Thursday, April 26, 2018
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From Franchisee to Independent Shop owner

Natural for Baby
My Genderbuzz listing: Natural for Baby
Hi there Genderbuzzers, my name’s Elizabeth and this is my business story on how my specialist shop for organic baby products, Natural for Baby in Balham, came to life!
South West London has always been my neighbourhood
I have always lived in SW London, did the usual system of education, but never really knew what I wanted to do as a career. After University, I did temp work which ended up with me having a disability that lasted for a decade. I did however work through most of this time doing various office roles for the Archbishops’ Council but when a  new boss came in I (and most of the department) was made redundant! I used part of my redundancy to pay for the Alexander Technique which allowed me to no longer be officially disabled and my life as an entrepreneur got off the starting blocks.
Becoming a Franchisee 

One thing that motivated me was the desire to ‘not have a boss’ but to have some kind of business support too. I found that perfect half-way house of being a Franchisee.  I discovered a company called Natures Purest UK which was mainly a baby gifting company that made a variety of baby clothes, toys, bedding and more with 100% organic naturally coloured cotton. cottons that were used were rare, handpicked from a community farm with no nasty chemicals which were then ethically made into the end product in their own factory. For nearly three years I ran my shop as a Franchisee called ‘Natures Purest Balham’. I loved that everything that was made ethically in general,  I care for the environment and hate the way that people are treated in many factories in the world which is why I loved the brand to the level of investing into opening the shop. There is also nothing cuter than baby gifts, you always have happy customers buying for babies on the way or new babies that have been born.

 A bolt from the Blue and then PIVOT

Sadly in 2017,  I  discovered rather abruptly that Natures Purest UK were probably going into administration, but was told that this would be a gradual process and I’d have 2 years to decide what to do with my shop. However, only a few weeks later, I discovered that the brand was actually closing down faster than that and that after many attempts to get hold of further stock that selling these items simply wasn’t possible any more.

With 2 more years on the shop lease  I re-branded! Having changed various online listings and buying new shop signage, new stock items were brought in. Customers had been asking for three years for toddler clothes, toddler toys, toddler bedding as well as for babies so although it was sad with the departure of Natures Purest UK closing, it gave me  the opportunity to provide many of the most requested items in my shop for my regular customers. I also found the new items have attracted many new customers too.

My values are still my Unique Selling Point

One thing I haven’t changed was the ethos of the shop, clothes sold in the shop are made from 100% organic cotton that are either naturally coloured or carries the oeko-tex certification Some items have the Fairtrade certification, some other items have other guarantees and I have continued to sell some brands that are handmade by other women in business.  She also now sells wooden toys made with sustainable wood that are ethically made too.  What my whole entrepreneurial journey has taught me so far is to roll with what happens. I went from not knowing what to do, doing a job that pays the bills, facing uncertainly with redundancy, starting afresh as a Franchisee, having uncertainly again to building up my business again, this time running a fully Independent shop! I have even built my first website recently because I  know how even regular customers want to check what’s in the shop before popping in.

If you live in South West London and are looking for baby gifts or products, please pop into Natural for Baby and say Hi!  All the best – Elizabeth.

My passion for photography led me to starting my own visual branding agency

The Elegant Brand
My Genderbuzz Listing –  The Elegant Brand
Hi Genderbuzzers, my name’s Rachel and I am the founder of ‘The Elegant Brand’ and this is my business story.
My love of photography started at an early age
Photography has always been something close to my heart and even from a young age I loved rummaging through my grandmother’s shoe boxes full of family memorabilia, photographs in black and white and vintage colours. I photographed friends whenever they would allow me and loved browsing through glossy faction magazines, never even thinking for a minute that I would make photography my profession it felt completely out of reach. 
So, I followed what I would call a ‘traditional path’, working, in sales, account and project management but I realised something was very wrong when each time I was talking about photography with someone, I was so full of enthusiasm; it felt like a fire was igniting me from inside. 
Back to Uni for me…
In 2009 I decided to go back to uni to study for an MA in Fine Art Photography. I continued working and started a project about Women who volunteered during WWII. In 2016 I left my job to set up my portrait and personal branding photography business. 
I quickly realised that my portrait and branding clients had not much in common, and last year, have decided to create two different brands for my photography, one focusing purely on portraiture called ‘By Rachel V Photography’ and the other one ‘The Elegant Brand’ providing not only branding photography but also film and brand clarity coaching. 
‘The Elegant Brand’ is here to close a gap in the market by providing branding photography and film at a professional level, for brands who want to stand out with their stories and are not served by commercial photography agencies. I would call the Elegant Brand a boutique visual branding agency. The idea is to provide a full service to create images that are relevant to their business, tell a story rather than photographing at random. In a very competitive market having brand clarity and being focused on telling your story is vital to stand out, this is the mission of the Elegant helping businesses increase their brand visibility and reach their ideal audience. 
How I would like my company to grow
In an ideal world, I would love to set up an agency, develop a team, provide a full-on bespoke branding service for all visual content needs. A brand does not only need images for what I would call ‘static visual content’, but also variable visual content, for the blog, social media, promotions, newsletter etc.. and you have to make sure that these images fit your brand and work with all other elements in your branding to create consistency for your brand to stand out with the message you’re putting out there.I have worked with life coaches, wedding planner, photographer, fashion designers, makeup artist, my ideal client understands the power of having on-brand imagery. 
What can I do for your brand?
I offer a free consultation to understand what you, as a  prospective client is after, get a feel for your brand and help you create a compelling visual brand story to increase your visibility and reach your ideal audience. You can book a free consultation via

I went from teacher to Social Media Pro

Social Thyme
ISIL SIMSEK, founder of Social Media company, Social Thyme

Hi Genderbuzzers, My name’s Isil Simsek. I’m a social media marketer and founder of Social Thyme. I studied Economics at university and started working at an international retail company as a buyer when I graduated. I never imagined I would start my own business one day. When I had my children, I developed an interest in Montessori education and trained as a teacher. I love teaching but for various reasons that did not work out either. It was at this point I decided to qualify as a social media marketer.

Blogging my way to success

My journey to becoming a social media professional, came through Blogging.  I had been a Blogger since 2005 and had gained a good understanding of social media. One day I was sitting in front of the computer thinking how I could turn these skills into a job, and I came across ‘Digital Mums’-an organisation that upskills mums with social media marketing. I took one of their courses, and set up Social Thyme right after graduating from Digital Mums in July 2015.

Venturing into the great Freelancing unknown

When I graduated, I was still working part time, as well as running my new business. I started out by sending cold emails to a few brands that I liked and I was lucky enough to start working with an amazing, healthy snack brand produced by a lovely woman. I worked with her for about 18 months, remotely and have actually never met her in real life!

Resigning from my previous part time job and going freelance in a new industry, was a huge step but I have never looked back. Most of my clients are small and medium sized businesses, who either don’t have the time to run their own social media channels or simply don’t know how to do it. I love helping them promote their services and products. I have worked with both B2B and B2C clients from different industries. I now work from home flexibly, around my family.  Starting out in a new industry is not easy. There have been lots of highs and lows and late nights but I guess if you love what you do, you work hard, do the hustle and make things happen!
Keeping Up to date with the latest trends
Visual marketing has become very important in the last few years and in 2017, I decided to improve my photography skills. I did courses with Makelight and have finally found the confidence to ditch auto and started shooting in manual. This year I have challenged myself to improve my video skills and I am currently doing Xanthe Berkeley‘s Make Films Course.
Why I joined the Genderbuzz Directory and listed Social Thyme
It’s been almost a year since I joined the Genderbuzz Directory. I feel privileged to be a part of this community. I know that Natasha has lots of plans to grow Genderbuzz. I look forward to connecting with you all.

How I literally weathered the business storms in 2017

British Virgin Islands Holidays
Joyce, owner of BVI Holidays - No 1. British Virgin Islands travel specialist worldwide

Hi Genderbuzz women, my name’s Joyce Kinniburgh and I own BVI Holidays Ltd – the  only specialist travel company to the glorious British Virgin Islands worldwide. For the most part, I LOVE my job, hleping people to plan and arrange their dream holiday to one of the most beautiful places on the planet, but, during 2017, I had to fall back on all my business resilience to literally weather the storms that devastated the BVI and potentially  my business. Here is my story:

September 2017- In the eye of the Storm

When Hurricanes Irma and Maria ripped through the British Virgin Islands on 6th September 2017, nobody could have envisaged the massive destruction caused or the ensuing aftermath. At times the winds were so strong they were literally ripping the tarmac from the roads.Some of the BV Islanders lost everything – their homes, their businesses, and their personal belongings.

When I saw footage of what had once been the Bitter End Yacht Club on Virgin Gorda, I cried. My first of many visits there was in 1989 and it is the most unique hotel I have ever visited. Thatched cottages linked by wooden walkways overlooking a mile-long white sand beach and the most stunning views imaginable. Completely destroyed by our unwelcome “visitors”. Paradise was reduced to driftwood.

Facing down the aftermath with grit and determination

When faced with clearing up almost total devastation what did the BVI community do, did they throw in the towel, sit down and cry, leave and try to start a new life somewhere else? No, these resilient people did none of these things. With the initial assistance of our wonderful marines and true grit and determination, they got on with the job of rebuilding the infrastructure of the BVI and doing their utmost to restore their beautiful islands to their former glory.

What did I do? I will be perfectly honest with you – I was worried. For weeks and months, I had no enquiries whatsoever and the future was not looking good. However, I also have grit and determination and I am very aware that the BVI needs the tourists back; next to Banking, Tourism is the main industry in the British Virgin Islands. From a selfish point of view – I also need people to start booking again. Bills still have to be paid!

Several properties will not be available for holidays until 2019, however, I decided to work with what was available and focus on promoting the sailing, which was back up and running very quickly – sailboats, motor yachts and crewed yachts.   The island of Anegada was left almost unscathed by the hurricanes and the three properties there with which I work – two hotels and a great beach restaurant with beachfront villas – all re-opened last November.

On some of the other islands, we have several beautiful villas which escaped damage and some of the hotels are due to open in the coming months.

What’s next for me and the British Virgin Islands? 

The upside is that some of the beaches (if this is possible!) are even better than before. The greenery and tropical flowers are coming back and will grow very quickly. The flowers in the tropics grow like our weeds do in the U.K.!

Since the hurricanes struck, I have been e-mailing my client database regularly to keep everyone updated on the progress throughout the islands and to assure them that things are slowly but surely returning to normal and of course to remind them that our business, BVI Holidays is THE company to book with as we are fully up to speed with what’s happening there.

One good thing that came out of Irma and Maria, is that now – everyone knows where the British Virgin Islands are and I no longer expect to receive calls from people asking “where are the BVI?” From my experience in 2017, I realised that the secret to a successful business with staying power, is to be positive and concentrate on what you do have, not what you don’t have.

Would you like to talk to me about a holiday in the British Virgin Islands? Go to my Genderbuzz listing today and find me under ‘Travel Services’.
All the best – Joyce

I pivoted my business model, and now we’re thriving!

Women in Business
I took brave decisions to pivot my business when times got tough, and now we're thriving!

Hi, my name is Shona Chambers and I am Director and Founder of Space at 61 – an event space in South East London. Think of us as a kind of  “Airbnb for business use”, where a  typical week might include the venue being used by Artists working on their creations, supper club hosts trying out new menus (we have a commercial kitchen with food hygiene rating, & seating for 40 covers), work-shoppers holding interesting craft projects, families hosting gatherings, and pop up retail events.  In short, no two weeks are the same.

ButSpace at 61 was never my intended business and by sharing my story with fellow Genderbuzzers,, I hope I can show you that being brave and pivoting my business model when things got tough, paid off for me. I started out in 2011 with a year of painstaking scrutiny, projected income, break even points, banks, selling our family home to fund the renovations of a derelict unit, & finally in May 2012 I opened the Cafe/Deli of my dreams – ‘The Dish and Spoon’

Good Times

The whole concept of ‘The Dish and the Spoon’ was to open a community cafe with a strong focus on family, in an area, which had nothing at all to offer the average family. When we opened, the Cafe did well, the locals loved it, and we were full of happy families with children enjoying the toy corner, and Mum & Dad trying out different meats & cheese for lunch from our deli offering. In our first year of opening we won ‘London’s Top Toddler Friendly Cafe’ & I was so proud – both of my team & of the fact I’d brought my dream to life off the page so to speak.

Not so Good Times

Sadly, in the same way for many independent shops and cafes, we struggled like crazy to keep afloat. There were quiet periods where all our customers seemed to be on holiday at once and unhelpful parking schemes from the local council and little by little, it became harder to keep going. In 2014, towards the end of the summer, we started to notice water appearing in strange places around the premises and we had to close the café for 6 whole months! In March 2015, we reopened, and I limped on for another year or so before accepting that our trade had moved on, the magic had gone, & my only real choice was to close the cafe for good. Heartbreaking.

Pivot that business!

At this point, having pumped an obscene amount of my family’s money into the business, I tried to look at selling the business & its lease but, the amount I would have received was so low, it was almost to the point of walking away with nothing, whilst at the same time handing back a beautifully renovated property to my landlord. (Who is lovely by the way, no offence to him intended!) Shortly before we closed the cafe, I remember having a conversation with one of my amazing regulars Hannah Read-Baldrey, who is a local author and stylist.  She took one look at the place and said ‘Shona, you could do anything with this place, anyone would love to use it for photo shoots, pop ups, anything like that’! I was very sceptical, but I really appreciated her suggestion and gave it a lot of thought.

Then, very uncharacteristically for me, I decided, ‘sod it! I will have a go at keeping the place and I will try and find enough people to rent it out for their own projects, to make the rent each month – at least whilst I think what to do next’.  So,we took down the sign for the Dish and the Spoon’, turned it around & my arty husband made us a new sign on the other side with Space at 61 on it.  We put up the sign, and that was that – a new brand and a new business model was born. The fact is, that we didn’t ever really close, we simply stepped from Cafe to ‘Space’ in a matter of days.

A new dawn and a new time to thrive

My first real customers were a fantastic Mexican themed Supperclub who were just getting started in East Dulwich and wanted a bit more space than their flat would allow. And then shortly after that, a lovely Tapas pop-up followed, and they became regulars serving up amazing food to the local community several days per month. I discovered several online platforms to list the business on, and enquiries started to increase that way as more people heard of it. I treated it really at that point as a rental, finding clients & leaving them to it. The tipping point only really came well into 2017 when I realised that ‘I’ wanted to choose who came into the place, ‘I’ wanted to make it an amazing place too.

At that point I really started to push my way out into local networking groups and events, with the view that by telling lots of people what I was trying to do, they would at the very least spread the word for me, and maybe even use it themselves. I was hearing more and more that we had an unusual offering, in that we allowed people to rent the space from 1 hour upwards. We don’t charge the earth, as the idea for me has always been to help people to get going, to take an idea they are passionate about and just have a go. With rents going through the roof, and gentrification pushing the creative types further and further out of the area, I felt that I could at least help people to begin in their business.  And that is pretty much what has happened. We have been booked out ever since and we our thriving and so is our community.

If you’d asked me 6 years ago if I’d be doing this, I’d have laughed, but like many business women, I am still running my own company and it’s brilliant!  I hope I’ve inspired you to keep going when the going gets tough and of course, if you live in South London, or have any friends that do, we’d love to welcome you at Space at 61


Contact us:

Address: 61 Cheltenham Road, Nunhead,London, SE15 3AF

Angeles Reyes shares her plans for International Women’s Day Strike 2018

International Women's Day Strike 2018

Angeles Reyes is an advocate for women and a community activist. She has created her own website called Pinkmyarse which focusses on activism.

Go to her website to find out what she is doing for the International Women’s Day Global Strike 

Genderbuzz® is happy to showcase her work and acknowledge that there are many different ways to advance gender equality in this world and each one is individual. Happy International Women’s Day!


Genderbuzz Responds to U.K Treasury Select Committee on ‘Women in Finance’

Women in Finance
Natasha Stromberg, CEO of Genderbuzz

Read the Genderbuzz response to the U.K Treasury Select Committee’s Inquiry about ‘Women in Finance’ and why there are still so few women in senior positions in City Firms and in banking and Finance in general.

Our response was jointly submitted with Lauren Chiren from Women of a certain stage’ and Jessica Chivers of ‘The Talentkeeper specialists’

Genderbuzz Response 2018

My transformation from office wallflower to speaking up like a DIVA!

Public speaking skills

Hi Genderbuzzers! My name’s Shola Kaye and I run a public speaking company called Speak Up like a Diva’.  I’m also the author of the book How to be a DIVA at public speaking.  However, my professional life was once VERY different and I want to share my story with you of how my first job many years ago sowed the seeds for the woman I am today and what I do now to help others become public speaking pros just like me!

My ‘American Dream’ I was straight out of graduate school with a freshly minted masters degree in Analytical Chemistry when I went off to work for a management consulting company in the USA with absolutely zero corporate experience. Like many new graduates  I was required to ‘blag it’ in my first job, which involved pretending to have the gravitas and experience to advise clients who’d been in their industries for years. I was supposed to do this with no training or help whatsoever and ‘to learn on the job’! Except that I was never really one for faking it (at work, at least!) and found myself in a very uncomfortable situation. I was desperate to add value but as a complete newbie I didn’t want to speak up and put my foot in my mouth in front of knowledgeable clients, potentially embarrassing both myself and my company. I admit – I was struggling. To top it all, I’d been assigned to work with the company’s most prestigious client, a household name global investment bank, so there was even more pressure to put on a good show and do my mid-sized consulting company proud.

My employer eventually saw that I was floundering and yes, they could have done one of the following: 1. Recommended a book for me to read, 2. Given me a mentor, 3. Sent me on a training course. Instead, guess what? – they put me on PROBATION! Stress Central!

Up until this point, I had never encountered any academic or work-related struggles, and I’ll be honest with you, I was worried. It put me under enormous extra pressure because the H1B visa I needed to stay in the USA was tied to my employment. No visa? – No party and I’d be on the next plane back to London. It was such a stressful time for me and the pressure at work mounted by a factor of 10, not to mention that as a conscientious and hardworking young person I felt embarrassed and ashamed about being on probation.

Sisterhood saves the day Fortunately for me, the situation was salvaged when a kindly female colleague swooped in and offered to help me. She took me under her wing and generously agreed, (without the company asking her or paying her extra), to arrive at work a half hour early a couple of days a week to give me extra coaching. With my colleague’s help and guidance I soon managed to turn things around and went on to become a key part of the project team and highly valued by the client. Wuhu!

So what did I learn and where did this experience take me? This whole experience showed me that some people are slower starters than others but of no less value when given the right tools to shine. A bit of friendly support is often all we need. Maybe I was unlucky to be at a firm that didn’t provide any training, or it may be the norm but my heart now goes out to any woman that finds herself in a similar situation. What I REALLY needed at that time was an online coaching course I could access at home but at the time, online courses weren’t readily available. I was already working long hours at the consultancy with the occasional weekend in the office which made it difficult to find time to seek out and attend external courses and training. That’s why, years later, I decided to start my own business designing coaching courses to help people build their communication skills based on my own experiences of not speaking up and Speak up like a Diva’ was born!

Public speaking skills
To improve your public speaking skills, start with my  book

FAST FORWARD TO 2018 and I’m an award-winning speaker and author – yes ME the ex-office Wallflower – and for the past 15 years I have also been performing internationally as a professional singer. My first book. How to be a D.I.V.A. at Public Speaking, provides readers like you with female role-models from the world of entertainment, (sidestepping the usual references to Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln) and my company ‘Speak Up Like A D.I.V.A’ , provides workshops, coaching and training to both individuals and corporates who want to build their own or their staff’s communication skills.

So, what’s in store for you at ‘Speak up like a Divain 2018? In a few months’ time I will be publishing my second book ‘Speak Up On The Spot’ which I have designed to help you speak up persuasively during meetings, to create last-minute presentations and to answer difficult questions at work as smoothly as any politician. I often meet women who express feelings of low confidence when it comes to speaking under pressure and I want this book to address this. ‘Speak up on the Spot’ will include a variety of speaking frameworks as well as expert interviews with barristers, sales trainers, improvisation experts and others who have the edge on thinking and speaking on their feet. There’ll also be advice on mindset and delivery techniques from psychologists and coaches that will help YOU stay cool and look poised! So look out for it!

Public speaking skills‘Speak up on the the Spot’ for corporates 

I have run workshops on this topic and they I have proven very popular. In fact style magazine ‘Harpers Bazaar’ recently picked up the session for their ‘Bazaar at Work series’. As a result I received several enquiries and follow up bookings from a variety of industries ranging from hair and beauty to asset management! Everyone wants to be a decent speaker at work and I can help. There will also be a ‘Speak Up On The Spot’ corporate keynote and online course to support the learning. I know from experience that employees and entrepreneurs alike are hungry for interactive digital training that will help them increase confidence, think on their feet and stay sharp at work. So if you work in the corporate world and need help making impactful presentations let me know and book a half-day or one-day workshop for your company today.

The thing is, I know how much I could have used a similar training all those years ago and my transformation from office wallflower to public speaking pro could have been sooo much easier, that’s why I’m so passionate about my company. Who knows, if I had taken that training, perhaps I’d still be a management consultant today?

I look forward to hearing from you – Shola

Buy my book: How to be a DIVA at public speaking

Book a public speaking course:

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Genderbuzz woman
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