Mother and daughter relationships are often tumultuous, with passionate opinions creating a cocktail of emotion. However, as more and more mother-daughter run enterprises are springing up across the country, these driven ladies are showing that putting this passion to good use produces some wonderful results.
Around 860,000 women in the UK now run their own companies. We’ve explored some successful female-led businesses that are keeping it in the family.
Cambridge Satchel Company
Cambridge Satchel Company was founded by mother-and-daughter team, Freda Thomas and Julie Deane, from their kitchen table in 2008 with only £600 as the initial investment. In January this year, the duo secured a £12.7 million investment from Index Ventures to help grow the business even further. The company, which now employs almost 100 people, turned over £13 million in 2013, with an annual sales rise of 184% over the previous three years.
Recognised for their signature leather satchels in a variety of sizes and exuberant colours, the Cambridge Satchel Company have waltzed with the digital and international retail markets and are now preparing to take the business to the next level. The recent injection of cash will allow the company to invest in their management team – as well as digital and expansion specialists – with the aim of making it big within the Asian market. Deane has won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise for the firm’s success in exporting and was named Entrepreneur of the Year at the European Business Awards in Istanbul last June.
Julie Deane’s inspiration for starting the bag company was her own children, who she wanted to send to private school but didn’t have the funds at the time to do so. We asked her what the most rewarding part of doing business with her mum is and she told us, “Getting to see my mum every day is definitely the best part of us working as a mother-daughter team.”
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For mother-daughter duo Deborah and Verity Sparks, threading family with business is a pattern for success. Sparks clothing – which makes personalised clothing, aprons and bags that sell exclusively on notonthehighstreet.com – was set up in 2007 when Verity was just 16.
They’ve since outgrown the kitchen table, moved their studio to a custom-made annex in the back garden and last year took home the title of Partner of the Year 2013 from notonethehighstreet.com’s Make Awards.
The pair believe their success is testament to their relationship and continue to work together to create quirky images that they design and print from their studio in their back garden in Somerset. Verity told Craft Seller Magazine: “I love working with my mum and now I can’t imagine working with anyone else.”
The pair managed to make the business work even while Verity was away at university and have put their success down to good communication and mutual understanding. They have done several interviews about ‘how to survive working with your mum/daughter’ and point towards the importance of supporting each other, remembering you’re equals, and making the most of different opinions.
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Majenta beauty was started in Oxfordshire by experienced beauty expert and makeup artist, Jayne Lyons, after she noticed a gap in the British market for an innovative beauty brand.
The company create and sell a range of makeup and beauty products online. They also offer workshops and seminars across the country and provide opportunities for budding talent within their Roadshow Team, who attend shows, photoshoots and events as part of Majenta.
In 2013, Jayne’s oldest daughter, Laura-Jane, joined the team and the pair have since worked together to push the brand further to an international audience. One of their latest endeavors is to offer franchise opportunities, which is particularly exciting for those wishing to get into the beauty industry, as full training is provided.
Laura-Jane told us:
“One issue we sometimes have is we are both perfectionists, and sometimes we can be really critical of ourselves. It is so frustrating when you know what you want to achieve but you can’t seem to achieve it. Best bit about working with my mother though is she always knows what to say to me. I know she is really proud of me, and how hard I work, and I love her so much for being so supportive and giving me such a fantastic opportunity. It is always smiles and laughs in the Majenta family.”
Designer Jessica Ball teamed up with her mother, Lynn in 2011 to create Yours Sustainably with the vision of building long lasting relationships between producers, suppliers and consumers who are jointly responsible for creating and buying ethical products.
The products are sold online and include eco scarves, bags, jewellery, homeware, stationery, children’s toys and travel accessories. All items are sustainable, socially responsible and fair trade and the company donate 10% of their monthly profits to charities that focus on sustainable development.
We spoke to Lynn Ball about her experience of working so closely with her daughter. She told us:
“We both bring added skills, Jessica with her art and design background and her wider knowledge of technical I.T. I deal with the business side of things together with the day to day running of the business, I also have discovered an aptitude for social media!! Together we have it all covered. The only real struggle we have is the inability to switch off from talking and thinking about Yours Sustainably.”
More and more women are taking the reins in British enterprise. This is reflected in the rise of women on top UK company boards, as well as the increase in female entrepreneurs.
None but those involved can understand mother-daughter relationships, yet these female family-led businesses and others like them prove that unconditional love, trust and two generations worth of understanding can be the perfect combination for establishing a successful company and business partner relationship.
Photos by Sparks Clothing, Yours Sustainability, Majenta Beauty and James Goodman