Supplier spotlight: Five minutes with female founders 👑
Wednesday 8 March is International Women’s Day so we’re shining a spotlight on some of our women-owned suppliers
Read on to find out more about Laura and Laura of Laylo wines, Helena of TrueStart coffee and Chloe of Bramely bodycare as they share their insights on the professional challenges they’ve overcome, and their work to #BreakTheBias
Luxury, sustainable wines in beautifully designed boxes that stay fresh 6 weeks from opening, Laylo helps to make environmentally conscious drinking a no-brainer. Sourced directly from small-scale producers, Laylo boxed wines generate 90% less carbon than the same wines in glass bottles.
Meet the women behind the wine…
Laura and Laura (yes, confusing!) met at Naked Wines, where Laura Rosenberger was the COO and Laura Riches was the Marketing Director. At that time they shared a flat in Norwich during the week – and after a busy day they loved nothing more than sharing a glass of delicious wine!*
Laylo started with a moment of serendipity during the 2020 summer lockdown. Both women independently had the idea to create a luxury boxed wine brand, but it was only when Laura Rosenberger texted Laura Riches to ask for some advice that they realised the coincidence.
A week later they compared notes and it turned out they shared the same vision: top quality wines in beautiful boxes, which could be proudly displayed on any countertop. It was a no-brainer to join forces – and so Laylo was born.
*This is still the case.
The drinks industry, like most industries, still has a culture of bias and inequality. What bias have you faced during your careers?
We've been lucky through our careers to work with some brilliant leaders, who have championed women and become mentors to us. Our boss at Naked, Eamon FitzGerald (then MD of Naked Wines UK) is a great example. He surrounded himself with a team of ambitious women!
Since starting Laylo, we've secured a lineup of brilliant investors (both male and female) and gender hasn't knowingly been part of the conversation. But we're also aware that the statistics around female entrepreneurship and access to funding are hard reading – just 2% of VC funding goes to women-led startups.
Overall, we probably enter into investment conversations anticipating more challenge or pushback than our male equivalents – and we're mindful about not underselling ourselves or the potential of our business.
What’s important to you as an employer of women?
What skills do you think are needed to be a female entrepreneur?
Resilience, ninja prioritisation and the drive to create opportunities.
Social media can make being a founder look glamorous and exciting – particularly for a wine startup! But the reality of most days is that you have a 'to do' longer than it's possible to complete, and you constantly need to ask "What's the best use of my time? What will have the biggest impact on the long-term success of this business?"
That's where having a co-founder makes a huge difference. There's always somebody you respect and trust nearby who can help you to navigate difficult decisions. Or to share a celebratory Pinot Blanc with after a brilliant day's sales.
If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?
Helena of TrueStart
Who is TrueStart? ☕️🌈
Founded by husband and wife team Simon and Helena, TrueStart launched their first product in 2015. The now-legendary Barista Grade Instant Coffee was the first coffee in the world to provide a boost with no crash thanks to a reliable, stable caffeine content.
Working with independent suppliers, sustainable packaging and a family-owned logistics team, TrueStart’s vibrant, healthy, hyper-sustainable approach to coffee helped them become a proudly Certified B Corporation in 2021. They’re committed to making the world a healthier, happier place through delicious, uplifting coffee and by providing opportunities for disadvantaged communities through the Bags of Good initiative and food bank donations.
Meet the woman behind the beans
As a co-founder alongside your husband, what does your half of the role entail?
Our skill sets are completely different, which is lucky because they complement one another. I think this is what makes it possible to work together! I’m much more outward facing, leading on sales and marketing while Simon is much more focused on product, operational efficiencies and ensuring the best possible customer experience.
We do pretty much all the overall strategy, direction and brand work together, though.
Have you found that you and Simon have been treated as equals throughout your journey?
I have found that Simon and I are generally treated as equals. But I believe that this is because we have the privilege of being largely surrounded by people who believe in what we’re doing, lift us up and give us confidence in ourselves.
The coffee industry, like most industries, still has a culture of bias and inequality. What bias have you faced during your career?
Generally speaking, I see such a huge gap in the confidence levels between women and men. Often, it is the women with stereotypically masculine characteristics that are able to rise up and be heard. In Western society, these characteristics include assertiveness, logic, low sensitivity and independence. By contrast, characteristic traits that are stereotypically viewed as feminine – such as expressiveness, sensitivity, empathy and modesty– have been viewed as weaknesses for as long as human memory goes back.
Stereotypically feminine traits are so crucial to the world becoming a better place, and we need to start recognising their value and importance.
We need to listen to women more, and recognise that they may not have the confidence to voice their opinions. This means we need to create more opportunities and platforms for women and their ideas to be heard, valued and acted upon. We also need to make sure that men and boys value and nurture these traits in themselves too.
The importance of this, and the reality of inequality has become even more obvious to me since having children. Instilling confidence starts on day one – if we’re shaping children to conform to particular stereotypes and not giving them the confidence to be their true selves (especially girls) then it’s no wonder we have such a confidence gap in adults. We have such a long way to go.
I think maybe I come up against fewer barriers than many women because my outward personality is quite confident and assertive, although I am extremely sensitive which perhaps is not immediately obvious to others. As I’ve got older I’ve become more confident in asserting my empathy, sensitivity and excitement, which feels like an oxymoron.
I want to change the world by lifting traditionally feminine characteristics up and spreading more positive energy and emotion.
What advice for navigating the workplace as a woman would you give your younger self?
What’s important to you as an employer of women?
To unlock the potential of each individual by ensuring that their unique talents, characteristics and desires are uncovered, seen, heard and acted upon with opportunities. Regardless of what they are, it’s important to view these natural traits in a positive light so they can be developed. It starts with proper mutual respect, an understanding of each other and aligned values.
Our Commercial Director recently got the whole team to do a personality assessment and it has helped me so much to have a deeper understanding of how each of us work, which definitely improves team happiness and dynamics. I’ve been getting my family and friends to do it, too!
Chloë from Bramley
Who is Bramley? 🧴
Bramley produces award winning bath & body care brand harnessing the beneficial qualities of natural plant-based ingredients.
As Bramley has grown, so has their commitment to maintaining and preserving our natural environment. They do this through their approach to sustainability, their partners, and their decision to contribute to meaningful charities, such as Plantlife.
Bramley is passionate about the environment, and pioneered refillable bottles in hotels, helping to rid the industry of single-use plastic. They believe in decency, fairness and just doing the right thing for their staff, customers and our shared planet.
Meet the woman behind the bath and body company
Bramley’s award winning natural bath and body care was created for the bathrooms at Chloë and her husband’s pub, The Beckford Arms in Wiltshire. Chloë wanted something that would enhance the guests’ stay and capture the essence of the beautiful surrounding countryside.
What made you start your own business?
I had always wanted to start my own business and combine my love of nature and cosmetics. So when my husband, Charlie, bought a pub with 8 bedrooms I saw an opportunity to create a natural bath and body company – and Bramley was born.
What’s the best thing about being a female founder?
I hope that it is inspiring for others who would like to start their own business, and see that it can be done whilst juggling a family.
Who is the one woman you’ve looked up to most during your career?
Anita Roddick of the Body Shop was definitely very inspiring. I used to buy the Morello Cherry Lip Balm when I was growing up, and I was always very impressed with the Body Shop’s (very forward thinking) ethos around sustainability.
If you could give your younger self any advice about navigating the world of work as a woman, what would it be?
I would sayjust be true to yourself and believe in yourself too. And always listen to your gut instinct.
What is important to you as an employer of women?
Flexibility. I know how much women have to juggle so we’re really flexible with how people work – there’s always time off to go to Sports Day or the school play, and if a child is sick then employees can work from home.
To celebrate Women’s History Month, we’ve put together a brand new category on the platform to shine a spotlight on our amazing women-owned and women-led brands! You’ll find Bramley, plus the likes of Laylo, TrueStart there. So if you’re planning on sending gifts, we encourage you to support them.
Check out some of our International Women's Day gifts