Tag Archives: Women entrepreneurs

MEET THE FOUNDER: JANE BINNION

The co-founder of The Growing Club, Jane Binnion, is a finalist for a Lifetime Achievement Award from She Inspires.

Here, Jane tells us a little about herself, her background and how she came to create a successful social enterprise to help women in business on all levels.

Tell us about some of your struggles in your childhood.

“After a tonsillectomy went wrong when I was four-years-old, I was left with a lifetime of speech and hearing problems. And yet now I stand in front of groups and talk about things that are important to people, including doing business differently and defining success on our own terms. Despite years of being in and out of hospital and speech therapy, it seems I was always meant to do this.


“I also grew up experiencing domestic violence, in a poor working class family. I left home at 16. Somehow, I put myself through sixth form, despite living alone in a 
bedsit. 

What happened after after college?

“In an interview at Essex University, they saw something in me and offered me an unconditional place to study sociology. That was my escape and I then spent the summer volunteering on a kibbutz.


“From there, I did postgraduate youth and community training and was a youth worker for 20 years in the more difficult and socially deprived areas of Birmingham and Lancashire.


“At 34 I became a single mum and raised an amazing daughter who came on fantastic adventures with me, including volunteering in a remote village in central Ghana.

You’ve experienced being on benefits as a single parent – what happened with that?


“Whilst employed as an advocate in a young men’s prison, a shoulder injury left me and my daughter just £80 a week Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) to live on. I thought we were going to lose the house as my injury left me unable to drive. So I set up a business from home which, other than having my daughter, was the best thing I’ve ever done.

You’ve authored two books up to now. How did you start writing?

“At the age of 10, my daughter was diagnosed with dyspraxia. We then discovered I also was dyspraxic. That led me to write the first ever children’s storybook about Dyspraxia – a beautiful book called You’re So Clumsy, Charley. The emails I get from parents about the difference that the book has made to their children’s self-esteem is a huge reward to me.

“My next book was The Heart of Sales, an ethical sales skills book, as so many business owners struggle with the concept of sales and selling as part of a business.

How was The Growing Club created?

The Growing Club was an experiment I started through my own business – Ethical Business Training, as I saw a real gap in business training and support for women running micro-businesses. 

So back in 2016, myself and Rachel Holme invited women to work with us on a 12-month programme and the rest is history, as they say. 

We now have a thriving social enterprise and have already had more than 250 women go through our courses from all over North West England.

What would you say is your biggest achievement?

“Despite my disabilities and start in life, through working as a youth and community worker, women’s self-defence trainer and business trainer, I have given hundreds and hundreds of women the confidence to stand their ground, develop their skills and follow their dreams.”

What tips would you offer to women in business?

  1. Find or create a good support network.
  2. Self-care is essential – not a luxury.
  3. When you feel like quitting, rest and re-group.
  4. You can NOT do it all yourself.

Crafty Women Heading Back to Morecambe!

We’re delighted to announce, that in conjunction with The Smallwood Trust and Morecambe’s socially-conscious design brand, Textile Candy, we will once again be offering a popular craft and design skills training course held in Morecambe.

Beginning on the 12 April 2019, Crafty Women is an eight-session weekly course, providing a unique opportunity for women crafters and makers to develop the skills and confidence to start their own ventures, with support and guidance from business trainers and women already successfully running their own design and craft businesses.

Crafty Women is a fully-funded course for local women who are in receipt of benefits or low pay and is run over eight weekly sessions at Textile Candy.

Sessions will focus around market research, getting serious about money, marketing, sales, branding and will include workshops such as social media, photography and using global handmade online marketplace, Etsy, as a sales tool.

The Growing Club has been running for three years, and we’ve seen over 60 women from across the north west graduate from the business training course and upwards of 160 women taking part our courses, which also have expanded.

Through business training and research carried out by The Growing Club, our founder and  director, Jane Binnion, has discovered many inequalities and gaps for women in business, especially in start-ups. 

Jane says: 

“When starting out in business, women will largely focus on areas where they feel most comfortable, but with the right support, they will grow. There are more than 1,000 women on out-of-work benefits in the Lancaster district and an unrecorded number of women that do not show on the statistics. In this latter case, they tend to be women who are considered unavailable for work due to being, for example, carers.

“Our courses provide bespoke training to bridge gaps in business education for women, whilst providing a strong peer support network, enabling women to run sustainable businesses.”

Crafty Women_The Growing Club
Karen receiving her Crafty Women Graduation Certificate from business trainer, Jane Binnion.

The first Crafty Womencourse concluded at the end of March 2019, and was a positive experience for everyone who attended. Feedback from the training highlighted significant benefits from women who completed the course, ranging from improvement in their health and wellbeing after attending the training, to improving self-employment outlook.

One course attendee had previously felt alienated from the world of work, due to being a woman over 50. Following the training, she talked about her experience:

“I really enjoyed taking part in the Crafty Women course. I hadn’t worked for some time because of health problems and as part of my rehabilitation from illness, I took up sewing, which really helped my recovery.

“I didn’t want to go back to the same work area, so I decided to take part in the Crafty Women training course.

“I found the course was comprehensive and covered so much in the way of content. From branding, costings, photography, right through to how social media can be applied to maximise sales – the training was broken down into achievable tasks and I learned so much. 

“I have gained confidence and skills, alongside reassurance from women who are already running their own successful businesses. It was incredibly encouraging to receive support at this level. 

“I previously I felt there would be limitedpotential for women over 50 in the workplace, due to society’s views on older workers. This course has given me hope and self-value and I’d highly recommend it.”

Some women who completed the course have progressed to join the social enterprise’s women in micro-manufacturing group and one woman has also enrolled in The Growing Club’s business growth programme.  

Places are still available for this exceptional training opportunity. Applications are particularly welcomed from the the west end of Morecambe area.

If you’d like more information on the The Growing Club and how to register, please contact us on either admin@thegrowingclub.co.uk or call 07892 712417.

The course dates for Crafty Womenare:

Friday April 12th
Tuesday April 16th (not the Friday as it’s a holiday)
Friday April 26th
Friday May 3rd
Friday May 10th
Friday May 17th
Friday May 24th
Friday May 31st

*Please note this course is now full: spaces are available for the next course – Crafty Women 3, beginning in June*

The session times run from 10.00hrs to 12.30hrs

*Main image courtesy of Ginny Koppenhol Photography.