Tell me a little bit about yourself. What’s your background/career path?
I started out my career working in the theatre. I joined my local theatre as a Duty Manager running comedy nights and pantomimes at Christmas. I never imagined that only a few years later I would be running my own company. I really enjoyed working with people.
Tell me about your agency. What is it you do and what prompted you to start up your own?
My agency is called Virtual Umbrella. We are a marketing specialist working in the virtual reality industry. We work with a range of companies across industries helping them market their VR content or introducing them to the technology and using it for good.
Virtual Umbrella was born through a love of the technology. I was introduced to VR when I got my first job in the games industry. I fell in love with the possibilities of the technology and I really wanted to be a part of the industry. Virtual Umbrella began and is run on this passion. We wanted to help the industry grow and develop.
What do you think the are most important issues for developing your company culture?
Honest and hardworking environment. Passion is what has driven the growth of my agency, I wanted people to be as hard-working as I was.
Being able to have trust in a team is so important. Not all things work out but being able to talk, be honest and look for feedback is important. It’s a bit like having a family.
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a women in business?
I never thought that my gender was a concern when starting a company, I had heard horror stories but never experienced anything until some of my very first meetings and networking events.
The main challenge was having confidence in my own knowledge and opinions, when you are the only women in a large meeting it can be quite hard to speak up. This takes practice. It took me over a year to have the confidence that ‘I do know what I am talking about.
The Wow Company’s recent survey of 471 agency owners across the UK has the figures as Female 27% – Male 73%. Can you share your thoughts on this?
I had no idea there was such a big gap between. I often spend time seeking out other women founders so always think I am surrounded by loads of female founders, so I don’t think we should be discouraged by that number. This shows that we still have a long way to go but we can all be a part of that movement, by sharing experiences and knowledge is the best way to encourage other women to start their own ventures.
Do you have a mentor, or are you a member of an agency owner community?
I don’t have an official mentor but I often ask for guidance from other company founders who I might have worked with or have met. I find that sometimes all you need is a cup of tea with other founders to discuss current problems or successes.
We have been a part of BIMA before and we have also set up to GET SET for growth meetups which happen across the country. I have found these meetups really helpful as they have been very one on one and you get the on-going help that you need.
Do you feel as a female agency founder, they offer the level of support you need? Do you need additional support that isn’t currently available?
I feel that because I often talk to other female founders I get great support from them, because most of the time they are looking for support from me. However, I think I am very lucky position to be surrounded by other female founders. I would probably struggle otherwise, I am not aware of any groups/ networking event that would offer the same kind of support.
What other female founders inspire you?
Right now, the one female founder that is continuously inspiring me is a lady called Cathy White. She took the leap of faith and started her own company earlier this year and it has been fantastic to watch her grow. She oozes confidence and really does inspire others I would check her out on Twitter @cathywhite10
Cathy also produces the GeekGirl Meets podcast that showcases female role models.
What do you think makes a great agency?
You have to love what you do. It can be quite easy to fall into the trap and become like every other agency, we don’t work like that. I have heard a lot of people at networking events being put off by ‘marketing’ or ‘agencies’ and I think I never wanted people to put off by those words. We are honest, happy and really do love what we do. I think that shines through in our work.
What would be your one piece of advice to future female leaders?
Don’t ever think that your gender should stop you in anyway. I always say that if you are the only women in the room, don’t see it is as a bad thing, take it as an opportunity!