To mark International Women’s Day 2021 #ChooseToChallenge, we want to take the opportunity to celebrate and admire the women who are currently working hard behind the scenes at Baltic Creative CIC.

These women seek to improve the way we operate as a business, from challenging and calling out gender bias and inequality, to collectively championing for a fairer and more inclusive environment for our tenants and community. They share the same goal – to push for a more progressive and equal world.

These women have their own, unique set of achievements, and we wanted to shine a spotlight on them for this IWD.

Dr Fiona Armstrong-Gibbs
Chair of the board

Fiona has 20 years’ experience in the fashion industry (working at Jimmy Choo, Hugo Boss and Oliver Sweeney) and has taught International Fashion Marketing at La Salle DHU, Shanghai and London Metropolitan University.

In 2020, Fiona gained her Doctorate in social enterprise and innovative business models as a catalyst for regeneration and growth in the creative and digital sector in Liverpool and now runs the MBA in Scale-Up business at Liverpool John Moores University. Alongside this, she has also been a key voice in campaigning as part of local and national leadership groups ultimately lobbying to ensure that diversity, equality and inclusivity is at the forefront of decision-making processes (One example of this is the One Day Strategy). Through this work, she uses her influence to change and improve policy both locally and nationally.

Karen Beddow

Karen is an eclectic mix of Trustee, Lawyer and Board Member. Karen left her full-time role as a commercial litigation solicitor when her three children were 6 and 5 (twins) to concentrate on her own business and Family Travel blog Mini Travellers.

Karen has used her skills developed over 15 years in a professional environment to create and then turn Mini Travellers into an established creative business, that has meant she can work from home and spend more time with her three children. Karen is still a legal consultant and is on the Commercial Board for a city housing association at the Prima Group.

Esra Gönen

Esra Gönen resides in Izmir, Turkey and is an entrepreneur mainly interested in Innovation and Design in Service and Creative and Cultural Industries.

In 2009, she founded GNN Foreign Trade, which offers sales and consultancy services to Turkish SMEs and to multinational companies., This was followed by GNN Office in 2014, the first co-working space for businesses in Izmir.  In 2016, she co-founded ORIGINN COWORKING after observing the impact of co-working and co-creation on local development; and, in 2017, she co-founded Merak Creative Activities and Culture Association to foster new work at the intersection of art, technology and innovation.

She is the local facilitator of NestaUK Creative Enterprise Program and has been assigned as an influential  woman leader in Cultural and Creative Industries in Turkey, by British Council. Esra studied Business at Dokuz Eylül University and holds an MSc in International Business at Applied University of Mainz and London South Bank University. She still continues her master studies in Design Management in Izmir Economy University.

Erika Rushton

Erika Rushton is a creative economist and has harnessed creativity and entrepreneurialism as a force for social inclusion, economic growth and place-based regeneration across the North West for many years.

Her impact in the Creative, Digital and Cultural sectors is evident at Ropewalks, Granby 4 Streets, Baltic Triangle and North Liverpool as well as Islington Mill in Manchester. Erika continues to support the growth of creative clusters in Liverpool, Salford, Birkenhead, Cardiff and Wolverhampton and is currently steering the ship at Kindred, a Liverpool City Region initiative, which connects, supports and harnesses local entrepreneurialism for social good.

Erika led our board of directors in the position of chair since 2009, stepping back in November 2019 to pass the baton to Dr Fiona Armstrong-Gibbs. Erika has played an integral role in the success of Baltic Creative CIC over the past decade and remains heavily involved in our work as an active board member. 

Becky Seaman
Administration Officer

Becky has a background in customer service and administration with further experience in property management from working for Bruntwood in the Cotton Exchange.

As well as tenant liaison, Becky played an important role in scheduling and organising their social event calendar. This led to her undertaking a trainee events coordinator role with Culture Liverpool, working on the Liverpool International Music Festival in July 2019. 

Becky is the first point of contact at Baltic Creative for tenants, customers and visitors. Becky’s role involves day-to-day operations, business administration, tenant liaison and internal communications. She also provides support to our Board members at their regular meetings. Becky is an integral part of the Management team and provides invaluable support to the rest of her colleagues on a daily basis.

Outside of work, Becky is currently studying for a Degree in English Literature and Creative Writing at the Open University and has ambitions to do an MA in Screenwriting at Liverpool John Moores University.

Alex Kelly
Operations Officer

After graduating university with a BA in Fashion Communication, Alex founded her own business Make CIC (formerly 90 Squared) in the Baltic Triangle and more recently in the North Docks.

Alex is incredibly experienced in business management and she has valuable, realistic, knowledge of what it means to start a business and to be a business owner.

Alex has been an active member of the Baltic Triangle community for many years, working with a range of businesses in the area and volunteering her time to assist on the Baltic Triangle Area CIC team. Alex brings her experience of business management and knowledge of Liverpool’s creative industry to Baltic Creative. She plays an essential role in the operations management of Northern Lights and supports the community of artists based there. 

Outside of work, Alex is renovating her home which is nearing completion. She continues to be vocal and volunteers her time to lobby for improvements for diversity, inclusivity and equality in local policy making and is a contributor to the One Day Strategy.

Alison James
Marketing and Events Officer

Alison is a Popular Music (BA Hons) graduate from the University of Liverpool with work experience at Liverpool Biennial Festival of Contemporary Art, FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology) and Open Culture (Light Night).

Alison joined Baltic Creative CIC in 2015 and brings a real passion and desire to support and nurture Creative businesses and individuals. She’s vocal about opportunities to support and improve mental health, community cohesion, diversity and equality and has led on a number of initiatives to improve the accessibility and inclusivity across our sites. 

Through her role, Alison makes sure we’re supporting our vibrant community of creative and digital businesses – ensuring that their good news is out there.  Alison also manages our website content, social media and in-house forums – supporting our community so that they can connect with each other and collaborate. She oversees a vibrant calendar of events, including in-house business support sessions, sector relevant events, fundraising events and health and wellbeing initiatives.

Outside of work, Alison is looking to become a peer mentor at local Mental Health Charity, The Open Door Centre.

Baltic Creative CIC is proud to have a 50/50 gender split across both our non-executive board of directors and our management staff. We know that there is still much we can do to improve the diversity and inclusion of our staff and board and we’re continuing to collectively explore and learn new ways of achieving this.