March at Wells Angels was a business affair. Our usual crowd of awesome, inspirational women were joined by Anna Whitehouse (aka Mother Pukka), Debbie Harris of Chosen With Care, and Bluebird Tea Co. founder Krisi Smith, to discuss women at work.
As a diverse group of women, I expect we’ve had a lot of different working experiences, but there are definitely themes that run through them all and it was great to address them with our panel.
Conversation covered journeys into business, overcoming barriers, and that whatever you do, success doesn’t come easy. If there’s one thing each of these ladies has in common, it’s that they’ve worked damn hard to get to where they are today.
Take Debbie, who was driven to start Chosen With Care after realising how difficult it was to unearth reliable, objective information about care homes while trying to find one for her own aunt. She saw an opportunity to provide a service for people at one of their most vulnerable moments, and has overcome all the obstacles to make Chosen With Care the reputable business that it is today. Her advice for moving beyond the barriers when you’re faced with things you just can’t do? Find someone who can do it for you!
Krisi’s journey from packing tea in her bedroom to running a business with 2 stores and 37 employees in 4 years was a fast one. It was the kind of growth that couldn’t be anticipated, and it gave Krisi the responsibility, and the opportunity, to master many different roles. One of the things that Krisi has noticed since becoming a female founder is that women in business can’t seem to say that they’re great, instead playing down their achievements, unlike their male counterparts. She’s also become acutely aware of the way people treat her differently to her co-founder and boyfriend, Mike. One of her best pieces of advice? You don’t have to be an expert, you just need to know a little bit more than the person you’re talking to.
Anna, or Mother Pukka (I wonder how many people call her that in person?), commands your attention, and you can immediately see why people are drawn to her straight-talking perspective of ‘#parentingtheshitoutoflife’. It must be difficult when you become your own brand, but Anna seems to take it all in her stride and I guess maybe it’s her honesty that makes her. After years working as a journalist on everything from Practical Caravan to Time Out Amsterdam, Anna began to understand what she really wanted from life - quality time with her family, which was so ingrained in the lifestyle she experienced while living in Holland. Upon her return to London, she became a champion for flexible working and her campaign #flexappeal is fighting for flexible working rights for everyone. Her pearls of wisdom? Know your three things (hers are honesty, colour and... something else, oops!) and stick to them, and focus on you, don’t compare yourself to the competition.
As well as this interesting and thought-provoking panel discussion, we also had the opportunity to get to know more about some of our Angels though this month’s raffle contributions. Huge thanks to Hanna, Kate, Donna, Laura, Yvonne, Michelle and everyone else who brought a prize which gave a little insight into you, your businesses and your dreams for the future!