A woman's touch
How two female entrepreneurs realised their business dreams
Last week, together with our judging panel, we interviewed this year's 12 finalists for the everywoman Awards. It's a really inspiring day, we get to meet incredible women with amazing stories to tell and this year was no different. With such a huge number of award nominations coming from London, it was no surprise that a number of this year's finalists are London-based businesswomen, including Kerrie Keeling from Wimbledon.
Kerrie's business, A Woman's Touch, is the answer to your home renovation and maintenance nightmares. The almost entirely male-dominated construction industry in the UK has a reputation for low service standards and poor workmanship. We've all got a building nightmare story to tell. We're all guilty of boring friends and family rigid with our diatribe about our renovation from hell. So Kerrie's motivation for providing a solution to this age old problem, is something most of us can relate to. The difference is that Kerrie is the woman who decided to act on her dissatisfaction and tackle the problem.
Thoroughly disenchanted by her own experiences of unreliable or unscrupulous tradesmen, she decided it was time to shake things up. She wanted to build a team of tradespeople who would quote on a job, then deliver on time and on budget. Her tradespeople would leave the client's house every evening having cleaned up behind them. No muck traipsed through the hall, no food wrappers and dirty coffee mugs for the client to clean up.
It was so obvious that there was a gap in the market for this level of service and Kerrie decided that she could fill it. She left her corporate job, with all its perks, and set out to prove that not only could a woman do an exceptional job in a field dominated by men, but that as a minimum standard, tradespeople could be reliable, polite, punctual and good at their job.
Today, A Woman's Touch employs 16 predominantly female tradespeople, all of whom share Kerrie's vision for excellence and passion for the highest customer service. Small wonder that her order book is overflowing and her happy clients include purveyors of excellence like Gordon Ramsey.
Like Kerrie, Vicky Mitchell gave up her senior job in the City because she too had seen a gap in the market and saw the opportunity to fill it.
Vicky started her business, Switch Sticks, when two members of her family suddenly found themselves in need of walking sticks. Vicky could only find standard issue, ugly ones in the shops which didn't suit the personalities of either of her rather colourful relatives. We love Vicky's Switch Sticks. They are funky, colourful and really more of a fashion accessory than a walking aid. Vicky's aim for Switch Sticks is to do for walking sticks what Swatch did for watches.
Two simple, brilliant ideas from two London women who jacked in the City to realise their dream. It made us wonder how many other brilliant ideas are lurking in London's workforce. Just imagine all the new businesses being formulated on the commute to work every day.