“I Get to be Part of This Movement”: Life as a Female Founder

It is an all-year commitment for us at Hatch to support, uplift, and empower women, ensuring that female founders have equal access to the right opportunities and resources to enable them to thrive. 

This week we want to take advantage of the spotlight provided by International Women’s Day to focus attention on the female founders in our community, and the broader experiences of women in the startup sphere across the UK.

We spoke to five women from our programmes about their experiences, the advice they have for others looking to start out, and their vision for change in the national entrepreneurial landscape.

Emily Horton, founder of More Diverse Voices

What made you want to be a founder?

“I am a queer, neurologically diverse, female founder and this has made me hyper-aware of the discrimination embedded within communication and storytelling.

“Using the skills I built as a journalist and working in PR, I decided to create something to tackle this imbalance and so More Diverse Voices was born.

“But I have been surrounded by lots of inspiring entrepreneurs over the years and that definitely helped as well!”

What challenges have you faced in launching your business?

“For me, the first year or so was about proving that there was a need and demand for what More Diverse Voices provides. Now we are 18 months old, I know that it’s time to take a step back from constantly ‘moving forward’ to check that we are heading in the right direction. But this will take a bit of time and a pause from client delivery and I find this very scary!

“I’m also a solo founder and so it can get quite lonely at times. I lean a lot on my partner for support – both emotionally and in terms of my business. And although he is incredibly supportive, I don’t want to become overly reliant on him!”

What do you love about being a female founder?

“The community! My network has recommended me to clients, given me wonderful testimonials, supported me when I was down, hyped me up on social media and offered guidance and support when I’ve been in a rut.

“I also love giving back to this community through mentorship or probono work as and when I can. Things like Year Here, AllBright, LinkedIn, Warrior Women and Hatch have all helped to build an amazing community of founders and experts.”

What support would you like to see in place to enable more women to thrive in entrepreneurship?

“Generous financial support at ALL stages of growth – particularly to cover the cost of founder salaries. One thing I am incredibly passionate about is paying yourself first

“More one-to-one tailored coaching – when it comes to problem-solving (both personal and professional) I believe that most of us contain the answers, but sometimes need a bit of guidance getting there. I’ve found one-to-one coaching particularly useful for this – shout out to Charlotte Whittaker for her coaching support so far!”

Ameena Hamid, founder of Ameena Hamid Productions

What made you want to be a founder?

“I wanted to shift practices in the theatre industry and control my output as a producer of theatre and live events.

“The only way to do that was to set up on my own, it gave me the freedom to create the theatre productions I wanted to see and rooms that I wanted to be in having developed my skills in other roles.

“It allowed me to learn how to lead and empowered me to do it my way (which includes collaboration and support).”

What challenges have you faced in launching your business?

“Like a lot of founders, fundraising was a struggle at the start of my career. I didn’t see the value in my story as a founder and particularly in my field as a producer in those conversations and saw a lot of my unique traits as blocks, particularly my age since I started my business at 19! And not just in fundraising, in all areas I felt like people were second guessing me based on what I looked like.”  

What do you love about being a female founder?

“I guess this builds on my last answer but it means that those people who I wouldn’t want to work with because of how they treat people like me tend to wear their cards on their sleeve before they’ve heard my job title. I see that as a great thing. Being in such great company too, there are so many brilliant founders out there that happen to be women.”

hatch grduates working together in the Hatch office

What support would you like to see in place to enable more women to thrive in entrepreneurship?

“Is it really bad to say more funds, grants and access to money? That feels like the common trend in why any underrepresented founder is turned off entrepreneurship. Beyond that, pastoral support for founders. I think Hatch is a great space for that but it can feel lonely and like you are the only person struggling. There are so many people out there doing it too and probably having the same thoughts!”

Elsie Harp, founder of Divina Botanica

What made you want to be a founder? 

“I think there were two main factors that influenced my decision to become a founder. As a mother raising an autistic child, I wanted to be able to offer him support and presence, and I wanted to design my life around his needs.

“Secondly, my approach to floristry is unique, blending beauty, nature connection and holistic health, and having experienced the transformative power of building a deep relationship with the earth, I felt determined to share that with the world.”

What challenges have you faced in launching your business? 

“Many! From finding funding to lack of childcare, to having badgers eat their way through £300 of tulip bulbs, there is always something around the corner when starting up your business! Building a business takes time and it’s an expensive process. I don’t think I realised this when I first started!” 

What do you love about being a female founder?

“The community! I love meeting up with and being inspired by other kick ass women making waves. There is a shared level of respect and understanding, as it can be very lonely carving paths and making change.”

What support would you like to see in place to enable more women to thrive in entrepreneurship? 

“I think programmes like Hatch are brilliant, the sessions are only two hours long so don’t cut drastically into your precious time, and you can get a surprising amount done! I also think mentorship is really important, as is affordable desk and studio space, ideally with integrated childcare!”

Camille Desprez, founder of Food Next Door

What made you want to be a founder?

“First of all, the idea I had made me believe that there was a problem to be solved: household food waste. And I was sure about how to be able to reduce it. 

“Secondly, I’ve been working in marketing for many years in companies where I thought that it was hard to raise your voice when founders already had their vision.

“I like to hear any feedback and opinion as I think any voice is important. I wanted to have the independence of doing things how I wanted; and I was lucky enough to follow my dream and start this challenging but so rewarding project.”

What challenges have you faced in launching your business?

“The beginning for me was super challenging because there’s so much to do and you just look at the mountain from the bottom. It was hard for me to stay organised and to know how to prioritise. I got help from a coach which helped a lot at this stage. 

“The main continuous challenge for me is that nothing is constant; everything changes and you need to be able to change mindset if you see that something isn’t working. If you want your idea to reach your audience, you often need to do much more than what you’re capable of doing. So, patience, setting goals short-medium-long term, and ask for help is definitely essential for me.”

What do you love about being a female founder?

“I love doing what I want, and working for what animates me is the best feeling I ever had.

“I never thought I would be this person but today I feel proud of myself to see that I’m completely capable of running my business and to resolve problems without taking things personally!”

“As a female founder, I feel empowered doing things on my own and with the help of so many people I’ve met. I feel more confident with myself and less afraid of who I am. I like to embrace my emotions as I’m capable of recognising them; which I think is essential (personally and professionally).”

What support would you like to see in place to enable more women to thrive in entrepreneurship?

“Definitely more help coming from the government and local authorities which is almost null in the UK. With the cost of life, it’s really easy to just work for someone else because you simply need to live and eat. Without government help; it becomes extremely difficult to take the risk of launching your own business.”

Sathya Bala, founder of True Change

What made you want to be a founder? 

“I realised I could have a bigger impact doing work that aligned with my purpose but also with the freedom of deciding what organisations I work with.

“Particularly working in diversity, equity and inclusion there was a wellbeing aspect of being able to create healthy boundaries, work with those who share my values, who really want to make change.

“I also wanted flexibility to work across industries, big corporates like I am used to but also work more directly with communities by helping charities and arts organisations.”

What challenges have you faced in launching your business?  

“Knowing my worth and trying to be the example in the industry for pay equity. As a woman of colour I know people like me are underpaid across the business world. We have less default visibility, do not have big contracts fall in our laps and do not have CEOs on speed dial. The hustle is real and having persistence is key to building my voice in the market, finding powerful allies and not being afraid to hold the line when it comes to my worth and what I should be paid.”

What do you love about being a female founder? 

“I get to be part of this movement normalising women and women of colour as founders. To advocate not just for me but other fabulous female founders. I find such joy connecting with other awesome women who are forging their own path.”

What support would you like to see in place to enable more women to thrive in entrepreneurship? 

“More investment, access to funds and networks of potential clients. As a data person I know all the facts and figures out there of how much harder we need to work to succeed.

“Also so many of us run businesses that have a positive social impact at its heart too.”

“Some of it is simple, how can we provide free office space to those starting out, women and especially women of colour do not have wealth and capital accumulated to make those outlays? How do we make it super easy for women to understand the process of gaining funding, the different ways, what networks to tap into?

“Transparency between founders on things like rates, especially from our male counterparts is also essential for pay equity. I am sure women who run businesses consistently under charge for their offerings. To me it is about levelling the playing field for us. When female founders thrive, we all thrive, economies, families, society.”

Female Entrepreneurship: A Vision for the Future

Across all of the founders we speak to on their entrepreneurial journey with Hatch, the same themes arise time and time again: the struggles of accessing funding, of battling stereotypes, and balancing childcare.

Similarly, the same themes arise when it comes to the joy found in discovering community, the pride that comes with trailblazing in a sector, and the freedom of setting your own agenda and your own timetable. 

At Hatch we have been part of the entrepreneurial journey of thousands of women over the past ten years, and intend to continue doing what we can to level the playing field for female founders in the UK. Emily, Ameena, Elsie, Camille, and Sathya are each having a huge impact on the sector they operate in and there are so many women like them with an idea and a passion that has the potential to become a successful, sustainable business.

If you have been inspired by their stories, there are so many ways you can get involved this International Women’s Day:

Help us continue our work

By making a donation to Hatch you could help a woman to access the support, opportunity, and investment needed to help her business become a success.

Shop with female-led brands

The way you shop can make an impact. Make sure to keep an eye on Hatch social platforms to discover new female founded businesses.

Spread this message to your network

Do you know someone interested in launching her own business? Or someone who would find value in mentoring early-stage business founders?

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