HomeTagsPosts tagged with "Ladies Who Launch"

Ladies Who Launch

If you have yet to scroll through Siobhan O’Hagan’s social media offerings, you’re one of very, very few.

With more than 90,000 followers on Instagram alone, the Dubliner is considered a key player on the Irish health and fitness scene, but with so many #FitFammers jostling for attention, what is it about Siobhan that stands out?

Well, having left her office job in order to spend ‘all day in the gym’, Siobhan’s career trajectory took an unexpected turn, and as the brains (and brawn) behind a now booming online business which includes OH Fitness Factory and OH Fitness Furnace, the former 9 to 5’er has proven an inspiration to tens of thousands.

We sat down with Siobhan for our Ladies Who Launch series to discuss the peaks and pitfalls of stepping out on your own.


I really need to find some motivation to push through these last few weeks… my sessions are just 'meh' these days…. 3.5 weeks out

A post shared by Siobhan O'Hagan – OHFitness.ie (@ohfitness_ie) on

Having graduated with a degree in Maths, Siobhan began her career in a small company and ultimately worked her way into a role at huge multinational PLC, but soon realised that she expected more out of her career.

“After a year of working really hard and crazy hours, I was given a bonus, and that was the point I reaIised I was miserable, and that money would not solve anything,” Siobhan reveals.

“I was so lost at that point. I didn’t know what else I could do with my degree,” she adds.

It was at this point that an acquaintance asked Siobhan what she’d like to do all day, and that’s when she realised she was hungry to pursue a career in fitness, saying: “I started looking up personal training courses and I couldn’t find anything that suited the crazy hours I was working.”

Dismayed, Siobhan confided in a former colleague, and a stroke of luck meant she was offered a contract role with her previous company.

“That was the scary part,” she says. “It felt like one step back in the hope of two steps forward, but it meant I was back to 9-5 and it gave me time to start building my next career outside my working hours.”


Leg session in 31 degrees with no aircon = But we did it

A post shared by Siobhan O'Hagan – OHFitness.ie (@ohfitness_ie) on

As any self-starter will attest, time is of the essence in these instances.

“I would get up at 5am every day to train in the gym before getting the bus into town and working 9-5.  Admittedly, I had started my Instagram account, and was probably spending too many working hours on it!”

“I would usually go get a coffee after work and study before going into my evening PT course. I would get home about 10pm, prep my food, and pack my bags for all my outfit changes and do it all again the next day.”

“I was permanently exhausted, but I didn’t want to let anything slip because I knew I had to be my own advertisement,” Siobhan says.

After qualifying as a personal trainer, Siobhan found a huge amount of pleasure in helping people achieve their goals.

“I loved talking to people, I loved seeing them progress and I loved sharing the message that eating well and heavy weight training can transform your body.”

“I was booked and making more money than I knew what to do with,” Siobhan continues. “But then I really panicked.”

While having worked tirelessly during her career change, Siobhan still struggled to balance her time even after establishing herself as a trainer, and ultimately feared she had made a mistake.

“I was working usually from 6am to 12pm, then back in about 3pm to 1o pm every day. I was trying to train, answer emails, sleep and there was just not enough hours in the day. I was anxious trying to keep up with everything, and I started doubting my decision.”


Design a life you love. I love Mondays#OhFitnessMindsetMastery

A post shared by Siobhan O'Hagan – OHFitness.ie (@ohfitness_ie) on

Siobhan realised that in order to prosper in her career, she would need to identify personal ,as well as professional, goals.

“I realised, a bit selfishly, that my life goals were not to be standing beside somebody counting reps, it was my own freedom and happiness,” she reveals.

“I then decided to start focusing on online coaching. I cut down my PT hours, and developed an online coaching system that meant I was able to help more people while still keeping up a few hours in the gym training people one-on-one.”

With the help of a former college friend, Siobhan established the Oh Fitness Factory, Oh Fitness Furnace and the Oh Fitness Mindset Mastery.

While initially hesitant, Siobhan says: “We just threw ourselves in the deep end, and it was a great success.”

“It was intense getting everything set up but the hard work is done now. Business is booming while I have more free time to day to day. I feel like I have finally nailed it.”

And with a stellar business under her belt and an online persona the envy of countless budding trainers, it’s no surprise Siobhan feels like she’s nailed it, but does admit that there are downsides to everything,

“I have to say my life is pretty sweet right now, but if I was to nitpick I would say it is tough having eyes on you at all the time.”

Incredibly likeable and down to earth, Siobhan is under no illusion that her life and career hasn’t registered on everybody’s radar, but with hundreds of thousands of followers, she is certainly under some scrutiny.

“I know people probably don’t care that much about me, but I feel like I am being judged on everything I say and do. If I say or do anything that isn’t politically correct, I could get loads of messages of abuse. I feel like I have to be perfect all the time (which I never am).”

Since creating her own brand and business, Siobhan has been exposed to the attitudes of others, saying:  ”I’ve learnt that you can’t control other people’s mindset. Those that are in a good headspace will wish you well and there will be people you cannot please.”

Easily one of the most genuine, humble and relatable social influencers on the scene right now, Siobhan admits that the moniker itself doesn’t even sit that well with her.

“One thing I never really planned for was to be a social media influencer. I’m not even a fan of the word, but I realised that I am always my own advertisement and now I feel like I am living in my own little reality TV show.”

“It is great fun, and I get so much amazing feedback, but sometimes I would just like to switch off, be anonymous and go the chipper!”

A girl after our own hearts.



As the only television anchor to have worked on all four of Ireland's terrestrial channels, Gráinne Seoige is perhaps one of the best known faces in Irish broadcasting.

Cutting her teeth on TnaG – Ireland's newly launched Irish language channel – back in 1996, the Galway-native spent two years at the station before ultimately moving on to anchor shows on TV3, Sky News Ireland and RTÉ.

With more than 20 years' experience in television and broadcasting under her belt, Gráinne decided to branch out somewhat with the launch of a bespoke diamond business last year.

Grace Diamonds, born of the broadcaster's interest in the process of creating custom-made jewellery, has been met with much enthusiasm both in South Africa and Ireland.

As part of our Ladies Who Launch series, Gráinne sat down with SHEmazing to talk rings, reception and running her own business.

Gráinne, who announced her engagement to South African business man in 2014, explains that this personal milestone ultimately became the catalyst for the development of Grace Diamonds.

"Leon popping the question led us down the path to having my engagement ring custom made in South Africa," she says.

"The fun of that process, being part of the design and making of the ring as well as Leon also being so involved and thoughtful about it meant I have an amazing connection to my ring to this day."

Grainne, who made the decision to train with the Gemalogical Institute, was keen to share her passion and enthusiasm for the process, saying: "That journey made me think I'd love to help other people have that same experience."

Having trialled Grace Diamonds in South Africa before launching it in Ireland, the mum-of-one saw the benefit of immersing herself in every aspect of her business.

"Getting to work with clients in South Africa and go through the entire sales and manufacturing process, meeting clients for the first time to the ring going on the finger was fantastic," she explains.

"If you are opening a new business, any and all practical knowledge and learning you can absorb is definitely a great addition. "

While undoubtedly best known for her lengthy and successful career as a broadcaster, the public's reaction to Gráinne's new endeavour has been wholly positive.

"The reaction has been so lovely – it's a joyful business," she says.

And when it comes to juggling broadcasting and business, how does she manage?

"I haven't actually moved completely from broadcasting either. I combine the two like many other women in broadcasting today, so no I didn't feel any pressure," she insists.

"I think my background in communications is invaluable in chatting to people and reading what they want."

Like any businesswoman, Gráinne is aware that few businesses in their infancy runs on rails, but she has encountered few obstacles since the birth of Grace Diamonds.

"Being an online business, you are completely dependent on that running smoothly. There a were a few little hiccups with emails, but we got it sorted the minute we became aware of it. And thankfully that's been it!" she explains.

"Yes it's an round-the-clock job whether getting back to clients or planning ahead. I don't think I try to anticipate issues, but we are always looking at ways to improve our systems and also how to add to our offering."

Reflecting on the people who approach Grace Diamonds with the intention of investing, Gráinne explains that there is no typical customer.

"Since the beginning, we've had from couples in their 20s commissioning their engagement rings to more mature couples or ladies celebrating milestones like anniversaries or retirements also designing with us the piece they've always wanted."

And is the day-to-day as glamorous as one might expect in the running of a diamond-based company?

"Diamonds are beautiful – every time I open a brief and this loose diamond is winking up at me and I know it's the right one for a client it just puts a big smile on my face.

"As well as that when a couple you've worked with to create their perfect ring finally gets it and it's even more than they imagined their sheer joy rubs off on you.  There is great job satisfaction in that," Gráinne says.

While the reaction to Grace Diamonds has been undoubtedly positive, Gráinne admits that the verge in career path didn't come without its reservations.

And yet, her decision to pursue a passion and learn from the process is something she cannot recommend highly enough.

"Yes, leaving your comfort zone is scary but if you believe in yourself, get some good support on board to cheer you on and challenge you, and you prepare and do your research, you can do it."



By now, it's highly likely you have a Bellamianta product nestled among your other beauty essentials.

The self-tan range, which is based and manufactured in Ireland, seeks not only to deliver a golden hue to our pale Irish skin tone, but caters to customers who understand the importance of treating the skin beneath the tan.

By using key ingredients, which help to capture, maintain and develop moisture within the skin, Bellamianta has become a  firm favourite with the Irish public.

With over 20 years’ experience in the beauty industry, Bellamianta founders, Lisa McDermott and Linda Stenson, chat exclusively to SHEmazing about their journey to the top of the beauty industry.

What gap did you see in the market? Why did you think you could fill it?

Lisa: As Linda and I both worked in retail we spoke to customers everyday and knew what people wanted, which is the best product for their budget.

We had noticed skincare had taken a very firm direction towards cleaner ingredients and we knew that people genuinely cared about what they put on their skins but didn’t necessarily want the hefty ‘Organic’ price tag.

Linda: We began to work on a skincare line, always intending to create a tan as part of the range.

We quickly realised that there was no other tan that was ‘Clean’ on the market and we took all of that skincare knowledge and put it in a tan. We pride ourselves on our ethos which is ‘affordable luxury.’


A post shared by Bellamianta (@bellamianta) on

What was the highlight of your first year?

Lisa: The weekend that we launched the mousse we sold out within days. From that we were inundated with stockist inquiries and we literally couldn’t keep the stock on the shelves.

We had to triple all our manufacturing runs. It was at that point we realised this is going to be big, however we never it expected it to get this big this fast. We knew we had a good product but we also knew we were going into a market that was saturated and it would take time to gain our market share. We were very wrong as it happened very quickly for us.

Did you both always have an entrepreneurial spirit?

Linda: Yes, we have always taken pride in our work regardless of what role we were in and wanted to grow our skills to be the best we could be. We have always had entrepreneurial goals so it was more about when we were going to take the leap of faith, rather than when.


A post shared by Bellamianta (@bellamianta) on

The five words that sum up our business are:

Luxury, Ethical, Exciting, Fast-paced, Rewarding

Can you comment on both being mums and running a high-octane business?

Finding balance between family and work is really difficult and can be impossible at times, we think any mother whether they work outside the home or not, juggles so much everyday. We have just become extremely good at prioritising and making lists!

High point of the first year?

The highlight for us was selling out of the mousse a few days after launching. It was totally unexpected and so rewarding.

Has your relationship always been professional together?

Yes, we met while working together and just hit it off and decided to go into business together.


A post shared by Bellamianta (@bellamianta) on

What’s your brand ethos?

Our brand ethos is affordable luxury, using the cleanest ingredients while never compromising on performance. Our motto is ‘we didn’t come to play the game, we came to change the game’

What are your plans for the next year / five years?

We plan on expanding Bellamianta carefully to other territories, we say carefully because although we have huge international interest it’s very important for us to maintain the quality and integrity of the brand so we will take our time and expand when its right for us.

If you had to share three top pieces of advice for women in business, what would it be?

1, Believe in yourself, you can do it. 2, research and get advice from as many people as possible, 3, Have a plan, know your niche and know your market.

Brought to you by

For more information check out their website here 


In 2002, Marsha Abrahams, a qualified CIMA accountant, identified a gap in the market when it came to the availability of city-centre spas.

Having known from a young age that she would like to own and run her business one day, Marsha co-founded the Buff Day Spa on Dublin's South King Street which she helped to develop into a thriving business with 20 staff and €1m annual turnover.

However, following a trip to Greece in 2015, the course of Marsha's already stellar career took somewhat of a turn.

Finding herself hugely impressed with a Juliette Armand treatment during the trip, Marsha made the decision to sell her half of the Buff Day Spa business and concentrate 100% on distributing Juliette Armand in Ireland.

Since bringing the brand into Ireland two years ago the unique skincare range is now stocked in nearly 100 salons nationwide, her target is to be in every county in Ireland by the end of the year. With only five to go after chatting with her I’m sure she will achieve this.

As part of our Ladies Who Launch series, Marsha, who won the Dublin City LEO Female Entrepreneur Award in 2016, sat down with SHEmazing for a chat about business, backpacking and babies.

Marsha, can you remember a distinct moment when you decided the business route was for you?

"From the age of 13, I helped dad out in his business – hairdressing. And I watched his business fail.  He was too nice and wasn’t prepared to put the prices up when he needed to. I knew at that age I wanted to run my own business and make a success of it.

It was in the back of my mind and I decided to become an accountant.

Having co-founded an incredibly successful city-centre spa, you essentially took a gamble on Juliette Armand, and may have come up against negativity or reservation from concerned colleagues and family members. How do you generally deal with that?

I cannot begin to tell you how supportive my husband was through all of this. He really did put his faith in me and this product and would like to thank him publicly for his support (if that’s OK!), he is the most important person to consider.

 We are in a partnership and work together really well, outside of that I listened to what anyone had to say, nod politely and get on with it!

You have mentioned in the past the impact your father’s salon had on your career aspirations growing up. Do you feel you learned more from his triumphs or his pitfalls?

"I wouldn’t say it was either, what I saw in my father was someone with an amazing work ethic, who would do whatever it takes to make sure there was a roof over our heads and food on the table.

"The failure of his business was due to him not wanting to offend anyone but he closed the business down leaving no one out of pocket apart from the tax man.

You acknowledged that your brain is always ticking over with new ideas and potential development plans, do you think that kind of mindset is a given for any entrepreneur?

Any other entrepreneur I have spoken to says the same, especially as a new start-up you have to be able to juggle several things at once to make sure everything gets done. 

I also think that’s why the phase serial entrepreneur came about, we can’t just sit still with one thing. With being a distributor it gives me the opportunity to be able to look at other avenues without affecting my core business.

Having ‘done the backpacker thing with a vengeance’ but also worked three jobs at a time, were there points in your career when you longed for the carefree days of travel? How do you balance work and leisure?

Before I had children, there was many a time I wanted to just pack the bag and head off, I planned my holidays right and got to spend three weeks doing small breaks to places I still wanted to visit.

I don’t have a formal structure to my work week. With having my daughters with me in the office some afternoon, if the weather is nice I don’t have to ask anyone if I can leave early, I just close up and go to the park.

With today’s technology I have the freedom to do this by having my phone on me I can still respond to calls and emails and I can always come back and work in the evening once they have gone to bed if there is anything urgent.

You speak highly of the Plato Business Development Programme, can you give our readers an idea of how it affects both your personal and professional outlook?

I would highly recommend Plato to any small business that is going on to the next step, they help me get focused, put plans and objective together. There is peer to peer support and accountability.

Even when you have a team of people beneath you, running a business can feel very lonely and the group is great for giving good honest advice on tough decisions.

You say ‘timing is everything’; is this something you believe budding businesswomen should take into account when navigating their own career paths?

My personal motto is ‘what’s the worst that can happen?’ There is a reason things happen and a reason for everything.

So if it’s not going to kill you why not have a go? It brought me to where I am now.


Having qualified as primary school teacher, StyleSavvy's Laura Jordan never imagined that her passion for fashion would ultimately result in a hugely popular business, piquing the interest of the press and public alike.

Now a highly successful style consultant, fashion presenter and personal shopper, Laura's journey from the classroom to the changing room was not without its challenges, but a genuine love for the job and a desire to reach people on a personal level means the StyleSavvy star is only in ascendence.

Here Laura recalls the moment she realised StyleSavvy had potential, the lessons she's learned along the way, and why The Devil Wears Prada rep has never sat well with her.

“Developing a business was never my plan which is the interesting part. I was a primary school teacher, happy out working away in that job, but I've always had an interest in fashion and shopping." she reveals as she chatted with SHEmazing

"And I soon learned I loved shopping for other people as much as for myself which was good news for my bank manager," 

“I went to the Institute of Design one summer. Obviously, as a teacher you have better holidays and more free time than you do in other jobs. I studied there one summer and ironically I now teach there so it’s come full circle. I loved it."

Laura didn't make any rash decision upon the completion of her course, saying: "I spent about a year, I suppose, deciding what exactly I’d do with that qualification, and I‘d go shopping with friends and friends of friends, and then it got to the point where I wanted to establish it as a business."

"It was not ever going to be just Laura going out shopping, I wanted a brand with it, but I always thought it would be a sideline," she explains.

"Many teachers have something else they do alongside their job, and I thought it would satisfy my interest and I would still have my normal job.”

She soon realised, however, that juggling both jobs was unrealistic.

“It grew and grew and I was trying to balance two things. I realised the challenge that was there at the start wasn’t there anymore, and I wanted to see if I could develop it, I just wanted to see where it could go."

"I went to the Enterprise Board, and that was a turning point for me. They have a business clinic, and they asked if I could come in the next day.”

Recalling the hours leading up to her appointment in the business clinic, Laura reveals that she poured her heart and soul into a plan to present the following day, saying: “I ended up staying up that whole night making a plan, making accounts to bring into them to show them I was serious. And they said it definitely had potential and I remember getting into my car and crying."

"I couldn’t believe other people could see potential in something I was only starting to see the potential in myself. And from then I took a break from school and haven’t gone back, and started pushing it full time.”

Considering the success of StyleSavvy, it's hard to believe that Laura's background in business is essentially non-existent.

"I don’t have a business degree. I have absolutely nothing. I have a genuine passion for making people feel good about themselves through the way they dress and their image and how they interact with other people. And that’s the reason I did it," she explains.

A steep learning curve, Laura saw the benefits of surrounding herself with people of varying skills, admitting: "I’ve always asked for help."

"You’ve got to surround yourself with people better than yourself. You need to put people who are better than you around you. Admit you don’t know how to do it, and you have to give control.” 

"The girl who ended up being my mentor was from the business clinic," Laura continues.

"She listened to my pitch, and I asked her would she mentor me and she would. We met regularly. She could be pretty blunt and she told me some hard truths but I’ll always be thankful for her."

Remarking on the initial day-to-day running of the business, Laura added: "I’ve literally had to learn how to use Excel. You learn pretty quick if you quote the wrong price. It’s been through trial and error. 80% of it has been myself with a calculator and trying to figure out."

And being a fully-fledged business owner means that Laura must accept that the standard workday no longer exists.

“For me, the downside of the job I do is that you can’t decide you’re working 9 to 5 and then turn off your phone."

"On average I work a 12-hour day because when you get home you have to look after social media. You have to be on when other people are off."

With a nod to her need to delegate and seek help, she adds: "I have someone who looks after my social now, I have learned that if I don’t take time off I get tired and sick and I can’t work.”

“I find it really, really hard to switch off. That is the biggest challenge of this job. It consumes you, it is like a child. It does take a significant toll on your social life and your personal life because you have to put work first."

"In this job, I do media work, present seminars, and a lot of shopping appointments. And I’m particularly conscious that with shopping appointments, this could be the woman’s treat for the year and I'm there to give her the best experience."

Admitting she rarely has an off-day, she adds: "I constantly feel pressure to represent the brand. It’s always in the back of your head. Just because of the nature of work that I do, girls are fascinated by it, and people will ask you about this, that and the other on nights out."

"I don’t have a typical day. My service levels are straddled over most areas, business, education or personal. You need organisational skill. You can’t afford to drop a ball.".

While StyleSavvy has received considerable praise since its launch, Laura acknowledges that her business is often subject to criticism.

"People say it’s an image-based analysis of a person. But you often see it changes the inside of a person. It boosts their confidence. It helps them push forward in other aspects of their life," she stresses.

And it sounds like this aspect of her job is undoubtedly the crux of the business – something Laura acknowledges when reflecting on client feedback.

"I get emails from clients who say you’ve changed your whole perspective on myself," she continues. "The shopping appointments aren’t lucrative, but it’s the foundation of my business. The core is working with clients."

And with a great reputation, satisfied customers, and strong client relationships, you'd be forgiven for thinking the face behind Style Savvy might be entitled to take her foot off the pedal for a moment or two, but that simply isn't an option.

"The higher you climb, the further you have to fall," Laura warns. "I don’t think any entrepreneur gets that feeling that ‘I’ve made it’. The pressure increases, but so does potential. You’ll never reach a plateau where you think 'I’ve made it'. You’re constantly striving. You see potential anywhere."

Having started StyleSavvy with little to no experience of the world of business, Laura is well aware that false starts are part and parcel of the journey.

"You have to remember you falter all the time, the same as everyone else, and I think that’s what makes businesswoman great."

"While we can be self-critical, it can stand to us in the long run. It works for us in business," she opines. "We’re shrewd enough to say I’m not sure if it’s working out and we need to change it. We’re great at self-reflection, we can be hard on ourselves, we all put pressure on ourselves, but that works for us in business. You can channel it positively."

"Occasionally women in business have a reputation for being tough and highly competitive. In the fashion industry I blame The Devil Wears Prada for that one. In business in general, women have a reputation that they’re tough hard and always stressed. It’s not the truth. Any I’ve met have been positive and encouraging and motivating."

And for the woman who hopes to launch her own business or make strides in her field?

Laura says: "It takes twice as long to get half as far. You do find you get impatient."

"Yes you have to push and struggle, but if you keep pushing it’s a reminder you need to take a step back and take a different approach. And always try your best to work smarter, not harder."


Jennifer Rock, also known as The Skin Nerd, is a self-confessed skin fiend.

A qualified beauty therapist and a dermal therapist, she has travelled the world lecturing on skincare to fellow therapists, nurses and doctors, and has gathered a wealth of knowledge as a result of her collaborations with fellow professionals.

She believes in a three-pronged approach toward skin health: feed the skin inside with good food and supplements, respect the skin on the outside with quality skincare, and finalise the process with high-quality mineral makeup on the top.

Jennifer sat down with SHEmazing for an exclusive chat about the launch of her business, the obstacles she has faced and the advice she would share with fellow businesswomen.

Jennifer reveals that establishing her own business has always been a dream of hers, saying: "I've always worked for others as though it was my own business.This industry is my passion and career all rolled into one, so it was the natural progression to influence my career myself."

Like many business owners, Jennifer admits that her there is no such thing as a typical day in the life of The Skin Nerd – an aspect of her job she truly relishes.

"I could be doing a treatment on a celeb, attending meetings for my product Cleanse Off Mitt, writing an article/newsletter for my newly launched website, MCing at an event, lecturing in the Royal College of Surgeons. It's bananas but I would not have it any other way. "

And while there is no doubting the pleasure Jennifer derives from her business and its success, she acknowledges it can be difficult to switch off at times.

"'Consume' sounds negative but my business and this industry is a large part of my life – and I enjoy it! I am learning to switch off though! Many say that this is not a healthy way to live, but this has always been me. I am often in trouble for how fast I talk – that's just my brain!"

To the public, Jennifer's success appears almost seamless –  an endeavour that went from strength to strength – but the businesswomen is at pains to stress that she has encountered her fair share of obstacles along the way.

Reflecting on the initial launch of the Cleanse Off Mitt three years ago, Jennifer says "I was not prepared, I did it all wrong and I learned my lesson the hard way."

"I've learned to slow down somewhat, become patient, and listen to others more experienced than me. It's a huge huge learning curve and I’m still in the thick of it."

But if you think recent successes means Jennifer is happy to rest on her laurels and bask in the success, you'd be very much mistaken. Jennifer does not take her success for granted, and still finds herself marvelling at her numerous accomplishments.

"Sometimes I get overwhelmed when I see people read my website or a magazine article featuring me, not aware I'm sitting there beside them, or when a room-full of people send me a Snapchat picture of them holding my Cleanse Off Mitt, or when I see hundreds of people listen attentively when I talk," she reveals.

"But perhaps I need to reflect more sometimes. I'm truly appreciative to be in the position I am in. I’m lucky to have great friends and family who have been rocks and huge supports along the way."

And when it comes to representing The Skin Nerd brand 24/7, Jennifer makes no attempt to present a diluted version of her life, saying: "The version of me that I portray on social media is authentic, so it really is me."

"It’s perhaps a more professional version in some respects but me all the same! What you see is what you get – spots, face masks and all! "

Reflecting on the importance of seeking advice when needed, she explains: "I'm part of an amazing initiative called Going For Growth, which is run by Paula Fitzsimons. It is a business programme that offers structure, themes and round table meetings to businesses as they grow."

"This has to date proved invaluable in terms of the connections and soundboards I have encountered. I also believe that in order for me to grow as a business owner I need to learn from other sectors, and both male and female successes, so I am open minded to learning always.

"The website has been more successful than I could ever have imagined. I'm a doer, and possibly not the best planner, so I'd suggest more research and time management than I did – but ultimately I work off the premise "believe in yourself and do it," she says when asked what nuggests of advice she would pass on to budding entrepreneurs.

"This is possibly not business-orientated, but I really do believe there is a lot to be saying for trying. I've been working toward this goal for years, I've double jobbed, triple jobbed, said yes to it all and then mastered it."

"It doesn't fall on your lap, it's a determination bordering on obsession that will see you through the late nights, tired mornings, dark circles and onto the eventual rewards."


Along with her sister, Fiona, Rebecca Jeffery, 32, is the owner of Fi & Becs Design And Marketing.

The business provides branding, design, copywriting and websites for businesses and has worked with the likes of Mothercare, Matalan and the Lake District hotel chain.

Last year, Rebecca starred in series 12 of BBC’s The Apprentice – making it through to week six of the reality TV show. It’s an experience she describes as “whirlwind”.

A native of Manchester and a mother-of-one, she is passionate about her business, but insists that women don’t have to sacrifice their domestic lives in order to succeed.

“I was always told that if you’re nice in business you won’t get very far – and I’m happy to disprove that," Rebecca tells SHEmazing when she sits down for an exclusive chat.

"I did the whole corporate world thing before I was a mum – I had the long commute and the office hours. But starting my own business with my sister allowed me to step away from all that."

"And just because I have a young child doesn’t mean I’m not still really ambitious – we’re passionate about what we do."

Giving an insight into her working day, Rebecca explains: "I work from 9am to 3pm and then I take time off to play with my son and we have something to eat and do the bedtime routine. Then from around 7pm or 8pm I hop back on the laptop and work for a couple of hours."

Acknowledging the work / life balance familiar to most working mothers, Rebecca explains: "It’s about juggling and swapping things around. My own business allows me to do that."

"Even as the workload has increased and the client-base has grown, that is still the way that I work. Now Fiona and I have around 120 clients and some of that business – like Mothercare and Matalan – came to us specifically because we understand their target market.”

"I would never apologise for being a mum; I’d never sacrifice the time that I have with my son," she adds.

Reflecting on the weeks she spent in the boardroom in front of Lord Sugar last year, Rebecca explains: "I’ve always been a massive fan of the show but I don’t think I thought I’d be the stereotypical contestant. I’m not mouthy, I don’t like to shout, I’m not angry.”

“But I knew I had a unique business model that was working really well. I thought ‘well, that’s what I can bring to the show’. And I knew it would bring some publicity to my business also."

With a nod to the production team who saw Rebecca's USP, she says: "I like that the producers picked me because I’m a bit different to the standard."

"But then, the working world is changing too. There are more mumtrepreneurs, more people – not just mums and not just parents – want that flexible approach to working-life. There is a stronger desire for work-life balance.”

Perhaps in keeping with her attitude to work and motherhood, Rebecca's little boy was by her side when she got the call inviting her on the show.

"I was there desperately trying to give him a pack of crisps and an apple and stick on the TV to keep him quiet while I acted professional. I was flabbergasted and very excited," she remembers.

Vehemently dismissing the notion that you have to be cut-throat to succeed in business as a woman, Rebecca insists the idea is an archaic one.

“The one thing I would say to other women – and I’ve learned this from having my own business and from being on the show – is that you have to be yourself."

"There is no point in me trying to be some hard-nosed combater because that’s just not who I am. I’m warm and I’m friendly and I’m nice to people; that doesn’t make me a weak businesswoman.”

Rebecca accepts that her appearance on the show conflicted with her desire to spend time with her son, and admits her performance at points did reflect this.

“I had set my whole life up around my son I’m not used to being away from him and it was difficult. I hated thinking of Ollie being unhappy and knowing that my absence was the cause of that was heartbreaking. Even sometimes doing the tasks, I felt a little bit like a lead balloon; just distracted."

"I’ve travelled for work before – but this was different and harder. So being back with my son now and immersed in the business is definitely a very bright silver lining and I’m proud at what I’ve done both professionally and personally.”



Carla McQuillan is a hairdresser and a native of Dublin.

Last year, she founded The.Space salon in Drumcondra alongside her business partner and best friend, Nadine Quinn. Also a former model, Carla collected numerous trade accolades before kickstarting her own business.

Still just 28, she wants to evolve the hairdressing industry – drawing on time spent in the likes of Paris and New York to in order to bring added extras to the average salon experience.   

"I finished my Junior Cert in 2003 and that summer I was desperate to earn my own money. At the time, Transition Year wasn’t compulsory in my school, so I seized the opportunity to get out and work," Carla tells SHEmazing as she reflects on her professional journey.

“The best part of a year and a half later when it came to returning to school for my Leaving Cert I just couldn’t face it – I felt immersed in all things hairdressing by then and didn’t fancy diving into homework, classes, and study," she explains.

“My dad, Patrick, had different views, however. He knew I was smart, a hard worker and good at what I did – but he also felt that getting my Leaving Cert and progressing on to college and all that was the best road to take.”

Determined to make it in the world of hairdressing, Carla found herself confronted with conflicting advice, but insisted on paving her own way.

"I thought I knew everything back then!" she laughs. "And no one, not even my lovely dad, could tell me otherwise. In the end – of course! – I got my own way.”

Hired by House of Colour, Carla recalls: “I was trained in everything and anything; that all still stands to me to this day and at the time it made me a really good all-round hairdresser who could become passionate about all aspects of the trade."

"While there, we were encouraged to take part in competitions and exhibitions; it was something that pushes you outside your comfort zone and truthfully it was invaluable.”

“On one level, competition work is pretty ugly, but it’s also technically brilliant. You hone your skills rapidly because you have to. I soon started picking up awards, and eventually settled on my winning formula."

Carla credits her early days on the salon floor with her ability to navigate potential pitfalls within the industry.

“It was an insanely busy time between working in the salon and all the competition stuff, but being manic even now doesn’t faze me," she tells us.

"It’s something I say to junior staff today; don’t get overwhelmed – just focus on you and the client you have in front of you. And that was me for ten years – during that time I set myself very clear professional goals and made sure I achieved them.”

Having proven herself over the course of a decade, Carla decided she needed to spread her wings, saying “Eventually you do get to the end of the road, and I decided to take the plunge."

"I went freelance, spending time in the likes of New York, and a couple of Australian cities, as well as working with celebrities, on weddings, and fashion shoots."

"I suppose because I was so busy, people kept on telling me that I needed to open my own place – clients were telling me to do it, but so were people I really respect in business circles.”


#Kevinmurphy #halobraid #zara @thespace___

A photo posted by CARLA ROSE (@carlarosehair) on

Recalling the advice she received at the time, Carla remembers: “Johanna Mc Aleese, who owns and founded Starla dresses, told me I was mad not to."

"A couple of years ago she gave me the whole pep talk. She gave me contacts to meet, and reiterated that as rents were so low then, that it was perfect timing.”

“But I did need a business partner – someone to carry the load with me and to complement what I bring to the table. Truthfully, Nadine Quinn was the first and only person I considered," Carla reveals.

"She was working in a freelance capacity at the time too, but I approached her asked if she’d be interested in coming on board – thankfully, she jumped at the chance.”

Embarking on the venture wasn't free of concerns as Carla fended off well-meaning advice against mixing business with friendship.

"Enough people tried to put us off setting up a business with a friend. We’re completely confident in each other, but everyone from our solicitor, to our accountant, to family – all with the very best intentions – tried to say: “Are you sure? Partnerships can go very wrong in this industry.”

“Of course it was scary, but it all also felt right. Actually, initially we kept things very much in check."

"We thought we’d pool our resources, get maybe one more person on board; we just didn’t want to get too overwhelmed. We wanted to build from the ground up and test the waters before taking the plunge.”

“Both Nadine and I are absolute perfectionists too, but we’re savvy enough to celebrate each other’s strengths and talents, as well as our weaknesses."

The turning point in Carla and Nadine's journey came when they found the spot which would soon become The. Space.

“A big milestone for us was finding our salon in Drumcondra. Moving that bit out of the city centre made it more affordable, but – more importantly – we were filling a massive gap in the market."

"There is a really young, hip, vibrant population around there and we quickly realised a modern salon was what they were crying out for.”

“We opened last spring, but a year ago we started getting the show on the road. Not every plan we’ve had, or every concept we’ve explored has panned out, and yes, it is high-pressure stuff, but we’re learning as we grow.”

Giving an insight into the dynamic which exists between the pair, Carla explains: “For our business, we role play and try to think ahead as much as we can – and that’s how we end up with our very best decisions."

Carla maintains that drawing on time spent abroad has done much to strengthen the appeal of the business.

“We try to be as creative as possible in everything we do – we both draw on our experiences travelling and working abroad too so that our clients have something completely fresh when they come into us.”

"That’s actually my mantra: forgot about what everyone is doing in Ireland and let’s kick-off a fresh perspective. So we hold yoga in our salon on Sundays. We hold events too. And everything in The. Space is gorgeous!”


Veiws to Marrakech

A photo posted by CARLA ROSE (@carlarosehair) on

There is little doubt that The. Space has far exceeded the 28-year-old's expectations – a fact she happily celebrates.

“We now offer services we didn’t at the beginning: makeup, and nails, for example. We started with three people and already we’re up to a dozen."

"Truthfully, ambitious as I am, that’s not something I anticipated. We’re open until 9pm a couple of nights a week to deal with demand. On Saturdays we’re out the door.”

And like any astute businesswoman, Carla is reluctant to move too swiftly until she's properly 'perfected' The. Space.

“Of course, we also definitely want to expand but I believe that it’s important not to move onto your second project before you’ve perfected your first."

"And that’s where Nadine and I are at now. I really feel so at home at The. Space – which is just as well as I spend more time there than I do in my house!“



Amanda Thomson is the founder and CEO of Skinny Prosecco and Skinny Champagne, a range of reduced sugar bubbly.

Based in Winchester, a little outside London, she is a former television and radio broadcaster with the BBC.

Amanda was inspired to develop her brand after spending time at numerous media events, where plenty of junk food and lashings of sweet wines were rife.  

And so, eight years ago she packed up everything – moving to Paris with her husband, Ian, and two young children in order to hone her new-found trade.

Skinny Prosecco and Skinny Champagne arrived in Ireland last year and is now available in Brown Thomas and online via the Wines Of The World website.

“When I announced that I was packing up and moving to France to learn how to source and develop a range of low-sugar sparkling wines – most people thought I was pretty crazy," she tells SHEmazing! when she sits down for an exclusive chat.

"Firstly, I had a good job as an arts journalist in the BBC – not to mention two small kids and a husband to consider. But I was passionate about making it all work," she explains.

"That and I didn’t have a choice," Amanda laughs. "I’m not from a mega-wealthy background and I didn’t have an unlimited cash-pile to draw on."

"For me, Skinny Prosecco and Skinny Champagne was always very much a business decision, albeit one with lots of passion behind it and one that I feel was destined somewhat: my mother, who raised me by herself, was a trailblazing health food entrepreneur."

"Long before it became fashionable, she was singing about the benefits of healthy fats and the dangers of excess sugar," Amanda tells us.

Reflecting on the concerns raised by those close to her at the time of her career change, Amanda insists she knew their fears had little grounding in reality.

“I have a real galvanized spirit too; it sounds like something you’d hear on The Apprentice, but failure wasn’t an option for me when it came to the Thomson & Scott Skinny wines."

"And certainly, I put a lot of pressure on myself to get it all right from the very beginning. I was fearless too; I went into plenty of meetings and was the person asking stupid questions. But you learn and you keep going.”

Like any entrepreneur, however, Amanda came up against her fair share of obstacles before hitting it big.

“It's not always been easy. Because the Champagne region, for example, is so strict about what is and isn’t classified as a Champagne, we had to get numerous elements signed off on before releasing our Skinny version."

"Little things can really hold-up a business. We initially did a soft launch in London; it’s an incredibly tough market – but if you can make your product work there, you’re probably on to a winner."

With numerous teething problems behind her, Amanda eventually saw the fruit of her labour when her brand made it into two of the best-known department stores in the UK and Ireland last year.

"The turning point came in April when Skinny Champagne and Skinny Prosecco landed in Selfridges and it quickly sold out. We haven’t looked back since. We’ve now officially launched in Ireland and have arrived in Brown Thomas too."

There is a juxtaposition at work in Amanda's business – an element of her journey which she ultimately considers a strength.

"A big part of our success is definitely our start-up mentality that we’ve transferred into a very traditional arena; we listen to our customers and respond fast to their demands."


We @theofficialselfridges thanks for this image as THE drink of 2017 @selfridgesfood @saucecomms #skinnyprosecco @sancarlogroup

A photo posted by Skinny Prosecco (@skinnyprosecco) on

"The wine-industry is very time-honoured and prestigious. I wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s full of older men in suits, but it can certainly have that appearance when you’re trying to break into it.”

Walking the line between wine aficionada and everyday consumer, Amanda adds: “I know the industry now – and at the end of the day, I also really love wine and appreciate it. But I know what it’s like to feel totally overwhelmed by the choices on offer in a supermarket, or to be confused by a long wine list in a restaurant.”

“On one hand, you acknowledge that sommeliers are incredibly talented people, but on the other, they don’t necessarily seem like they’re going to get the party started when they pop over to your table at a fancy restaurant," she laughs.

Honing in on a failing in the traditional market, Amanda sought to fill the gap, saying: “It’s not difficult to see that much of the wine businesses has lost touch – it’s not appealing to younger people for one."

"Ironically, however, Thomson & Scott discovered that that traditional approach really helped our brand and the concept of a lower-sugar wine. Because we are being really upfront about our produce – stating clearly that it’s low-sugar, vegan and organic. There is no cloak-and-daggers approach with Skinny wines.”

“And that approach is all backed up by what it fundamentally a great, delicious, product that we’ve wriggled into a great price-bracket. That gets word-of-mouth recommendations going and keeps people who try it coming back for more.”

Turning her attention to the future, Amanda plans to bring Skinny Prosecco and Skinny Wine to an international audience.

“From now on, we’re going to be spending a lot more time in Dublin and Ireland in general. Otherwise, going forward, we do have some deals internationally in the offing – the US being one area in particular we’re looking at closely.”