Sophia Ukor: The Hatch Founder Elevating Female Voices

Picture of Sophia Ukor. Sophia is a black woman with dark brown hair which is tied into a bun. She is sitting down while smiling at the camera. She is wearing a bright orange one shoulder short sleeved blouse with a loose frill shoulder detail. There are blue and yellow graphic strokes in the background.
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At Hatch we are passionate about tackling the barriers facing marginalised groups in society, and Sophia Ukor's business Violet Simon is aligned towards that same goal.

Sophia Ukor is the founder of Violet Simon, a media-tech company that amplifies the voices of women from all walks of life using authentic storytelling. 

She said, “It’s so important for women to take up space and be loud to create change. I’m doing my bit through amplifying and celebrating the lived experiences of women.

“Every woman has a story, every woman is relevant.” 

She recalls that growing up she never saw people that looked like her represented in the media or the industries she was interested in, and that she was always told that achieving big goals would be difficult for her.

Lack of representation is a huge issue, particularly for people from diverse backgrounds and underrepresented communities. 

It is for this reason that Sophia was so determined to tell the stories of the billions of women that, she is keen to point out, make up over half of the population. There are so many stories to tell, they just are not being highlighted or given the platform they deserve.

Violet Simon aims to change that. Launched by Sophia seven years ago, what initially started life as a fashion blog quickly took on a form of its own as she discovered that storytelling had the bigger pull.

Over the years as she told the stories of influencers, and then women from all walks of life, Sophia’s vision for the business became clearer and she knew what she wanted to create.

Sophia's entrepreneurial journey

Violet Simon is not the first business that Sophia has set up, she has actually founded four in the past few years, including two while she was completing her undergraduate degrees of English Literature and Law.

She credits her mother for influencing this entrepreneurial spirit: as a successful pharmaceutical company founder in Nigeria she ensured that her daughter knew the basics of running a business from a young age.

Sophia says: “I always wanted to be independent and grow something of value.”

She has faced a number of challenges in her journey to founding this business, including a struggle with mental health that resulted in a diagnosis for Borderline Personality Disorder.

She said that while this was a daunting prospect, and did come with a lot of stigma, this diagnosis explained a lot and allowed her to get the right support.

So many people are going through challenges like this alone, not knowing that there is a whole community of people experiencing the same thing.

“Through Violet Simon I use storytelling to help people see their experiences mirrored in others.”

Why Hatch?

Sophia moved to the UK from Nigeria eight years ago, and despite her strong entrepreneurial background explains that feelings of loneliness and isolation made the process of setting up her business very challenging.

“It’s very lonely being an entrepreneur, and having left all of my networks behind in Nigeria made it even more difficult.”

Having had to put her business on hold during pregnancy complications, she was keen to pick up where she left off and throw herself into growing Violet Simon, starting with a series on Disruptors.

A key step in reinvesting in her business was joining the Hatch Incubator programme to find a community of like-minded people and support to grow.

It was the community that really resonated with Sophia, and she reveals that she had felt close to quitting and really isolated in her experiences, before discovering that her own feelings were being echoed by everyone else in the cohort.

“A community is having people see you, hear you, support you. The sense of community is amazing from the mentors and other founders – I connected with lots of amazing women.

“I’ve learned a lot and grown a lot.”

Sophia’s advice to her younger self:

“Be easy and be kind to yourself. Having always been an overachiever I find it hard to celebrate wins, I’m always needing to move onto the next thing. 

“You need to learn to take a break and celebrate yourself. Be confident: who you are matters and challenges will pay off. I know that now.”

Do you ever feel isolated as a founder?

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