Today we’re celebrating women-led businesses with advice and guidance from six incredible women from our community. 

Shout-out to all the directors, owners, managers and staff, who are challenging the norms and contributing to a more fair, equitable and diverse industry. Here’s to a world free of bias for ALL genders!

Layla Flaherty, CEO at Urban Paws

Urban Paws is an animal talent and casting agency, founded in 2015. Originally from Ireland, CEO Layla Flaherty used her connections and experience as a model to establish herself as an animal agent and has since expanded the award-winning company into the field of pet influencers. Layla’s advice to start-up owners who are facing barriers is:

Believe in yourself and never give up. Everybody thought I’d lost the plot when I started but the more people who said it, the more it spurred me on.

Read our full interview with Layla here.

Alex Christey-Kelly, Community & Partnerships Officer at Baltic Creative

After graduating university with a BA in Fashion Communication, Alex founded her own business in the Baltic Triangle, providing start-up creative businesses with space and resources to grow. At Baltic Creative she provides valuable support to the community and across the site. To empower other women, Alex said:

Surround yourself with other game-changing women and don’t be afraid to ask questions or get things wrong.

Lucy Nicholson, Founder of Lucy Maggie Designs

Lucy Maggie Designs is the creation of artist Lucy Nicholson, who specialises in colourful greeting cards and stationery with a playful edge. As well as her own designs, Lucy stocks the designs of other artists, all with their own unique styles and inspirations. Asked what her advice would be to someone wanting to turn their creative hobby into a business, Lucy said:

Keep at it. It won’t happen instantly and you’ll probably get disheartened often, but perseverance is key. If you truly believe in your product or service, then it will succeed.

You can read our full interview with Lucy later this week!

Kirsty Thomas, Founder of Make Bank

Make Bank is a social enterprise that aims to tackle creative poverty and a lack of representation in the industry. With a background in fashion, graphic design, and teaching, Kirsty set-up Make Bank to reduce these barriers and tackle some of the problems facing young people. Kirsty shared with us her advice for young creatives:

Don’t be put off by what the “grown ups” tell you… If there is something creative you’d like to do as a career there is definitely a way in and lots of people to help you work out how to do it.

Read our full story on Make Bank here.

Karen Beddow, Director at Baltic Creative

Karen is an eclectic mix of Trustee, Lawyer and Board Member. She left her full time role as a commercial litigation solicitor to concentrate on her family travel blog, Mini Travellers, which she has now turned into an established creative business. Karen is still a legal consultant and is on the Commercial Board for a city housing association at the Prima Group. As a women on multiple boards, Karen said:

I joined my first board when I was 34. I had more than enough to contribute and so do you! If you’re interested, don’t wait until you feel “old enough” to apply. Boards need your youth, enthusiasm and amazing ideas.

Ali Johnson, Director at Dorothy

Originally from the Midlands, Ali moved to Liverpool 30 years ago to study. After seeing great ideas rejected by clients, Ali started Dorothy with two colleagues whilst working for an ad agency in Manchester. They released their first print in 2010 and now sell the work worldwide! We asked Ali what her advice would be to women not being taken seriously at work:

Call people out. I didn’t do it enough when I was younger and it’s one of my regrets. If we don’t call people out this type of behaviour becomes even more normalised than it is.

Look out for the full interview with Ali coming next week!