It's vital that we support independent businesses during this time
It’s no secret that many small or independent businesses are likely to suffer over the coming months due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. With most people confined to their homes, there’s not a lot of opportunity to support anything other than your local Morrisons.
This is a concern for all business owners and we aim to show them our support in whatever way we can, but we’re particularly troubled by how this crisis might affect women. As of last year, only 7 of the UK’s top 100 businesses had a female CEO. On average, these women earn 54% of the salary of their male counterparts. And these are just the big businesses we’re talking about.
Statistically, more women work part-time or have childcare duties (that are now likely to be heightened) and this contributes to lower average earnings. With limited time and resources, female business owners could be hit harder by the economic effects of COVID-19.
We can’t allow the pandemic to slow the progress that professional women have made over the last decades. We need businesses run by women so that, in future, we’ll see even more businesses run by women. Our children need to grow up with visible female role models to help shape the way they see gender.
We encourage you to support all small or independent businesses at this time: it’s hugely important. But if you can support a woman then the world we’ll see at the end of all of this will be a more diverse place, with products designed by women with female-specific needs in mind.
Here are some of the businesses spearheaded by women that we want to support over the coming months. Do get in touch and let us know who you’ll be supporting.
“I’m Mari, the founder of MAAREE, and a little over a year ago I launched my first revolutionary sports bra designs with Overband® Technology onto the sports market. My first 16 months has absolutely surpassed my expectation and my designs have been received so well, helping so many women get their ideal support. I knew there would be challenges with my journey of running a business, however, I have now encountered my first BIG one: COVID-19. I’ve been caught at precisely the wrong time. My bras were selling well and I needed to make more to ensure I didn’t run out of stock at the start of 2020. This was all going to plan until the virus hit and production has been halted until the pandemic has passed. I’ve now been caught at an awkward moment where I have almost no stock left to sell and nothing coming in to replenish it. Nonetheless, I am determined to overcome this and not to let it destroy MAAREE. It’s a challenge and I’m continuing to work hard and find opportunities in this difficult time so that we can come out of it strong on the other side.”
“I’ve been coaching women runners for the past seven years through ‘Lazy Girl Running’. I have women-only running groups in North London that include beginners’ 0-5k courses and improvers sessions for those looking to run further or faster. Over the years I’ve helped hundreds of women start or return to running through my 0-5k courses and in any given week I’ll have more than 70 runners attending one of the four sessions we offer.
“I has been heartbreaking to see a business and a community that I have worked so hard so hard to build suddenly stop, even though I know it’s not forever and that it’s something we have to do for all our safety.
“As well as in-person coaching, I coach runners online via telephone and email. Although I’ve lost a number of clients as the races they were training for have been cancelled, a few have continued to work with me to give their running some structure and accountability. I also write bespoke training plans, something that runners have asked for to help them navigate this uncertain time between races.
“I also have training guides covering everything from starting running to preparing for a marathon. The 0-5k guide is based on the training that my beginners courses do, and some of the runners that have had their course cancelled have been using that instead. It’s a strange time we’re living through right now, but I think it’s still a good time to start running. It’s a way to use your daily approved exercise session to work towards a goal and when this is all over you’ll have a new skill and be fitter than you were before.”
“ZAAZEE is a small, independently-run sportswear brand that I created back in 2014. I am passionate about empowering women to get fit and active, and have been for many years.
“The award-winning brand (which includes several Women’s Running awards) is available mainly online, with an awesome collection of running leggings, tops, hoodies and bras. Notable fans include Susie Chan, Sophie Rayworth and and triathlete Louise Minchin. ZAAZEE was just about to start pop-ups in John Lewis before the COVID-19 situation arose.
“There’s not much I can do apart from hold tight, plan for when this is over and run some online deals for our loyal customers. It’s ironic that, in these strange times, one of the only things we can do each day is run. So I am currently running around 5 miles a day, making social media posts for our platforms and staying in touch with customers and fans via email to touch base. I can’t be too pushy right now as everyone is losing work but we want people to know we are here, should they want some long-lasting timeless pieces that will help them to look and feel amazing while they run. Keeping a positive head space is so important right now, and running can help with both physical and mental wellbeing and mindfulness.
“It’s been a hard few years… with all the competition and low pricing, it can be a tough sector to be part of. In December 2019 I found a factory (amongst all the Brexit stuff) in the UK to start manufacturing some new 2020 kit. It’s nearly ready, but sadly, that’s all stopped now.
“I hope our fans and customers continue to appreciate how expensive making really high quality sportswear from technical fabrics really is. We have so many repeat customers, once they try the kit. The beauty of ZAAZEE is the fabulous quality: it lasts and lasts and never goes out of style. Fast fashion has been wrecking the planet so I was keen to make an even greater impact and I’m looking at some really interesting developments for the future.”
“Part of the Women’s Running team, I’m also a UKA running coach who coaches twice a week. Initially I set up a Friday morning group called shewhodaresruns, so other women could run during the day, while their children are at school. I also coach another group, #runtlc on a Monday morning. The range of athletes I work with is vast, from women who are implementing a run/walk/jog strategy to county champions who compete at national level.
“Enter coronavirus and the first initial dilemma – can we still run together? Before lockdown, when social distancing was being introduced it was easy to set a session for everyone to follow, and even to see each other on a run and shout or wave over the safe but short 2m distance. Once lockdown was introduced, and gatherings limited to no more than two people, life for us running coaches changed again. We couldn’t meet up, we didn’t want to advise on any sessions as we didn’t want to encourage any other runners to meet up, or be ‘social’ whilst running.
“Many of us have gone into coronavirus shock, and for the first week of lockdown felt almost like it was Christmas time, where you lock the door and hunker down with lots of lovely food and drink (and toilet roll, apparently). Most, if not all, of my runners have lost their mojo – so our challenge is to encourage people to stay active and sane, without encouraging them to put themselves, others or the NHS in a position where they aren’t safe. I personally would like to keep setting sessions for people to do, but most of us love the ’social’ aspect of running and exercise more than the exercise! Who wants to do a speed session on their own? How to keep the motivation and interval going when you don’t have people to encourage you, push you, support you, or listen to you?
“Many coaches are turning to online events, classes etc, the internet is flooded with these at the moment. I’m also working on some videos this week, and I will be sharing them with my runners (look out for @shewhodarersuns on Facebook and Instagram), but they are actually aimed at the athletes at the dance and cheer academy that two of my daughters attend. With competitive athletes, who were gearing up to try and win a bid to go to the world championships in their sport, and now can’t meet, train or work on their routines, the challenge for their coaches, like running coaches, is to try and maintain fitness and motivation from afar so that when we exit lockdown we can return to the same place we all were before, rather than losing all the hard work these young athletes put in over the winter to be able to hit their routines and perform to their very best.”
“Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand and melting like a snowflake.” – Francis Bacon Sr.
“I’m Leyla, the founder of Pretty Athletic skincare. We’re a small British skincare company making results-driven products for women who exercise. The current situation has made things more ‘interesting’ shall we say: running the business whilst looking after my 5 and 2 year olds has been a juggle. We also just launched our new product ‘Sweatproof’ which was a few years in the making. We of course couldn’t hold a launch event, but we’ve had loads of support online and on social media which has been amazing.”
“Supernova Living is a family business. Myself and husband are the founders and work relentlessly on the business every day. Ironically, our ethos is all about balance and adaptability and at this time, it’s exactly what we all need. If we can’t have flexibility in our mindset, daily routine, working environment, even relationships, no-one would survive right now. Supernova Life Powders are advanced adaptogenic wellness powders, 100% plant-based and designed to elevate your life and keep you in balance with the therapeutic levels of organic adaptogens. The ashwagandha can reduce stress by up to 70%, raw cacao and matcha naturally energises and stimulates, organic maca balances hormones and medicinal mushrooms plus camu camu berries boost the immune system.
“Right now, as so many people have more awareness and focus on their wellness, we want to highlight the purity and power of plants and quality supplements like Supernova Life Powders. Not filled with sugars, artificial flavours, sweeteners, gums, fillers, preservatives and e-numbers which your body does not need, want or like.
“Some of our wholesalers have reduced orders as so many independent health stores have closed and are unable to deliver, while other online stores have placed their biggest orders ever. We are so lucky that our wonderful team at the distribution centre are still able to fulfil all orders through our website, for next day delivery, which we’re so grateful for.
“On a personal, behind the scenes perspective, it’s pretty tough. Homeschooling two children, running a household, cooking, cleaning, tidying, doing laundry and running a business all while developing new products, too, is a challenge to say the least, but I have space, a supporting husband, we’re all super healthy and happy and I’m so grateful to all the customers supporting us now and always. We have some really wonderful journals coming to our website in the next few days/weeks, including interviews with incredible people. If you’d like to hear more about Supernova Living, have a look at Supernovaliving.com or @supernova.protein on Instagram.”
“I am a small and mighty dark chocolate company paving the way to improving wellbeing fitness by showcasing the best of hot chocolate recovery drinks and training bars. In this crazy time, we are going to be focused on uplifting everyone with a new Greatness Guide which will show the positive of wellbeing and fitness and of course chocolate so that everyone has a fun, happy and chocolate inspired platform.”
“In February 2018, I joined forces with running friend Nancy Kennedy to launch a guided trail and mountain running company for women, based out of our home village of Glencoe in the Scottish Highlands. What started out as a ‘sideline’ (mainly for sanity) during maternity leave, grew faster than expected. In 2019 the company took more than 300 women running in the mountains on courses such as trail, fell and skyrunning for a range of abilities. The company seeks to empower women with the skills and confidence they need to become independent in the mountain environment, as well as to address the gender gap in participation that exists in all forms of offroad running in the UK.
“We have had to postpone or cancel most of our events for Spring/Summer 2020. We’re keeping our fingers-crossed for dates beyond that. I like the idea of offering virtual events or workshops but as a mum to two pre-schoolers, who are now are home, it’s difficult to put much time to diversifying.
“In addition to our running courses, we offer women-only navigation courses, 1:1 coaching and bespoke running adventures. All this can be paid for by gift vouchers which are available online. We’ve extended the validity of these vouchers to include 2021 so that recipients can feel confident they’ll be able to use them as soon as national restrictions are relaxed.
“We hope that runners will come back to us after all this is over, hankering after some wilderness, mountain scenery and good craic!
“We realise that Scotland is a long way away for most, but we’re very approachable (just drop us a line!) We enjoy facilitating logistics and making it easy to run in the Scottish Highlands.
“You can read more about Girls on Hills here.
“All our events are here.”