#ialso100 list celebrates female entrepreneurs in our industry


Small business campaign f:Entrepreneur has revealed its #ialso100, a collection of 100 female entrepreneurs inspiring their peers and communities through their businesses and wider activities, with a number of those listed coming from the hair, beauty and wellness sectors.

The f:Entrepreneur campaign, now in its fourth year, is built around a programme of content, stories and events including roundtables, Q&A sessions and panels as well as larger all-day events throughout the year. This year the campaign, founded by Michelle Ovens MBE, will be holding its biggest ever event in London in the week leading up to International Women's Day (8th March). The f:Entrepreneur #ialso100 list celebrates and showcase amazing female entrepreneurs from all over the UK.

The campaign was founded by Michelle Ovens MBE, who is also director of Small Business Saturday UK and chair of the Small Business Charter, as well as founder of peak b, a campaigning organisation for small business.

Commenting on the f:Entrepreneur #ialso100 list, Michelle Ovens MBE, who is also director of Small Business Saturday UK and chair of the Small Business Charter, as well as founder of peak b, a campaigning organisation for small business, says:

“I am delighted to reveal f:Entrepreneur's second annual #ialso100; the trailblazers demonstrating that entrepreneurialism is a space being reinvented by women. The stories of these women are incredibly inspirational and reach outside the traditional bounds of business, including a number of cancer survivors and carers, amongst many other people who do so much more than their day job.”

Get inspired by these amazing female entrepreneurs in our industry, included in the f:Entrepreneur #ialso100 list, who have shared their stories with us:

Sami Blackford Freyaluna f:Entrepreneur #ialso100 Sami Blackford of Freyaluna
Freyaluna harnesses the magic of Mother Nature to create self-care rituals which help women come home to their bodies, reconnect with their inner Wild Woman, and embrace their own natural beauty. In addition, the brand creates natural skincare products, offer workshops (both online and in-person) and host a women's empowerment circle.

What is your business story?
“It all started with acne - my acne. About 14 years (or so) ago I was diagnosed with depression (caused by a few things - the unpleasant end of my previous business, being on the Pill, lack of body confidence, etc.) and it was not an easy period of my life... but it is one that I am hugely grateful for. It gave me a sort of headspace to figure some stuff out. And one of the things I kept coming back to was...acne. 

“Having tried all the products I could find in the shops, plus some prescription-only stuff I got from my doctor, I finally got to that "what else can I do?" point of frustration overload.

“That's when I started mixing-up lotions and potions - it was like being a kid again, mixing "mud pies" in the garden. It's hard to say when those mixtures I was making for myself became and actual business... somewhere in the next few years, I think...it just kind of snow balled.

“Since then, the natural skincare range has grown and been refined to become the collection it is today. I has always "blogged" (I see them more as articles) sharing information, inspiration, lessons I've learned, skincare rituals, and ingredients to look out for. And I have recently introduced classes, workshops and a membership group, to share my knowledge and experience with those who feel they need it.”

Julie Abernethy The Body Retreat Sami Blackford Freyaluna f:Entrepreneur #ialso100Julie Abernethy of The Body Retreat
The Body Retreat is the only Health Retreat that is run exclusively by women for women.  Founded in 2010 by Julie Abernethy and Julie Brealy, their wellness and weight loss retreats have helped women to regain their health, energy and get their spark back. They currently run 28 retreats each year, welcoming almost 200 women annually. 

What is your business story?
“I have a very varied career background, leaving school at 16 with just a couple of O Levels I originally trained to be a Dental Nurse. An odd career choice for someone as squeamish as myself so while the training fascinated me the role left me cold.

“I then spent the next eight years working a serious of local roles in supermarkets, a clothing store, bars, restaurants and factories, while at the same time, attending night school to increase my qualifications.

“It was while working in a local bar that a chance sighting of an article in the local paper led me to apply for an MA in Hotel & Catering management at Dundee university. This began the chain reaction that became my corporate career. I quickly worked my way up through various organisations and sectors gaining two further degree qualifications. 

“I suffered from Burnout back in 2009 which saw me spend three months at a private psychiatric hospital. Burning out finished my corporate career but saved my life.  

“I met Julie Brealy on holiday where she was taking some time to reflect on her next career move.  Having already designed and delivered two of the UK's most success Weight Loss Bootcamps, Julie was disillusioned with the high volume, low aftercare concept and wanted to do more.  

“Our chance conversation sparked something in me, with my background in hospitality and HR, having recently qualified as a Master NLP practitioner I felt that I knew what could be the missing link.

“After the holiday I wrote up a synopsis of what this idea might look like and sent it to Julie, who at this time had just set up her own weight loss bootcamp.  The seed for what was to become The Body Retreat was sown.”
Vivian McKinnon Hydro Ease Sami Blackford Freyaluna f:Entrepreneur #ialso100 Vivian McKinnon of Hydro Ease
Hydro-ease is the only floatation centre in Northern Ireland offering clients a place free from the impact of gravity and external stimulation to the peripheral and central nervous system for improvement to both mental and physical health. Since launching in 2015, Hydro-ease has facilitated over 8,500 float sessions.

Vivian has also developed and copywritten the RAFT (Recovery/Reconnection and Floatation therapy) programme.

What is your business story?
“After many adverse childhood experiences and an early adulthood filled with unhelpful coping strategies and events I stored as trauma, I collapsed at the age of 28 and woke up in the intensive care unit of the western general hospital in Edinburgh.

“My body and my mind had given up, exhausted with avoiding pain and using any means to do so I was in a mess both physically and mentally.

“One of my earliest memories is completely disconnecting from my body at around four years of age, so after this near death experience in 1999 I decided this was a wake up to change my life, this decision led me to the inside of a float tank in 2004 where, for the first time since aged four, I felt my body and mind were finally reintegrated. That experience will live with me forever, in that moment I felt free and wanted to ensure everyone knew about this amazing approach. 

“However after leaving school at 15 with very little qualifications, I decided to get an education and all the while watched the industry grow across the United States and the rest of the world…I got myself back to school, college and university [and] studied with some of the great thinkers and disrupters of the therapeutic world, Dr Richard Bandler, Dr Paul McKenna, Dr's Ron and Steve Ruden ,to get a real grasp of human dynamics and how we can reverse the impact of the moments we encode when at our most vulnerable and feel inescapable from.

“After much persuading from my husband, I decided to step into entrepreneurship, as he believed in me so much I asked him to put his money where his mouth was. On September 29th 2015 I opened Hydro-ease after giving up my full-time job, spending my husband's £27,000 savings and placing myself £66,000 in debt and have not regretted one second.

“As an inspirational public speaker, I have been offered to give a keynote at the 16th Annual Mental Health conference at Ulster University and at the International Float Conference in January 2020 to share my story and inspire others. I firmly believe that both these audiences need to hear what I have to say…everyone has a story, but we are not that story, we are who we choose to become.”

Amy Lewis Mooey salons f:Entrepreneur #ialso100 Amy Lewis, founder of Mooeys
Mooeys have two salons in Farnham and Horsham, and recently opened their first franchise in Haslemere. Mooeys specialise in nails and waxing treatments combined with excellent service, serving around 5,000 clients.

Amy has also created her own wax brand, and is in the process of expanding this, along with franchise opportunities. She is also in the process of creating a training programme to support therapists wanting to expand their expertise and knowledge.

What is your business story?
“I have worked in nearly every role possible within the beauty industry throughout my career, as I wanted to learn as much as I could before setting out on my own. I have worked in small salons, make-up counters, cruise ships, spa management, recruitment for the cruise lines, as well as operations roles, then on to a Spa set up, and my last role was as a Spa Manager in one of the largest spa's in the UK, within Center Parcs. 

“I love the beauty industry and am passionate about standardising it where I can, hence the Franchise and Training avenues. 

“Mooeys evolved from me wanting to get back to doing the treatments I loved, and creating a salon that I would want to visit myself. After being in various beauty roles for nearly 15 years, I wanted something really unique and different. Somewhere where therapists could be creative, and weren't judged by their appearance, or needing to conform to strict spa guidelines. I also felt that there was a real middle ground in the beauty world that was untouched. There are high end spas and salons, and business' only aiming for the ‘high income' clients. Then there are the Asian style nail bars and cheaper beauty salons in every town, that don't necessarily give the level of service or standard that I would want to go to. There are also many salons who do a brilliant job, however they have over 100 treatments on their menus, which means you get some therapists that are skilled in a few areas. I have tried to manage this before and it is so difficult, because clients stick with on therapist, and then if they leave, so do your clients. 

“I wanted a salon where clients could book in with any therapist and receive the same level of service. Of course, clients will book with who they prefer, but if for any reason, they are off sick or unavailable, business doesn't stop!

“So, after gaining some incredible feedback from around 80 ladies, I created the salon that we all wanted. Somewhere fun, friendly, non-judgmental and just being really bloody good at the core services that people wanted done well, and consistently. A salon with great chat, fab coffee/tea offering and comfortable surroundings. Nothing pretentious, nothing formal, and somewhere you want to tell your friends about.”

Rachel Barclay Rachel Barclay Makeup f:Entrepreneur #ialso100 Rachel Barclay of Rachel Barclay Makeup
Rachel is a professional make-up artist and hair stylist, offering many services, from special events and occasions to branding photography sessions, but her biggest passion is teaching. 

She is also a freelance artist working for herself, working predominantly inside the M25, with all women (and a few men) of all ages and ethnicity.

What is your business story?
“I'm that little girl who emptied mummy's makeup bag, played with it, experimented with it and never ever put anything back,  much to her annoyance! But she could see the happiness it bought me, so she let me do it each time I asked. 

“I left school at 16, dyslexic and light on qualifications, but undeterred I joined the corporate world of banking. After a few years I went traveling to broaden my outlook and, on my return, I fell into a job as a sales coordinator for a Telecoms company. This is what I call my first career as I worked in International Telecommunications for 15 years. I travelled the world, including living in Greece, New York and Seattle for three years.

“I loved my job, the people and the industry but by the time I'd had three children I was tiring of the travelling and the industry politics. In 2010 I had a mini breakdown and quit the industry for good. That was the first time in a decade and a half that I hadn't been in work. I relished the quality time with my children and being there to support my friends through difficult times, however I knew I still wanted to do something for me, work-wise.

“During the next three years I tried several ideas for a new career, including creating a premium rate calling business (sex chat lines, please don't judge me) as my telecoms experience gave me access to the best services and prices. However, a large player in the sector warned to me in no uncertain terms not to get into ‘their' market. Instead I turned my attention to starting a car cleaning business but was again warned off by a rival ‘gang' of cleaners in the local area. Having now been deterred by two daunting ‘competitors', I felt I needed to rethink and establish what it was I truly wanted to do; what was I passionate about and how could I make a difference, whilst making money out of it?

“The idea of becoming a make-up artist was born at the hairdressers when the salon owner was looking at photos of my children who I'd made-up for various Halloween events. She assumed they'd been done by a professional and when she found out it was my own handiwork, she suggested I trained as a make-up artist. I answered, “who the hell would want an ageing make-up artist?” After a year of procrastination because I didn't believe I would ‘fit-in', I finally signed up and headed off to college and retrained, graduating with great plaudits. 

“Success followed quickly, helped enormously by being dragged to a networking meeting for women. Over lunch I met so many brilliant women and was totally smitten by the powerful feeling of being with like-minded people. I signed up immediately and it was a real turning point, my career has flourished from being surrounded by supportive, encouraging people who foster success. #fortheloveofmakeup”

Camille Pierson The Float Spa f:Entrepreneur #ialso100 Camille Pierson of The Float Spa
The Float Spa is a premium health and wellbeing centre offering floatation, yoga, massage, an infrared sauna, chiropractic care and other complementary therapies, with over 15,000 clients. 

As well as appealing to individuals, The Float Spa also work with local businesses to offer health and wellbeing packages to their staff, and partner with hotels to offer services to their guests.

What is your business story?
“My interest in floating began when my dad suggested I try it to combat the PTSD I had developed after my daughter suffered a serious illness and only just recovered.  It did wonders for my symptoms but there was nowhere to float near where I live in Brighton and Hove, so I gave up the stressful job which had contributed to my PTSD and opened a float centre in Hove. 

“We opened in 2015 with two float pods, one therapy room and 12 yoga classes a week. Due to popular demand, we added an extra float pod, two more therapy rooms and have more than doubled the number of yoga classes plus adding an infrared sauna.

“The secret to our success has been listening to our customers and providing outstanding customer service in an immaculate environment which allows people to truly relax and benefit from their treatment.  Because many of the people who come through our door are in emotional and/or physical pain, our staff are highly trained to look after them so they always feel better when they leave than when they came in.”

Toni Cassidy Glamavan f:Entrepreneur #ialso100 Toni Cassidy of Glamavan
Established in May 2017, Glamavan is a mobile service for children's pamper parties, slumber parties and eco-friendly Glitter Bar hire for weddings, parties and events. Glamavan uses Biodegradable cosmetic glitter, and Toni recently launched her own brand of biodegradable cosmetic products in eco-friendly packaging.

What's your business story?
“When I started Glamavan I was also a full time Police Officer in London. In 2012 I decided to do a make-up course in my spare time. From this I had some really fun opportunities and gained more beauty qualifications, and this is where I found my passion lay.

“I decided I wanted to work for myself, in the future I want a family and I did not want to be doing unsociable hours, working away from home doing 12 hour shifts, so in 2017 I went part time and started Glamavan, which introduced Children's Pamper Parties.

“This service proved really popular and when I brought glitter into the parties, I found the demand for glitter by the adults was even more so I introduced Glitter Bar Hire service as well.

“I became really busy and had no down time. Something had to give and it wasn't going to be my business, so in 2018 after 13 and a half years as a Police Officer, I resigned to be a full-time girl boss!

"As I was using so much glitter in all of my services, it just made sense to me to bring out my own brand of glitter, so in Christmas 2019, I trademarked my business name and launched my very own brand of Glamavan biodegradable cosmetic glitter products.  This complemented our ethos well in the fact we wanted to become a more sustainable business. To go with our eco-friendly product, we did lots of research on our packaging and we currently package our glitter in aluminium tins with paper labels; we also package our sets in cardboard tubes filled with shredded cellophane and hand stamp our tubes using Vegan ink.”

The f:Entrepreneur 2020 campaign is sponsored by Tide, who have set a target of helping 100,000+ female-led businesses start out by the end of 2023.