There aren’t enough women leading British businesses. One in five UK SMEs are female-led, while just 9% of UK startup funding goes to women. Hopefully the gears are grinding – albeit slowly – towards change but, in the meantime, PLATF9RM will do everything it can to support the business gals doing brilliant things in our city. (Don’t worry, guys – we still think you’re great too!).
To round off our International Women’s Day month, here’s nine local women that are crushing it in the big, bad world of business. Best thing is: it’s just the tip of the iceberg!
Lana Burgess, Allegra Chapman and Rachel Finch – Brighton Digital Women
Brighton Digital Women are fast becoming one of the most influential groups in Brighton business. Founders Lana, Allegra and Rachel first met in 2015 after Rachel put a call-out on Twitter to see if any local female digital workers wanted to meet.
Nearly four years later their community is stronger than ever, with their friendly monthly meet-ups a key focus. They did a hugely inspiring talk at our recent ‘Kickass Women’ event and they are, to put it bluntly, totally kickass.
Jade Golding – Little Deer
Jade’s training is in photography but she’s evolved her career way beyond this creative passion. She created her first business, Little Deer, whilst studying: what started as an online vintage store developed into a business selling bespoke industrial furniture.
Christina Angus and Kate O’Sullivan – Street Diner
Christina and Kate are the reasons Tower Point members begin salivating around 11am every Friday. After meeting at a Hassocks farmers market and bonding over their enthusiasm for Brighton’s nascent street food scene, they opened Street Diner in Brighthelm Gardens.
They now have 14 stands a week, including local culinary legends like Olly’s Fish Shack, Kitgum Kitchen and Baby Bao, and are big believers in sustainability. If food is the way to someone’s heart, Christine and Kate stole ours years ago.
Fiona Bugler – Endurance Women
Entrepreneur, writer, editor, coach, content and communications expert, athlete: Fiona is a true polymath. When she’s not leading her boutique agency supplying content for endurance brands, she’s the legs and lungs behind Endurance Women: a community for women who love endurance events. She’s awesome just, uhm, don’t try getting in a race with her.
Jess Mcleave – Ilk + Ernie
PLATF9RM members may remember the lovely Jess from her time working Front of House in 2018. They might not have been aware that Jess has her own ethical fashion brand called Ilk+Ernie, known for their standout patterns and Indian influences.
They’ve now merged with the designer Lucy +Yak (whose dungarees you’ll see on every Brighton street) and are opening a shop on Tidy Street. It’s a match made in dunga heaven and we are so pleased for Jess: she puts everything (and a little more) into Ilk+Ernie. Save a pair for us, please.
Toni Finnmore – The Social Society
Toni has ten years of experience in the charity sector and is now putting that to exceptional use with her own project: The Social Society.
Born out of meet-ups that started in 2015, The Social Society has over 1000 members keen to inspire social change through community projects. Whether its fundraising, gardening groups or free cookery classes, they help six extremely deserving local causes: Audio Active, The Real Junk Food Project, Soapbox Postcards, Gig Buddies, Emmaus and Forward Facing.
Heidi Joyce – Heidi Joyce Gardens
Heidi left her career as a teacher to study garden design and horticulture. Since then she’s gone from strength-to-strength and her business – Heidi Joyce Gardens – is flourishing in a traditionally male-dominated world.
She’s an advocate of ‘genius loci’ which loosely means she’s into sustainable systems of design that retain the spirit of any location. An ardent feminist and relentlessly upbeat soul, she’s a light in every room (and garden, obviously).
Ruth Wainwright – The Feminist Bookshop
Feminist bookshops played an intrinsic role in feminism’s second-wave of the 1970s and 1980s. As well as selling celebrated and important work by females, they were safe spaces where ideas would merge and multiply. The rise of Amazon might have seen them fall by the wayside, but we’re psyched that Ruth Wainwright is going to be leaving her finance career behind and opening The Feminist Bookshop this year.
They had a pop-up at our ‘Kickass Women’ event and the books were flying out. See you by the shelves.
Frances Duncan – Clocktower Sanctuary
Frances took over as CEO at Clocktower Sanctuary in 2017 after a diverse career working in the charity sector. Clocktower is Brighton’s only daycare center for Brighton’s 16 to 25-year-old population; a fantastic, positive space where they can get support and start on the road out of poverty.
In 2018 1,055 young people approached Brighton and Hove Council (a 40% increase in two years) so their service is, sadly, becoming more crucial by the day.