Following in the footsteps of Anita Roddick, Jacqueline Gold and Martha Lane Fox, we profile five female business builders who are going it alone.
Do you dream of quitting your day job and starting your own business, or working from home so that you can spend more time with your children? For people with a good idea, the opportunity is there – take a look at the stories of these five women who have done just that.
Gillian Nissam – founder of Working Mums
Working Mums is the number one site for professional working mothers. Nissam started the site in 2006 after she had her second child, and realised how difficult it is to find flexible work for professional women who are also mothers. The business now employs 14 staff members – most of whom are also working mothers. Employers pay a small fee to advertise flexible professional vacancies, and job seekers can browse jobs and contact employers for free. There is also a ‘Franchise Zone’, where site users can look for self-employment opportunities, and the site also features working mum’s blogs. Working dads are also welcome.
Nissam has been recruited to be on the judging panel of the Big Mum Opinion – an initiative run by Mumpanel to allow mums to influence big brands. This has confirmed her place as one of the most important women in the working mum’s job market.
Joanna Montgomery – Little Riot
Joanna Montgomery is only 25, yet has founded a company and launched her first product, which she designed and developed herself. The company, Little Riot, exists to provide technology which allows people to communicate in more engaging ways that current technology allows. The product, Pillow Talk, allows couples in long distance relationships to hear each-others heart beats. The heart beat is picked up by a wristband and is played through the other person’s pillow.
Joanna has a degree in digital interaction design and it was during her degree that she had the idea for Pillow Talk. Expect plenty more tech innovations from this lady in the future.
Slima Manji – London Dinner Club
Manji has a degree in business economics, and qualified as a chartered accountant before going on to work in investment banking for companies like JP Morgan and Credit Suisse. Therefore, it’s not surprising that after she became a mum, she launched a mega successful networking business.
She started London Dinner Club in 2010. The club allows single professional people to meet for dinner and drinks in the capital, and she plans to expand to other cities. The next project in the pipeline is the Asian Dinner Club – the same premise as the London Dinner Club, but for Asians only.
Nicola Elliot – Neom Organics
Elliot was a journalist working in the magazine industry for years, before a tricky decision sent her off on another path. She needed to buy a present for her eco-minded, but very glamorous, sister, and found that there wasn’t a lot in the way of nice smelling, pleasant to use but eco -friendly products on the market. So, she was just going to have to make them herself, wasn’t she?
Neom, which is a combination of her and her partner’s initials, was launched in 2005, and now boasts clientele with names like Kate Moss, Sienna Miller, Gwyneth Paltrow and Kylie Minogue. Neom sells luxury body products, candles which are the cleanest burning in the world, and home fragrances. Not bad for a day’s work.
Kate Castle – Boginabag
Castle went camping with her kids, and came back with a bright idea – namely, a folding stool with becomes a portable loo with the attachment of a bag. Hence, Boginabag. She went on Dragon’s Den, and got the go-ahead from Theo Paphitis, who now owns 30% of the company. Her main markets are festival goers, but the product has also been well received by those who own an allotment, IBS sufferers, and off course campers.
So there you go – if you’ve got a good idea, go with it. It worked for this lot.