More Than Just a Tasty Brunch

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Whilst we get to eat the most amazingly tasty and healthy brunch thanks to Stacie Stewart’s Eat Naked catering, this is not the only thing we get to do at our Female Founders Business Brunchin’ event! 

Our quarterly brunches — hosted by The Thrive Effect and Barclays Eagle Lab — are designed to be motivational and informative, so that the female founders and women in business who attend are inspired, learn from each other and make new connections.

At our most recent brunch in September, we had the pleasure of hearing from two inspirational female founders — Louisa Hirst, Founder of Orelia and Carlene Jackson, Founder of Cloud9 Insight. 

Whilst they may come from a completely different industry to yours, their advice is still relevant to you — no matter the age or size of your business. For those of you who couldn’t attend the brunch, I have summarised some of my favourite pieces of advice which Louisa and Carlene shared with us on the day.

Louisa Hirst launched her retail consultancy in 2005, and co-founded the jewellery brand, Orelia, in 2007. Some of Louisa’s greatest achievements include having her jewellery range sold in Top Shop, having a Christmas pop-up in Harrods, being part of the Kate Moss Jewellery Collection and bringing her business back from near bankruptcy in 2016.

At our Female Founders Business Brunchin’ event, Louisa wanted to shed light onto the human behind the brand and share her experiences of growing her business over the last 14 years. 

Despite building a reputation within her industry as being a highly experienced buyer, deep down, Louisa knew she had to do something on her own to be happy. Reflecting back on her experience developing the Orelia brand, Louisa packed her talk full of practical advice for our brunch attendees. Below, I have listed a collection of my favourite tips which Louisa shared with us:

‘Don’t think too much. The female gut is extraordinary’.
Procrastination can be debilitating as a founder. Louisa’s advice for founders is simple — stop overthinking and have faith in your gut instinct. 

‘Say “when…”, not “if…”’.
Louisa argued that, at times, we can be our own worst enemy and question our ability as a business owner. Louisa encouraged brunch attendees to think more positively and shift our mindsets from thinking ‘If…’ to ‘When…’.

‘Don’t take your eye off the detail’.
Louisa reflected on her experience of growing Orelia and employing staff. She considered the impact this business growth had on her role as a founder. Over time, her role shifted away from having an operational focus to more of a strategic focus, meaning that she was not always able to keep a close eye on what was happening with staff development and workplace culture. She encouraged us to pay attention to what is happening within our own businesses to ensure we stick to our values and respect what we originally set out to achieve as business owners and as employers.

‘If we hadn’t diversified, we wouldn’t have survived’.
A final tip from Louisa which I wanted to highlight addresses the importance of innovating as a small business. Louisa emphasised that innovation has played a crucial role in the survival and success of her business. Not only did innovation impact positively on the profitability of her business, it also enabled her business to remain competitive in a crowded marketplace.

Our second speaker at our Female Founders Business Brunchin’ event was Carlene Jackson. Carlene founded Cloud9 Insight in 2010. Her company is a Microsoft Gold Partner and she is on target to grow by 70% this year. Carlene is one of the Top 25 SME Cultural Leaders by Real Business BreatheHR and was one of the ‘Top 10 (No. 4) Female Entrepreneurs to watch in 2019’ according to About Time Magazine. Similarly to Louisa, Carlene packed her business growth story full of useful advice for aspiring entrepreneurs and experienced business owners alike. Below, I have captured some of my favourite quotes and tips from Carlene.

‘Surround yourself by people who can see your strengths’.
In her talk, Carlene emphasised the importance of surrounding yourself with cheerleaders who recognise your strengths. She also talked about how valuable mentors have been for her throughout her career. Carlene’s message was clear — we should all use mentors to help us progress throughout our entrepreneurial journeys.

‘Be niche. The more niche you can be, the better’.
Carlene encouraged the audience to be really brave and find a niche. Whilst it can seem a daunting thing for founders to do, particularly for small businesses, it can benefit your market position in the long-term, and makes marketing a lot more effective, as your customers better understand your purpose and value proposition.

‘If you can have a recurring revenue, it will help build equity in your business’.
Carlene highlighted the importance of having a robust business model. She talked about the positive effect subscription-based services can have on your cash flow and asserted that if it is possible for your business, try to generate a recurring revenue stream. 

‘Dare to be disruptive. Disruptors do business differently’.
Carlene is clearly a creative thinker, brimming with ideas and new ways of doing things. Carlene thanks her dyslexia for this, describing it as her ‘super-power’. As did Louisa, Carlene argued that innovation is crucial to business success, and rallied the audience to do things differently in order to stand out from the crowd and build a competitive edge. 

‘Don’t be shy to share your vision’.
Finally, Carlene encouraged us to be visionary — to have a clear vision of what we want to achieve in our businesses and to not be afraid of sharing that vision with others.

The Thrive Effect and Barclays Eagle Lab co-host the Female Founders Business Brunchin’ event every quarter in Brighton. If you would like to be kept informed about the next one, please email me at