6th November 2023
Now, more than ever, it’s so important to support our local independent businesses and when better than on International Women’s Day! In this article, nine Liverpool based female-owned businesses share their unique journeys and provide some invaluable and noteworthy advice that they wish their younger selves knew. Take notes as they impart their wisdom and be inspired by their extraordinary achievements.
Every woman’s success should be an inspiration to another. We’re strongest when we cheer each other on – Serena Williams
A stone’s throw from University square, The Nakery is a must on every student’s bucket list. A winning combination of healthy eating and delicious vegan treats that are gluten, dairy and refined sugar free. Natalie has even uploaded a few delicious and easy recipes to follow, including a cocoa and rose raw cheesecake. Tune into Natalie’s podcast, The Naked Truth, where she reflects on her journey so far and invites in special guests to discuss the ‘Naked Truth’.
How did The Nakery start?
In 2015 I was at university studying psychology and had developed quite a toxic relationship with food where I used to restrict myself a lot. I was very underweight and ended up really ill. I started experimenting with plant-based cooking and fell in love with creating my own nourishing treats from ingredients like cacao, coconut oil, dates, nuts. I loved how satisfying all of these things were and how they made me feel. I started to heal my relationship with food and then wanted to spread that to as many people as possible, so The Nakery was born. I dropped out of university after my second year to pursue my passion and I haven’t looked back since. I think the more we can connect consciously with plants and herbs the more we can connect to our true selves.
Tune into your intuition and use tools such as meditation, journaling, and other means to connect to your true calling in life. We all have one and we all have our own unique gifts and services that can contribute to the collective. Work on letting go of limiting beliefs/conditioning that has even placed upon us as women and remember how powerful we are! Also, never feel like you have to stick to one thing, don’t restrict yourself and be multidimensional.
University of Liverpool graduates Maddy and Sarah have taken the plant world by storm. Their eco-friendly approach through home-grown plants and refurbished pots puts them at the forefront of sustainability. They even offer a unique ‘plant rehab’ service and if you’re one to leave your poor plant at uni over the holidays, this will literally be a life saver. If you’re based in Smithdown, they also offer a free ‘click and collect’ service, perfect for last minute gifts!
How did Power Plants start?
Power Plants Liverpool is the result of a sort of lockdown passion project. We all lived together in lockdown one and had A LOT of plants. The love for gardening and propagating during lockdown was really heightened and we would spend hours each day together dedicated to it. We kind of kept joking back and forth about selling some on and maybe making a “plant-insta” and after a bit of joking we were actually like “no that might be really fun let’s do it”. Other than selling a few plants, when we knew we wanted to expand a bit more, we really saw a gap in the market that we wanted to fill. We’re all quite eco-friendly people and had quite an eco-friendly household, hence the plants, but we started to notice that all of our house plants were imported. So, we started learning to grow and propagate our own plants and learned how to add that to our business model.
Maddy and Sarah’s advice:
Maddy: My biggest piece of advice is that no one knows what they’re doing. The process of starting Power Plants has shown me personally that a) it’s 100% fine to learn as you go if not a good thing and b) all those people who you think have it together are definitely guessing and learning as they go too. Do what makes you happy and what’s within your means, you don’t have to build an empire in a day.
Sarah: Make mistakes and do what you love! Stop worrying what others think about your decisions to start a business and instead commit to working hard. If you love something and feel passionately about it, everyone else will see that passion too. So, do whatever you can to make that dream feasible, even if it just starts as something silly like growing plants in your uni house living room.
Based on Smithdown road, Frankie’s paint it pottery is the perfect place to explore your creativity. Whether its a bonding experience with your housemates or an act of self-care, the relaxing studio offers a retreat away from the stress of uni deadlines. If you’re lacking in artistic skills, not to worry as Frankie is on hand with painting tips and even tracing paper to get you started. She also offers paint-it pottery parties with a BYOB policy (which are booked in advance) and are perfect for a mid-week pick me up!
How did you start Paint-it Pottery?
When I was at school, I loved art and craft, as my favourite teachers were the art and craft teachers, who certainly left an impression on me. However, I come from a seafaring family and eventually decided I wanted to be a Radio Officer in the Merchant Navy. I studied Marine Radio and Radar here in Liverpool and went on to work for Marconi Avionics and Marconi Marine in the South East. I then went on to train as a teacher and had a career in secondary teaching, in the South East, West Midlands and then finding myself back in Liverpool! I always wanted to get back to the art and craft that I loved, and I had always wanted to have my own business. I sometimes wish I had started my own business earlier, but looking back, maybe I wasn’t ready. I opened the business in September 2019 after a career in engineering and then teaching physics and science.
No start up is without risk, but you must somehow calculate that risk. You need to know your business and be passionate about it. You cannot make something succeed unless it is so important to you and you must be prepared to work for it. Success comes from hard work and planning. Your career path isn’t set in stone and you’ll likely do many different things in life. Look for opportunities at the right time and age is not a barrier. Be confident in your own strengths and again look for opportunities. In difficult times, there will still be opportunities that present themselves.
Sian creates the most stunning makeup looks and as a makeup artist for eight years, she has tonnes of experience. She teaches dozens of students every month and even had a student travel from Belgium to train with her! Become a makeup pro and prepare yourself for that end of lockdown ‘glow up’ with Sian’s 1-2-1 online lessons. Not only will you learn some amazing tips and tricks, but it’ll be from the comfort of your own home. Alternatively, you can give Sian a follow for some serious makeup inspiration or book yourself in for a post-lockdown makeover.
How did you start your makeup journey?
I completed my first makeup course 8 years ago and soon became obsessed! I initially worked my small client base around my full time job in retail until I decided to take the plunge 4 years later and left my job. Of course, I was super nervous about taking the risk but fortunately my worries soon disappeared as working in my first salon post I steadily built up a loyal client base. For me makeup is all about giving women (and of course men) a whole new confidence. As an avid makeup wearer myself I understand why so many people choose to wear it and how it can emphasise and elevate your features and confidence. I have a wide variety of clients from different age ranges, skin tones and backgrounds and I am passionate about giving every one of them an amazing service that makes them feel the very best version of themselves.
My advice to students is always to make sure to follow your passion and the way to success is to make yourself stand out from the rest of the crowd. There are so many incredible artists out there now but with perseverance and lots of practice you can hone your craft and become one of the best. For me, excellent customer service (15 years in retail taught me a lot!) has been the key to my successful makeup business. Make your clients feel welcomed, comfortable, and of course amazing, and they will remember you for a lifetime.
Betty’s seven years of experience as a pastry chef is evident in her beautifully crafted pastries. She creates the most exquisite (and affordable) mini celebration cakes alongside an array of sweet and savoury pastries too. Her weekly box of treats differs from delicious salted caramel tarts to moreish pastel de natas and arrive with an intricately hand-drawn menu. The boxes are in high demand and sell out almost instantly (a record time of four minutes last week) so make sure to set an alarm!
P.S. Betty’s birthday is on International Women’s Day, which is even more of a reason to support Mon Petit Chou!
How did Mon Petit Chou start?
I have been working in the hospitality industry as a pastry chef for the past seven years. I had always dreamed of opening my own baking business but never quite found the right time or had the confidence to make it happen up until now! During lockdown one I was placed on furlough, this gave me the opportunity to start baking and delivering goodies to neighbours, friends and family. With little persuasion Mon Petit Chou was born. I set up an Instagram page and website and started selling all my goods. I transformed my basement into a fully functioning bakery and larder and now run Mon Petit Chou full time! What I love about running my own business is all the different skills I get to use and develop. It really does make me feel empowered!
Have confidence and believe in yourself! You really can do anything you put your mind to but also remember that it isn’t a race and there is no rush. The most important thing to do is to take the first step, set up that Instagram page or website and be patient. If you’re doing something you love and are passionate about it, it really will shine through in what you’re doing. It is great to have a support network to lean on for advice, remember that it is your vision and have a little faith that you know best. Take the time to hone and perfect your skills. if at first it doesn’t work out keep trying, practice really does make perfect.
Jess’ extraordinary illustration skills bring to life the charm of everyday moments in Liverpool. Look through her Instagram and you’re bound to see some familiar sights, a personal favourite being the entertaining yet uncanny print of Liverpool on New Years Eve. Jess also creates incredible custom prints, most notably her graduation prints, which make thoughtful mementos for recent or upcoming graduates (especially if you didn’t get to graduate due to restrictions!).
How did you get into art?
I’ve always been extremely passionate about art. I studied Graphic Design at University but for years I struggled to turn my passion into my job and instead spent seven years working in the hospitality industry. I made the conscious decision to start my business back in 2019, which was creating narrative landscapes of Liverpool and bespoke portraits. The thing that shocked me the most was the number of people completely willing to help and support me as an independent artist. The power of social media really gave me the confidence I needed, and I will always be grateful for that! I’m now a full-time Illustrator currently running a design studio in Liverpool City Centre.
The advice I would give to young women looking to start their own business is that self-worth plays a huge part in your career progression. Journal your thoughts especially when you’re feeling grateful and motivated as you might need them again on the harder days! Visualize your highest self and show up as her! Nothing is too good for you, you just have to be willing to put in the work.
Situated on the infamous Penny Lane, A Slower Space is a relaxing haven to take a moment for yourself and to take life at a slower pace. Husband and wife duo, Mike and Michelle sell beautifully crafted gifts, plants, homeware and delicious coffee. Michelle was heavily inspired by her travels to Bali, Vietnam and Thailand, so take a break from uni work and step into a tranquil shopping experience. You can thank us later.
How did A Slower Space start?
The idea was to sell things that I loved and hoped that my customers would love them too. I worked in the fashion industry for over sixteen years. This was an exciting and fun career, but I found as my career progressed, I had no work life balance. After spending a year working in Hong Kong and then travelling I felt that life was too short. I decided to take life at a different pace and set up a new business doing something I loved. My aim was to create a relaxing space to shop and hang out. A place where you could take life at a slower pace. The stock is made up of beautiful collections of carefully curated pieces that portray a relaxed lifestyle. Including brands from Amsterdam, France, Copenhagen, Stockholm (often found in larger department stores including Selfridges and Liberty), as well as UK based independents – many of which are made and designed in Liverpool. We love to support local independents and love being part of the local community.
At first it was overwhelming as I realised I knew little about running a shop. I contacted the women’s organisation and would encourage any women looking to start a business to do the same. They offered amazing support and one to one mentoring. Believe in yourself and trust that everything will work out well. I read a quote that said “no one else knows what they are doing either” and I found that a helpful motto to live by!
Innovative duo Alice and Chloe design and create the most remarkable earrings. Their playful approach leads them to experiment with various materials including hand poured resin, mother of pearl, tortoiseshell and hammered brass. Their earrings are truly unique and are made in small batches which means no two pieces are the same. Alice and Chloe have created earrings that cater to all styles and are affordable too! Support this local business and you’ll have a one-of-a-kind pair to treasure.
How did ALOË start?
ALOË is Alice and Chloe, a combination of our names and a nod to our love of plants (aloe Vera).
Travel and fashion brought us together a decade ago in Amsterdam whilst studying fashion design and marketing. After working in the fashion industry as designers for the high-street, we decided to try our hand at earrings and create our own indie brand making gorgeous earrings we both wanted to wear. As a two women team we love the day-to-day variety and freedom of being our own bosses. ALOË was born poolside on a holiday together in Madrid!
Alice and Chloe’s advice:
Choose a career and hobbies that you feel passionate about and allow you to get creative. Work with someone you enjoy spending your time with, then you’ll never work a day in your life.
Amy’s distinctive and quirky enamel pins sets Pin Head apart from your standard, average pins. Designed in Liverpool, Amy hand draws her designs and takes inspiration from iconic Liverpool landmarks, such as the Albert Docks and Radio City Tower. She also creates ‘Scouse pins’ which feature common scouse phrases and quotes. Watch your designs come to life, as she’s open to commissions! Have a browse through Pin Head’s Esty and be in awe of Amy’s astonishing talent.
How did Pin Head start?
I design quirky unique enamel pins that I sell online at local markets and at all sorts of pop-up events. Along with my B2C operation I offer a bespoke design and supply service. I serve businesses, charities and individuals. We work together to create eye-catching wearable art in wholesale quantities. My business started as a little side hustle but gained momentum and has been my full-time job since 2018. Even though I run Pin Head alone I would love to collaborate with other creatives on projects where I can. The best thing about my work is meeting people and hearing all about their projects, events, and small businesses. I love being part of both the creative and indie business community in Liverpool.
My advice is start small if you can. Keep the risks low at the beginning to allow for some essential trial and error learning. Gain momentum slowly. My goals were always very short term and very achievable, always just looking forward to the next exciting project. I would also say that money or notoriety can’t be your main goals, they might be a by-product of doing what you love really well and having a product and service that is really outstanding, but it can’t be the main motivation as people will see through it. Making mistakes and owning them has taught me just as much as trying new things that were successful.
Despite lockdown regulations there are many ways you can still support these businesses, or even plan to visit once regulations have eased. These businesses deserve your support!