This International Women’s Day, we wanted to celebrate some of the best and most inspiring businesswomen from across Manchester, so we rounded them up and asked them to tell us about being a woman in business (and included our thoughts, too). Here are their answers:
“Now is a great time to be a woman in business. I think in the past few years we’ve seen a massive leap in terms of the opportunities available. More women are willing to take a risk and build a work-life balance doing what they love. For me, success shouldn’t be dependent on gender but on hard work and determination.”
– Holly Dawson, Rock on Ruby
“I’ve been a ‘woman in business’ for around 10 years, however I took my business full time around two years ago. It has certainly been a challenge, however I’m lucky that I haven’t experienced too many battles due to being a woman. In the content creator/blogger industry, it’s dominated with women each aiming to expand and grow their online space and work alongside brands to amplify their marketing strategies.
“In some cases, I feel like when I meet with brands that are male dominated and I explain the nature of my business, I have been made to feel that fashion and beauty ‘is my place’. I’ve seen surprised faces when I have turned up with advanced technology to shoot and film for various restaurants or travel companies. I’ve wondered if this is because the nature of my business – and being a woman – means I am stereotyped to be producing makeup tutorials at home in my bedroom, and then ‘beefier’, tech side of the job is left to the males. However, that feeling is something that has only been felt on a small handful of occasions, and I do genuinely feel that in my industry women are very much welcomed to lead.
“I have learnt that one of the best ways for me to grow as a strong woman in business within the social media industry is to actually team up with my male competitors. Create content together. Collaborate. Invite them as my plus one to events. Become equal. Help each other out. I see social media and content creating as a gender-neutral business and luckily, I don’t feel there will be too many obstacles within this.”
“It’s a funny term, ‘women in business’. We don’t say, ‘men in business,’ because that’s just the “norm”. But a great piece of graffiti I spotted in Copenhagen whilst on a business growth trip perfectly captures my thoughts on that: “F*ck the norm.”
“ And F’ing the norm is what I’ve been doing for my entire career.
“When I launched Jam_ in 2006, it was one of only a handful of boutique Manchester agencies in an industry dominated by the big boys (pun intended). It wasn’t the norm, but it didn’t faze me – whether that was the naivety of youth or genuine gumption is still TBD. I just knew that I could make a real difference to clients and their marketing objectives. And to this date, that still stands.
“I said sod it to the norm and in the past 13 years we’ve grown from a one-woman band (me), specialising in PR, to a 15 strong team of multi-skilled Jammers, evolving our offering to become an integrated communications agency, delivering dynamic marketing campaigns for clients on a national and international basis.
“I make it sound like a breeze, but I assure you it was not! And it still isn’t. Success is not achieved without some failure. And I’m bold enough to admit I’ve made many a mistake. But in the words of the late, great Nelson Mandela: “I never lose. I either win or I learn.” I call it failing forward. If there’s fire in your belly and you know it’s truly worth the blood, sweat, tears and failures, you keep on trucking.
“This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is #EachforEqual, which is about ‘Collective Individualism,’ a belief close to my heart. At Jam_, one of our core values is authenticity – we encourage Jammers to be themselves. Only that way can we build trust and create work that’s unique and sparks imagination.
“Being individual, being authentic; it’s what keeps the world turning. So, this year I’m standing for #EachforEqual, high-fiving individuality and encouraging you all to F the norm.”
– Jaime Gee, Jam_
“In deciding to stock only small independent makers, I’ve come across so many talented women who are running their own businesses and putting their all into their work. I feel incredibly privileged to have met and worked with so many inspiring women, which in turn has spurred me on with my own business and given me encouragement when I’ve struggled myself.
“As a woman, it’s easy to compare yourself to others but it’s so much more beneficial to be supportive and to help each other grow!”
– Elly, Form Lifestyle Store
“The best part about running a business as a woman is how supportive other women in the same situation have been. I’ve made so many friends, both within the baking and food sector and outside of it, and I’ve had nothing but great experiences – we share advice, celebrate each other’s successes, recommend each other to friends and customers, and lean on each other when things get tough. It’s a real sense of community over competition, and I think it’s a genuinely great thing.”
– George Johnston, Gorgosaurus
“I’ve never really found being a woman in a business world a great difficulty, however it’s hard to ignore how few women really make it to the top in their industry, hairdressing included! What I will say is what a privilege it is to be in an era where being a woman in business is celebrated and recognised, it hasn’t always been like that. It’s important to be the positive change you want to see and take every opportunity no matter how small!”
– Angela Mason, Angela Mason Hair Extensions
“Working in the fashion and beauty realm, I’ve been lucky enough to meet and work with many impressive women who have set up businesses that I really admire. They’ve all had a reason and story behind starting up their businesses, and have overcome obstacles whether it’s working to gain investment, managing motherhood with work, or just battling to be taken seriously, which I think is so interesting and always adds depth to a brand, in an industry where companies can easily be faceless and anonymous.
“I was pretty young when I started Avant with my business partner Jazmin, and I do think we came up against some preconceptions that we were ‘just young girls’ who weren’t to be taken seriously. Seven years in, we’re proud to still be a strong fixture of the fashion and beauty PR scene, and I’m happy we chose to take the leap and start up the company.”
– Ellen Kelly, Avant PR
“Writing about being a woman in business is hard as it’s all we’ve ever known and I think that fact alone – living with it as you have no other choice – makes women the world over quite resilient. There are definitely situations in which being a woman around the table is seen as a negative and you’re not taken as seriously as the men in suits, but women tend to stand up against that and prove their worth despite (or because of!) their sex.
“There are so many successful women in business across Manchester and the world and we’re really proud to know and work closely with so many. We’re noticing more and more brands being set up by women who want to challenge the status quo and create a work life that is convenient for them and going on to do great things.
“I listened to a podcast earlier this week about a woman – a survivor of the Holocaust – who set up a tech business in the 60s, when she still needed her husband’s signature to even open a bank account, and went on to make it a billion-pound company with a predominantly female workforce. It’s women like her that have paved the way for us and I love that so many women are embracing the opportunities that millions before us weren’t afforded.”
– Jazmin Farrell-Cabrera, Avant PR