This interview series features inspiring female entrepreneurs who have launched and run successful businesses. Through our peers’ experiences, we can learn practical lessons and insights to empower us on our entrepreneurial paths. Crucially, storytelling de-risks entrepreneurship so we believe it is an essential pillar in closing the opportunity gap for female founders.
Firstly, tell us a bit about you?
I am 27 and from Bristol but have been living in London for four years, and I’m 100% a first-time female founder!
Tell us about your business, how did you come up with the idea?
During the coronavirus lockdown, I was getting a bit of cabin fever (being locked down with my parents in Bristol) and having always been a lover of writing myself, decided on a whim that I should create an online magazine for women. Whilst it was a bit of a snap decision, I’ve always thought that there was a lack of space for women, in particular, to share their stories (whatever they may be) and opinions in a non-judgemental way, and I wanted to also highlight the fantastic female creatives, poets, businesses, entrepreneurs that exist all over the world. After half a day of playing around with logo ideas on my laptop and creating one that I actually liked, The C Word Mag was pretty much born.
What was the moment that everything changed for you? Describe that moment when you decided to fully commit to your idea and the first few steps you took to make it possible.
I think the moment it all changed was when I got the opportunity to interview Charlotte Simone – a fashion designer that I’ve admired for YEARS. I messaged her on Instagram, thinking she would never reply, and she did and sent me her personal email to arrange an interview. When she replied, I literally jumped around the room with childlike glee and thought maybe I’m actually doing something good here if someone of that calibre was interested.
What were the initial challenges you came up against, and how did you overcome them?
TIME. I feel like that has been and still is the biggest challenge – especially as The C Word Mag is still technically my side project as I am full-time employed elsewhere. But when you are passionate about something and love writing like I do, it never seems like a chore finding time to work on something I love and feel proud of.
What was the first win that made you feel you were onto something?
I don’t think there is a first win that I can think of; I think the slow but definite growth of people interested in either contributing to our site as a writer or people and brands now reaching out to us directly to collaborate all seem like small wins to me and definitely keep me motivated.
Did you take the investment route for your business, or are you self-funded? Can you share some insights on your decision and the process?
At the moment we are totally un-funded (cue the tiny violin) but looking to try and rectify that in the future. I’m definitely considering the self-funding route, but am working on saving my pennies first as sadly this kind of thing takes a bit of time. We are also potentially looking into crowdfunding as well as a means to raise funds to get our brand out there as much as possible.
What has been your best investment?
In life, it has to be my crocs (I KNOW THEY LOOK WEIRD) – but they are THE MOST comfortable (and ugly) things ever. For the C Word specifically, it has to be my CGD London ‘Getting Stuff Done’ notebook – it keeps my mind as sane as humanly possible.
Have you made any mistakes or faux pas? If so, can you share with us?
Oh goodness, all the time. Probably the weirdest one was attempting to edit a written story that was sent to us that was 20 pages long and pretty much unreadable. I replied to the woman in question to ask her to take another look and re-send with some better grammar. Instead, she emailed saying she was drunk and then sent a follow-up Youtube link which was arguably the scariest thing I’ve seen in a while, with a football on a stick with a wig on – I won’t say any more. Basically, not everything has to go online and not every submission will be right for our website – lesson officially learned.
What’s your experience of being a woman in the start-up ecosystem and what in your mind needs to change?
As The C Word Mag has been launched in the throws of a pandemic, I haven’t really been able to experience start-up life first hand with talks or anything like that as it’s all been online. I have joined multiple female founder Facebook groups though which have given me a WEALTH of knowledge and help and everyone on there is so supportive.
What’s been the greatest lesson you’ve learnt since starting your own business?
That everything changes really, really quickly and that you never ever stop learning. It’s actually quite refreshing.
Have you had any role models or mentors along the way?
I mean Charlotte Simone was so nice to me, and I’ve looked up to her for years so to even have the chance to speak to her was awesome. I’ve not had mentors, but I’ve had incredible support from friends and family, especially my flatmate who has been on furlough and helping out with all things marketing and my almost 18-year-old cousin who has been getting involved in marketing and social media as well – both just for the fun of it.
With the future in mind, where would you like to be/where do you see yourself in the next five years?
I would love it if we were able to pay our writers – that is really important to me because I think a lot of people out there write for free just to beef up their portfolio, but the quality of writing is so good, and they deserve to be rewarded financially. I’d love to start a C Word podcast, and I would love even more to launch an app too – let’s hope those crowdfunding gigs pay off – literally!
Can you tell us one of your goals for 2020?
Literally just to get through the year!
What can our readers do to support your business?
Read our amazing content, follow us on social media, sign up to our newsletter via the website and if you’re a writer, get in touch so that we can get your voice out there!
What books, podcasts or resources would you recommend?
How much time do you have?!
- How I Built This by Guy Raz
- How To Fail with Elizabeth Day
- Brown Girls Do It Too
- GOSSIPMONGERS (I had to stop walking when I listened to the Space Worm episode as I was laughing so much)
- Women Don’t Owe You Pretty by Florence Given (literally a MUST read)
- Educated by Tara Westover
- A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
- Three Women – Lisa Taddeo (still reading)
- Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
What advice would you give anyone about to start a business?
Take the plunge and do something you’re passionate about, but make sure you have a solid support network as you’re going to be really busy!
Where can we find you?
About your author
Leah Williams is the Blog Editor for Found & Flourish, working with 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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