Kent Women in Business
Entrepreneurs, Mumpreneurs, MDs, Strategists, Community Champions and more, Kent is a hotspot for women bossing it in business. In recognition of National Women’s Day and the Kent Women in Business Awards – both on 8th March, insideKENT has spoken to just some of these amazing Kent-based women to find out how being a woman in business has made them who they are today and what advice they would offer to those starting out.
Cariad Martin // Cariad Rose Brand Coach
I live in Folkestone, Kent, and when I’m not delivering strategy I’m running around after my wild (almost) three-year-old. I love my work, and I’m a complete nerd when it comes to all things brand, communication, culture and tech, and I have a degree in photography and creative writing.
I run Cariad Rose Brand Coach, where I help businesses of all sizes – from kitchen table startups to multimillion pound operations – implement creative, futureproof and ethical brand strategy.
I’m all about a holistic approach to marketing that goes way beyond Facebook and Instagram. With my clients we look at every step of the customer journey, from the first time they hear about your brand right up to the minute they leave their first five star review.
The advice I would give to other businesswomen in Kent is to invest in yourself. Don’t wait for the perfect moment (there’s no such thing) and don’t wait for your greatness to be discovered by someone else. You have to be your own hype woman!
Kacy Ford // Bucksford Law
I grew up in Ashford, the eldest of four girls (so you can imagine the queues for the bathroom but on the plus side three other ‘wardrobes’ to choose from!). I remember a teacher telling me that he thought I would be good at law because I was good at arguing, I think that was the first time I thought about studying law and I’m glad I never looked back.
In April 2019, Bucksford Law was set up together with Laurie Buckham and Amy Hanson, who I wouldn’t have dreamt doing this without. We are a law firm in Ashford, specialising in residential conveyancing. After 10 months the practice is doing well and we have taken on more staff and hope that we continue to develop throughout 2020 and beyond, branching out into other areas of law.
Deciding to go out on your own can be scary and I think the most important thing for me was to have an amazing team around me, that I get along with and who are as passionate as me about law and client satisfaction. You also need to be organised and to be able to ‘jump’ in and be prepared to work on all aspects of the business, even when sometimes you don’t want to.
Zoe Bee // Zoe Bee Beauty
I’m Zoe Bee! Business owner of Zoe Bee Beauty and mum of three. Obsessed with helping as many people as I can feel confident in the skin they’re in. When I was around 15, I was covered head to toe in psoriasis. It was so bad I left school. My confidence was at an all time low. I was always making recipes in the kitchen for my skin. If I had a spot, it would be gone the next day! My mum still laughs about that now. It still shocks me that Zoe Bee Beauty has become a worldwide thing now as it was initially just a hobby, but I do feel very lucky.
I started out as an advice page, telling people how to make natural remedies for different skin issues until eventually I began taking orders to actually make the products for people. There really is nothing better than knowing I’ve helped someone feel confident enough to go out makeup free or receive a compliment on their glowing skin after using my creams.
Starting a business can be a really challenging experience. Finances can play a big part in slowing down or even stopping you in your tracks. I strongly recommend researching what grants are available for your industry.
Charlotte Khan // Moo Like A Monkey
My name is Charlotte, and I live in Folkestone with my husband Naveed and our two children, Mabel and Luna. I used to work in London in the film industry, which I really enjoyed. But after having children I found it difficult to juggle the career I’d loved with being the parent I wanted to be.
So, with no experience in retail, business or the children’s market, I left behind a career in film to open a children’s shop in Folkestone. It was a huge risk and a complete change of lifestyle. Other than childbirth, it has been the most rewarding, difficult, frightening, empowering, and wonderful thing I’ve done in my life.
Moo Like a Monkey is a children’s shop in Folkestone’s Creative Quarter. We offer a selection of clothes, books and toys for the eco-conscious customer.
I try to offer something a little different from the mainstream market. The toys we sell are wooden or made from 100% natural rubber. The books are carefully selected to represent all children. I feel passionately about diversity and representation in children’s books and toys. I search tirelessly to find new unique and beautiful things for children.
We need to be generous with sharing our knowledge and experience. When I started the business, I was overwhelmed with people’s willingness to give advice and share what they had learnt. Even after the start-up stage you still need that support network. I meet up with other local women running businesses of their own and we share tips – from choosing the best accountant to managing our time more efficiently.
A community of women supporting each other is a powerful thing. It’s an exciting time to be a woman in business right now.
Photo credit: Figtree Folkestone
Diane McCann // Vibrational Sound Therapy
Up until a few years ago, I was working in the city. However, to put it simply ‘my soul was not singing’. So I took the bold decision to leave that life behind me and trained in holistic therapy, leading me to establish my business Vibrational Sound Therapy. I’m married, with one son and two cheeky cats. I enjoy the simple pleasures in life, yoga, running, meditation, good food, being in nature, music and travelling. It is very important to me to fill my life with things that nourish my soul.
My business is a little different. I specialise in working with Vibrational Sound Therapy. This involves working with energy, vibration and frequency. In simple terms; everything is energy, all energy has a vibration, every vibration has a frequency. As humans, we all have a vibration, including the cells, blood, bones and organs within our body. How amazing is that! We are creating our own unique sound system. Where the vibrational frequency is low the natural frequency and harmonious pattern is disrupted. This can manifest into illness or disease unless the vibrational template is changed, on a physical, mental, emotional or spiritual level. Vibrational Sound Therapy, is very effective at bringing the body back into balance and a state of homeostasis, working on a cellular level.
I work with adults helping to release past hurt and trauma who, for example, have experienced or suffer from depression, anxiety, stress or are overwhelmed, helping them to restore their overall wellbeing and create a happier life.
My advice in business is to be yourself! Stay in your lane and keep focused on your vision.
Always be prepared to test the potential of an idea, be flexible and willing to change direction if needed. Running a business is far from easy. Balance is key, between work and family. I’m a huge advocate for self-care and maintaining a healthy mindset.
Christine Or // Dr Christine Medical Aesthetics
I am an award-winning aesthetic doctor in Tunbridge Wells and proud mother of four school-age children. I enjoy eating out and going for walks with my family, travelling, and when I get some time to myself, a spa day is my treat.
My business is Dr. Christine Medical Aesthetics. As an aesthetic doctor I provide non-surgical cosmetic treatments such as wrinkle-reducing treatments, dermal fillers and medical skincare. Having won the title “Aesthetic Practitioner of the Year” at the Kent Health and Beauty Awards 2016, I am most known for the “8 point lift” which is a non-surgical facelift using small amounts of dermal fillers placed in strategic points in the face to create lift and a subtle rejuvenation. The joy and improved self-confidence that a treatment brings to my patients drives my passion to deliver treatments of the highest standard. Unlike busy clinics, I offer a uniquely personal service with unhurried appointments spaced apart to provide confidentiality and discretion to my patients.
My advice to other businesswomen in Kent is: strive to be the best in your field and provide the best service to your clients, looking after them as you would like to be looked after yourself.
Zoe Kerr // Ruee Ltd
I am a young entrepreneur who worked in the city but got tired of the hustle and bustle so decided to return to Kent. After some time deliberating about direction and with the impending birth of my daughter, I decided to start a line in babywear as she was my inspiration.
Ruee is an organic baby clothing online store which brings classic styling, for both boys and girls aged up to two years, in sumptuous soft bamboo/cotton mix fabric. Whilst I was pregnant I was uninspired by the lack of soft and stylish baby clothing so this is what brought me to designing and creating my own clothing line.
My main advice to others would be to keep going, stay focused and quickly develop a thick skin as rejection will be everywhere. Absolutely love what you are doing as this will drive you to success with your persistence. Don’t forget that options are fruitful no matter how small, as sharing ideas and meeting many people will give insight to your vision and where it will lead.
Lesley and Nicole Parry // The Curious Eatery
My sister and I live in Marden and Staplehurst and we have an eatery in Boughton Monchelsea, Kent. We have 3 little girls between us that, along with the eatery keep us very busy! We are both passionate and driven and love to have fun with what we do.
We own The Curious Eatery that provides a fresh dining experience both in the eatery and in outside events. With our team we have developed a fun, dynamic place to work and be proud of. We are originally from Zambia, grew up in Botswana and studied at Le Cordon Bleu in Cape Town, we have travelled and worked all over the world and we like to think that now we have settled in Kent, we can bring those experiences to the table.
The advice we would give is to not take yourself too seriously, have fun with what you do (or what is the point!), always stick to your values and have faith in yourself and your ideas. Look after the people that work with you in your business, if they are happy and proud of the business then they will go the extra mile. Never be afraid to ask for help!
Victoria Hammond // Victoria Hammond Interiors
Winner 2019 Kent Women in Business Awards ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’
I am the owner and director of Victoria Hammond Interiors. My mother ran a curtain making business and I grew up from a young age watching her and helping her sew. I graduated in 1992 with a degree in textiles and have since worked in the industry. I have over 20 years professional experience. In 2002 I completed a diploma in curtain making and soft furnishings and immediately started my business at the age of 27.
In 2009 I set up a training school, Victoria Hammond Academy, teaching people (mainly women) how to make and design professional curtains, blinds, soft furnishings, lampshades, interior design, with a strong emphasis on setting up a curtain making business. The tutors at the academy are renowned and specialists in their industry. We also work with private clients providing a curtain making, soft furnishing and interior design service. At Victoria Hammond Academy we have trained over 500 people from all over the UK and the world to set up professional creative businesses.
We are leading in our field and wish to ensure we remain to do so. Feeling a huge sense of achievement and pride in myself and my business, and pride in students I have trained over the years who now run successful businesses, and pride in seeing the end finish on services/products I have provided. I am also a single mother to a 6 year old boy.
My advice is to be flexible and diverse, work hard and be willing to take risks to move the business forward. Treat both suppliers and clients with respect and as you wish to be treated yourself.