The Pandemic may have been a time of painful reflection and small businesses have faced huge challenges but it has also fostered the foundations for flexible working and for many women it has been the breeding ground to take the leap into starting up a business.

Our Co-Editor and Start-up support ambassador for AD:VENTURE reports on some of the sparkly stories of women setting up their own enterprise…

Sometimes we need a push to take the punt, pivot our lives and pursue our passion and turn it into profit… 

This bold move into business from the safety of employment may have felt too big an ask with so many roadblocks and glass ceilings previously facing many females, but these positive stories of success showcase enterprising women breaking through barriers to prosper… Here they reveal their secrets to not just launching but leaping sustainably beyond their salary! 

Meet the women of AD:VENTURE who have been on a pursuit of their purpose and have prospered in the some-what pain-staking pause … 

– “In my early career I battled with being a ‘woman in business’ and often felt unheard or that I needed to work a bit harder to make myself heard. In a room full of businessmen, it’s easy to hide away in the shadows. But now, having become a mum and a business owner, I am completely confident that as a woman in business – we have a power! We have an opportunity to be smart, witty and confident and that gives us an edge that some people may not expect. We can shine brighter than others in the room if we harness that power!”  @YouBeeMedia 

– “We’ve become so much more confident about making mistakes and learning from them too. I don’t think either of us could have anticipated how many there would be!

Speak to other businesses as much as you can. We’ve met so many amazing people, come across great opportunities and learnt so much from chatting to others in the industry. Having a strong and supportive network that you can rely on has been really key for us.”


– “Use your networks. Tap up your contacts, request to connect with likeminded business owners and network as much as you can. Observe others and hone your craft, adopt best practice and remember you’re never too old or too senior to learn new skills. Ask questions, seek out advice, get curious. Believe in yourself and learn from every situation – good and bad.” 


“We live by Holly Tucker’s motto of ‘Do what you love and love what you do’”… @northskyyurts

SPACE TO CREATE: Saving time from commuting gave one social media marketing mum space to create her own career 

Rebecca Hopwood, from Leeds, Director of Youbee Media Limited said: “I started Youbee Media in September 2020. During the pandemic when many of us were working from home. Without having to endure the daily commute I was able to have more time at home and with my family and it made me realise that I had a choice and an opportunity to do something that I had always dreamed of doing. My little boy would be starting school in September 2021 so if I wanted to make a positive change, I needed to do it now.

I have a degree in Media and Marketing and always worked closely with small businesses. In all of my previous roles, I tried to offer solutions to many of the challenges small businesses faced. 

“While working as a social media account manager, I felt restricted by what solutions I could offer and found myself ‘signposting’ other areas of marketing for them to discover themselves. 

“I realised that I could have a business idea here! I can speak to businesses on a consultancy level and bring together all aspects of marketing and communications to help their business see it through the pandemic. 

“This helped me to get the balance I desired, help businesses as I hoped, and come through this pandemic stronger.”    

SUPPORT pre-start-up can elevate your growth (rather than stifle it) 

Rebecca, www.youbeemedia.co.uk, added: “I contacted AD:VENTURE as a pre-start-up and got on the programme as soon as possible. I knew that this was the best way to make sure that I did things right and harnessed every opportunity. I had meetings with my business mentor and attended online training sessions to pick up some new skills. Within 4 weeks of starting my business, I knew that I had secured enough client work to consider an office space and to recruit a member of staff. I found an office space in Morley, Leeds, and used a resilience grant from AD:VENTURE to purchase equipment, furniture, and marketing material. This allowed me to attract potential candidates and show that I was serious about the future of Youbee Media. Without this support and funding, my business wouldn’t be able to grow as quickly as it did.”


Gemma Dunn, Strategic Marketing Consultant & Founder, said that Lockdown was also the push out of her comfort zone she needed to launch her business after working in marketing for the education sector in Bradford. 

“As a stereotypical introvert I have learnt how to behave as an extrovert and how to ‘act’ confident. Face to face networking makes my knees quiver but I throw myself into because I understand the importance and have realised I have so much to learn from other business owners. I also specialise in curiosity and love nothing more than a client deep-dive to get under the skin of a business and the business owner(s). 

“I am pleased that I have not been pigeonholed into the education sector – it’s refreshing to discover that clients recognise my highly transferrable skills and decades of experience and I am loving the variety of projects.” 

With the help of a trusty AD:VENTURE business advisor, she has even exceeded her previous salary within her first sixth months and is forecasting both profit and growth in Year 1.

Gemma of Elite Marketing & Communications, who is about to launch her new website with the help of AD:VENTURE and The Chamber (https://www.elitemarcomm.com/), said: 

Something I never expected to achieve so quickly. I really have to pinch myself to believe how much I have achieved so quickly.”

SPACE TO CURATE From the monotony of the rat race into rapid growth… 

 Becca and Charlotte, aged 30 and 31, were also both in corporate jobs before Lockdown, and Maternity Leave gave them the space to make the leap from the rat race into traveling yurts! 

They started North Sky Yurts in November 2020 before setting up a second business – Yurt and Bell Tent Hire across Yorkshire for Weddings, Parties, and Corporate Events!

Charlotte enthuses: 

“We live by Holly Tucker’s motto of ‘Do what you love and love what you do’”… 


 They thank their support network and the fact they have been able to learn from others in businesses with the network and connections AD:VENTURE offers that they’ve not only successfully started one business… but two!

“Speak to other businesses as much as you can. We’ve met so many amazing people, come across great opportunities, and learned so much from chatting with others in the industry. Having a strong and supportive network that you can rely on has been really key for us.”

Follow them at @northskyyurts www.northskyyurts.co.uk

Community, charity and creative influences… 

I may have never had a ‘secure’ job like many of these incredible women…With my optimistic mindset, I have had the fortune of being nurtured by a diverse family with a spiritual art-loving creative practitioner of a mother alongside a wood carving walking enthusiastic step-dad in one home and an LGBTQ campaigner and sexual health specialist Dad alongside my other Step-Pops – a children’s author and strategy consultant… oh and a fashion designer for a sister, a band-playing brother and another brother with a beautiful Autistic brain who volunteers at a school and loves to spend his spare time running. 

Having these creative clans around me meant that I too enjoyed expressing and communicating myself creatively… my go to skill has always been connecting and empathising with everyone and having the ability to write their story or create magazines, newsletters and anything that would help communicate and campaign for community issues. 

Typical security feels insecure to me! … but that was initially my stumbling block in building a sustainable and purposeful yet profitable business… something AD:VENTURE supported my documentary making company with Evoke Media Group Ltd which has made films for Channel 4 News, ITV news and social media videos… I went from a freelance journalist to running my own all female production company.  Ongoing they have helped me evolve my other brands too with my own turning point pivot for my Sparkle Communications company which writes and creates content for ethical businesses to connect them in the media and we have recently launched our Sparkle Up North Business Magazine shining a spotlight on women such as these featured in business, again AD: VENTURE is not just a one-stop start-up shop but they continue to foster growth and faith in our multiple enterprises! 

I have been reinvigorated and truly inspired by writing up these positive stories of women taking the punt from their safety net of PAYE checks and pensions, amidst the pain of the Pandemic and people pulling through together. 

“Crisis doesn’t create community, it reveals it.” 

I too discovered in my own business journey that with the tailor-made support from AD:VENTURE that in order to really create the change and empower other women, is that we also need to prosper from profit as well as passion to build our business! And without realising it I too needed to be instilled with the confidence of such a community who cheerleads one another… and reminds us that we are worthy and more than talented enough (often as women we over-qualify ourselves!) to evolve into a growing business and have the honour to shine a light on our business sisterhood. 


Read more from Sophie Mei Lan at https://sparkleupnorth.com  https://sparklecomms.co.uk https://mamamei.co.uk Get featured by following @SparkleUpNorth @SparkleComms 

READ ALL AT: https://ad-venture.org.uk/pursuing-your-purpose/

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