Motorway at night


International Women’s Day – Celebrating our network of strong women

Since April 2019, BSUS has supported or are supporting 356 new business ideas, with 206 young businesses and 68 women who have successfully started a business. Then since January 2019, the Growth Hub has supported 179 female led businesses.

Cumbria Business Growth Hub has a strong network of many great women. Of the Growth Hub and BSUS 37 expert advisers, 23 of these are female. So, we asked some of our advisers why being a woman in business is important to them. Here is what they said:

  • Susan Crooks of Crux Associates said: “prominent women role models and entrepreneurs can inspire women to achieve in areas that were traditionally not open to them. Women have so much to offer in society as a whole and business is no exception. We bring different skills and a diversity of experience than should be more highly valued in the workplace.”
  • Sarah Stables of Stables & Co said: “It’s who I am and where my interests lie. Working with all businesses inspires me, and it enables businesses and communities alike to progress.”
  • Julie Housby of Winning Juice said: “It’s been a privilege supporting women to succeed in business and develop women in leadership role models. Working in Cumbria, I’ve met and been inspired by women of all ages and all walks of life.”

Recently Julie ran a virtual ‘Enterprising Women in Cumbria’ workshop for the Growth Hub. She said: “Women often forget that they know ‘how’ to be successful. For women entrepreneurs it can be easy to fall into a mind-trap that focuses on the fear of failure or worrying about what other people might think. Very often it is these fears that hold women back from taking a great idea or business forward… The support available through the Growth Hub encourages those sparks of creativity and the growth of women-led entrepreneurship across the region.”

A great example of one business that really captures the essence of empowering women, is Nabhaasa, a fully female led company from Cockermouth. Their business is selling dohars which are Indian eco-friendly swaddling blankets used for new-borns to 5-year olds.

The business was founded by 2 friends, Aditi and Priyamm with Charlotte later joining the team. Aditi and Priyamm wanted to start a business with a core value which was close to their hearts – making women financially independent and the sustainability of the planet. Their business idea was central to ‘being a woman’, creating baby swaddling blankets which are part of Indian tradition when a baby is born, and they created Nabhaasa.

The dohars are manufactured in a female owned factory in Jaipur, India with a full female workforce making the blankets. As well as this, the 2 stores that stock the dohars are female led too.

Knowing about the help they could receive through the Growth Hub, they signed up to our Business Start-Up Support programme, which offers support through a range of areas, including 1-2-1 adviser time. Nabhaasa’s adviser, Susan Crooks, helped them along their way by offering valuable support, particularly for setting up the processes needed for a retail business and outlining the next steps that Charlotte and Aditi need to take.

When speaking to Charlotte and Aditi about why being female led is important to them, they said: “We believe it’s important to showcase that women can be involved at all levels of a business from production to leadership alongside the other roles they play.”

What advice would you give to someone starting a business?

“Find a gap in the market, something that people want or need, and then seek mentorship to help guide you and build the foundations of the business. We found the help from our retail-experienced Chamber advisor invaluable. And enjoy what you do! It definitely helps!”

Find out how the Growth Hub helped Nabhaasa here.


Aimee Duclos is also a strong female in business. The Growth Hub helped set up Duclos through the BSUS scheme. Duclos is a custom-made handbag and leather accessories company. The design process is fully unique as per each customer as the products she sells are interchangeable, meaning the final product is a one off.

We asked Aimee why it’s important being a female in business and she said: “It’s important to me being a female business owner because I get to follow my passion and do what I love to do on a daily basis, under my own rules!”

What advice would you give to someone starting a business?

“The advice I’d give to someone thinking about starting a business is to always over allow time for everything coming together when planning timelines in the beginning. It’s always better to have more time to achieve something, than not enough time to get it right!”

See how Aimee received support and access a grant through the Growth Hub here.

Vie’s Jamaican Rum Cakes

For Elaine Rémy of Vie’s Jamaican Rum Cakes “being a female owner of two businesses is about redressing the gender balance in the field of leadership. As a black female business owner, it also means bringing diversity into the mix.”

We asked Elaine why being a female business owner is important to her. She said “I think women have so much to offer in terms of leadership.” She says that female business owners can bring lots to the table, and “doing so increase gender partnerships in the business world.”

What advice would you give to someone starting a business?

“Write a business plan! I was fortunate to have been assigned a business advisor who is specialised in the food industry as part of the Business Start Up Scheme. Adrian Luckham’s advice and support has been invaluable for the development of Vie’s Jamaican Rum Cakes and having him work alongside me has shown me how important it is for people who are starting out in business to surround themselves with experts.”

You can read about Elaine’s help from the Growth Hub here.