National role model publication launched in North East
(27 July 2005)
A publication featuring the stories of enterprising female role models from around the UK has been launched at an event hosted by North East based Women Into the Network (WIN).
‘IF (Inspired Females) Only’ was officially launched by Martin Wyn Griffith, chief executive of the DTI’s Small Business Service and sponsors of the publication. The event attracted over 200 people from several regions who came to listen to and be inspired by some of the women featured in the first edition.
On opening the event, Mr Wyn Griffith said, “The Small Business Service is delighted to be associated with IF ONLY and working with Women Into the Network to promote our home-grown role models and encourage more women to set up in business."
North East based Maralyn O’Keefe is one of the role models featured in the publication. She enrolled for a part-time art degree at 41, gave up her job due to illness, saw her husband being made redundant, but was determined to succeed in her passion for art and glass design. Maralyn set up Glass Design UK in 1998 and within three months had so much work she had to train up two apprentices. In addition to her stained glass studio, she now also runs a gallery in her Consett premises to showcase North East artists, a thriving stained glass supplies business and a coffee-shop & gallery in a neighbouring town.
Her success was recognised in 2003 when she won the Best Cultural and Creative Business at the North East Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Awards. Speaking at the event was Liz Jackson of Great Guns Marketing, one of the 22 role models featured. Liz has won a string of awards since she launched the company in 1998 from her flat in Basingstoke, which now has eight regional branches and a turnover of £1.5m. What makes her success even more remarkable is that Liz lost her sight five years ago. She hasn’t let that stand in her way and she captivated the audience with her stories of determination, drive and positivity, as she stressed, “You can’t afford to be negative – in business, it really isn’t going to happen for you if you always think the glass is half empty”.
Also speaking was Sally Robinson of AmbleBosom.com, suppliers of underwear and swimwear for fuller figures. Based in Yorkshire, Sally set up the business in 1999 after eventually persuading the bank to give her a loan. She told how the bank manager was unsure about the venture and decided “to ask his mother if she would buy a bra from an internet based bra company – how very scientific!” Fortunately, his mother was impressed and Sally’s global business now employs five full-time and three part-time staff.
IF ONLY grew out of Women Into the Network’s regional role model publication, ‘Northern Lights’ which features successful women role models from around the North East. The magazine was such a success that AWE (Accelerating Women’s Enterprise), a partnership of leading women’s enterprise agencies across England was able to build on this pioneering work and create IF ONLY as a national version. A second edition of IF ONLY is in the process of being developed and European version will be launched later in the year.
Copies of the IF ONLY publication and Northern Lights are available from the WIN office by calling 0191 334 5502 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Women Into the Network (WIN) is facilitated by the University of Durham. The twin aims of WIN are to integrate women into existing and new business networks and to bridge the gap between the extensive provision of business and professional support available. Initially concentrated in the North-East region, WIN is now working in partnership with a number of leading agencies operating at the cutting edge of women’s enterprise development, spanning the English regions to form AWE (Accelerating Women’s Enterprise).
- The Accelerating Women's Enterprise (AWE) Partnership brings together a number of leading agencies operating at the cutting edge of women's enterprise development spanning the English regions. Together they have developed a programme of activities, which includes, training, access to finance, pre and post business support, networking, mentoring and award schemes. AWE showcases and mainstreams their proven innovative approaches to business support for women to ensure that a coherent web of women’s business support services is developed in a strategic way at national level and in a way which truly meets the needs of existing and emerging women entrepreneurs and leads to equal numbers of women and men starting up businesses. The AWE Partnership focus’s support on excluded groups of women eg. ethnic minority, lone parents, women returners, unemployed and low-income women, disabled women, young and third age women and women from deprived rural and urban areas.
Regional Press Enquiries: Contact Lisa Vickers, Events and Communications Manager, Women Into the Network on 020 8 255 1660/email l.d.Vickers@durham.ac.uk