Lara, Founder of Found & Flourish, has written a blog covering the topics discussed in her latest interview with Upload. She talks about her experiences as a working mother, the gender pay gap and Found & Flourish’s mission to close this gap. 

Meet the founder

Hi, my name’s Lara Sheldrake, I’m the Founder of Found & Flourish and I’m based in Brighton & London.

What is Found & Flourish?

Found & Flourish is a female founders network, media & events company. 

We exist to empower women in business to launch, grow and scale the businesses of their dreams. We also promote wellbeing in the workplace, laughter and embrace our femininity.

Found & Flourish empowers women by providing them with education, insights, community and business services so that women everywhere feel supported and better equipped to set up and run their dream businesses. We have a podcast called “Bossing it”, a blog packed for of resources and stories from fellow female founders, a bi-monthly newsletter, regular events & workshops PLUS our membership, launching soon!

What is one of the biggest problems facing female freelancers today?

The gender pay gap is still very much an issue, there is a disproportionate amount of men to women in female leadership roles, there are less female business owners, less women are invested in and there are less female investors.

The first way to overcome this is by empowering women, empowering them with the knowledge and support they need so they can build their dream business, ask for more money, become an angel investor. Whatever it is, we need more support around these areas if we are going to see the gender opportunity gap close.

A big issue is childcare and it’s costs. I set up Found & Flourish when my son was 3 months old. The first year was challenging but for most of it I had him by my side, now I really do feel the impact childcare costs can have on people, particularity women who take on a lot of the financial responsibility especially if they choose to go freelance or set up a business after having a baby.

How can this change be dealt with?

Find a community of like-minded women and surround yourself with cheerleaders. Running a business can be an incredibly lonely place so the people you surround yourself with will be your support network when you need it most

Attend events, join meet-ups, find online groups and immerse yourself in a community where you feel supported and empowered.

We run a range of workshops which cover topics such as money, investment, pensions, tax relief, branding, coaching, leadership, all to empower women with the knowledge and skills they need to go out and be the best version of themselves in their business and in life.

Our events are incredibly inclusive and offer women a safe space to talk about their fears and challenges, offering them community is a huge part of this as being a community and feeling you belong somewhere is crucial for empowerment.

What can the government do to tackle issues with inequality?

Women like Anna Whitehouse aka mother pukka and Joeli Brearley from pregnant than screwed are working tirelessly to campaign for flexible working, affordable childcare and support for pregnant women are my absolute heroes. They are working with the government to create better work environments for women in general but it doesn’t seem to be happening quickly enough.

Childcare needs to be more affordable, clear and accessible systems need to be in place offering support for women in business around tax relief, pensions and benefits because at the moment you really have to dig deep to find any info that support you in these areas.

We need more women in parliament, the majority of policy makers are men, and they’re making decisions on issues that effect women – it doesn’t make any sense. 

What does the future of freelancing look like to you?

Found & Flourish’s aim: Our vision is a world where more women have the confidence, knowledge and connections to launch successful businesses in a way that is authentic to their own values and is designed around their ideal lifestyle.

We see a world where there is less oppression of femininity, creativity and individuality in business, and where we’re all empowered to make more conscious decisions about our careers, passions and methods of generating income.

What’s next for Found and Flourish?

The business has organically developed an agency arm where the Found & Flourish community have become part of our freelancer directory; we work with a range of female-led businesses in supporting them in various areas of their business growth from business strategy and coaching to branding, web development and social media. I’d love to see this area of the business grow which will support the running of the work and events side too.

We are launching a membership program where we offer free events, online courses, an online community, and discounted services from our team of experts, opportunities to promote their own services within the community and loads more. I’d love to take Found & Flourish global. My dream is to be running our events across the globe with people who share the same values and vision leading the discussions.

You can watch Lara’s interview with Upload here:

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About the author

Indiana Julian is the Blog Editor for Found & Flourish, working with Co-Founder Lara Sheldrake to ensure every piece of published content is empowering, inspiring and well presented, just like the women we work with.

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