Kelly Akister is a qualified teacher, specialising in advanced early years education. She’s been running her own business – Reading Fairy Lancaster – for over a year now.
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Nikki Cookson is the owner of Woodcroft Crafts. She shares her story about how her business started, and how The Growing Club CIC has helped her gain confidence with her business through peer support and a strong network of women in business. Nikki is currently on the Bloom and Grow online training course, on a Pay It Forward grant, funded by Boost: Lancashire’s Business Growth Hub. The course helps women to develop and grow sustainable businesses.
Hi, I’m Kate Manders and I own and run the Wagtail Deli Café in Arnside and the Wagtail Kitchen at Lakeland Food Park, Plumgarths, nr Kendal in partnership with my husband Steve.
I’ve known Jane Binnion for a few years now. We initially met around 2014 when my husband and I did some Facebook for Business training with her and I loved the way she delivered her training. She was full of practical advice; I knew I’d found someone who could really help me. I signed up for the newsletters! In 2016 Jane mentioned she had designed a course for women in business who wanted help, not just to achieve their goals, but to fit it round real life. The Growing Club was the outcome, and the timing was perfect for me to sign up for the second cohort (GC2). I’d just sold a previous business and was going into full-time catering with my husband. We knew we wanted to make big changes but didn’t really have a clue where to start.
Being in the Growing Club was life changing. I know you’ll be rolling your eyes right now, thinking I am some sort of over-enthusiastic groupie. But honestly, I can’t think of how else to describe it. I spent 12 months with a group of other like-minded women, all at different stages and from very different backgrounds. But from our year together, we all have so much clarity in our business, and understanding of how better to balance work with the rest of your life, and a fantastic support network of people who are all rooting for each other. This is what the Growing Club does. It gives you the confidence to, well, to grow.
Since graduating from GC2, I regularly attend the Growing Club Graduates meet ups, and I have an ongoing business buddy. That chance to receive and offer support to and from other amazing souls is worth more than anything for me. We opened the Wagtail Deli Café in 2018 and have just started developing our Wagtail Kitchen brand. I don’t think I would have the guts to do any of this without the Growing Club.
I would always be happy to talk to anyone who is considering a Growing Club programme. When something is this good, you’ve just got to share it.
You can read more of our fabulous Growing Club Stories here on our blog.
In the next in our series of blog posts introducing Growing Club women, we meet with Janet Hampson of JHPM to chat about taking the plunge into starting her own business and how The Growing Club has played a role in her success.
Janet first heard about The Growing Club online in Autumn 2018, when she saw an advert for ‘Crafty Women’; a course designed to support women who want to turn their art and craft skills into a viable business. “The big thing that caught my eye was that the training was being held in Morecambe, and not Lancaster,” Janet told us.
“Once I learned that Crafty Women was just one element of what The Growing Club offers, I started to look at what else might be a good fit for me. I moved away from the idea of craft pretty soon. I realised that the answer to what I should do next was right under my nose.”
Janet, whose background is in casting and who lives in Morecambe, was moved to start her extras agency, Bay Casting, when primetime ITV series ‘The Bay’ came to Morecambe for filming.
“The agency started by recruiting local people who wanted to be extras whilst I was still part of Crafty Women. The website went live in February 2019 and we got our first job – for Coronation Street – in May.”
Since then, Bay Casting has gone from strength to strength, and we are delighted that she has achieved the goal she originally set out with.
“We are now supplying extras to series 2 of The Bay. It’s now time to think about what happens next…”
As is the case for many women who run their own businesses, Janet has experienced the difficulties that working alone can bring, and shared with us how connecting with the Growing Club has helped her overcome some of these barriers.
“When you are self-employed – or intending to be self-employed – you can really miss having a sounding board. Having a place to say ideas out loud and get feedback has been fantastic. I found friendships, which are always a good thing.
“The main thing I’ve gained has been time to think and reflect. I’ve recognised my strengths, I can look at my skills with an outsider’s eyes,” Janet told us. “It gave me a big dollop of self belief.”
Janet’s journey started with a craft course but took a different route into representing extras for TV and film. We asked Janet if she had any advice for other women just setting out on their business journey. She said:
“For me, the realisation that the business training I was receiving was transferable to any business was an Aha! moment.”
“I’d say turn up for all the sessions. You might think ‘I don’t need to know x, y or z for my idea’ – but how do you really know that? And why turn your back on hearing from experts in their field? You never know what might spark an idea off.”
So what does the future hold for Janet and Bay Casting? Building on her initial success, Janet shared with us her plans for the future:
“I’ve recently opened another agency – this time purely for actors. Bay Casting was born out of wanting to do something locally, using the skills and contacts I already had.”
“The new agency, JHPM, gives me the opportunity to work with actors again – which is what I’ve done my whole working life. So far, it is working out really well and I’m feeling very positive about the future.”
Janet is continuing to work with The Growing Club, having signed up for our 12-month business growth course, Bloom & Grow, and we wish her the best of luck with her future projects!
Follow JHPM on Twitter @janethampson
JHPM on Instagram: @jhpmltd
JHPM website: www.janethampson.co.uk
Follow Bay Casting on Twitter @baycasting1
Bay Casting website: www.baycasting.co.uk
Women in business! Are you looking to grow your businesses in a sustainable way, complete with peer-support and a full programme of unique training methods?
If so, you can now access our growth programme in three locations: Preston, Lancaster and Kendal.
The Growing Club is an award-winning, 12-month business growth programme, created especially for women who are running their own small businesses.
Unusually, The Growing Club benefits from being highly subsidised, which means you can access this programme for a reduced cost to yourself – just £395 for a year instead of the full price of £1200.
Benefits of Training with The Growing Club
• A supportive network of 10 women business owners
• Monthly facilitated sessions
• Regular inspiring guest speakers
• Accountability partners
• Action-based learning
• Peer support
• 1:1 coaching session
• Systematic process of growth
• Emotional support
• Confidence building
• Confidential space
Now you can access this unique business growth opportunity in three locations, starting in Spring 2019.
Why not try before you buy? We have created a short taster session in each location, where you can see what we have to offer you and your business, as well as taking part in a seminar on 6 of The Best Ways we Sabotage Ourselves in Business and how The Growing Club programme addresses these issues with real solutions.
Our Preston programme is run by Judith Loughlin and Jane Binnion. Their taster course will be held on Tuesday 5 March 2019, 10.00-12.00hrs, The Larder in Preston. You can book tickets here.
The programme in Lancaster is facilitated by Katie Birks and Nicola Garrett. The taster session is on Wednesday 6 March at 13.30-15.00hrs at The Women and Enterprise Hub, White Cross. Book your ticket here. For more information, call 07892 712417.
The South Lakes growth programme is run by Jennie Edmondson. She’s holding a taster session on Thursday 14 March 2019, 10.00-11.30hrs, at Castle Street Community Centre in Kendal. You can book a ticket here.
Any questions? We’d love to talk to you about The Growing Club and how it can help you grow your business. Drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill in the contact form here and we’ll get back to you.