To celebrate women in business, FreeOfficeFinder has decided to showcase 50 (yes, 50!) female entrepreneurs who are really making their mark in the UK. We wanted to make sure that we selected entrepreneurs from all walks of life, and at different stages of their career. Hopefully you find them as inspirational as we do
Best known for being one of Lord Sugar's trusted aides on the Apprentice, Karren has been a prominent figure in UK business for over 20 years. She is currently vice-chairperson of West Ham United Football Club and a life peer in the House of Lords as well as many other prominent positions.
Michelle Mone founded successful lingerie brand Ultimo in 1996, selling the majority of her stake in November 2014. She has since gone on to become a peer in the House of Lords. Michelle has also made a number of national television appearances.
Deborah Meaden has been involved in business for almost 40 years, during which time she has been involved in a number of successful enterprises. Deborah is best known for her time on Dragon's Den, where she has invested over £2m in 34 businesses.
In 2011, Dessislava Bell founded Zaggora Hotpants, a product that people can wear whenever they're active in order to help burn more calories. Since its inception, Zaggora has sold over 1 million products to customers in 144 countries.
Amber is the director and owner of My Flash Trash, a London based charm jewellery brand. She has a famous customer base including Rihanna and Cara Delevigne, and also featured on the reality TV show Made in Chelsea.
Angelica founded and is now the chief editor of About Time Magazine, a publication that aims to provide inspiration to Londoners to try new things. She is also a freelance food writer for the Telegraph.
Young entrepreneur Charlotte is the founder of Inkpact, which provides handwritten notes for businesses - putting the personalisation back into communication. She is also a programme director at TakeOff Southampton, and runs a workshop that aims to inspire entrepreneurial students.
Rita set up Worldwire Journeys (now Best at Travel) in 1986. They now arrange luxury breaks for over 60,000 customers a year.
Justine Roberts is the founder and chief executive of internet giant Mumsnet, along with its sister site Gransnet. She's been named in the Guardian's power 100 as well as being voted the 7th (along with Mumsnet co-founder Carrie Longton) most powerful woman in the UK by BBC viewers.
Maria founded skincare group Rodial in 1999 which has since grown into a $100 Million brand with high-profile celebrities at the front of its campaigns.
When Rachael Flanagan told people she wasn't going to university, instead becoming a self-employed cleaner, people were sceptical. They needn't had been. After using flyers to advertise her services, Rachael became so busy that she had to employ someone to help. Today, her cleaning company employs over 250 people throughout Bristol and Cardiff. She also works with small businesses and helps them try to take their business to the next level.
Martha Lane Fox
in 1998, Martha Lane Fox founded Lastminute.com with former work colleague Brett Hoberman. When the company was sold in 2005, Martha's shares were worth £13m. Since then, she's had a number of prominent positions and has been made a life peer in the House of Lords.
Jacqueline Gold was appointed CEO of Ann Summers in 1987, transforming it into the multi-million-pound business it is today. In 2016, Jacqueline was given a CBE for services to entrepreneurship, women in business and social enterprise.
Sarah co-founded ad-tech company Unruly in 2006, which has since been acquired by News Corp for over £100m. She is also an associate lecturer at the University of Cambridge.
A leading authority on child nutrition, Annabel was awarded an MBE in 2006 for her work in the industry. She has written a number of books and is recognised as the UK's leading parenting author. Annabel has also written regularly for magazines and national newspapers as well as appearing on television on a number of occasions.
Anya combined her passion for accessories with her entrepreneurial flair to found her own luxury brand. She has since been awarded an MBE and has used her brand to raise awareness for breast cancer.
Lesley founded the Harley Street Medical Centre (also known as the Harley Street Skin Clinic) and has been the managing director there for over 10 years. The clinic was the focus of a ten-part TV documentary on Living TV.
Heather is the owner and managing director of TopLine Comms, a leading digital communications consultancy. She is also a prolific blogger and has been president of the Entrepreneur's Organization. Heather also has an impressive array of awards, including winning Best Business Blog at UK's Social Media Awards two years in a row.
Michelle co-founded youth marketing agency Livity 15 years ago and has built it into a multi-million-pound company with clients all over the world. Her business has achieved this while benefitting the lives of young people, and winning many awards.
Grainne has found success as the founder and CEO of BubbleBum, inflatable car booster seats for kids, which she established in December 2009. Today, the product exports to 26 countries worldwide. Grainne has also appeared on Dragon's Den and in 2011, she won the JPMA Innovation Award.
in 2007, Lyndsey co-founded The Curve Group with two friends. They provide outsourced talent management, including HR and recruitment, to businesses across the UK. Lyndsey also has a regular column in Elite Business Magazine.
Lara Started Pacific Direct with nothing. 17 years later she sold her majority share in the toiletries company for £20m. As well as being a venture partner in many projects, she is the co-founder of sales consultancy Company Shortcuts. Despite her many business activities, Lara also found the time to compete for Great Britain in the 2011 World Triathlon Championships.
Sophi is the managing director of luxury chocolate brand Divine Chocolate and has been since 1999. The company is 45% owned by cocoa farmers in Ghana and all their products are fair trade certified, ensuring that the product is ethical as well as delicious. Sophi has a number of awards as well as having been made an MBE in 2009 for services to the food industry.
In 1982, Dawn started an industrial flooring company with her father in Cheshire. Over the next 30 years, she saw its worldwide expansion, covering 30 offices around the world, eventually selling her stake in the company for £30m. Dawn has also taken part in the Secret Millionaire, where she donated over £250,000 to charitable causes.
Hayley is the founder and managing director of Essex based PR company Boxed Out PR, which has been operating since 2013. In March 2015 she also founded FlowAid, dedicated to ensuring that sanitary products are free for homeless women.
In 2008, Kate founded Medikids, an organisation dedicated to children knowledge and education about important health issues. The organisation is now a worldwide success, using comic-style superheroes to teach children about medical issues. Kate was awarded the Desmond Tutu Global Achievement Award for Excellence in 2015 to recognise her work and dedication to such an important cause.
Nicola co-founded wellbeing brand NEOM Organics in 2005. Its products are sold in high-profile department stores and across 17 different countries. In 2015, NEOM Organics opened their first store in Wimbledon. She has also written for the Huffington Post among other publications.
After a successful career in marketing, Mhairi co-founded consultancy Brand Learning in 2000, and is the group CEO of the company today. Brand Learning employs a team of over 170 people and has hubs in New York, London and Singapore. In 2011, she was awarded the Best Leader 2011 in the The Sunday Times Best Companies (SME Category) Awards.
Joanna started working in digital in 1986 and has been pivotal in the rise of a number of the world's best known tech brands. Between 2010 and 2013, she was the Vice-President of Facebook in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, during which time the social network became the global giant it is today. In January 2013 she was asked by the Prime Minister to lead London's Tech City initiative. In September 2014, Joanna was made a life-peer in the House of Lords.
Serial entrepreneur Sara founded Buddi in 2005. Buddi is a wrist band that vulnerable people can wear to ensure that help is available 24/7. The wrist band can monitor your health and heart rate, as well as featuring an emergency button in case the person wearing it is in need of emergency help. She was awarded an OBE in 2012.
After working as a designer and photographer for a number of years, Joanna founded Little Riot, her own design company, in 2011. She has spent the last couple of years developing Pillow Talk, a wristband designed for people in long-distance relationships. As well as her business achievements, Joanna is also England's 4th strongest woman.
Julia Elliott Brown
Julia founded luxury accessories brand Upper Street in 2009, which allows women to design their own shoes and have them delivered within a few days. The brand won Wonga Future 50 Real Business Winner 2012, and Julia now runs Enter the Arena, a crowdsourcing agency for busy entrepreneurs and start-ups.
Melody was a candidate in the Apprentice in 2011, reaching the tenth week of the competition. In 2009, she founded InspirEngage, one of the world's leading organisations in skills training. InspirEngage has reached over 1 million people in over 100 countries since its inception. Melody also has a law degree and speaks 5 different languages.
Having worked at McDonalds at 16, Emma Sinclair became the youngest person in the UK to take a company public, just 13 years later. She is the co-founder of Enterprise jungle and has written for many prominent publications including the Times and Wall Street Journal.
Kirsty is the managing director of both Kirsty's Kitchen and Kids' Kitchen. Kirsty's Kitchen specialises in healthy and allergen free foods, and Kids' Kitchen specialises in healthy kids' ready meals. She is also a previous Dragon's Den winner and attends national speaking events.
Alyssa founded her eponymous jewellery brand in 2009. Her hand-crafted designs have favoured by a number of well-known celebrities, and in 2012, Mark Zuckerberg named Alyssa as one of the top 20 young entrepreneurs in the world. In the same year, Alyssa won the Federation of Small Business awards ' Real Life Entrepreneur Award'.
Holly Tucker & Sophie Cornish
In 2006, Holly and Sophie launched notinthehighstreet.com, which has since grown to be one of the most high-profile online businesses in the UK. Notonthehighstreet.com now brings together more than 3,500 independent designers and features more than 70,000 products. The two have been the recipients of over 24 awards, and both were awarded an MBE for services to small business and enterprise in 2013.
Jude is the Founder and CEO of PlayMob, the world's first platform profitably connecting game mechanics to social good. Jude has won numerous awards and was awarded an MBE in 2015 for services to entrepreneurship.
Abi co-founded Spabreaks.com in 2008 and has watched the company become the biggest spa booking company in Europe. In 2014, Abi was awarded EY Entrepreneur of the Year - London and South.
Leanne is the founding director of a number of dance companies and has raised over £150,000 for various community dance initiatives. She has won a number of awards and held the Olympic torch in 2012 after being chosen by Coca-Cola. Leanne has also written a self-help publication for 18-30 year olds.
Lisa is the co-founder and managing director of Opus Artz, an outsourcing art studio for the entertainment industry. She has also managed her own brand boutique for over 10 years. In 2010, Lisa founded the Sorority, a society for inspiring professional women worldwide.
Brynne founded MOVE Guides in 2011, which has since gone on to be the leading provider of technology and support for global mobility programs. She has been the recipient of a number of awards, including the Best Female Investment in the UK from the UK Business Angels Association in 2013.
Previously a training/leadership consultant, Sandy founded Scarlett and Mustard in 2012 and hasn't looked back. Scarlett and Mustard produce a wide range of condiments, and have won an impressive amount of awards for a business of its age.
Linda Bennett set up her first L.K Bennett shop in 1990. Selling women's shoes, she soon earned the nickname "Queen of the Kitten Heel" for her equal emphasis on comfort and glamour. L.K Bennett has now expanded to around 99 UK outlets and now offers clothing and accessories instead of shoes. Linda was awarded an MBE in 2006.
Vivien de Tusch-Lec
After degrees at Cambridge and INSEAD, Vivien began her career as a financial journalist and then moved to start-ups focused on the financial community. With 10 years’ experience in B2B marketplaces she started Bubele, a community for parents to discover the great opportunities that parenthood offers. Bubele now has over 75k registered users.
We recently spoke to Vivien, who gave this advice to aspiring business people “Get on with it! The business is not going to end up looking like you think in any case so you may as well just start and see where it leads you.”
Rachael has been in business for over 20 years, having set up a successful advertising and design agency in 1995. She then set up Mums in Control Magazine, helping mums find flexible working opportunities around family commitments. She has also successfully launched working mums day and appeared on many national radio stations and newspapers. Mums in Control has since been rebranded to “M” and reaches over 500,000 mums.
Alexandra was only 25 when she co-founded Carwow in 2013. Carwow makes buying a vehicle simple, as users can browse a network of dealers on the site instead of having to shop around. Since its founding, over 20,000 cars have been bought through the site, driving more than £600m worth of sales for its network of dealers. Alexandra is also the head of design for the company, being responsible for user experience.
Kate Tompsett started her business Happy & Glorious in 2012 as a solely online brand selling British-made products. Over the next few years, she has grown her business from a bedroom start-up to a bricks-and-mortar shop on a high street in one of the fastest growing towns in the UK, whilst continuing to run her website. She designs many of her own products, whilst continuing to sell work by other British designer-makers. She is the independent business representative on the Healthy High Street initiative in Ashford, and regularly leads other independent businesses in the area in cross-promotional events.
Sara Keel founded Babycup Ltd in 2013 to produce mini open cups for babies and young children. This seemingly simple product has the power to make a big difference by encouraging sipping, which is best for oral health. Keel, who manufactures her multi award-winning 'Babycup First Cups' in Britain, is now selling to retailers and Health Services around the world. A member of the All-Party Parliamentary group on a Fit & Healthy Childhood, she is passionate about improving the rotten state of children’s teeth and is leading the way in a mealtime revolution.