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LIFE OF LUXURY Wellbeing guru Zoë Watson on business in Bali



Award-winning PR queen, author and entrepreneur shares her thoughts

Suits you

The woman shaking up Savile Row Classroom to Boardroom Shaping the future of working women

THE SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS The story behind beauty megabrand Lush Advice & Insight

Managing managers with Nic Rixon Why wellbeing is the way forward Work-life balance – is there such a thing?

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Fash - Travel ty Beau more! and

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01202 751458 / Westbourne 01202 884404 / Wimborne 3

There’s no limit to what you can achieve with the versatilty and power of Surface. To find out more about the incredible work women do at Microsoft, visit https://aka.ms/microsoftwomen




Fashion and tech to brighten your day


Sisters who mean business


The latest time-saving apps


Business coach Nic Rixon on managing managers


From classroom to boardroom – shaping the future of working women


Why we need great role models


Spa owner Zoë Watson on building a blissful business in Bali


Preventative healthcare with Dr Lucia Batty


Hair hero Gennaro Dell’Aquila


Power dresser: Savile Row’s Phoebe Gormley


Lush founder Rowena Bird


Award-winning PR queen Sunny Bird shares her thoughts


Beauty: cruelty-free pick-me-ups


Travel: the great escape


Work-life balance: you can do it


Meet our London finalists


Keep calm and carry on – yes, really!

in this issue

Cut sugar. Drink better. “ Some genius has created skinny prosecco and we are eternally grateful. � THE METRO

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Editor’s letter Welcome to the London edition of Venus, the premier magazine for women in business. One of the things I’ve noticed about successful women is that once they know they’ve got a good idea, they’ll go all out to make it happen. Read how Zoë Watson went from a stressful sales job to opening her own luxury spa retreats in Bali (page 32). Find out why Phoebe Gormley is shaking up Savile Row (page 40), and hear how Rowena Bird co-founded a beauty megabrand despite a fire destroying everything she had (page 44). Award-winning PR queen, author and entrepreneur Sunny Bird shares her thoughts (page 52), and get on top of your health with preventative medicine expert Dr Lucia Batty (page 27). Eight years ago, I had a good idea, too – to create an awards programme to reward local businesswomen and deliver business and personal development as part of the package. The Venus Awards are now held in 14 different regions across the country, and this year’s London Awards ceremony is our 35th event! It’s hard to believe how much we’ve achieved in that time, and I’m incredibly proud of everyone involved in making it such a success. I’m very passionate about supporting women in business and tackling the issues that affect us all – from the glass ceiling to the impossible conundrum of work-life balance. Although there are countless business magazines out there, and even more women’s lifestyle magazines, there didn’t seem to be one for businesswomen that encompassed the highs and lows we face in our day-to-day working lives. I wanted to read expert advice and opinion, interviews with inspiring women, with a bit of travel, tech, beauty and fashion thrown in. When I couldn’t find a magazine that offered me all of those things, I did the only thing I could do – I started my own. So whether you’re climbing the corporate ladder or running a start-up from your kitchen table, there’ll be something here for you. We’ve got no-nonsense advice from business coach Nic Rixon (page 22), the latest innovation in hairdressing (page 38), and a fascinating look at how today’s seven year olds will (hopefully) become tomorrow’s company leaders (page 30). Last but not least, our amazing Venus Awards finalists (page 69) tell us why they made the shortlist for our Women In Business Awards. I hope you find something here to inspire and inform you. If you want to give any feedback, don’t hesitate to get in touch via the email address below. In the meantime – enjoy!

Tara Howard

Editor-At-Large Founder of the Venus Awards tara@venusawards.co.uk

CREDITS & CONTRIBUTORS Editorial (+44) 01202 559039 info@venusawards.co.uk Editor-at-Large Tara Howard Editor Juliette Wills Art Director Sebastian Hall www.dotscreative.co.uk Programme Designer Jake Young Sub-editor Katherine Bebo Contributors Rachel Stafler Andreina Cordani Advertising (+44) 01202 559039 abby@venusawards.co.uk Published by Venus Awards Ltd www.venusawards.co.uk Printed by Stephens & George Print Group Distributed by Venus Awards Ltd Disclaimer: All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form, stored in or re-introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means – electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise – without the prior permission of the Venus Awards Ltd.

D E E P E S T. D A R K E S T. D O R S E T. 9

f s u s e l c c u s y n a m w o h

n c u l h e g s n o l e k a t e l peop

every day?





Fashion, tech more ways to make your life easier

WIRED FOR SOUND These August EP650 Bluetooth Wireless Headphones combine comfort, style and convenience with a fantastic sound quality. The earpiece remote control allows you to skip back and forth through your track list, answer and hang up calls, and thanks to its microphone, incoming calls can be answered without even having to pick your phone up. They’re supremely comfortable, too, and come in a range of colours. £39.95, amazon.co.uk


Inspector gadget Your day just got better with the latest in tech innovation



This Bellabeat activity tracker made from natural wood and rose quartz records your sleep patterns, stress levels and activity. You can wear it as a necklace, clip it to your clothes or slip it in your pocket. £129.99, amazon.co.uk

GOING FOR GOLD The Logitech Spotlight Presentation Remote allows you to digitally zoom in and highlight elements of a presentation without the usual fumbling on your laptop. It also has a handy vibration reminder to keep you on track and on time (i.e., stops you waffling!). £119.99, logitech.com



This clever lamp combines a touchcontrol, featuring three brightness settings and a built-in speaker, enabling you to stream music wirelessly from any device. It’s a desk-based disco, when you think about it… £49.95, augustint.com



Trooping the colour


When it’s cold and dark outside, perk yourself up with splashes of colour

Orange isn’t really the new black, but it does bring a sharp splash of colour to your winter wardrobe.


£125, lkbennett.com



Organise your cash and cards in this red leather mini clutch. £25, marksandspencer.com





Give your wardrobe – and your spirits – a lift with this gorgeous pink coat from Hobbs.


Give boring black a miss. Warm up your hands, plus your outfit, with these ontrend ochre leather gloves. £22.50, johnlewis.com

£224, hobbs.co.uk




By Juliette Wills



These emerald-green heels will put a spring in your step on the coldest of winter mornings. £195, lkbennett.com

This bag is roomy enough to double as an overnight bag, and comes in an array of colours. With plenty of inside pockets, a pull-out clutch bag and a padded laptop compartment, you’ll want one in each hue. £55, miatui.com






PACK IT IN The Grace Backpack’s clever design suspends your laptop off the floor of the bag to protect it, while the super-soft lining prevents scratches. Tangled cables and lost keys are no more with its handy cable clips and ports. It might be grey and gloomy outside but you can still bring a little sunshine to your life with this palm-print 2019 A6 ‘flexidiary’ by Alice Scott. £8, johnlewis.com

£74.95, amazon.com

FLOWER POWER This eco-friendly bamboo-fibre portable coffee cup will ensure thrills without spills on the way to the office.

Get organised

£12, colliercampbell.com

Spruce up your office with these game-changers



The Rocketbook Everlast Mini is an endlessly reusable notebook that gives a classic pen-and-paper experience with a digital twist. Download the Rocketbook app to scan pages with a mobile device and when the 48 pages are full, simply wipe clean and start again. £15.99, getrocketbook.co.uk



Squirrel Sisters Gracie (left) and Sophie go nuts in the kitchen



THE SQUIRREL SISTERS’ TOP TIPS FOR START-UPS ALWAYS TRUST YOUR GUT If something doesn’t feel right then it probably isn’t. At the start, we made a couple of decisions that we were unsure about and it left us in a bit of a sticky situation. Now we don’t do anything unless we are both 100% happy about it.

Apparently you should never work with children or animals, but what about working with your sister? Is setting up a business with your sibling a recipe for disaster – or the key to success?


attending trade shows and perfecting their recipes. Their hard work paid off when Waitrose and Morrisons agreed to stock their products; soon after, a publisher approached them to write a recipe book. The rest, as they say, is history, and they’re now in the process of securing investment as they head into new product development with their all-female team.

“We share the same vision and have the same values” Did they ever have any doubts about working together? “No never,” insists Sophie. “We’re so similar with our goals and vision for the company, but it helps that our skills are very different, so we complement each other.” “ We ’v e s p i l t o u r r o l e s a n d responsibilities,” adds Gracie, “but we make all the big decisions together – we wouldn’t have it any other way.”

GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK We used to feel guilty if we took a lunch hour. There’s this unrealistic pressure on business owners that you must be at your desk all day and night, but it’s not productive and leads to burnout. DON’T COMPARE YOUR BUSINESS TO OTHERS It’s all too easy with social media to compare yourselves to others and, as business owners, it can be dangerous. People only post their best bits on Instagram and we’re sensible enough to know that it’s far removed from reality. ENJOY IT We’ve always said that if it ever got to a stage where we didn’t love it anymore, we’d stop. If you’ve lost the passion for your business then there’s no point in doing it.

Find out more at squirrelsisters.com

Photo: Helena Murphy

ophie and Gracie Tyrell launched their healthy snack brand Squirrel Sisters in 2015. Their products are stocked in two supermarkets and they’ve also published a recipe book. Life for the Squirrel Sisters started out as a hobby – a healthy-eating, wellness blog filled with beautiful imagery of their recipes. As their following grew on social media, they realised they had the makings of something bigger, and set about turning their hobby into a fully fledged business with their range of vegan, gluten-free and sugar-free snack bars. Their quirky title comes from the nickname they were landed with in childhood; fortunately it suits their business model as their products are made from – you’ve guessed it – fruit and nuts. Finances are often the stumbling block when it comes to turning an idea into a viable business, but the sisters had some savings to kick things off. They also happened to be in a very fortunate position when it came to the design aspect of the brand, as Gracie explains. “Sophie’s husband is a designer, so he was able to create our brand and packaging design. That meant we could launch without investment or a loan, which was fantastic.” The branding – of the sisters themselves and the product packaging – is spot-on, and highlights the importance of getting that right first time. It’s a huge financial outlay for start-ups, and getting it wrong can have disastrous financial implications (you only have to watch Dragons’ Den to see how disastrous). The sisters worked from home for the first year to keep their overheads down,

WORK WITH PEOPLE WHO SHARE YOUR VALUES We share the same vision and have the same values. We trust each other implicitly and complement each other perfectly because our skills our very different. We now only work with people who we feel that way about.


two MAGPIES MEDIA Helping your business take flight

Editorial Consultancy Branding Website Design Content Public Relations

www.twomagpiesmedia.com 18


By Juliette Wills. Photos: Helen Fickling


Louise (left) and Corinne outside their Belgravia HQ


Sisters Louise Unger and Corinne Laurie run The Camouflage Company, selling pretty storage solutions for the home and garden

uite often, the best business ideas don’t seem like ideas at all, but more a passing thought. On other occasions, there really is a eureka moment when you wonder why you’re the only person thinking of a solution to a problem. Does it mean there’s a gap in the market, or does it mean there’s a good reason why that product doesn’t exist? For Belgravia-based sisters Louise and Corinne, it was a little of both. “It was Corinne’s idea,” explains Louise. “She was staying in a country cottage, and noticed that the view of the garden was spoilt by the furniture being covered in grey canvas. She wondered why garden furniture covers weren’t made to blend in with their surroundings, and that thought stayed with her to the point that she photographed a meadow in bloom and put the images onto strong outdoor material to see if it worked. That’s how we started – by camouflaging the things you don’t want to see.” The sisters tried the same theory when on a picnic, with bags and boxes designed to blend into the background. When they realised they could make useful products blend in with the scenery rather than stand out, the idea for The Camouflage Company was born. Trade shows beckoned and they soon had orders from French supermarket giant Carrefour and John Lewis. “We started with a range called Utility Chic,” says Corrine, “a smart collection of practical and versatile bags, boxes and carriers that kept contents tidily concealed inside a beautiful bag or box.”

The storage boxes fold down flat when not in use, are wipe-clean and look great on the floor, on shelves or in your wardrobe. There are trays, innovative toiletry bags (yes, really), shopping bags and boxes, all designed to hide clutter – from kids’ toys to gardening tools and paperwork. They’ve even come up with storage bags for clothes, towels or bedding, which means everything has a place – and looks pretty in it. The bulk of their sales come from an unlikely source – QVC in America (“It really is fun to do,” says Louise, “and the results are incredible”), where their products are sold worldwide. There are plans to move into shopping channels in Japan, Russia and Dubai, too. The sisters work well as a team, sharing similar personality traits but recognising each other’s strengths when it comes to running the business – Corinne concentrates more on the design aspect of things, while Louise is more focused on sales and marketing. Having worked with male business advisors in the early days – “most of whom were impossible to deal with” – they decided to go it alone, and they’ve gone from strength to strength ever since. “That was the best decision we ever made,” says Corinne, “and the point at which we really started to grow the business. We’re able to be straight and honest with each other, and when we do argue, we move on. We’ve had a whole lifetime of that so it’s no different at work V than it ever was at home!” ■ Find out more at thecamouflagecompany.com


Don’t worry

BE APPY Simplify your life and free up some time with these clever apps


When you get the chance to escape the office for a holiday, or even an overnight work trip, this app helps you to keep track of what you’ve packed (and how much of it), what you still need to pack, and reminds you of those last-minute additions to your suitcase you absolutely don’t want to forget, like your phone charger, passport or toothbrush. What makes Packing Pro different – and better – than a handwritten list is the level of organisation and personalisation the app offers. You can assign each item to a specific person or bag and set alarms to remind you when to add certain things to your suitcase for a more relaxed start to your trip.


When it comes to productivity, it’s not only what you do at your desk that’s important. Ideas and inspiration can strike anywhere, and Evernote brings them all together. From quick to-do lists to instructions to your team, you can add it to your Evernote workspace. Grab photos, screenshots, links, a section of a web article – anything that can help with your current projects. Any note can have a ‘reminder’ attached, optionally sending an email alert for important tasks. Smart search tools scour everything you’ve collected to find the details you need. You’ll wonder how you ever managed without it.


Designed for freelancers, self-employed people and small business owners, this is more than ‘just’ a banking app. Coconut will estimate how much tax you need to save so you don’t end up with an unexpected bill. It categorises your business expenses and reminds you to scan the receipt, keeping everything in one place. It’s a bit like your dad, only cooler. It also notifies you when payment has been made or received so you can stay on top of late invoices – something freelancers will unfortunately be all too familiar with.






With a plethora of ‘list’ apps on the market, you may already be using one, but let us stop you now, because Wunderlist is, quite frankly, the best to-do list app out there. Getting started is simple, yet the more you explore, the more features you find. Forward emails, arrange related items in folders to keep them organised, add due dates and attachments, and get notifications via emails, in-app messages and more. The clever bit is that your lists can be shared with others, meaning better communication and a clearer way of working on more complex projects. You can assign tasks to others as required, and a comments system allows your team to discuss the latest issues.

This is the best one-stop social media manager app on the market right now. It enables professional users to create, schedule and track the performance of all their social media posts from one place. Scheduling is ultra-flexible, with the ability to set up different date and posting times for each of your social media accounts. Posts can be created in your spare time, then added to the program’s queue with Buffer automatically publishing them according to each account’s schedule (it’s more simple than it sounds, honestly). Its analytics allow for tracking metrics including clicks, likes, shares, comments, re-tweets and more, helping you better understand which posts work for you – as well as enabling you to improve your social media reach in the future.


By Juliette Wills


This is a smartly designed service for managing, organising and sharing everything from simple todos to major project-management tasks. By dragging ‘cards’ onto a Trello board, you’ll be able to represent single tasks for each one with priorities and deadlines attached. The cards can also serve as more substantial checklists, with attached files and pictures, containing hyperlinks to point somewhere else. It’s also useful for organising things outside of work such as holidays, family get-togethers and even as an ideas board for birthday gifts – yours or someone else’s!

I’m good at a lot of things, but driving without a navigation app isn’t one of them. I was born the wrong way around as well as upside down, so it’s little wonder that I still have zero sense of direction and panic if I have to drive somewhere unfamiliar. At least, I felt like this until I discovered Waze, a superb navigation and travel app that does more than tell you where you’re going. It’s honestly changed my life. You can see how to best avoid construction and traffic jams, and you’re presented with several routes according to those factors. It’ll tell you where the nearest petrol station or coffee shop is, and you can also help other drivers by reporting things like accidents to the app, so they know what areas to avoid. Because you have it on your phone, it also avoids the problem of having to hide your satnav system from potential thieves every time you park your car.


MIND your



own BUSINESS Public speaking is something most of us are terrified of. Not so Nic Rixon, who has forged a successful 20-year career in management coaching out of it. Juliette Wills gets the lowdown


ic Rixon’s role as business coach, trainer and mentor came about in a rather unusual way. By accident, in fact. Upon finding out that his five-yearold son was dyslexic, Rixon embarked on a personal-development programme to give himself the tools he needed to be able to teach him. Having got a taste for personal growth, Rixon enrolled in a Dale Carnegie training programme, where he was taught how to build trust and motivate people, communicate logically, and energise and engage listeners. The course also covers discovering ways to manage stress and minimise worry – something we could all benefit from in today’s fast-paced world. Rixon was so enthused that he enrolled as an instructor and spent the following 12 years teaching

other people how to get the best out of their business. “I’ve worked with so many different companies,” he explains, “from global giants like Sony Pictures to IBM, through to small businesses right at the other end of the scale. The principles are the same whatever size the business.” Has he ever come up against a business owner who believed they were immune to improvement, or are they always ready to accept advice? “If you do this job for long enough, you will meet both,” he laughs, “so I need to work with clients who are open to asking for help, then doing something with it when they get it. It’s fairly easy to get results for clients who are enthusiastic, coachable and present. They need to be personally



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invested in their own result to make a home… and yet they still think they it happen.” need to ‘be better’.” Rixon has helped a number of women This is the very reason why Venus receive pay rises through his coaching founder Tara Howard set up the methods. With the gender pay gap still Venus Business School with Rixon – to a huge issue in the workplace, this is specifically encompass women’s issues something he’s very and personal proud of. development in the “It’s not about “I advised one of workplace, as their changing somebody, roles are often more my first clients to change jobs three complex than those of it’s about teaching times in as many their male colleagues. them how to let go years,” he says. “I So, how does Rixon of the beliefs that took her salary from change someone’s way limit them” £15k to £130k, and of thinking? the next move was for “I teach people her to start her own business, which I fully how to do something differently to get a supported her in doing.” different result. It’s not about changing Rixon believes women in business give somebody, it’s about teaching them how themselves too hard a time in general. “I to let go of the beliefs that limit them, admire women in business a great deal,” such as a lack of confidence or this belief he explains. “They’re typically juggling that they’re not doing enough.” three or four things at once – running Rixon has been “happily married” to a company or working in a senior role, Linda for 34 years, and his children are looking after their family, and managing “financially self-sufficient, independent

and strong-minded”. Rixon divides his time between two homes – in Surrey and Madrid (“My wife is solar-powered,” he laughs) and, as with many high-achievers, Rixon follows a strict “super-slow, highintensity” exercise programme along with a rigid “low-to-no carbs” policy. What, no 4pm KitKat and cup of tea? “No chance,” he says, shaking his head. “I have to be in top shape if I’m going to be coaching CEOs and management teams on how to build an energetic and motivated workforce. I have to have that energy when coaching, and then find some for family time at the end of the day, too.” What ultimately makes a good leader? “Someone with good communication skills, good empathy skills and who is able to make tough decisions and take responsibility for their choices,” says Rixon, “as that’s really the basis of good management.” V Let that be a lesson to us all. ■ Find out more about business coaching at sgfe.co.uk



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Dr Lucia Batty, that’s who – an innovator in preventative medicine. Juliette Wills finds out more… ‘Prevention is better than cure’ is a phrase we’re all familiar with, but it’s not just something your grandma made up – it originated in the 13th century when, of course, there weren’t actually any cures for illness and, therefore, prevention was key (even if, in reality, people just died at a young age, riddled with horrible diseases). A whopping 800 years down the line, and with the advent of modern medicine long behind us, we might be forgiven for thinking that this ideology

would be redundant. The harsh reality but the body’s last straw when it is that it is more relevant than ever before. cannot compensate anymore. Dr Batty There are patients who passively take believes that the current NHS model, medications for their symptoms without which is based around established disease asking why they’re being prescribed, or management and symptom-suppression – indeed what the side effects might be. You rather than early detection and prevention only need to peer inside the bathroom – needs to change. cabinet of anyone who’s recently had a “ T h e m e ch a n i s m o f ch ro n i c autoimmune disease is heart attack and you’ll be incredibly complex and confronted with not one “We’re diseases take years to pack of pills, but six or practising seven. Find someone with an develop. By looking at the ‘sick care’ autoimmune condition like wider picture – a patient’s inflammatory bowel disease lifestyle choices and general instead of and they’re probably taking ‘health care’. health – there are many painkillers, steroids and at opportunities to explore My aim is to least one other pill, if not and effectively intervene. having immunosuppressive prevent health We need to ask ourselves: ‘What is going on with therapy to boot. This means problems the patient?’ rather than: their immune system is from ‘What is available for this weakened not only by the developing disease, but also by the condition?’ Medical tests are in the first medication designed to designed to identify disease, relieve the symptoms. not disease-preceding place” abnormalities. Wellbeing “Our medical system is Medicine, which I practise, integrates reactive, not proactive,” explains Dr Lucia functional medicine with conventional Batty, director of Wellbeing Medicine medicine and focuses on identifying Ltd. “We’re practising ‘sick care’ instead and addressing the root causes of the of ‘health care’. My aim is to prevent health problems from developing in the disease. It applies lifestyle strategies such first place through proactive, preventative as exercise, improved sleep, resilience/ lifestyle and wellbeing-focused medicine.” emotional intelligence and nutrition.” Symptoms are actually not Chronic diseases are believed to be the first manifestation of disease, food and lifestyle-driven, as well as being


Now stocking CBD infused coffee and a barn full of fresh CBD oil products CBDBARN.CO.UK 28


influenced by genetics and environmental factors. An alarming seven out of 10 deaths are, according to Dr Batty, entirely preventable. “We’re not genetically hardwired for most diseases – instead, our genes can be influenced by many factors,” she explains. “I’ve seen successful, professional women in their early forties diagnosed with different autoimmune diseases – multiple sclerosis, thyroiditis and psoriasis. Rather than simply asking for a prescription, they asked me why this was happening to them – and my role is to help identify possible causes and triggers. By now we know that one imbalance (e.g., inflammation) can cause many conditions in different people. The same imbalance can cause heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, cancer or depression. Getting to the root causes is fundamental in long-term disease management.” In her clinic, Dr Batty examines gut health, checks for any kind of infection, addresses ‘diet-exercise-sleep-stress’ aspects, then sets about optimising work-life balance. That means anything from working on personal resilience to finding stress-busting hobbies, reducing use of social media to being mindful of nutrition. The general consensus is that we should be doing things to help ourselves rather than relying solely on our GP and medication. “Health isn’t our priority in the UK. We don’t expect to pay for healthcare, but

we invest in car and house insurance in case something goes wrong.” Dr Batty has a point – why don’t we invest in our health in case something goes wrong? Should employers also be doing more to ensure optimum health in the workplace? After all, we all take sick days for the flu, but if an employee is off work with a chronic condition – one that just might have been preventable – then that will have a huge ripple effect across the workplace. Colleagues will bear the brunt of that person’s workload, their boss will be liable for sick pay and if that employee’s condition doesn’t improve, the government will have to step in with benefits, which may not even cover that person’s living costs. Once a person becomes unwell, things have a tendency to spiral out of control incredibly quickly. Keep your employees healthy, happy and empowered, and your business will reap the rewards. Dr Batty is also clinical lead consultant in the Occupational Health and Wellbeing Department at King’s College Hospital in London. Occupational physicians are impartial medical advisers with dual duty of care to employees and employers, advising on complex interaction between work and health. They reduce health risks and absence, increase organisational productivity and improve health and wellbeing among employees. Dr Batty has completed enhanced psychology and mental health training alongside her

role as a consultant, so she’s able to see the bigger picture when it comes to mental and emotional health – which, of course, ties in completely with a person’s physical health. “I recently saw a nurse in my clinic who was suffering with severe symptoms of anxiety, low mood and what we later identified as pseudohallucinations,” says Dr Batty. “She was on a cocktail of psychiatric medications. I analysed her symptoms and searched for missing pieces of information – and she turned out to be severely vitamin B12-deficient, among other things. “Despite not having full cooperation from her GP, we managed to identify further abnor malities and, following our gradual approach, she has completely transformed to the point of being able to go back to work and feel like herself again.” Dr Batty runs Wellbeing workshops in London; events are open to the public and are designed to inspire and empower attendees by optimising their feelings of wellbeing and reducing the risk of developing chronic illness. With multidisciplinary expert speakers, yoga and Pilates sessions, a wide range of exhibitors, a personal health check and nutritious food provided on the day, it’s a great starting point for those V who wish to focus on their health. ■ Dr Lucia Batty is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and of the Faculty of Occupational Medicine. Learn more at wellbeingmedicine.co.uk.


Women are still underrepresented when it comes to running businesses, but why? Does motherhood get in the way, or are those doing the hiring to blame? Juliette Wills thinks it’s more complicated than that…


ow was your morning? A frantic, noisy rush to get your children up, dressed and to breakfast club while you barely had time to check you left the house in matching shoes? It’s the same story all over the country, but some women are fortunate enough to work for a company that makes their life a little easier when it comes to the ‘spinning plates’ issue of balancing a career and motherhood. Having children is, at the end of the day, a lifestyle choice (just as it is to not have them). As such, any benefits like flexible or reduced working hours – or even an on-site crèche – are optional, not mandatory. Many women view the benefits put in place to help them raise a family while working as something they’re entitled to, but we should remember that companies don’t employ people on the basis of accommodating their private lives. It may sound obvious, but if you intend to start a family, it pays to do your homework before applying for a job, actively seeking out a company that offers flexibility to working mothers over



one that doesn’t. This is something Caroline Allen from Brighton knows a thing or two about. As vice president of sales for e-learning software company Elucidat, Caroline manages a seven-person sales team – six of whom are female – and is proud of the company’s flexible working policy. “Flexible working is actively encouraged, rather than something you have to ask for,” says Caroline, “which makes a massive difference when considering childcare issues.” The founders of the company (three men, each with two children) lead by example, realising that taking time off for sports days and special assemblies is a key part of parenting. “I’m currently recruiting,” adds Caroline, “and I’m happy to take people on either in a part-time role or just during school hours. Everyone from the board down understands that women dropping out of the workforce is a real issue when they have problems juggling work and family.” Another company that is heavily invested in making its workplace femalefriendly is Sky. It runs a ‘Women in Leadership’ initiative, which aims to see women in 50% of senior-management roles. It also insists on 50/50 male/ female shortlists for relevant job openings. Banking giant First Direct has an on-site crèche (and gym!) at their HQ in Leeds, while Manchester-based data company UKFast and Vodafone offer new parents 16 weeks of fully paid maternity leave. In recent years, businesses have also begun offering parental leave to employees who have adopted a child. So with all these measures in place, why are there still so


few women in the boardroom? According school technology budgets falling year on to a recent report from The Directory of year, it doesn’t look like the government Social Change published in The Guardian, are doing anything to ensure they are companies with equal numbers of female equipping school-leavers with a skill set and male directors, or with female-led applicable to a 21st century workforce. boards, were rare at just under 4%. A basic grasp of arable farming in Brazil Surprisingly, the six companies that (filed loosely under ‘geography’) won’t were female-led included a co-operative, be much use to anyone when it comes to a pharmaceutical group, a manufacturing getting a job (unless, of course, they want company, an electronics company, an to be an arable farmer in Brazil, in which engineering firm and an information case they’ll ace their interview). technology service provider. That blows While we wait for the government apart the common assumption that to get its act together, we have innovators women don’t excel in male-dominated like TechnoKids to turn to. An external industries. The issue is: how do we learning company based in Surrey, it get them there? A 2015 study showed offers parents at selected schools (and even that 74% of all students nurseries) the opportunity to “We should studying engineering, enrol their children – both manufacturing and girls and boys – in extraremember that construction-related subjects companies don’t curricular gaming and were male. In the same coding classes. That’s right, employ people coding. For three year olds. year, 78% of students on the basis of Wait, what? studying education and 72% accommodating of students studying health “My girls absolutely love and welfare-related subjects their private lives” tech club,” says interior d e s i g n e r B o Fe n t u m , were female. Perhaps the mother to seven-year-old twins, who issue isn’t that women aren’t being have been attending TechnoKids given jobs in Stem (science, technology, classes since they were five. “It fits in engineering and maths) sectors, but more that they’re not studying them with the other subjects they enjoy – one in the first place. loves coding and art, the other loves Renishaw plc is an engineering coding and maths, so it’s conceivable company with 70% women on its board that they may both end up in careers who are hoping to turn that tide. It which combine these core subjects. runs engagement programmes with We don’t see tech as something for boys, neither does the school, and schools, universities and the government to overcome the stereotypes and neither do they.” discrimination preventing more women Hopefully, in the not too distant future, from working in Stem. young women will be able to make career This is what we need more of – and it choices based on their passion and ability, V should begin at grass-roots level, but with rather than their gender. ■


When a stressed-out and exhausted Zoë Watson needed a break from the daily grind, she headed to the tropical island of Bali – and enjoyed it so much she opened her own luxury women’s retreat there. Eight years on, she’s about to open her third. Venus asks her how she did it…


ots of people go on holiday and wish they didn’t have to come home, but you fell in love with Bali to the point of quitting your job and starting a new business from scratch. What triggered the idea?



I’d been involved in a car accident in Adelaide in 2007 that left me with chronic migraines and fatigue, and I was juggling a stressful job in media sales. I just got to breaking point, and needed to take time out and reassess where I was going with my life. I went on holiday to Bali and fell in love with the place, but I hadn’t found exactly what I’d been

looking for in a spa holiday. Most are marketed to groups of women rather than a woman travelling on her own. I was utterly exhausted and just needed to relax, but all I could find were yoga and health retreats – places that put the focus on self-improvement. I wanted warmth, a beautiful pool, fantastic food, peace and quiet, and space from my life to think

and reconnect. What I didn’t want was a task list, regimented itinerary or a detox.

So you decided to create your own retreat – that’s pretty ambitious… True, but I knew I could do it. My background is in marketing and media,


so I just started writing the content of a website, mapped it out, looked up all the things you can do in Bali online and created experiences I thought women might like. A friend helped me create a logo and put the website together, and another photographer friend let me use her images of the island. I learnt about SEO, put a sales sheet together, did a marketing plan and business plan and then I quit my media job giving four months notice – with the condition that I could go to Bali for a fortnight inbetween to find a villa and furnish it. I found the right place within two days, and went furniture shopping in the local markets. I was able to finance the business with an insurance payout from the car accident, so it all just fell into place.

What makes Bliss different from other retreats? Bliss Sanctuary For Women combines the elements of a spa holiday with whatever our guests want to do, when they want to do it. We offer unlimited yoga and unlimited massages – having a massage under a blue sky surrounded by beautiful gardens is hard to beat – and all meals are included in the price, so there are no surprise bills at the end of your stay. We run yoga sessions, but you don’t have to go if you’d rather have a lie-in or sunbathe by the pool. Life is for living and enjoying, not being told what to do and how to do it – especially when you’re on holiday. We offer an amazing safe space with wonderful staff and give our customers the freedom to do whatever they want. It’s purely self-indulgent and I don’t know a single woman who doesn’t deserve to take time out from their schedule, give themselves some valuable ‘me time’ and just do exactly as they please.

How did you find your staff? That turned out to be really easy as I had a great driver referred to me by friends and a great housekeeper who looked after the villa. Between them they found a cook, a cleaner and a masseuse. It’s funny to think that that little team of five has now expanded into 50. I built up slowly from a four-bedroom villa where I lived in one of the rooms, doing absolutely everything – welcoming guests, doing the accounts, taking bookings, social media, marketing, business research, HR, the lot. We now



have three luxurious five-bedroom women’s retreat sanctuaries, with our third opening in the gorgeous tropical rainforest of Ubud in April 2019. We were busy from day one and turned a profit within the first three months, which was amazing.

banking is a lot cheaper – plus I’m working with multiple currencies.

You make it sound simple, but the legalities of setting up a business in Indonesia can’t have been easy.

Seminyak is very upmarket with all the best shopping and some of the best hotels on the island. Although Seminyak is perceived to be buzzing with nightlife and shopping, this is actually our most peaceful location. w w w. b l i s s s a n c t u a r y f o r w o m e n . com/seminyak-retreat-sanctuary

I actually opened up the business offshore as in Indonesia you can’t start a business without an Indonesian person owning it with you, and I wanted to expand beyond Bali in the longer-term. Our Balinese operations are run through an Indonesian management company and I’ve also opened a finance business in Australia, where I’m from, as

Tell us about the sightseeing opportunities in each Bliss location.

Canggu is a little more laid-back, with bohemian-style shops and cafes and lots of rice paddies. We’re very close to an amazing yoga studio with instructors from all over the world, so that’s the

best sanctuary for advanced yogis. w w w. b l i s s s a n c t u a r y f o r w o m e n . com/canggu-retreat-sanctuary Ubud is our newest sanctuary. It’s a more ‘spiritual’ place and a yoga mecca. There are shops, markets and a monkey forest. The land is very special, with its own temple and mineral springs with healing qualities. All sightseeing in Bali is between one and two hours away from each of our villas. We offer unlimited yoga, unlimited massages, unlimited and truly fantastic food at each resort, and we only have a small number of guests at any one time so staff get to know the guests well, and can cater to their individual needs. Rather than herding a large group of guests around for early morning yoga classes


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or surf lessons, we simply tell guests that it’s all there whenever they want it, and they love that. You can have a liein, eat breakfast outside or read a book by the pool at 8am – the choice is yours.

The fact that visitors have a personal driver for the entire break is a game-changer. Safety is such a hurdle for lone women travellers because we have to be on our guard so much of the time, especially in unfamiliar surroundings… Exactly. I don’t know of any other Bali retreat or any retreats around the world that offer this because it is a hugely expensive addition to the budget, but to me it’s really important to make guests feel safe. It comes from my personal experiences of feeling very vulnerable when traveling alone. Each package includes a personal driver for unlimited sightseeing – even if guests go shopping for hours, we supply them with a mobile

phone so they can call the drivers at any time to be picked up wherever they have wandered to, so they never feel abandoned or lonely. The unlimited sightseeing is definitely a reason many book and come back again and again.

You’re back in Australia now – it must be difficult to hand over the day-to-day management of a business you’ve grown from scratch? It was difficult at first, but a year ago I switched to all Indonesian staff and hostesses and it’s the best thing I have ever done. They genuinely care for our guests and want to show off their beautiful island, and I pay them above the normal rate for their work. I was so proud of all my staff when Bliss won Best Luxury Wellness Villa at The World Luxury Hotel Awards in 2017 and 2018. We also have incredible feedback on TripAdvisor, so that shows we’re getting it right.

Do you actually get time to treat yourself to a break in your own sanctuary? (Laughs) No, because it becomes work for me. I’m checking everything out, coming up with new ideas and I never relax. That’s what happens when you make other people’s pleasure your business! Instead I have one massage a week, which does wonders for my body.

What are you like to work for? Be honest! I know I’m demanding and I have very high expectations. I’m also direct and to the point. If there’s a problem, as long as people are honest and ask for help, I’m happy. I like to think I’m kind, but I don’t suffer fools gladly. I wouldn’t be where I V am today if I did! ■ To celebrate the opening of its new sanctuary, Bliss Sanctuary for Women is offering a 25% off UK introductory offer, with prices for a one week stay starting from £1725 including airport transfers. Visit the Bliss website to find out more and book your next Bali retreat www. blisssanctuaryforwomen.com BlissSanctuary

By Juliette Wills



Frustrated with the damage caused to hair by modern colourprocessing, hairdresser Gennaro Dell’Aquila decided to develop his own 100% natural, plant-based dyes – with incredible results. Juliette Wills finds out more…


ennaro Dell’Aquila’s journey with hair started at the tender age of 16, in his hometown of Naples. From there he went to Milan, before arriving in London with buckets of enthusiasm – and the beginnings of a whole new philosophy. “The idea of organic dyes occurred to me when I first started working in London, but nobody believed in it. There are certain methods in hairdressing that I couldn’t agree with, such as the damage caused by the chemicals we were using – not just to the clients’ hair, but also the hairdressers working with these processes. I decided to step out of conventional hairdressing and create an organic, natural environment for everyone.” He opened his first salon in Wimbledon in 2015, and a second not long after in Notting Hill, not far from Kensington Palace, which makes you wonder if there’s royalty among his clients. His approach sounds right up Meghan Markle’s street. “ We l l , w e d o c o u n t r o y a l s among our clients,” he laughs, “but



Saudi royals, rather than British ones – at least for the moment.” Gennaro’s approach is simple; he begins with herbs, plants and flowers that have been part of traditional medicine for centuries, used to treat all kinds of health issues. All the herbal mixes he works with have passed microbial, heavy metal and pesticides analysis, and are sterilised in Rome. The pigment released by the herbs binds with the keratin of the hair, creating a coat that increases the quality and thickness of the strand. The result is healthier, thicker hair with a glossy, vibrant colour. “Clients receive hair treatments with every colour session and, in time, rather than damaging the hair, the natural

colour improves its condition,” explains Gennaro. “I actually think it works better than conventional, chemical colouring.” The quest for glossy hair – if, like me, you’re a slave to colour – is endless. No matter how many conditioning products I try, my hair remains brittle, dull and flyaway, but I can’t not colour it as it’s 50% white, 50% brown and I’d look like a Jack Russell if I didn’t. Not only does Gennaro promise shiny, healthy locks, he’s also keen to point out that because the colours are organic and natural, they’re suitable for women in all stages of pregnancy. Not only that, but clients undergoing treatments such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy, and those with skin allergies, are also good to go.


“We also have a range of herbal mixtures to treat all sort of hair issues, from dandruff to hair-loss, dryness to an oily scalp,” adds Gennaro, “so it’s a holistic approach – much deeper than just colouring hair.” In an age when we really need to protect our environment, natural dyes seem like the ideal solution to a big problem. The herbs in Gennaro’s salons are stored in glass jars and they’re mixed with nothing other than hot water. That’s zero plastic waste, zero chemicals polluting our water system, and shiny, healthy hair for everyone. Herbs, plants, flowers and water? That V sounds like a recipe for success. ■ Find out more at gennarodellaquila.co.uk



Dresser Tailor and businesswoman Phoebe Gormley is breaking the glass ceiling in that great bastion of male tradition, Savile Row – and empowering women along the way


hink of Savile Row and an image of older men getting fitted for grey or navy suits springs to mind. For centuries, the street was strictly men-only – from the majority of tailors and cutters to the customers themselves. But young tailor Phoebe Gormley is one of the women helping to break down that perception. Her shop, Gormley & Gamble, offers a selection of made-to-measure clothes from suits to silk pyjamas – designed by women for women. “We give our clients


a curated menu of options,” says Phoebe, who, at 24, is also one of the youngest tailors on the Row. “When a customer comes in, I like to get to know her, her daily routine and how she wants to be perceived. I act as a stylist to that person.” Phoebe was drawn to tailoring as a child, growing up in a small village with little more than three churches and a fabric store. “If you weren’t into religion, there wasn’t much else to do,” she says. She started sewing at the age of seven and, as a teen, cut and reworked one of her father’s old suits for herself. When



a family friend suggested she work on Savile Row, she sent off a few letters and ended up interning there for the next five summers. “Waist-deep” in London’s clothing business, she made contacts, learned valuable skills, and witnessed the ins and outs of running a company. After a year studying at Nottingham Trent University, Phoebe decided to take a gamble and use her next year’s £9,000 tuition fees to start her own company instead. She put together a business plan based on feedback from industry contacts – but as she prepared

for launch some of those contacts her vision and the business launched in backtracked, saying there was no 2014 as the first tailor for women’s mademarket for women’s made-to-measure to-measure garments on Savile Row. fashion, that women “More than being a were “too hard to please” woman, my age has been “As a teen, and more interested in a hurdle,” says Phoebe, she reworked whose staff of four is all“fast fashion poly-blend” and not timeless pieces. female. “Made-to-measure one of her Any woman who has ever clothing is about men, father’s suits heritage and skills that are struggled to find decent passed down, and I am work- or occasion-wear will for herself” know that’s not true, and very young for this industry. Phoebe’s instincts told her not to give up. That I am female has actually helped She found new suppliers who believed in me in a number of ways – I am a woman


By Rachel Stafler


making things for women, which has led business to be in control of their lives – not realising that it makes you much to many clients wanting to choose us.” Jayne-Anne Gadhia, less in control! You need CEO of Virgin Money, much determination, “You need so much so was one of the first resilience and drive to determination, clients to choose keep going day after Gormley, buying 12 resilience and drive day. Be prepared to items and setting up a lose all holidays, never to keep going” switch off, never stop direct debit for a jacketworking, and worry and-dress combination about the pay cheques of people every month. Phoebe now makes clothes t w i c e yo u r a g e. I t ’s n o t e a s y for a wide variety of customers – from V businesswomen to princesses – seeing but it’s worth it.” ■ between five and 10 clients a week. Find out more about Phoebe at gormleyandgamble.com “When a woman comes in to try on a @Gormley_Gamble piece, we often have tears in the dressing @gormleyandgamble room,” she says. “After years of wearing clothing that never really fits, they are so LEFT: White full- length coat with gold buttons happy with the way their new piece looks, telling us that it makes them feel so good about themselves. That is the most satisfying feeling in the world.” Around 50 per cent of the BELOW: Beige jacket clothing she makes is workwear, with silk floral-print lining with 25 per cent occasion-wear, and the final 25 per cent is for women who are stretching themselves to buy one or two pieces that fit perfectly. “We have a menu of 10 jackets, but often women will come in asking for a particular style and we can then make something unique for them.” Three and a half years after launching, Phoebe’s business is flourishing. She’s been named one of Forbes Magazine’s 30 Under 30, as well as Young Star at the Women of the Future Awards 2015, Entrepreneurial Spark at the Great British Young Entrepreneur Awards, and featured in Management Today’s prestigious 35 Under 35 list. She counts some of the most influential women in fashion as mentors, including Meg Lustman, CEO of Hobbs, who read an article about her and got in touch. They now meet once a month for breakfast, with Lustman offering her advice on running a business, fashion, and how to keep some semblance of a work-life balance. Last spring, Phoebe launched her first collaboration, with Donna Ida Denim, offering jackets in short, medium and long sizes, mimicking the way men’s jackets are currently sold. The idea came out of conversations with CEO Donna Ida Thornton, another of Phoebe’s mentors. “The reason you start your own business is because you find something you love that no one else is doing,” she says. “Most people want to start a


“Consider tailored pieces a wardrobe investment – beautifully cut separates will never be merely a trend. Think outside the realms of corporate style – the message this season is as bold by day as it is night.”



“In it’s much harder to

lie than be

It’s 23 years since the fragrant Lush cosmetics set up shop at the ‘wrong end’ of Poole High Street. Now, it has stores in 50 countries worldwide. We caught up with co-founder Rowena Bird to talk start-up tips, peeling bananas and the realities of running an ethical business… 44



he Lush empire was born out outlet in Covent Garden. From there, of a disaster. Rowena Bird and the business started to grow, expanding her five business partners had to a shop on Chelsea’s King’s Road. been running a moderately “Getting that location was so important successful mail-order cosmetics company for us. You can have a great product but when, one Christmas, a radiator leaked if nobody knows about it, it’s just a great and flooded the property, damaging stock product, not a successful one,” Rowena and causing the computers to flash and says. “Never take ‘B’ locations, however spark. “The police rang us on Boxing cheap and tempting the rent is. Every Day to say our building was glowing,” penny you spend on the right location will she recalls. “We lost everything.” come back to you multiple times in sales.” The partners decided to relaunch Although, these days, she sees another as Lush, retailing their own fresh, strong factor. “Social media is so alive at handmade cosmetics, and the moment – it will get you “We just grow the business organically. out there and talking to your Rowena spent the next few did it because customers even faster than a weeks salvaging what was left shop in the right location.” we loved it” from the flood, and selling Still, in the ’90s, it was what they didn’t need at Lush’s presence on the King’s Road that was key. Soon, celebrities car boot sales in order to finance their – Madonna among them – began new venture in Poole. Then a loyal to pop in. “The original plan was to customer got in touch. “A guy phoned up to ask if we were still going to do the stay within the M25,” Rowena says. “But shaving lotion he liked,” she explains. on the King’s Road, people would see “We told him the situation and he us, come in and then say: ‘Take your said he knew someone who likes to invest.” brand to our country’.” And that’s how This investor gave them enough money Lush’s international expansion started. to open their first shop in London, a tiny Part of what makes Lush unique is its authenticity. From the start, Rowena and her partners Mark, Mo, Paul, Liz and Helen were committed to creating natural products they believed in. “Other businesses can’t be arsed to peel bananas, squeeze hundreds of oranges or find out if their essential oils are pure,” Rowena laughs. “We just did it because we loved it – it’s what gets us out of bed in the morning and makes us feel great.” The same goes for their ethical policies. The company will not buy from suppliers which test on animals, and is committed to fair trade and minimising environmental impact. Rowena adds: “We pay all our taxes, too. Transparency is a really important part of our business. It’s so much harder to lie than it is to be honest.” The Lush team has learned from The Body Shop story – after Anita Roddick’s company was bought by cosmetics giant L’Oréal, its ethical stance faded away. After that takeover, many Body Shop staff, who had joined because they admired Roddick’s campaigning, moved on to Lush. “We’ve just started an Employee Benefit Trust because we recognise the fact that we might not be here forever,” Rowena explains. “Once it’s in place, the




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employees will own a large chunk of the company, so if we make any big decisions – such as we want to change our animaltesting policy – the staff will have a say.” And this leads us to Rowena’s numberone business tip: “Bring in people who have the same passion as you. Yes, you can start up on your own, but there will be things you’re not so good at. I’m very creative but I can’t do finance, and if I was in business on my own, that would take a lot of my focus away. “It’s important to be able to step back and see your business from a distance, so you can see where something can be improved,” she goes on. “It’s also important to have someone to bounce ideas off, because your ideas should be challenged – you don’t have to agree, but do listen.” Being part of a group of six partners (now five, since the retirement of Liz Weir) has always been her preferred way of working. “We work very much as a team. We don’t have job titles but we do work to our own individual strengths. The overarching decision maker is Mark but he is absolutely pants at detail, so we all chip in and create a body for the original big vision.” After more than two decades working together, the system definitely seems to work. But perhaps Rowena’s best advice is not to go into business just to make a profit. “You stand so much more chance of making money if you love what you do. If you come home most of the time thinking: ‘I loved what I did today’, or feel like you’re making a difference, it makes things so much easier. We’re all at work for so much of our lives, aren’t we? If V your job is boring and you hate it, don’t do it – move on and find your passion.” ■ Find out more about Lush at uk.lush.com. @RowenaBirdLush @rowenabird

The Lush Lowdown Lush was founded in 1995 by Mark and Mo Constantine, Rowena Bird, Liz Weir, Helen Ambrosen and Paul Greaves. Rowena originally joined as a beauty therapist, then became more involved in the business.

By Andreina Cordani

Lush now has branches in 50 countries across the world. The company has a commitment to using as little packaging as possible – hence that instantly recognisable Lush fragrance wafting out from its high-street stores.





Leading by example Female role models and mentors have never been more important to business success, and here’s why…


dvice books are full of tips for business people looking for success. Some are more helpful than others, but one thing that has been proven over and over is the value of role models and mentors, especially for women in business. “There is no doubt that female role models make a huge difference,” says Allyson Zimmermann, executive director at Catalyst Europe, a non-profit working to expand opportunities for women in business. “Companies send a very strong message to the rest of the organisation when they appoint women into senior roles. Our work has demonstrated that businesses which have appointed female board directors are more likely to increase their numbers of female corporate officers over a subsequent five-year period.” According to her organisation’s research, almost two-thirds of women say a lack of visible female role models is an obstacle to their career advancement. “There are two factors in play here,” says Zimmermann. “Firstly, the presence of female role models demonstrates to other female talent in the business that


women can fulfil their career ambitions. Secondly, we know that women in leadership roles (compared to men in the same positions) are more likely to recognise and develop other talented females.” Mentoring hit the mainstream in 2013, thanks to Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In. The Facebook and former Google executive stressed the need for women to champion other women. She also advocated Lean In Circles, small groups of eight to 10 women who meet regularly to learn and grow together. There are now 33,000 Circles in 150 countries around the world, with LeanIn.org giving these groups tools and resources to guide them. Eighty-five per cent of women who are in a Lean In Circle credit it with a positive change in their life. “Mentorship and sponsorship are key drivers of success,” said Sandberg in her Mentorship Matters video. “These personal connections lead to opportunities and promotions that are crucial for career development.” Whether it’s a formal mentor or a more informal peer relationship, t h e s e c o n n e c t i o n s h e l p wo m e n both see future possibilities and encourage them to apply for new roles. Mandy Johnson, former CEO of the Small Charities Coalition – which has more than 7,000 members around the UK – credits a peer relationship for leading her into that role. “I was talking to Zoe Amar about my next role and she told me to stop doing myself a disservice and advised that my next role should be as a charity CEO,” says Johnson. “I was flattered but thought it was a ridiculous suggestion. Me… a CEO? While I solidly believe that women make excellent leaders, I needed strong, female role models in my life to give me the confidence to go for it. Her constant belief in me, combined with seeing what she achieves every day, really helped. I wouldn’t have even applied for the role without the support and positive examples set by the women in my life.” Amar, the director of Zoe Amar Communications, also knows a thing or two about the value of mentors. She credits her mentor, Alex O’Dwyer, the “I needed strong, former director of female role models communications at in my life to give Scope, with giving her me the confidence the encouragement to set up her to go for it” business, which helps


VENUS charities with their digital, social media and marketing strategies. “Alex pushed me to be the best that I could be and I remember her advice every day. I would not have had the guts to set up my business without her,” says Amar, who runs a team of women and also acts as a formal mentor and peer supporter. “One of the aims of my business has been to support other women. When I started my business, I was keen to provide opportunities to women who are coming back to the workplace after having children or who are juggling other commitments. I wanted to create a different kind of agency, where women have challenging work and we support them around other commitments in their life. With two small children, I need to work in that environment, too.” Although the numbers of visible female role models in business are rising, there is still a lot of work to be done. Less than a quarter of FTSE 100 boardroom recruits in March 2016 were women, the lowest level since 2011, according to the Female FTSE Board Report. “Sponsoring should not fall exclusively to senior women. It should be led by the many men who are chairmen and CEOs,” the report recommended. “I had mentors when I started out and still do today,” says Joanna Abeyie, diversity champion and mentor. “You never stop learning, or needing support and guidance.”

MENTOR MATCHMAKING How to find one, and how to make the relationship count

• A mentor works best when it’s someone who you have a connection with already, as well as a common interest. Be specific with what you want to get out of the relationship and make those goals known so you are both on the same page. • Once you find a mentor, be respectful of their advice and report back to them with progress or challenges you may be facing.

By Rachel Stafler

• Come to your meetings well-prepared and with specific areas that you’d like help with. Most importantly, be gracious and thankful for their help. • If you like the idea of collaborating with several women at a time, then a Lean In Circle could be worth considering, and there’s a wealth of information on LeanIn.org.


And if you don’t see the network you need… set one up! Joanna Abeyie is the managing director of creative talent recruitment agency Hyden Talent, and founded the MagNet media mentoring scheme when she was 21. “When I arrived on my Journalism Masters course at City University, it was predominantly filled with white, middleclass students and I thought it was a shame that there wasn’t a more diverse mix. At the time, the course was £8,000 and I knew that this fee eliminated so many from the application process. “Reflecting on all the work experience I’d had since I was 16, I remembered that most of the newspapers and consumer women’s magazines I’d worked on didn’t have anyone from an ethnic-minority background and very few people identified as coming from a working-class background.” Joanna hit on the idea of a mentoring scheme for diverse talent and approached Loraine Davies, director of the Periodicals Training Council, and Nicholas Brett, deputy managing director of BBC magazines, with the idea. “I knew that for the industry to take my aims seriously, I had to connect them with the best talent I could find.” They were convinced – as were several other major publishing companies – and the scheme led to 150 people finding full-time work. “It will always be one of my proudest achievements. I received countless emails of thanks and gratitude. One lady told me that she’d never had anyone believe in her in the way that I did, and that the opportunities and encouragement the mentor had given her had changed her life. “The scheme was run entirely by volunteers, including me, and made no money whatsoever, but our impact V as a collective was priceless.” ■


Double Venus Award winner, author, entrepreneur and PR queen Sunny Bird talks fear of failure, leaps of faith and invaluable business lessons…


n press interviews, I’m sometimes asked to share a little-known fact about myself, so here’s one: I don’t actually know if I passed my degree. I did a BA in Public Relations but, although I religiously attended lectures for three years, when it came to the finals I was so frightened I’d failed that I never went to collect the results. Fear of failure is an inevitable part of attempting something you care about. It hits all entrepreneurs and business people at times, but that’s OK. What matters is whether you allow that fear to overwhelm and derail you, or whether you let it wash over you and push on through. I have learned to choose the latter path and I believe I owe my success to this determination, coupled with the willingness to take leaps of faith and to follow my gut instincts. Take my first big job after the degree that never was… I went for the role of Junior PR Executive at an established London firm. Despite my lack of credentials, I somehow secured an interview and went along armed with huge levels of enthusiasm and a big smile. The director was impressed by my passion and energy (and my name, which she deemed “bloody marvellous”) and told me I could start on Monday. This was all very well but it was Friday and I was currently living in Bournemouth. The director had said that she could find me somewhere to stay, but when I turned up on my first day armed with a suitcase full of possessions, she of course hadn’t given a second thought to the fact that at 5pm, when the office closed, I’d be homeless on the streets of London. I could have run back to Bournemouth. Instead, I frantically phoned around until I found someone, who knew someone, who knew a girl called Leanne, who let me stay on her floor until I sorted something



permanent. I’ll always remember the kindness of that stranger and it’s taught me to pay it forward both in my personal life and in business. During my career, I’ve found a cando attitude invaluable. It’s a quality I try to instil in both my young staff members and my own daughter. Obviously, I would never see any of them stuck on the street without a roof over their head, but they need to know that when things don’t quite go according to plan immediately, it’s not game over – it’s about adapting and thinking on your feet. I spent seven years at that PR firm and have adopted many of the lessons I learned as an employee into my key business methods. Most notably, I quickly understood that it’s not enough to deliver tangible media coverage, it’s about looking at how and why this impacts on the client’s business and ensuring it leads them towards an end result – be that driving sales, raising awareness, landing a book deal or securing a TV series. Understanding this and implementing it at all times continues to mark me out as unique among PR agency competitors. My time as an employee also taught me vital lessons about management. For example, I believe no hardworking employee should be restricted by a term of service in order to achieve a well-earned pay rise, and it certainly shouldn’t take them handing in

their notice for a boss to appreciate their worth. As a boss, I implement informal and formal assessments to ensure my staff are motivated. I also make sure they know they are valued by creating an enriching environment. Every Wednesday, for example, I bring in homemade dishes for their lunch. We then sit as a team and eat together, talking about our lives rather than work. There have been many seminal moments in my career, and my move from employee to entrepreneur came in 2007 when I was researching the retreat sector with a view to expanding my client base. I realised that boot camps were huge in the US and there was a gap in the market for one in England. Although it was a big risk, I instinctively felt that this would be hugely successful so, along with a business partner, I established New You Boot Camp. Our USP was not only our ability to facilitate weight loss, but to empower women. Clients came to us when their relationships were breaking down, when they were suffering grief, or having been made redundant. Our service enabled women at their lowest ebb to make positive life changes – to the extent that we were even cited in two divorce proceedings: “My wife went to New You Boot Camp and came back a different woman”. There was no budget for marketing but my PR efforts helped

launch international retreats, secure TV appearances and land a book deal. We had planned to run 10 camps in our first year, but had so much demand that we ended up running 50, giving us a turnover of just under £1 million in that first year. Seven years at New You taught me other vital business lessons: firstly, to follow my gut; secondly, to see the value of PR from the point of view of a business owner; and lastly, that success in business is not always to do with profit, it’s about fulfilment. Clients continually sent us letters and gifts to thank us for enabling them to find inner strength – something we all need to do at some point in our lives. In 2012, I had to dig deep following a terrible time. Within the space of 12 months, I lost my father, my stepdad, my granddad and my uncle. The stress, teamed with the long overseas trips and relentless hours at work, took their toll on me and I miscarried, before being diagnosed with Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disorder. I was preaching life balance and health to women through my retreats, but I wasn’t doing any of this for myself, so I sold my share of the business in order to allow myself to be healthier and get into remission. Although, at the time, I felt the sting of failure – after all, I was leaving a successful business with no plan – I again followed my gut instincts and, as I recovered, I


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decided to do what I knew. I gave myself three months and £3,000 to get a PR agency off the ground. I secured my first client within a month and they’re still with me today. Sunny Bird PR is now in its sixth year, with an established team and an expanding client list. Our success is down to my staff (always hire people who are better than you at something) and the fact that I’m results-focused – for every project, we set key performance indicators and work until we hit them. Most PR agencies don’t promise specific results. We do. I hope people respect my integrity, too, as I’ll steer a client away from something if I think it’s not the best use of their money, or turn them away if I don’t believe I can meet their needs. As is the way with entrepreneurs, I’m always asking myself, “What next?”. Personally, my husband Darren and I are in a great place. We finally had our longed-for baby, Sophia, in 2017, and he is so supportive as I move into new business territory. This year I’m launching my first product-based enterprise – an e-commerce fashion brand aimed at making women feel empowered and confident. I’m also running Reaching Millions PR courses based in Bournemouth and London, designed to help entrepreneurs harness the positive power of PR and scale up their businesses. We’re working on our second book to complement this course, which will be out by the end of this year. I’m lucky to be inspired by so many women: my staff, my clients – six of whom are up for Venus Awards this year – my sisters, my mum (the hardest-working woman I know) and my wonderful, honest, genuine stepdaughters. I’m passionate about supporting women in business, which is why the Venus Awards are so important. Winning the awards for Entrepreneur of the Year and PR Excellence in 2009 really helped my selfbelief, banishing that sense of imposter syndrome you get when you first find success. Through the Venus network, the courses and workshops, I’ve met incredible, strong-minded women who V motivate me to develop and grow. ■ V Find out more about Sunny Bird at sunnybirdpr.com


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ESCAPE Feeling frazzled? Get away from it all at one of these fabulous UK destinations

The Swan, Southwold

The Swan building dates back to the late 1600s, with many of the original features retained in its beautiful rooms. The famous Adnams brewery and distillery and Southwold’s lighthouse are both worth a visit and only a stone’s throw away. Suffolk is known for its stunning coastline, so a bracing walk is a must. Explore Southwold’s pretty high street with its independent boutiques and food producers, then head back to the hotel’s stunning restaurant for imaginative dishes created from the best of the local produce. www.theswansouthwold.co.uk From £200 per room per night based on two sharing on a B&B basis.


Beside the seaside Albion House, Ramsgate

The clifftop location of Albion House affords it an incredible vantage point over the beach and a view that stretches right down to Ramsgate’s Royal Harbour. The Regency dining room offers imaginative seasonal dishes and the very best in freshcaught seafood, while almost all the hotel’s beautifully designed rooms have sea views. Ramsgate is steeped in history and renowned for its stunning Regency architecture (as well as its fish and chips!). www.albionhouseramsgate.co.uk From £85 per night including breakfast. OFFER Venus readers can get 10% off a three-night stay from January to March (excluding the New Year holiday).



Tapnell Farm, The Isle of Wight

Say goodbye to stress and hello to Tapnell Farm’s wallabies, meerkats, alpacas and miniature donkeys – the Isle of Wight’s coolest residents. Amazing views across the Solent, a beautiful rural setting and picture-perfect sunsets make this a magical place to stay. The farm’s restaurant and bar is housed in a converted Swiss barn and offers stunning views of the countryside. Choose your accommodation from the main farm house, a luxury safari tent, a wood cabin, an eco-pod or the brand-new, super-cosy Modulogs – two-bedroom log cabins complete with wood-burning stoves and, outside, a barbecue area and hot tub. www.tapnellfarm.com Modulogs cost £65pp per night.

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Drakes, Brighton

You can’t beat a weekend in Brighton – with its wealth of independent boutiques, cool late-night bars and forwardthinking restaurants, it’s the numberone destination for Londoners seeking an easy-to-reach escape from the daily grind. Drakes is more than ‘just’ a hotel; it’s home to one of the finest restaurants in the city and its rooms are breathtakingly beautiful. The hotel’s location right on the seafront in trendy Kemptown is perfect. Insider tips: head to Egg & Spoon for the best brunch in town, savour a late-night espresso martini at the bar of The Grand Hotel, and watch the sunset behind the decrepit but eerily beautiful West Pier. www.drakesofbrighton.com Room only from £160.


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We play so many roles in life as business owner, wife, mother, aunty, daughter, manager, organiser, partner, friend, employee, coach‌

! st r i f f l se r u o y t u p now it’s time to


Yes, you CAN

get worklife balance right Keeping everything running smoothly at work and home is all about mindset, writes Rachel Stafler Work-life balance. It’s what everyone director of the Leicester-based Work wants but no one seems to have. In Life Balance Centre. “Yes, but you can’t our busy and rushed world, work has a necessarily have it all at the same time. way of creeping up on even the most “Life goes in phases. As you go mindful of us. But finding your ideal through those phases, your priorities work-life balance isn’t as can change. Typically, that can “We get difficult as you may believe. mean when you’re younger, It won’t involve massively addicted to you’re career and socially rearranging your schedule or being busy” focused. Then as you get older, you’re typically more changing your lifestyle. What it relationship and then family focused. will involve is thought and making small Then life changes again when kids are changes to the way you think and act. grown. There’s a flow to the demands “The most frequent question I get asked is: ‘Can you really have it all?’,” on our time over the years and problems says positive psychologist Julie Hurst, come up when we don’t recognise that.”


Psychologists and life coaches agree that before making any changes to your life, you first need to give thought to what you really want, both materially and psychologically. It may be that we spend time making money to buy things that we don’t need or that we spend time on tasks that don’t make us feel satisfied. One easy way to feel more content is to set daily goals, according to Hurst. She recommends thinking each morning about the feelings you want to experience that day. That can include things such as laughter and friendship, or even certain values that you want to live by that day.


Feeling overloaded? Sketch out a quick Urgency/ Importance matrix to help you prioritise. Life coaches use these to help clients figure out how to prioritise a todo list. Don’t forget to include items from your work and home life…




These are obviously your top priority – do them asap.


Fit in if you can, secondary to the first box.


Schedule a time to do these, and stick to it.


Delegate or ditch completely!



Run through tomorrow’s presentation.

Answer colleague’s slightly pointless query. “Put my Frozen DVD on NOW, Mummy!”

Feed children!

Call Mum Write business plan

Play/hang out with kids

More importantly, a change to the words you use when talking or thinking about work can change how you feel. “When I started thinking that I have the opportunity to do something, instead of ‘I must’, there was a shift in my head,” says Hurst. “When your brain feels compulsion, it releases a stress hormone, but when it feels there’s choice involved it produces a happy hormone. The brain likes choice.” On a practical level, there are steps you can take to keep the demands of work from creeping in to your personal time. Setting strict limits on digital






Sort through junk mail Take cold calls

Read Mail Online sidebar of shame

technology can go a long way to ensuring people email me, they get a message back that work doesn’t invade our home that says I look at emails three times a life. Mobile phone apps such day. You can’t always do that as Freedom allow users to “Think each when it comes to your boss, block out certain apps – like but you can say that Tuesday morning work email or Facebook and Thursday nights are for about the – at set times so that they your family only. Manage the feelings expectations of others and can focus on other tasks. you want to they will learn quite quickly.” “Give some thought to how technology is helping you rather In short, there’s no one experience formula for work-life balance than feeling like you need to that day” that works for everyone. The serve it,” says Jenny Garrett, key is knowing what you need to feel executive career coach and author of Rocking Your Role. “We get addicted to satisfied and then figuring out the tweaks V being busy and that doesn’t help us. When you can make to bring that to life. ■





Influential Woman Motivates others and makes a difference

Chelsey Baker National Mentoring Day

An inspirational mentoring champion and campaigner, passionate about helping individuals achieve their full potential through mentoring and promoting diversity. Chelsey is driven by her mission to make mentoring accessible to everyone, including hard-reaching groups to create a more inclusive society. National Mentoring Day recognises the benefits and impact of mentoring. It creates awareness to encourage others to get a mentor or become a mentor, and makes mentoring available to everyone.

Diahanne Rhiney

Strength With In Me Foundation (S.W.I.M) Dr. Diahanne Rhiney BCAe is an award-winning diversity PR expert who has forged a reputation as a peerless leading-edge domestic abuse interventionist and highly-respected women’s and children’s advocate. Around one in five British children have been exposed to domestic abuse and 75% of girls over 12 have reported relationship abuse. S.W.I.M’s healthy relationship workshops educate and empower young people to take responsibility for their well-being by making positive relationship choices.

Marisa Peer

Rapid Transformational Therapy A dedicated and committed Deputy Manager, Sian supports service users and supervises support staff to ensure the individuals we work with reach their full potential and goals. Kind, supportive, hardworking and reliable, she is willing to go the extra mile to deliver quality care. Autism Wessex provides care and support to individuals who have autism and associated conditions. Its Community Support Services help individuals in their own home – anything from one hour a week to 24 hours of support a day.


Time & Leisure publishes luxury lifestyle magazines to affluent residents of SW London & Surrey. Our bespoke local content has been engaging readers for over 21 years, providing marketing opportunities for businesses to connect with our loyal audience through glossy monthly magazines, weekly e-newsletters, local lifestyle websites and through a programme of stylish events.



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Inspirational Woman in Tech A game changer in the field of technology

Tarryn Goore Kafoodle

Tarryn is an inspiring woman on a mission to transform health globally. She is a born leader and influential individual who always sees her ideas through to fruition. Kafoodle began as an idea: the notion and belief that the food we are eating should always be safe. By improving kitchen communications through the use of technology, Kafoodle has developed solutions to suit a variety of sectors, from hospitality and catering to education and health and social care.

Tiia Sammallahti WhatCharity

A determined game changer who is using her exquisite business experience and skills to harness tech for good. She has shown resilience and strength, being able to launch disruptive, social-impact venture whatcharity.com in March 2018. WhatCharity is a platform for individuals and companies to find charities to work with. We help people find the right causes, show how their donations are used, and provide the means to contribute time, skills, goods, services and funding.

Sophie Thompson VirtualSpeech

Sophie is a friendly, determined young woman whose passion is to increase people’s confidence when communicating with others, using virtual reality. She is motivated by the fact that she can be a driver for change for women in technology. VirtualSpeech is the first e-learning platform that combines traditional online learning with practice in virtual reality. Online courses focus on communication skills such as public speaking, networking and crisis communication. Users learn online and undergo training and practice in VR.


Empact Ventures are start-up super-connectors who co-design some of the leading start-up initiatives in the UK (e.g., StartUp Britain), support the growth of start-ups to scale-ups, and scout innovation for some of the largest organisations in the world.


Entrepreneur of the Year A woman who dares to take risks in business that pay off

Kirsty Henderson

Five Rings Training and Personal Safety London An inspirational, leading female role model, her insight and knowledge of human behaviour is invaluable. A woman of honour, dedicated to excellence and informing others, Kirsty inspires and generates respect through her work ethic and moral code. Five Rings Training is a training and research institute focused on the cultivation and development of the individual. Through advanced physical and mental training programmes, we address the human life cycle, looking at everything from prevention and recovery to life balance and advancement. Personal Safety London provides expert personal safety, self-defence, anti-kidnap and security solutions for companies, individuals and organisations worldwide.

Roni Savage Jomas Associates

Roni is a highly qualified, hardworking, driven, passionate female engineer, who is determined to make a difference in the engineering and construction industry. She has an inclusive nature for her clients and staff, and is a role model to many. Jomas Associates serves the construction industry by undertaking site investigations, land contamination risk assessments and geotechnical engineering assessments. Our clients are land developers – residential, commercial, industrial, local authorities, and government bodies. A significant proportion of our work seeks to alleviate the housing crisis, by enabling reclamation and development of brownfield sites, many of which are grossly contaminated.


Anna Sofat Addidi Wealth

Anna is supportive, caring and generous. She is quietly determined, incredibly hardworking and passionate about her clients and business. She is collaborative, sees the best in people and leads by example. Addidi is the ‘Voice of Women’s Wealth’. We are known for being beautifully different. We go on a journey with women to create, invest and enjoy their wealth. We inspire, enable and nurture to transform wealth management into a pleasurable and rewarding experience.

Sara Trechman Well&Truly

Sara is highly ambitious and has a huge passion for ‘unjunking’ snacks to help consumers make a better choice. She is visionary and drives everyone in the team to make Well&Truly as successful as it can be. Since launching, Well&Truly products are in more than 3,000 distribution points in the UK – Tesco, Sainsbury’s, WHSmith, Ocado, Booths, Whole Foods – and five international countries. They’ve sold over one million bags of snacks and have removed eight million grams of fat from the snacking supply chain

Rosie Vernon Aurora Baby

A friend or colleague would say that Rosie is a dreamer, but she is a dreamer who believes she can change the world through creativity, innovation and technology. Aurora Baby is a newly found company that specialises in creating safety products for babies and young children. It is our focus to encompass innovation and technology into baby products fit for the 21st Century.


Small Business A small venture with a big attitude

Natalie Meyer Tokyoesque

Somewhat American, somewhat British, somewhat Japanese, depending on who she’s speaking to. Always entrepreneurial, with an affinity for connecting others. Natalie believes in the power of globalisation. Tokyoesque stands for understanding and digging into the essence of what it means to globalise positively. We enable this through cultural, business and consumer insight across Japan and Europe by ‘taste testing’ companies’ products/services with foreign audiences.

Susan Kabani Ugenie

Susan is a driven and enthusiastic entrepreneur who is working hard to build a company that lives by and grows the values of her life, which are community, collaboration and generosity. Ugenie is a private membership mobile hub for businesses to more efficiently manage, engage and monetise their most valuable asset – their clients! By allowing businesses to customise their digital hub, the Ugenie technology cuts out irrelevant noise, which enables clients to get only the most relevant updates and content from the brands they value.

Katie Young Gerald Bespoke Textiles

Katie is a talented, passionate designer and entrepreneur. She is always thinking outside the box to create unique design and supply solutions, while giving 100% to everything she does. Bespoke Textiles is an award-winning design and supply consultancy that designs, develops and delivers unique uniforms, luxury clothing and merchandise collections for high-end hospitality and heritage brands.


Led by a specialist team from the world of business and brand building, combined with a layer of expertise from fund management and BoB’s in-house team of the very best creative talent, BoB’s team bring their knowledge of the buy-and-sell side to the business owner.


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PR Excellence For the most effective, innovative and creative communicator or team

Antonia Mason Oppo Brothers

The Oppo team has worked incredibly hard from the get-go to make noise for their small British start-up. Over the last four years, Oppo has become a household name and received coverage across Europe for their delicious ice creams and cheesecakes. Oppo Brothers is a British start-up that makes greattasting, award-winning, low-calorie and low-sugar ice creams and cheesecakes. Why does something that is better for you have to compromise on indulgent taste? The result is #GoodTemptation.

Lauren Williams London Grace

Lauren is a positive, innovative leader, with a passion for developing brands. In her role as Director at London Grace, she’s driven by the pursuit of growing a leading high-street beauty brand with real progression opportunities for women. London Grace is the city’s leading nail-care brand, with eight locations across London and Essex. They combine a nail bar, coffee shop and cocktail bar, creating a sociable beauty experience. Treatments are carried out using London Grace’s no-nasties nail polish.

Rebecca Musgrave PROPERCORN

Rebecca moved to the PR team at PROPERCORN and, over the last four years, she has secured multiple levels of coverage for both the product and business, and has established relationships with numerous international PR teams to take the company’s story overseas. PROPERCORN is the UK’s number-one premium popcorn brand. Founded on the ‘Done Properly’ ethos, there shouldn’t have to be a compromise between health and taste. Its award-winning popcorn can be found in 15 countries across Europe, producing some three million packs per month.


Sunny Bird PR is a public relations agency with a fresh approach to modern media. We create strategies for brands to connect to their consumers on a regional, national and international scale. Through a blend of media relations, content creation, social media, event management and more, we help companies – from fresh-faced start-ups to established global brands – reach the right audiences. 79

Outstanding Team Member An individual who provides the first-class support vital to any business

Annabelle Risdon Give as you Live

An outgoing, determined and focused individual who always strives to achieve the best results within any situation. A strong, fun and lively personality who is driven by her own passion for success, Annabelle is both tenacious and caring, personally and professionally. Give as you Live is an online fundraising platform that allows anyone to raise FREE funds for their favourite charity just by shopping online at over 4,000 retailers.

Niri Arambepola WSP

Creative and nerdy – it is a strange combination! Niri has always been nerdy‌ she loves maths and science and finding out how things work. However, the counterpoint is creativity – coming up with new ideas and designs really drives her. WSP is a global company that provides consultancy services for the built environment. We are primarily an engineering firm, but also include other designers and consultants. At WSP, I work as a structural engineer within the building structures department.


Jessica Fairfax Kaizen

Jessica is a driven and committed PR Manager, constantly seeking ways to improve and evolve strategies and herself. She has obtained over 700 pieces of media coverage for her clients, which include TotallyMoney, TUI and TravelSupermarket. Kaizen is an industry-leading digital marketing agency, with clients including TotallyMoney, River Island and TUI. Our work provides brands with the earned links and high-end media coverage that generate exceptional performance and visibility growth.

Farzana Naz Saracens Solicitors

Farzana is an amazing inspiration. She is an earth angel with a heart of gold. She is also very helpful and professional. Saracens Solicitors is a full-service law firm providing highquality legal advice at competitive rates. We deal with a wide range of legal matters and build trust through understanding. I run the family-law department.

ChriSOULa Sirigou The Golden Muse

ChriSOULa is an author, broadcaster and spiritual teacher who serves her community with soul. One of the most generous and giving people, her style is to be inclusive and to raise everyone else’s profile with projects. A ‘colour entrepreneur’, web TV host, author and unshakeable believer in inner peace, The Golden Muse is dedicated to helping you activate your capacity to access and claim your ‘inner gold’ – your self-belief, self-value, self-worth and wealth. 81

Journalist of the Year Raising the public profile of women in the working arena

Emmie Harrison TI Media

Always smiling. Emmie’s constantly laughing on the phone to case studies, forming relationships, and striving to be better than she was last time. Above all, she’s grateful. She got her dream job at 23, and still thinks big. TI Media is Britain’s leading print and online publisher. It reaches 28 million people, just on website clicks alone. It’s forward-facing, passionate and always strives to be the best, by hiring the best and rewarding those who succeed.

Stephanie Clarkson 38a The Shop

Stephanie is genuinely interested in people. Her natural curiosity, infectious sense of humour and openness make her an instinctive journalist, able to get to the heart of anyone’s story. Always positive, she loves to write copy to motivate and inspire. 38a The Shop is an editorial and design studio based in Epsom, Surrey. It comprises two writer/editors and two designers. I work on journalism commissions individually, and as part of a team on publishing projects.


Laura Hampson London Evening Standard

Laura is kind, friendly and a real team player, yet she’s also hardworking and motivated by her career. She is particularly focused on women’s rights and travel journalism, and has a deep passion for both. The London Evening Standard is a long-running Londonfocused newspaper which has branched into the digital realm with standard.co.uk and into magazines with ES Magazine.

Emma Sheppard Freelance Journalist

Emma is dedicated, passionate and driven. Her warm nature makes her interviews fun and relaxed, while still probing for the inside story. She is a champion of SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) in the UK – particularly those run by women. I am a freelance journalist, writing primarily about small businesses and entrepreneurship for The Guardian, Wired, and Stylist.


Employer of the Year A great female friendly boss up to 50 employees (male or female)

Antoinette Daniel Just Helpers

Antoinette loves working with young adults and women in varying contexts. She is passionate about supporting organisations who help vulnerable teenagers and trafficked women. She enjoys helping individuals realise and reach their potential, and Just Helpers is a vehicle for that passion. Just Helpers is a London-based cleaning agency, and takes pride in working ‘justly’, doing the right thing for cleaners and clients. They find, recruit and train ‘Helpers’, who take pride in their work and get paid fairly.

Kirsten Hazell London Grace

Kirsten is an award-winning entrepreneur who has transformed the high-street beauty experience with London Grace, an innovative beauty brand. In four years, she has grown London Grace to eight stores and a team of 100. London Grace is the city’s leading nail-care brand, with eight locations across London and Essex. They combine a nail bar, coffee shop and cocktail bar, creating a sociable beauty experience. Treatments are carried out using London Grace’s no-nasties nail polish.


Jaluch is a highly regarded HR and Training business, supporting with day to day staffing issues such as discipline and grievances and delivering training to develop key line management skills. With a loyal and valued staff, the business seeks to live and work by its values of caring, committed and courageous.


Henry Stewart Happy

Henry is Founder and Chief Happiness Officer of Happy. His book, The Happy Manifesto, was shortlisted for Business Book of the Year and he was listed in the Guru Radar section of the Thinkers50 list as one of the world’s top 50 management thinkers. Happy’s aim is to create joy at work. It does this by helping people become more capable in software, by transforming lives through apprenticeships, and in helping organisations create happy and productive workplaces. It is based in Aldgate in London.

Chantelle Nicholson

Tredwells and Marcus Wareing Restaurants Multi-award-winning Chef-Owner at Tredwells, as well as Group Operations Director for Marcus Wareing Restaurants. Chantelle’s achievements to date set her apart as a remarkable talent and a source of inspiration for hospitality professionals across the nation. Previous winner of AA’s London Restaurant of the Year and listed in the Michelin Guide 2019, Tredwells in Covent Garden showcases globally inspired cooking using the very best of British seasonal produce, developed by polymath ChefOwner, Chantelle Nicholson.


Marketing Excellence A business that stands out

Gemma Mason Superdrug

Gemma has a new role as Head of Customer Experience & PR at Superdrug. She was named a ‘Worldpay Everywoman in Retail Ambassador’ in 2016. Superdrug passed from 48th to fourth position in the UK Customer Satisfaction Index, perhaps thanks to Gemma’s PR campaigns and charity work. Superdrug is the UK’s second-largest beauty and health retailer. It has 830 stores in the UK and Republic of Ireland – 200 of which have in-store pharmacies. Superdrug is committed to bringing innovation, accessible beauty, and the latest styles and trends to the high street at fantastic prices.

Tamara Gillan Cherry London

Tamara, CEO and Founder of Cherry London, is a visionary change-maker, developing groundbreaking campaigns at the highest level. Determined that marketing is inclusive in its representation of women, Tamara is equally passionate about supporting female talent within the industry. Cherry London is an independent, award-winning agency. Through the power of collaboration, creative vision, commercial experience and a deep understanding of technological solutions, it creates new possibilities and profitable results for ambitious brands, including O2, HSBC, Superdrug, Jaguar Land Rover and Saga.

Becky Brock John Lewis

Becky is an award-winning marketer. Management Today selected her as one of 2015’s ‘35 Women Under 35’ and Marketing Society named her ‘Young Marketer of the Year’. She has been the Marketing Director for John Lewis since March 2017. John Lewis & Partners operates 51 shops across the UK. It stocks around 350,000 lines in its department stores and online. This year it won ‘Best Multichannel Retailer’, ‘Best Clothing Retailer’, and ‘Best Furniture Retailer’ at the GlobalData Customer Satisfaction Awards.


“We’re delighted to be sponsoring the Marketing Excellence category for the Venus Awards. Two of our absolute passions combined – marketing brilliance and celebrating fabulous female entrepreneurship. We champion top-class talent and always strive for a diverse and inclusive culture ourselves. We simply had to be involved!” Jen Kinnear – MD, Profiles Creative

Outstanding CEO A visionary leader who is driving the business up a level

Cally Palmer

The Royal Marsden Hospital Cally’s achievements are based on a combination of inspirational leadership, political acumen and dedicated commitment, which are rarely seen in a single individual. She cares compassionately about developing others, acting as a mentor for women in clinical and managerial roles. The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust is a specialist cancer hospital in London, ranked third in the world for the impact of its research in finding better ways to diagnose and treat cancer. Its President is HRH Duke of Cambridge, Prince William.

Maryanne Matthews EY Foundation

Maryanne has worked in the public, private and voluntary sectors for over 20 years. She established the EY Foundation, becoming its Chief Executive. Its purpose is to enable every young person, regardless of their background, to thrive in the workplace. Too many young people face barriers to employment. We work to give young people the skills, experiences and support to get the jobs they really want, and connect employers to talented young people across the UK.

Clare Scott

The Ocean Partnership Clare is an ambitious and likeable individual who is extremely passionate about helping the industry become more inclusive in a predominantly male-dominated sector. Inspired by her mother, Clare is tenacious, focused and sees challenges as opportunities. The Ocean Partnership is a recruitment and inclusion consultancy dedicated to the investments industry. Our mission is to lead the recruitment of diverse talent and champion the adoption of inclusive working cultures to help the investment industry innovate.

Social Media Influencer A pioneer with a strong voice and a powerful online reach

Jennifer Corcoran My Super Connector

Jennifer is the ultimate super-connector and proactively drives her client’s social engagement and following, amplifying the power of their personal brands in the process. She is committed to helping others flourish on LinkedIn and achieve maximum impact. My Super Connector is an award-winning social media consultancy. In a nutshell, I help professionals and entrepreneurs to polish up their LinkedIn profiles and connect with finesse in order to achieve career and business success.

Mariela Dabbah Red Shoe Movement

Mariela is the visionary founder of the Red Shoe Movement. An award-winning, best-selling author, international speaker and corporate consultant, she’s a force to be reckoned with, whose personal mission is to help others succeed. The Red Shoe Movement is a leadership development company powered by a global community of women and men who support each other for career success. With a proprietary methodology, we help women move to their next career level.

Abigail Baines

Success by Design Training Abigail is passionate about making a difference in society since her wake-up call in 2012. She helps people find the time and motivation to live a life of purpose. Abigail’s life motto is: ‘Winners always find a way!’

Our products and programmes help CEOs/founders/senior leaders and their teams master their time, maximise resources, increase productivity and reduce burnout.

Rae Radford What’s New UK

Confident, successful and self-assured. Knows what she wants and goes for it. Smart and intuitive, with a nose for great products and branding. Adores social media and works tirelessly to support other women. Loyal and caring, and all about #girlcode. What’s New UK runs as a social media company and via my ‘hashtag hours’, I’m able to support #womaninbiz #wnukrt, giving these girls an opportunity to sell to a much wider audience. The hours are run seven days a week.

Professional Excellence A trailblazing woman of exceptional qualities and qualifications

Alison Kriel Above & Beyond

Alison is courageous, influential and an inspirational leader who acts with compassion but has a backbone of steel. A phenomenal person, she’s an inspiration to countless women and is able to achieve what others may believe to be unattainable. Alison is the Founder of Above & Beyond, which is a social media platform that allows schools to connect. It aims to change the conversation about schools by connecting, growing and belonging. Alison is the only black female CEO in education in the UK. She is a highly sought-after motivational speaker and consultant.

Jane Wheeler Hine Legal

A dedicated and conscientious lawyer. Jane is a balanced member of the team, who is calm in a crisis and energetic and enthusiastic about her passions: her job, family and marathon running. Hine Legal is a growing employment boutique law firm advising businesses and individuals on how to navigate tricky issues in the workplace, applying the law in a practical, userfriendly way.

Gunita Bhasin Showcased and Atomica

Gunita is known for her exceptionally positive attitude and remarkable ability as a leader. She has an infectious passion for her every endeavour. As a woman of substance, Gunita goes above and beyond to empower every person she can. Showcased was founded to eliminate barriers that people face when doing the things that matter. By connecting you with resources related to your passions and ambitions, our platform enables you to be a better version of yourself. Atomico is an international technology investment firm.

Amy Hambleton RedLaw

Amy has unlimited energy, with true passion in her work and in others. Her depth of knowledge is first-class, driven by wanting to offer a stand-out service supporting her team to achieve success and setting an example as a successful working parent. We do two things: we help lawyers to find the right law firms and law firms to find the right lawyers. Where we seek to be different is in the relationships that we build and where these lead. We believe that every successful relationship at every touchpoint should be built on trust; the genuine, meaningful, mutually rewarding kind.

Emma Taylor

RSSB (Rail Safety and Standards Board) An energetically intelligent engineer with several postgraduate degrees, and a relentless drive for motivating and inspiring others. An engaging digital mentor, in 2018, Emma was named by The Telegraph as one of the Top 50 Women in Engineering. She’s also Trustee and Director of a professional society and charity. Through research, standards, analysis and insight, RSSB supports our members and stakeholders in driving improvements in health and well-being, and delivering a safer, more efficient and sustainable rail system.

Director of the Year An outstanding director or board member of a company with more than 5 employees

Cathy Busani Happy

Cathy is passionate about enabling others to be great. She strongly believes that everyone is ‘smart’ and ‘joyful’ and, when you create the right environment in the workplace, everyone shines. She is all about authenticity and integrity. Happy is a consultancy and training business. We help to create happy, productive and successful workplaces. Our core values include helping people feel good about themselves, creating customer delight, and making the world a better place.

Lauren Williams London Grace

Lauren is a positive, innovative leader, with a passion for developing brands. In her role as Director at London Grace, she’s driven by the pursuit of growing a leading high-street beauty brand with real progression opportunities for women. London Grace is the city’s leading nail-care brand, with eight locations across London and Essex. They combine a nail bar, coffee shop and cocktail bar, creating a sociable beauty experience. Treatments are carried out using London Grace’s no-nasties nail polish.

Lucy Kane

Time & Leisure Magazine Lucy is a highly driven and determined businesswoman who has built a valuable magazine brand through assembling a great team and forging relationships in the community. She is passionate about publishing the highest quality magazines, inspiring readers, and local businesses. Time & Leisure is a multimedia publishing brand, in print, online and at events. With a monthly readership of 312,000, engaging for 15-60 mins, the magazines are loved and trusted by an affluent audience across SW London and Surrey.

Liz Kalu

Leverage Homes A helpful, knowledgeable, caring person. Liz is creative and passionate about property and people. She has lots of drive and positive energy, and brings this to whatever she does. Her ‘can-do’ attitude coupled with her ‘never-give-up’ approach gets results and is very contagious! We find unloved, rundown properties and refurbish them to a high standard. We keep it reasonably priced so we can rent them to local people – this is very important to us. Our target market is young, local professionals for whom we provide highend, affordable living.

Lynsey-Kay Porter Ultimate Holdings

Enthusiastic and lively, always keen to contribute and a positive force in the office. Lynsey manages several people and has progressed quickly to Director in just two years, starting as a junior. We are a private finance and investment house focused within the property sector, backed by a family office/HNWI (high-net-worth individual). We work to develop residential properties with developers, as well as manage a substantial portfolio of properties in-house.

HR Professional A woman who makes human resources a seamless fit

Kelly Jackson WorldFirst

Kelly graduated from UCL with a degree in Psychology, and remained curious about people ever since! She travelled around Southeast Asia and Australasia before beginning work in a variety of HR roles, including within technology and financial services industries, joining WorldFirst as Group HR Director in 2014. WorldFirst is on a mission to create the world’s best platform for international trade. As a fast-growing FinTech business, WorldFirst combines best-in-class technology with award-winning customer service to make it easier, cheaper and faster to manage money around the world.

Abigail Lerman Stella McCartney

Abigail is a rule breaker, a creative dreamer, and a feminist. Throughout two decades in HR, she has continually sought to bring her values, heart and ingenuity into her work to build healthy, harmonious environments where people can be their best. Stella McCartney challenges and pushes boundaries to make luxurious products that are fit for the world we live in today, and for the future: beautiful and sustainable. No compromise. It aims to create a deep sense of meaning and purpose for the people who work there.

Belinda Henriksen Expedia Group

An international HR professional, Belinda is passionate about improving employee experiences and solving complex business problems, at GE, HSBC, Seagate and now Expedia Group. She is Danish and Indonesian, has been in the UK for 20 years, and is married to Brian. Expedia Group is one of the largest, most innovative leisure and business online travel companies in the world ($10B revenue FY 2017). Its global family of brands include Expedia Brand, Hotels. com, Orbitz, Travelocity, HomeAway, trivago, wotif and Egencia.


At Benefex, we believe that only well-designed and meaningful employee experiences can truly drive engagement, every day. We deliver consumer-grade employee experiences to organisations like Bank of America, BT, Centrica, E.ON, ITV, M&S, and Plusnet through our award-winning platform, OneHub.

Company of the Year A thriving company which has women in pivotal roles and supports its local community

Kirsten Hazell London Grace

Kirsten is an award-winning entrepreneur who has transformed the high-street beauty experience with London Grace, an innovative beauty brand. In four years, she has grown London Grace to eight stores and a team of 100. London Grace is the city’s leading nail-care brand, with eight locations across London and Essex. They combine a nail bar, coffee shop and cocktail bar, creating a sociable beauty experience. Treatments are carried out using London Grace’s no-nasties nail polish.

Sarah Hazlehurst MKTG

Sarah strongly believes that a truly great business is one where women thrive and can realise their full potential. She relentlessly makes sure that happens through her mentoring of women across the business, with her collaborative and energetic leadership style. MKTG creates engaging brand and immersive experiences. Great ideas need great people, which is why we have a 50/50 board split and have created a culture which reflects our values. Our diversity, and talented women and men, drive our success.

Jane Atherton and Julia Vassie Love Success

Jane and Julia are renowned, passionate leaders in UK recruitment. They go above and beyond to nurture their staff (whom they refer to as ‘family’), helping them to achieve their personal goals. They are true leaders and inspirational women in their field. Love Success is a staff-owned and managed boutique recruitment consultancy. Built on trust, honesty and continuity, Love Success is one of the UK’s most reliable consultancies and has been awarded the Best PA & Office Recruitment Agency 2018.


SGFE was founded by a group of experienced business coaches and consultants, all with a track record of growing businesses worldwide. We use best-of-breed IP and decades of hands-on entrepreneurial experience to help ambitious businesses of all types and sizes through the challenges of growth.

Inspirational Women A woman that goes out of her way to help others

Anna Daniels Daniels Group

Anna is focused and committed, with a zest for life and a passion for things that can help motivate and encourage others to strive for the very best in everything they do. Tenacious, approachable and adaptable, Anna enables success in any situation. Daniels Group is dedicated to health, fitness and well-being, offering both individual and corporate support. Constantly changing trends requires us to understand and deliver up-to-date best practice that inspires, educates and enables clients to reach their full potential.

Jenni Dunman Daisy First Aid

Jenni is so positive that she believes absolutely anything is possible. She inspires women to have successful businesses and raise families at the same time. Jenni is always happy, optimistic and one of life’s helpers. She loves seeing other women succeed. We provide fun and friendly family first aid classes in homes and venues across the UK. Taking the fear out of first aid gives parents the skills and confidence to deal with an emergency.

Alice Morrison Alice Morrison

An inspiration: passionate, vibrant, open, giving, funny, and driven to share her unique insights into different people and cultures with others. She shows us how to live our own dreams. I am a full-time adventurer, currently based in Morocco. In my forties, I gave up being CEO of a media company to follow my dream. Now I am a BBC TV series presenter and the author of three books.

Seema Flower Blind Ambition

Crazy and fun, Seema enjoys life and lives it to the fullest. She is positive, driven and strives to ensure she doesn’t let any obstacles hold her back. Always helping others reach their potential, she is unique and inspirational. Blind Ambition is a visual awareness and disabilities consultancy, committed to providing organisations with the skills, knowledge and tools to deliver inclusive services to their customers with disabilities. We help businesses become disability-confident. We also offer motivational speaking and business advice coaching.

Gina Martin Parliament

Driven, passionate, principled, determined and fighting hard to create social change that actively makes female’s lives better. I’m a writer, speaker and activist who launched the campaign to make ‘upskirting’ a sexual offence after I became a victim last year. After a solo campaign, I convinced the government to change the law.

Mariela Shaker

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Mariela is an award-winning violinist and champion of change who is using her music to establish peace and remove barriers between people and nations. I started performing to support students of conflict areas after I received an award from President Obama. My music is not about myself but about each girl who finds herself trapped in the war and who fights for her voice to be heard.



Keep calm and carry on! We all know the saying ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’, but it’s not always as simple as that, as Venus founder Tara Howard explains Not all fear needs to be cured; in fact, if we never felt fear, we wouldn’t survive as a species. Fear is what compels us to run from danger or avoid situations in which we think we might be under threat – a pretty useful emotion if you’re being chased by a bear or standing on the edge of a cliff. But how can we control the feelings of fear we have when we know we’re not in danger, we just don’t want to do a certain thing? We might be afraid of being laughed at, of doing something wrong, or even just fearful that we won’t get it exactly right. I don’t look like the sort of person who scares easily, and as the founder of the Venus Awards, running huge events, meeting potential sponsors and getting up on stage in front of an audience is as natural as breathing. Whereas, for others, it’s something their worst nightmares are made of. If you think that means I’m not afraid of anything, though, you’d be wrong. I am, but I’ve learned how to control my fear. Here’s how you can, too.

1: Learning

So much of what we fear comes from ignorance. I started out running the family hotel, and when I first took over I was really nervous about the property maintenance aspect of the business. I knew I could feel my way on most things, like marketing and customer service, but how would I be able to make decisions based on a skill set I didn’t have? The solution was pretty obvious – because, of course, the hotel had its own maintenance man! However, I made it my mission to learn as much as possible. I did everything in that business – one minute I’d be negotiating for trade worth tens of thousands of pounds, the next I’d be unblocking the toilets – and I learned from both those experiences. If what you

Pilot, hotelier, model and serial entrepreneur, Tara Howard founded the Venus Awards in 2009 as a way of recognising women’s achievements in business and promoting female role models. @TaraHowardMe tarahoward.me


fear is the unknown, the quickest way to overcome it is to step back from the panic and learn as much about it as possible.

2: Delegation

There are other aspects of the business which do put me on the back foot. Although I’m pretty much on top of accounting, long-term budgeting is often something I’m reluctant to face. But that’s where delegation comes in. I use the skills I do have (I’m a good judge of people) to recruit someone who can do this for me. Even if you’re in a cash-strapped start-up, it’s always worth considering delegation when you’re really struggling with something – it frees you up to do the things you do best, which makes more money in the long run.

3: JFWDI (Just Flipping Well Do It)

In business, you’re often not given the luxury of fear. You take something on because it needs to be done and nobody else is going to step in. I feel a bit like that about social media. Communication is my thing – I love talking to people and sharing ideas, but when you start breaking it down into jargon like SEO, reach, and influence, it puts up those fear barriers again. And in this case, the solution is to Just Flipping Well Do It – because not doing it would be far worse for the business. So once again I’m on the learning track, making podcasts and videos – and delegating the tech side to social media professionals who can guide me. And I know that, at one point, the day will come when this particular fear has simply vanished. Of course, it will soon be replaced by another one, because we don’t want life to be boring, do we? That brings me to my final, incurable

dread – the Fear Of Missing Out. FOMO is the scourge of entrepreneurs – we’re always distracted by the next shiny thing and we can often take on too much in the process. I want to try everything, do everything, and it can be exhausting. But you know what? I’m not sure I want to cure my FOMO. It’s what drives me to keep growing the Venus brand, looking for more opportunities and ways to keep things interesting. When it comes to being afraid, provided you understand it and use it in a positive way, even fear can be a useful V skill to add to your business toolkit.■

Empowering a community of leaders to become a movement of change


Steeped in history, welcome to The Waldorf As a bastion of Britishness, The Waldorf Hilton stands as one of London’s most iconic hotels. Perfectly positioned, you’ll find us right in the heart of the Capital’s glitzy district of theatres and a short walk from the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden Piazza and some of the best shops, restaurants, bars, galleries, museums and landmarks.


Profile for Venus

Venus Magazine London 2019  

A unique publication celebrating women-in business and their achievements. Interesting and topical articles with business tips from coaches...

Venus Magazine London 2019  

A unique publication celebrating women-in business and their achievements. Interesting and topical articles with business tips from coaches...

Profile for venus72