By Shirin Tahmasebi

Since 2011, local Leeds entrepreneur and author of The Built it Brilliant Blueprint, Zoe Thompson, worked as a full time therapist helping clients manage their feelings of stress, anxiety and chronic pain.

This was her world until 2020.

That face-to-face client time came to an end when the Covid-19 outbreak shook the world.

“The pandemic hit, and we shut our doors and all of that one-to-one, we weren’t allowed to do anymore.”

Zoe thought that her job would come to an end until corporate asked their employees to do online workshops which meant she was able to continue on in her profession.

Using her skills

Before becoming a therapist, Zoe worked as a learning and development consultant and conveniently specialised in e-learning. This allowed Zoe to adapt to her new online work with ease, making it less of a change – but more of a step backwards. 

Zoe recognised her skills and began helping her fellow co-workers, teaching them how the online services worked.

“People who are therapists have been saying, well how do you do that, how, how have you created that can you show me how to do this, so over the last three years I’ve been doing little courses and helping people.

I’ll do a little online course together showing you how to blog or going through resources together to help you do this.”

Throughout her life, Zoe had recognised her passion for helping others, particularly when working in hospitality services. She had worked as a manager at a Marriott hotel and had always found herself feeling as though serving was her purpose. 

However, serving in a hotel and through therapy became exhausting and Zoe wasn’t feeling the desired sense of impact she wanted.

“I became a ‘helping professional’ because I wanted to help people — way more people than I was able to reach by offering hourly sessions. I wanted to have a much, much bigger impact on the world.”

Eventually the co-workers, Zoe had been aiding, then put the question in her mind as to why she wasn’t teaching others like this full time.

It was then, when the pandemic started, that Zoe realised this could quite possibly be a very secure and ideal career path for her future.

“I would sit and really give it some thought. And then I thought, let’s not think about it. Let’s just do it. If not now, then when.”

The effect of the pandemic meant that many health professionals doors shut overnight, and many were out of a job, some even still to this day are looking for work. Nevertheless, Zoe used the pandemic as an advantage and eventually set up her own business ‘Build It Brilliant’.

“There’s a world of online technology here, how can we use that to help you in your business? How can we harness that so that your processes are set up for when your doors open?”

The Business

The online meeting platform, Zoom, was introduced into the world in 2020 for those who were completing their work online. Without guidance on the platform, many found themselves feeling confused and stressed about using it.

Zoe saw this struggle and created a Zoom course where she teaches you all about it and how to use it, which you can find on her website below.

Closer to home

As well as helping people online, Zoe found herself aiding someone closer to home, her husband.

After unexpectedly being made redundant at the beginning of lockdown, Zoe’s husband found himself in a bit of a rut and like many of us this time last year – no accepted job applications on the horizon.

It wasn’t until a family friend offered him a job that he found his passion in handy work and decided to set up his very own business. Zoe, being the supportive woman she is, encouraged him to buy all his necessities and give it a shot.

She then helped to create his website, business cards and many other sectors of his business, which is now thriving in present day.

Zoe feels as though her and her husband are equally not materialistic as a couple.

“If my mortgage was on the line, and I couldn’t put food on the table, I would work at Tesco’s, I would wash dishes, I would sweep floors, I would do any work that I needed to do in order to pay my mortgage and have some food. 

There is a world out there with so much, so many different jobs, so much help. As long as you’re willing to say who needs help, somebody will want to help.”

The career that Zoe has found herself in has allowed her the freedom to apply her skills and enjoy what she is really good at in the best way possible. 

Catching Covid

However, it wasn’t all fun and games during her time setting up the businesses. Both Zoe and her husband caught Covid-19 at the same time and spent 10 days of quarantine together but in the best way possible.

Zoe realised early on that because they had to self isolate, they couldn’t quite do anything at all and so they took the time to chill out and give their bodies the time they needed to heal.

“I’m very much I’m a very big believer in dealing with what’s in front of you. I thought, I can’t take away Covid, I can’t leave the house for 10 days, I can’t change the next 10 days.

I felt pretty lousy, but we just rang the people that had work booked in and said, I’m really sorry. 

And then we just bedded down and watched Netflix for 10 days”

That sounds like a dreamish nightmare to us.

After having to cancel workshops and appointments with clients, Zoe and her husband got right back to work, rescheduling everyone back in for upcoming weeks.

For Zoe, she found that her clients were incredibly understanding and were perfectly fine to schedule in another date to have their meetings, which Zoe has acknowledged can seem odd in our modern world.

“I think all the media and all the hype, makes you feel like you live in a world of fear and anger and that we’re not very nice people.

When I contacted everybody saying I’ve got COVID Not a single person said, ‘how dare you’ and ‘you were meant to run a workshop for me’ instead, everybody was like ‘oh God, hope you’re okay’ and ‘do you need anything’”

The change

Despite making the big career change only in this past year, Zoe finds herself feeling as though this new job has opened up so many new opportunities for her and has even allowed her to publish her own book. 

Nevertheless, despite her success, Zoe does often wonder where she would be if the pandemic hadn’t happened, if we hadn’t switched to online resources and believes that if it hadn’t happened, she would still be a 1-1 Therapist.

“I’m doing work that I absolutely love, helping people that I think genuinely want to go out and make a difference to people. 

We’ve got a world that’s suffering with a mental health crisis, and I’m helping more people to get out there, what could be more needed and rewarding than that.”

Zoe finds her work life the happiest it’s ever been and is in a place that she only wishes she had been in sooner. 

We most definitely see Zoe as an altruistic woman who turned her love for helping others into a full-time career.

I want to give a huge thank you to Zoe for sharing this story with us, it was very inspiring.

If you would like to find out more about Zoe and her business, see the links below.





If you would like your story to feature on Sparkle Up North, get in touch with us through our email 

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