Showcasing the Best of Welsh Business


Cwmbran Entrepreneur Finalist in the 2019 NatWest Everywoman Awards


Twenty-one women from across the UK have been confirmed as finalists in the 2019 NatWest Everywoman Awards.

Kelli Aspland, co-director of Solar Buddies, from Cwmbran is one of two Welsh businesswomen to be named as a finalist in The Aphrodite Award. This will be awarded to a woman who founded her business whilst raising a child/children aged 12 or under.

Kelli is co-inventer and co-founder of Solar Buddies, a specialist sun cream applicator for children.

The idea for Solar Buddies arose after Kelli experienced first-hand the issues that her children were having applying their own sun cream at school. One of her elder children had been asked to help her younger son apply sun cream as no-touch policies meant that staff were unable to assist. The result was a mess and an argument between the siblings.

Kelli realised that this was a common problem amongst school children, and, with her friend Laura Waters, she set about designing an applicator that would be easy for children to use themselves and would work effectively with no mess. Starting with a £5,000 loan from her father, Kelli worked with students on a re-useable roller ball design and set up a patent for the product.

This was Kelli’s first foray back into the working world. For many years, she had been caring full-time for her daughter who had leukaemia and son who required open heart surgery. Kelli threw herself into the challenge, securing investment from GoCompare founder, Hayley Parsons and even tweeting JoJo Maman Bébé to pitch successfully for Solar Buddies to be stocked. The business now has a successful website has grown in revenue by over 200% in the last two years, and sells products nationwide, and increasingly internationally.

NatWest Everywoman Awards – Celebrating Female Entrepreneurs

Now in their 17th year, the NatWest Everywoman Awards celebrate female entrepreneurs from all walks of life providing a platform for them to share their achievements. From the founders of international multi-million-pound empires to those spearheading social enterprises for the greater good, this year’s finalists are the role models whose success will inspire future generations of female entrepreneurs. Spanning diverse industries – fashion, jewellery, hospitality, skincare, food, and social care – the 2019 finalists were chosen by a judging panel comprising some of the UK’s top business figures, including Helen Pattinson (Montezuma’s), Julie Deane OBE (Cambridge Satchel Company), Sarah Wood (Unruly), Poonam Gupta OBE (PG Paper Company), fashion designer, Melissa Odabash, Harriet Hastings (Biscuiteers), Sam Smith (FinnCap) and Rowan Finnegan (Regenerative Investment).

Overall, only one in three UK entrepreneurs is female, a gender gap equivalent of 1.1 million missing businesses. This is despite the potential for £250 billion of new value to be added to the UK economy if women started and scaled new businesses at the same rate as men. Even if the UK were to achieve the same average share of women entrepreneurs as best-in-class peer countries, this would still add as much as £200 billion.

The Alison Rose Review identified the three biggest opportunities to help female entrepreneurs, which included “…relatable and accessible mentors and networks”. Since 2003 the NatWest everywoman Awards has been providing exactly this, by building a community of the UK’s leading female business owners and connecting them with peers, advisors and investors. The work that the awards do could not be more important at this time.

The award winners will be announced at a ceremony on 3 December 2019 at Grosvenor House, London. Further awards will include the Spirit of everywoman Award presented to a woman who has helped change the landscape for businesswomen in the UK; the everywoman Ambassador Award celebrating the success of a high-profile entrepreneur; and the brand new Fortuna Award recognising an individual who is investing in women-run enterprises.

Speaking about the finalists, Maxine Benson MBE, Co-Founder at everywoman comments:

“The Alison Rose Review cited the vital influence of role models and through this programme we have reached over 4,000 female entrepreneurs, sharing their stories and success to inspire others. Our work focuses on empowering women with professional opportunities and we must address the reasons why 60% of women who have considered starting a business, did not because of a lack of confidence. This year’s finalists demonstrate the innovation that women already bring to entrepreneurship and we believe their stories will encourage others to follow suit.”

Yvonne Greeves, Director of Women in Business at NatWest, says:

“We are very proud to recognise these women, who are not just successful in their own businesses, but are also great role models. The importance of women in business cannot be underestimated, so we hope these role models will inspire other women to take their first steps in business. To help these entrepreneurs and would-be business owners, NatWest has a network of over 500 externally accredited Women in Business specialists who understand our customers’ ambitions and provide business advice, mentoring and networking opportunities.”

Celia Duncan, Women’s Editor at The Daily Mail added:

“The Daily Mail is very proud to sponsor the NatWest Everywoman Aphrodite Award for Mumpreneurs once again this year, and to support the amazing women who take on the twin challenge of starting a business and raising a family.”