Warwickshire’s Essential Entertainment Guide
Get the latest updates, offers and competitions from What’s On…
The personal stories of nine Warwickshire women are among those featured in a new book released celebrating inspirational female achievers in the UK.
I Am A Woman Who marks the latest chapter of Coventry entrepreneur Sandra Garlick’s new vision - one dedicated to empowering women in business.
Stories include those of Kerry Field from Southam, Kate Findlay from Barford and Abbu Head from Rugby, who have all overcome adversity to achieve success in their businesses.
One of eight children from divorced parents, Kerry Field from Southam, spent most of her childhood in foster care.
Her studies as a Law student and work at a legal firm came to a crashing halt when she suffered paralysis-inducing chronic migraines which left her having to learn to walk all over again.
Struggling to find employment due to her long-term health problems, Kerry’s physical and mental wellbeing continued to deteriorate and, four years ago, she was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, a condition which leaves her largely housebound.
Now a mum-of-two, she is enjoying early success with The Little Gift Hive, an online shop she launched with her daughter.
She said: “I have spent the last four years coming to terms with this illness, accepting that it is what it is and learning to manage my energy levels to slowly regain my ability to function. As a formerly independent woman I find this degrading. I get rather frustrated at times that the person I was is gone.
"There is currently no cure for this debilitating condition which comes with the uncertainty of not being able to predict my level of health or fitness day to day, sometimes changing in a few minutes. This is very hard for me to deal with let alone an employer, which renders me unemployable at this time.
"The Little Gift Hive is giving me back some self-worth, a chance to share my love of helping others by finding the perfect gift and enabling me to contribute to my lovely family once again."
Kate Findlay, from Barford, has seen her online boutique gift shop Peach Perfect go on to great success after launching the business in her early sixties and whilst also nursing her late husband through the latter years of dementia.
With a lengthy career at technology firm IBM behind her, retirement could not have been further from her mind when Kate took voluntary redundancy, instead investing in her own online gift business Peach Perfect.
It took several years of appointments with consultants, before her second husband Ian was diagnosed with Dementia with Lewy Bodies (Parkinsons Dementia) and died in 2019 at the age of 66.
Kate said: "I definitely wasn’t done yet! I still had a desire to build a successful business. And if anything, I was even more motivated to start something up which I could manage while simultaneously caring for Ian, and which would give me a positive focus after his eventual death.
"For a few years, I’d been fascinated with the idea of running an online gift shop with a difference, for people who didn’t have the time or inclination to go trawling the shops for gift ideas only to find the same old stuff.
In 2015 that dream became a reality and Peach Perfect's success has been acknowledged in a variety of national business awards.
She concluded: “You’re never too old to do anything. It’s your frame of mind that’s important. It’s never too late if you’ve got the idea and the wherewithal to do it. In fact, it keeps you young.”
“I could never have foreseen the cultural changes and the twists and turns I’ve experienced in my working life over the past 40-odd years. But looking to the future, I’m certain of one thing at least – this is my time to shine. And I’m loving every moment of my new business life as an online retail entrepreneur!”
Abbi Head has been forced to overcome a lot of personal demons to mark out her place as the respected public speaker and businesswoman she is today.
It’s a journey that has taken the former community mental health worker to dark places in her life, due largely to a diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder 28 years ago.
She said: “I have seen the mental health services from the inside and the outside. I think that my practical motivation helped me to be a great keyworker to people who needed someone who could tap into their own experiences to help them back into the community.”
After three years working in mental health, she applied for a position as an administrator at a charity supporting victims of domestic violence.
But it’s her creativity - and ten years at art college - that drive the ambition behind her successful bespoke jewellery design business, Amoreantos and in her role as a member of the Guild of Jewellery Designers. She also has a hallmark with the London Assay Office.
“The hedonism of fellow students, a severe lack of money, no food, infestations of mice and insects, peer pressure to take drugs, recovering from an eating disorder and a secret past that caught up with me eventually shattered my personality, she recalls.
"My life was out of control and it took several months to recover enough to go back to art college and start again. I am so glad that I did because I began to discover a way to recognise when my life was out of equilibrium and I learned to manage my mental health.
"It has taken 28 years for my physical disability, amnesia, and the emotional abyss to subside. I am now ready to share my career and personal journey with others as a public speaker. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder can shape our past, but it cannot define who we become in the future.”
"Today as a designer, I want to inspire people who have experienced trauma to use their ingenuity to promote healing, to find their hidden voice and to believe in their own recovery journey."
Other Warwickshire entrepreneurs celebrated are: Transformational Coach Becky Cooper, from Warwick; Fine & Country Homes Partner Agent Rose Lord from Barford; owner of Hybrid Therapy UK Tracy Richardson, from Rugby and, from Nuneaton - photographer Andrea de Gabriel; Sparkle in Style jewellery business owner Jenni Harris and HydroVeg kits inventor Sue Tonks.
These women are among more than 30 whose stories make up I Am A Woman Who, the latest book by entrepreneur Sandra Garlick MBE.
It is just one of a series of passion projects for the solicitor-turned business coach and mentor whose success has been inspired by her own journey of overcoming huge personal and professional challenges, including struggling for several years, as a single mother of two young sons following the collapse of her marriage.
It was after spells working in a variety of other roles, including typist, cashier, PA, and sales rep that she went on to qualify as a solicitor and establish her own law practice in Coventry. This was later to merge resulting in Sandra leaving the company and, finding herself once again, in a position of financial uncertainty.
However, after suffering a serious fall in 2016, she was forced to re-evaluate her life and her business.
It was a wake-up call for Sandra who soon realised her true ambitions – and the now hugely successful Woman Who brand was born.
Since then it has also gone from strength to strength including the launch of the Woman Who Achieves Academy as well as hosting awards celebrating female achievers across the UK.
She said: “Now I teach the women I mentor to find their passion and find that sweet spot. If you enjoy doing something, you’re more driven and more productive and more successful.
“For me it’s about instilling in women that they shouldn’t be embarrassed to be confident, it’s a good thing to have confidence and to have goals and strive for those goals and work towards them.”
The academy, which marks its first anniversary on May 1st, has adapted and grown despite a series of Covid-19 lockdowns, and is now supporting business owners ‘virtually’ across the world.
She added: “I very quickly realised that Woman Who was about a journey of transformation and that I facilitated that transformation through my network events, awards and speaking opportunities. It became a journey of discovery for me, and for every woman. The successes were real. I could see this in each woman throughout her journey.
“As for the future, I would like to grow the academy side and create more women in business role models.
“More than 90 women have shared their stories in my books so far so I would love to get to that magic 100 next year and create more local role models.”
I Am A Woman Who is available for £15 from womanwho.co.uk
Visit The Little Gift Hive at: thelittlegifthive.co.uk
Visit Peach Perfect at: peachperfect.co.uk
Visit Amoreantos at: amoreantos.co.uk
Posted on Fri 18 Jun
Posted on Thu 17 Jun