for her company Great Guns Marketing. Despite no advanced educational background, like many of the women featured in our list, Liz knew that grit and determination were the vital skills she needed to peruse her venture.
Liz won the Women Mean Business Award – Britain’s biggest award dedicated to women running their own businesses. Understanding the value of business, innovation in marketing and motivation, Liz’s ability to overcome adversity and challenge expectations leads her to sit on our inspiring list of female entrepreneurs.
Hopefully, this list in celebration of International Women’s Day prompts us to realise that we are all able to achieve our goals and make our dreams a reality if we act boldly and make a change. None of these women were necessarily educated in the field of business, none were adept entrepreneurs and none of them had much initial seed money. They just persevered in the face of resistance and worked incredibly hard to bring their ambitions to fruition, we can all lead by their example and carve our own paths to success.
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