Only one in five businesses in the UK is run by a woman. Access and awareness of funding, as well as family responsibilities, are often listed as top reasons that prevent women from making the decision to work towards becoming successful business owners.
Since 2012, the government backed Start Up Loans programme has delivered 36,446 loans and provided over £306m of funding to women-led businesses. This accounts for around 40% of the programme’s total delivery, around double the level of women business ownership in the UK.
Of these, 1,555 loans worth £14m went to women in Wales. One of the recipients of these loans is Laura Mallows, the woman behind Mallows Beauty, a vegan beauty brand headquartered in Llantrisant. Laura launched Mallows Beauty in February 2020 with the help of a £25k British Business Bank Start Up Loan accessed via Business in Focus.
The loan enabled her to fulfil orders from several large retailers and according to Laura “kickstarted everything”. Since then Mallows Beauty has gone on to launch several new product lines, opened a flagship store in Cardiff city centre and launched into Urban Outfitters stores nationwide, with more national retail partnerships in the pipeline.
She shares the challenges she faced on her entrepreneurship journey and offers tips to women who might be considering starting a business of their own.
Laura Mallows, Founder of Mallows Beauty, said:
One of the key challenges women face in business is gender related bias from investors or other business owners who they are looking to collaborate with. I have often found that there's an undertone of ‘are you capable of this?’ in conversations with men in business, particularly if you're a young female, even in a sector like beauty, which is largely female focused and economically driven by the vast purchasing power of women.
“However, I’d encourage any woman who is considering starting a business to go for it. Don’t be intimidated. Get your business plan in place, seek the right advice, source the relevant funding, pitch to those people who you want to get in front of. If your idea is good and you work really hard to realise your goals, then the barriers to entry for women in business are beginning to fall. But it’s up to us to ensure they finally do.”
Richard Bearman, Managing Director of Start-Up Loans, said:
I am very proud that Start Up Loans has provided more than £300m of funding to women entrepreneurs around the UK. No matter your gender, one of the keys to starting a business is having the encouragement and support to do so. As we approach International Women’s Day, it’s always fantastic to see our women business owners speaking up to inspire others to navigate the challenges and ultimately reap the benefits of being their own boss.”