Whilst women currently account for just under a third of the UK’s self-employed job market, the number of women choosing to become their own boss continues to rise. Figures from the Office of National Statistics show that women have made up over half of the increase in self-employment since 2008.
Despite the growing number of women taking the plunge and going it alone in business, more role models are needed to inspire the next generation of female entrepreneurs; that’s why, on this International Women’s Day, we’re shining a spotlight on eight inspiring female founders who are currently shaking up the UK’s start-up scene, transforming industries with innovative products and inspiring more women to make their mark on the business world.
Winner of the Startups Awards 2016 Women in Business Award, Pippa ‘Pip’ Murray is the founder of Pip & Nut, the fastest growing nut butter brand in the UK.As a peanut butter enthusiast, and lover of marathon running, Murray was inspired to create her own healthy nut butter brand with a fun twist after finding existing products were either ‘too healthy looking’ or laden with sugar and palm oil.
After winning Escape the City’s ‘Escape to the Shed’ competition, Murray left her job as a producer at the Science Museum to spend three months developing her business in a shed in Central London before launching in 2015.
Pip & Nut’s product range, which includes six different flavours, is now available in more than 2,500 stores in the UK, including Selfridges, Holland & Barrett and Sainsbury’s.
Claire Vero took a leap of faith by leaving her well-paid corporate role to launch a ‘BioOrganic’ skincare range.
Vero’s all-natural ingredients and a strict ‘free-from’ policy meant Aurelia Probiotic Skincare struck a chord with beauty fanatics early on. Within 18 months of launching, Vero’s range had secured listings with Net-A-Porter, Space NK Apothecary and the prestigious Liberty Beauty Hall – where it is considered to be the store’s fastest growing skincare brand.
Video collaboration app, Seenit, is the brainchild of tech entrepreneur Emily Forbes.While filming a documentary about rhino conservation protestors in South Africa, Forbes was struck by the amount of authentic footage captured on smartphones by gathering crowds. Realising the value of collaborative storytelling to film makers, news organisations and advertisers alike, Forbes set out to build a platform that enables users to upload and source video content from a central online hub.
Launched in early 2014 and backed by technology accelerator fund, Collider, along with BBC Labs, Seenit secured big name clients early on, including Bauer Media, BetFred and Unilever. Red Bull Racing and the BBC are just two big names out of over 100 other businesses that have since got on board.
Since its launch, Seenit has won numerous accolades including featuring in the Startups 100 Index for two consecutive years. Most recently, Emily Forbes received recognition at the 10 Digital Ladies’ Awards 2017.
While sticking with what you know may seem good business advice, Georgina Nelson tore up the rulebook when she formed truRating in 2014. Despite having no experience in the payments, retail or tech industry, Nelson created the world’s first mass point-of-payment consumer rating system after identifying a need for a review process that would benefit both businesses and consumers.
With a growing list of clients in the UK, Australia and the US, truRating offers customers the opportunity to quickly and anonymously rate aspects of their experience through payment terminals, enabling businesses to benchmark individual outlets’ performance, compare against competitors and collate more detailed customer insights.
Self-proclaimed ‘accidental entrepreneur’, Alice Hall was struggling to pay her bills in 2012 when she set up her online fashion store, Pink Boutique, with just £90.Just over four years later, Hall’s initial investment has transformed into a multi-million pound business shipping out 2,000 garments a day to 59 countries. More astonishingly, Hall has achieved this success without needing to borrow a single penny or develop a strategy.
Unsurprisingly, the rapid growth of Pink Boutique has led to Hall receiving several awards, including Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year at the PWC UK Private Business Awards and Women into the Network Young Entrepreneur of the Year.
After working in property for four years, Lily Simpson started her catering company ‘Lily’s Lovely Bites’, which has since evolved into The Detox Kitchen – a healthy food brand comprising two hugely successful delis in Fitzrovia and Kingly St, a concession at Selfridges and a food delivery service popular with a number of celebrity A-listers, including Elle Macpherson, Suki Waterhouse and Gwyneth Paltrow.
Another entrepreneur driving the healthy eating revolution, Meg Haggar founded award-winning raw chocolate brand Raw Halo in 2015 after spotting a gap in the market for a quality raw chocolate product free from additives and sugar alternatives.Unsurprisingly, the concept of guilt-free, luxury chocolate has been met with huge success and Raw Halo products can now be found in department stores, organic shops, cafés and yoga studios across the UK, Europe and Asia.
Turning the fashion norm that ‘beauty is pain’ on its head, Iris Anson’s innovative shoe brand enables women to design their own made-to-measure shoes using its online 3D designer.Prior to starting her own business, Iris Anson was a fashion-conscious tax consultant struggling to find fashionable shoes that offered the comfort she needed to get through the working day. It was this frustration that prompted Anson to study Footwear Design at the London College of Fashion and eventually create her own solution to end the trade-off between comfort and style.
Despite experiencing teething problems early on, Solely Original has recently secured approximately £70,000 in crowdfunding in addition to the backing of two angel investors, indicating that the brand is on track to bring bespoke footwear to the masses.