From your camera roll to a book: Don’t let the memories waste away

By Shirin Tahmasebi

As another year passes with the world not being completely normal, we’ve found ourselves treasuring every moment that passes (that we are able to spend outdoors with our loved ones) making memories we won’t forget. 

I don’t know about you, but I’ve found myself taking a heap more pictures than I normally would to cherish these precious moments as the world opens up again.

Liat Ken Dor is the owner of Designed Memories, a company that helps you capture your special memories and have them safely placed in a beautifully organised photobook.

Liat has been in the graphic design business since 2008 but found her love for capturing moments through a lens, during her early days in high school.

“I was always the one with the camera, you know, for high school trips, with the family, with friends and things like that, I was always the one taking pictures. I also loved going to the shop to get the film developed, printing them off and putting them into photo albums.”

Soon after Liat began working in graphic design, she came to the realisation that the digital world was taking over and that not many people were keeping printed photo albums anymore. 

“When I began working in graphic design, it just made realise everything was turning into digital. So, what I do now is a continuation of what I’ve always loved to do, except it’s a digital version rather than a scrapbook.”

However, printing photos never seemed to stop in Liat’s household.

“We moved to the UK in 2008 and then started creating photobooks more frequently to send to my children’s grandparents. It was a way to show them where we live and what we do. My first born was only 3 months old when we left and she was sick, so they wanted to see her and to see how she developed. So, I took a lot of pictures and I put them into books and sent it to them, so they can be part of everything.”

Liat wondered if she was the only one who savoured these memories in such a way and how many people were sitting there with undeveloped film in their cameras. In more recent years, the smartphone allows us to not only take pictures there and then but also post them online for others to see. 

However, a lot of these photos go untouched for years and are left on phones for no one to see. 

“In the age of Smartphones, we take 1000s of pictures a day and then we just don’t do anything with them, we don’t really enjoy them. I always say, ‘You take pictures for a reason, it’s because you want to remember that moment and you want to enjoy those memories.”

So why leave them in your camera roll?

I think as humans we look back on our photos to remember the good times and the fun we had, particularly when feeling down. It’s almost a form of self-therapy that can be easily accessed. 

“You don’t take photos of sad or bad things, you only take photos of good things, so when you look back, it’s almost like a gratitude exercise because it’s focusing on the good. So, I think if you’re in a bad mood or feel, you look back at memories and you think, ‘Oh, that was such a lovely day.’ It will make you feel a bit better.”

Liat sees photos as a way to remind yourself of all the good in your life and can create a safe place through the sadder moments. 

“When someone dies, the first thing you do is start to dig up all the photos and to keep hold of memories of that person and keep them close to you. That’s proof if just how important photos are.”

With Designed Memories, Liat offers multiple formats and themes that allow you to bring your book to life.

When working with Liat, the first thing a customer would need to do is choose a theme, like Back to School, Halloween, Christmas, birthdays and so on. They would then select the photos they want for the book, Liat can help with that daunting task too!

“If the theme was going to be summer. I’d say let’s talk about your holiday photos, maybe. Obviously, you want your favourite photos from the trip, but you want to try to tell a story. I always advice customers to take pictures of the journey as well, for example: getting ready in the morning, a picture of the suitcases, pictures of the journey to show if it’s a train, car or plane. You might like to have a picture of the hotel and the surrounding areas of where you are staying. Obviously, you’ll need pictures of when you visit places and significant points throughout the holiday. Finally, make sure you include the fun photos of the kids being silly and things like that.”

I’m sure we can relate to being guilty of having an extortionate number of pictures on our camera roll that we just don’t go back to very often.

A photobook is a more beautiful way to enjoy those photos in the moment with your family and friends. 

If you’re interested in getting your own photobook printed you can find the Designed Memories website and socials below:



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

or through our social media @SparkleUpNorth


Is the Vegan diet game-changing when it comes to achieving our health and fitness goals? Can plant-based nutrition fuel professional athletes, sportspeople, and those of us attempting to power up our performance as business owners? 

Us female entrepreneurs are required to be athletes in work, at home and all aspects of our multi-dimensional world!Our editor and plant-based advocate Sophie Mei Lan, who has turned Vegan in recent times, shares some interesting Olympic inspired facts:

  1. Vegan Olympic athletes: Let’s turn to some of our sporting heroes first… Vegan athletes are at the forefront of many minds, with 32% saying they switched to a vegan diet because they were influenced by figureheads such as Lewis Hamilton and Venus Williams. But how did athletes on a plant-based diet fare at the recent games in Tokyo? 

The 2020 event, which was delayed by a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, featured a huge number of vegan athletes from around the world, including Team GB’s own rugby ace Dan Bibby and boxer Cheavon Clarke. In fact, more than two-thirds of Team GB recently stated they’ve actively reduced their meat consumption.

However, it appears the links around veganism and fitness extends far beyond the Olympic stadium, according to a new survey* for The Vegan Society’s Vegan and Thriving campaign. A panel of 500 people, who have gone vegan since the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, were quizzed about their fitness activities, changes to health and influences for making the switch.

A huge number (98%) said they take part in a physical activity at least once a week. Walking took the top spot, with 69% saying they enjoy walking activities such as long distance, hiking or just taking the dog out while jogging and running also proved popular, with 62 percent saying they do this at least once a week. Fifty-three percent said they go swimming, whilst a similar number (52%) enjoyed regular cycling and almost three-quarters (43%) enjoying HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) or other cardio. Other sports included yoga or Pilates (42%), basketball and football (41%), weightlifting (33%), combat sport (30%) and dancing (30%).  

Those respondents who said they’ve gone vegan in the last five years were also asked whether they’d noticed any improvements to their health and the results are highly encouraging. While 56% said they’d seen an improvement to their digestion, 55% feel their sleep has improved and 53% feel like they have more energy. Fitness levels have also improved with more than half (52%) stating they are able to walk and/or run better and/or further. Interestingly, 34% said they had a shorter recovery time between their chosen exercise sessions, and 31% said they were able to lift heavier weights.

Someone who knows exactly what it’s like to represent Team GB is vegan duathlon athlete Lisa Gawthorne. Lisa said: “It was absolutely fantastic to see so many vegans competing at the Tokyo Olympics – they’re such an inspiration and there’s no better platform to show the entire world exactly what is possible on a vegan diet.”

  1. Why Veganism? 

Veganism can boost your mood and immunity whilst improving your skin and helping some to achieve a healthy weight. 

After being a life-long vegetarian, I now adopt a plant-based lifestyle and consume Vegan nutrition, as do my Dads. Whilst we may not notice the biggest transformation as meat-eaters would, for us it is about being ethical and conscious free. Plus personally we have all reported having more energy, enjoying whole foods and a reduction in inflammation. My Dad, who’s recently retired, says he has more energy for the gym, long-walks, cooking better and overall he feels better inside out. 

GB Athlete Lisa added: “I know that going vegan helped me run further, cycle faster and recover quicker too. I want people to realise how good it can make you feel – how you feel getting the right nutrients, but also knowing you haven’t caused animal pain and slaughter. It’s the best thing ever for your mind, body and soul. If the Olympic Games have inspired you to give veganism a go check out The Vegan Society’s Vegan and Thriving page for lots of recipe ideas.”

  1. What plant-based food and drink should you consume? 

Veganism has become more accessible than ever which is great for choice but not always for health. E.g. the rise of Vegan ‘Junk Food’ which looks and tastes amazing but like with any sugary, high fat and salty processed food, it is nice as a treat as part of a balanced diet but not all the time. 

So fresh, colourful and earth-grown nutrients are important with regard to vitamin B12 which all vegans should be mindful of, there are a number of fortified foods to consider. When it comes to sources of protein, certain vegetable are better than others such as broccoli, Spinach and Edamame. Pulses like lentils and chickpeas are great as well, nuts too e.g. almonds. 

  1. How to turn Vegan

Rather than go from Vegetarian to Vegan overnight, I personally did it in stages (plan, preparation, action, adjust and so I could get used to my diet change and feel prepared). Get stocked up: You need to be prepared to maintain your health and diet, so get stocked up on Vegan Food and replacements, Start with one plant-based meal a week: Try and transform a meal from something meaty or cheesy into something Vegan (there’s loads of swaps you can make). Try to replace rather than cut out.  Nutritional Yeast flakes, for example, have a nutty cheesy flavour. 

“Anything is better than nothing”: Is my life motto. So if you make a “mistake” or eat something you ‘shouldn’t’ try not to feel bad and just rejig. It’s the same when it comes to exercise too.

To maintain motivation, keep a progress diary, jot down reminders of why you went vegan and adopt positive self-talk no matter what. 

Did you know:  

Why you should eat cooked nettles… 

“Once prepared or cooked, nettle is in many ways more nutritious than Brussel sprouts and spinach!

“Once cooked or dried, nettles taste like a mix between spinach and cucumber. Just like spinach, nettle can make a fabulous addition to many dishes, adding extra flavour and a dash of colour.”

Says pharmacist Roy Lamb, co-founder of UK-based Nasslor Health-drinks Ltd., makers of Emunity.

Life Hack: 

If you want to add more protein to your diet and not pay for costly supplements… try these classic yet simple dish ideas, says Stem and Glory founder Louise Palmer-Masterton: 

  • “Beans on toast. Yes, classic beans on toast is a complete protein. Very helpful in those moments when time is of the essence and you have hungry children.”
  • “Peanut butter sandwich. This will come as a welcome surprise maybe! And yes, a peanut butter sandwich is a very high complete protein.

Mind Challenge:

Why don’t you try at least one plant-based meal a day a week… or perhaps go ‘full Vegan’ for a while, like some professional sports stars. 

Team GB’s Vegan duathlon athlete Lisa Gawthorne, said: I want people to realise how good it can make you feel – how you feel getting the right nutrients, but also knowing you haven’t caused animals pain and slaughter. It’s the best thing ever for your mind, body and soul.: 

“It was absolutely fantastic to see so many vegans competing at the Tokyo Olympics – they’re such an inspiration and there’s no better platform to show the entire world exactly what is possible on a vegan diet.”

“I know that going vegan helped me run further, cycle faster and recover quicker too. I want people to realise how good it can make you feel – how you feel getting the right nutrients, but also knowing you haven’t caused animals pain and slaughter. It’s the best thing ever for your mind, body and soul. If the Olympic Games have inspired you to give veganism a go check out The Vegan Society’s Vegan and Thriving page for lots of recipe ideas.”


If you want to add more protein to your diet and not pay for costly supplements… try these classic yet simple dishes says Stem and Glory founder Louise Palmer-Masterton: 

  • “Beans on toast. Yes, classic beans on toast is a complete protein. Very helpful in those moments when time is of the essence and you have hungry children.”
  • “Peanut butter sandwich. This will come as a welcome surprise maybe! And yes, a peanut butter sandwich is a very high complete protein.

Body Workout

Workout 1

Full body workout 

1.) Battle ropes x20 seconds 

2.) Push ups x15

3.) Prisoner squats x20

Repeat 3-4 sets , Rest 60-90 seconds between each round.

By Sophie Mei Lan:

Taking care of yourself, to take care of your children: preventative breast-cancer surgery

By Shirin Tahmasebi

After wanting to discuss nutrition and how important it is as women that we look after ourselves, with global mind body nutrition coach, Caroline Heaton, we found that there was so much more to her inspiring story that we just had to share. 

Braving a tough decision

Not only did Caroline make a massive decision to go for preventative breast-cancer surgery because she knew she didn’t want her children to have to go through what she did at their age. But from that brave move, she has created a supportive community, that helps other women experiencing the same tough times as her.

Caroline lost her mum to breast cancer at just 16 and made it her task to make sure she would be fit and healthy and there for her own children when the time came.

"My mum sadly passed away and I would give anything to have that time back for her to have with me and my brother. So it was a no brainer, I just made the decision that I'm not having somebody else dictate to me that I can't be there for my son and daughter.

Then at the age of 17, I was told that I would need to look into my own family history. I had just lost my Mum and I was too scared to do that. But I had recently split up from my children's father and, as a single Mum, I felt this huge sense of responsibility for my two young children."

Later, in 2015, Caroline discovered Preventative breast cancer surgery and then went on to have the surgery herself. However, while working in a school at the time, Caroline felt as though she lacked the vital support, she needed from her workplace with them pressuring her return to work too quickly. 

The process to look into her family history was not an easy one, it took 18 months of extensive appointments with a clinic and she had to do a lot of research herself. 

"It was a really challenging time, but it made me so much stronger as a person. It made me realise, I'm not here just to please everybody else, I'm here to be healthy and be with my children who mean the most to me."
This was the toughest decision that Caroline had ever made but she wanted to secure her children’s future with herself, worried about them going through what she had. 
“I did it because I lost my Mum when I was just 16. She'd been poorly since I was nine, so I'd grown up with the environment of visiting hospitals and developed anxiety around being there.
I would do absolutely anything to make sure I'm here for as long as possible for these two children. I'm not going to let them go through what myself and my brother went through. I felt like I hadn't had the chance of a normal life like my friends had at that age and I thought, ‘I just can't do that to my children.’"
Talking about her Mum: "I believe her breast cancer diagnosis is actually a result of her own stresses in life, she was a very much a very career driven person she was incredible."
After embarking on her own journey into her health, Caroline uncovered her own pre-existing health issues that she now had to look out for.
“It wasn’t until I did that that I actually took a step back and thought, ‘You know what? No one's invincible, let's enjoy life, it doesn't have to be so stressful’. At that point I thought, I need to learn and educate myself on how to be healthy and happy, but also to educate other people on that."
Caroline set up an online community to help others who had been through the same experiences as her. She found that a lot of the people she has spoken to haven’t quite ‘tuned into the body queues and the body symptoms that they’ve been receiving’ and unfortunately, are suffering with quite an amount of diseases within the body.
"I wanted to connect with as many ladies as possible who are going through what I went through, because there was no support for me. I didn't have breast cancer I was getting preventative treatments, so I wanted to help people that were going through the same thing.
I did quite a lot of work and connected with a lot of ladies that are going through similar. And, thanks to social media, I've been able to connect with people, globally, who are going through similar. As a nutritionist, to help them prepare their body for surgery, then to support them post-surgery too."
I think we can all appreciate that pre and even post surgeries can be quite a daunting time. Caroline’s aim was to show these overworked professionals and general workers that they shouldn’t have to juggle the work/life balance during this time that they should be taking for themselves. 
"They're learning that, by putting themselves first, they're showing up every day as the best version of themselves and they’ll be more productive at work."
Early career
Caroline was a teacher before she became she took on one of her roles as an eating psychology specialist.
‘I was so passionate about teaching children, but I was struggling with my own physical and mental health. I was a busy teacher, working all the hours was at the top end of the pay-scale it felt like I had a never-ending list to get through.’
Like many of us stuck in jobs we don’t particularly enjoy, Caroline felt the longer she was in the profession the more she was being taken from the real her, almost taking on that robot work form.
“I also felt I was failing the children, because the system wanted them to achieve a certain level by a certain age and if it didn't fit in that criteria, then it was going to create them some kind of problems further on down the line."
After being pressured into returning work too quickly after surgery, Caroline’s body disagreed with her decision and became infected not long after. Whilst taking that time off work, she experienced a much-needed appreciation and love from her children when staying at home.
"My children would say to me, ‘Oh mummy, it’s so nice that your home, it’s much nicer when we come home from school and you're in’. I just thought, ‘What am I doing?’ 
That's when my business was very first born, I stepped away from my full-time teaching career, I qualified as a nutritionist and invested a lot of time and effort into finding out how I can help children and their families in our community."

The Company

"My company's ethos is all about helping our children understand how to overcome stress and to understand that you might not actually fit in that particular peg. I look at the holistic approach to health and I have my own journey with my own health background.I want to help people be healthy, I want them to understand that they have choices in life."
She joined forces with her partner, Martyn, "He is incredible! He'd already been working locally and he's really passionate about helping people and to overcome obesity. He got our two businesses together and suggested we create a virtual farm job."
At first they focused on solely offering workshops in schools to educate children on how to live a healthy lifestyle. They then got involved with the Wigan programme, which helped children that weren’t eating healthy food throughout the summer holidays and perhaps weren’t eating a warm meal at all.
We know a lot of businesses have had to go through a lot of change over the past year from closing, to not knowing if they can carry on to thriving in our new world and after Caroline’s business still being new, the pandemic certainly pushed her back down. 
"When starting any business, you have to put in the momentum and the effort and lots advertising, which we did before the pandemic. We were finally feeling that we were getting our feet and actually getting somewhere. Then obviously the pandemic happened and the first thing to happen was everywhere went into isolation with schools and external agencies couldn't go into schools.
I thought, ‘We've made a huge sacrifice, I've given up my full-time teaching career and my income isn't coming in anymore. My partner put all this belief into me, we'd invested so much of our savings into advertising the website." 
Luckily, Caroline and her husband never gave up, they just took a different approach in the way they worked.
“We just thought creatively and really started to think about how we can help people. At first, started doing a bit of tutoring online to give us a little bit of time to mull things over and decide what we're going to do next.
I want to help busy professionals who are riding the wave of life and getting caught up in the everyday hustle and bustle, not actually looking after themselves."
This is where Caroline launched her community called ‘Release Your Inner Goddess’. The ‘Release Your Inner Goddess’ community is full of ‘like-minded women that are overworked, overstressed and have pushed themselves to the bottom of their own priority list for such a long time’
The company has now launched ultimate wellbeing packages for their clients such as corporate companies and schools and are now really excited to start going out into the community. They also offer workshops via zoom.

Here at Sparkle Up North, we fully believe that when amazing women come together, wonderful things happen – and Caroline absolutely epitomises that. 

We want to thank Caroline for sharing her truly beautiful and inspiring story with us.

If you would like to find out more about Caroline or are interested in her business, click on the link below!


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

or through our social media @SparkleUpNorth

WORKING WITH KIDS THIS SUMMER: Save time and money with this free days out guide

What’s on this Summer and FREE when visiting our first destination…Wakefield City Centre?

If you have any free tips for where you live tag us on social @sparkleupnorth

There is so much to do from free walking tours to visiting museums, Wakefield Cathedral and, of course shopping! There’s an abundance of transport networks from Wakefield Free City Bus connecting all the train stations, from Wakefield Kirkgate station near The Hepworth Wakefield to Wakefield Museum (located outside Wakefield Westgate), to the heart of the city centre where you can jump on/off at Wakefield Bus Station to The Ridings Shopping Centre. 

As someone who loves shopping local, independent and has an array of needs from a one-stop-shop as I don’t have a car currently but I also love browsing markets, charity shops and larger stores for a bargain. As a plant-based, world food and charity shop find local loving shopper, single mum and entrepreneur, getting around all my favourite places used to be impossible until I discovered our friends at The Riding Shopping Centre who are much more than a retail venue but they’ve evolved into a community hub full of free activities.

From The Den children’s play centre, Our Yard community event space, regular markets and craft fayres, a rooftop allotment to Makey Wakey art and craft activities and shops. Plus there’s even more on offer this Summer for all ages from coffee clubs for the elderly to family-friendly activities and health groups. 

Here’s just some of What’s on this Summer at The Ridings Centre:

• In July, there was an Artwalk in and around The Ridings with more to come in the future. Plus my family and I made the most of 4 days of eco-themed activities where we took take part in Recycled City and helped to design a model of Wakefield City centre, using recycled and eco-friendly materials. For more details, go to this link: – the work will be exhibited soon in a shop front!

• There’s a Vintage Fair on 21st August with tonnes of sustainable, vintage, retro & branded fashion for just £15 PER KILO on the middle mall, outside M&S, The Ridings Shopping Centre, Almshouse Ln, Wakefield WF1 1DS.

• If the kids like getting messy or art, then all summer, Artventurers are excited to be using this fab space for three special days of classes over summer ☀️

• ‘Our Yard’ is on the lower mall of The Ridings Shopping Centre, where the old food court used to be, near to the main toilets and Morrisons.

• From a new group called the craft table who meet fortnightly in Our Yard on the lower mall (near the toilets) to table tennis and a free community library/book swap.

Be sure to check @RidingsCentre on social media to keep updated or go to their website at 

We also share our The Ridings friend awesomeness @YorkshireFamilies 

DON’T FORGET: The Reel Cinema, The Den Play Centre, Shopping Malls, Food and Drink outlets and range of charity shops and organisations as well as parking and a rooftop allotment is on offer ALL YEAR ROUND! And it’s all so accessible!

You can also ask the help desk located outside of Marks and Spencer’s opposite The Reel Cinema, above Pound Land and Morrison’s for What’s On and discuss any requirements or book a space for your own community group or club!

 Enjoy your life whatever age, ability, budget, background, or barriers… The Ridings is here for you… says accessibility site who share accessibility tips, recommendations and a sticker Club coming soon.

“From specialist schemes such as shop-mobility – offering free electric and manual wheelchair hire, Blue badge parking on site, accessible toilets include a changing places room, a Hidden Disability Scheme with free sunflower pin badges to ‘keep safe’,  wristbands for vulnerable Children and Adults, available from the customer services lounge and The Den… Whether you’re after a calm, affordable and child-friendly cinema or charity shop clobber, or perhaps you want to meet a friend for a Latte or join a community group… Now more than ever we need such spaces to create such accessible hubs.” 

Our accessibility reporter at Yorkshire Families has also written this:

By Sophie Mei Lan 


@SparkleComms @sparklecommunications

Life after grief: losing and finding yourself through holistic therapy

By Shirin Tahmasebi

Life took its toll on Natural Transformation Founder, Diana Tyson, after she experienced two
heart-breaking miscarriages while working in printing.

When she started to recognise there was a link between her troubled pregnancies and the stress, anxiety, long hours and demands within her job, she decided that something needed to change.

“I pushed to be referred to the Early Pregnancy Unit (EPU) in Leeds, because I had questions. I wanted answers, why did I miscarry? Two is just too many.”

“I had various tests, which confirmed Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) – meaning I have a hormonal imbalance. They were hopeful that having weekly injections early in my pregnancy would help maintain the correct levels of hormones to continue to full term.”

Diana wanted so much to be pregnant, but the stress of the miscarriages and juggling a demanding
job created a negative mindset. In turn, that affected her physical health and mental well-being.

“I thought to myself; why does my husband stay with me? I felt it wasn’t fair that he had to deal with my negative rollercoaster of emotions, it was my body’s fault!”

These negative thoughts intruded Diana’s mind and this is when she made a real change in her life.

“I decided to get my mind and body in tune, balanced and communicating positively together. My mum recommended reflexology and bought me gift vouchers for a session close to my home Cross Gates, Leeds.”

“Right from the very first appointment, I felt the amazing, positive effects of reflexology. I
immediately felt calmer, slept better and had significantly less symptoms of Premenstrual Tension

“I had increased positivity, motivation and energy. This was a major game changer.”

“I realised that time-out is so important to recharge and rebalance yourself, so I continued to have monthly reflexology and Reiki sessions. Self-care is a really important investment.”

Diana Tyson, Founder of Natural Transformation

Pulling through the challenging times

She found her way through her darker days, with the help of Holistic therapy.

The word holistic means: ‘treating the person as a whole, mind and body, not just one symptom’.

This helped Diana recognise that her miscarriages weren’t her fault and didn’t reflect on her
body the way she thought it did.

With the support of the doctors and nurses in the EPU Unit, plus the many benefits from Reflexology and Reiki, she felt mentally and physically in a better place.

She soon became pregnant and gave birth to a beautiful baby girl and then, two years later, (with the help of the EPU and Holistic therapy again) her son was born.

Her son’s birth, however was traumatic and stressful. He was born six weeks early via an emergency caesarean section, after which he was placed into neo-natal care for the first month of his life.

Through all of this, Diana unfortunately did not realise that she was experiencing something many mums face after childbirth: Postnatal Depression.

“Once again, I turned to holistic therapies, particularly, Reflexology, Reiki and Crystal Therapy, for
my low mood and energy levels.”

“It helped balance my hormones but, on reflection, I should have spoken to health care professionals as well.”

The lightbulb moment

It was while Diana was demonstrating Reflexology to one of her friends, when a great idea come to mind.

“My friend said to me, ‘You have so much knowledge about Holistic therapies, particularly Reflexology, Reiki and Crystals, why don’t you train in it?”

“Your passion is clearly helping others gain the many benefits you’ve felt, so you could make this your business, to provide therapies for people.”

And so it began…

Students from Diana’s Natural Transformation Training school

From grief to work

Diana’s interest in Holistic Therapy began when she attended White Rose College of Health and Beauty, qualifying in Anatomy and Physiology, Reflexology, Swedish massage, Aromatherapy, Hopi-ear candle, gentle manual lymphatic drainage massage and many more.

Also during this time, Diana trained in the beautiful energy therapy Reiki One and Two with her Reiki
Master in Sandsend.

“I just absolutely found my passion. I realised that, emotionally, a lot of things manifest in your
body and you’ve got to relax the mind and the body at the same time.”

Two years of intensive training led Diana to become the on-site therapist for a large corporate bank
in Leeds, to date she has been there for 16 years and is still providing therapies.

Over the subsequent years, Diana really immersed herself into the world of holistic therapy.

She found herself hungry for learning and this is where her idea for her business, Natural Transformation, emerged: she decided provide training as well as therapies.

“I decided right then, let’s provide therapies and training for everyone, particularly women and
parents who are trying to juggle so many things.”

Even during the pandemic, and the stop-and-start of lockdown restrictions, she continued to grow, providing some
therapies on-line, due to not being able to provide physical therapies because she knew how important self-help techniques would be during these difficult times.

She also continued to develop in Holistic Therapies, becoming a Reiki Master and adding services such as Seichem One, Two and Three (Master), Crystal Therapy, The Five Awakenings Sequence and Egyptian Cartouche.

She then went on to intuitively create and develop her own therapy called Natural Transformation Therapy (NTT).

Finding ways to help more and more people

Diana had another idea to open the Natural Transformation Training School, providing courses for therapist’s to gain practitioner qualifications, or for anyone wishing to enjoy the therapies for personal development.

The training school, and all courses, are approved and affiliated with The Healer Foundation, The British Complimentary Medicine Association (BCMA) and Holistic Insurance.

“My own experience and also feedback from my clients and students shows that sometimes we don’t want to admit we’re struggling – and that creates vulnerability.”

“We feel we’re supposed to be superheroes, providing support for so many people, but this pressure becomes too much. We
become emotionally and physically tired, our batteries are running low. Asking for help is a strength,
not a weakness and this is what we need to understand.”

Diana is also aware how big social media has become and the impact it can have on our mental health.

“We live in a different world from our parents, even from when she was a new mum, times have changed and we have had to find ways to adapt to this.

“Recently all age groups have had to use social media so much more to keep-up-to date with communication for work, schools and family members.”

” I provide therapies to help people overcome the challenges they’ve faced to arrive at a solution. I’m
very much a person-centred therapist, not one-size-fits-all”

Getting back on her feet

While going through the menopause, Diana has recently lost four very close family members.

“Recently, I lost my amazing stepdad, who was really the Dad I would have chosen. And I lost my
lovely mother-in-law four months ago too.”

“Grief is a huge minefield and rollercoaster of emotions.”

While the menopause has been hard for Diana, grief has been harder, the loss has reminded her
how she felt so low after her miscarriages.

So, Diana is learning once again to slow down, reconnect with self-help, self-healing, self-care and taking valuable time out for holistic therapies, to help her through and recharge her batteries in these difficult times.

A lesson to us all that self-care is an ongoing journey.

“I am very lucky to have my family and friends for support and fortunately know some great therapists to call on.”

Diana also reflected on how she truly enjoys providing training, seeing the positive ripple effects on the students’ lives and all who they practice the therapies on.

“It is almost like there is a magnet, drawing like-minded people to me. My clients and students have said they really resonate and connect with me, which helps them get the best from the therapies and training. They leave feeling relaxed, rebalanced and calm.”

Natural Transformation provides both physical and talking therapies. People who have attended say that it is a calm and nurturing, safe space.

Finding the right therapy and therapist for you is so helpful, Diana will happily work with you to transform the challenges you face to arrive at solutions.

She understands first-hand the many struggles of juggling social and educational pressures on everyone, especially on women and children.

She knows this is a daily battle and believes it’s about how we transform these thoughts and free our minds – which is what her therapies and trainings are all about.

Her focus is helping you recharge your batteries and take time out for you because self-care is so important and, as Mums, we don’t do that often enough.

Diana shared this quote, which we loved: “A healer does not heal you. A healer is someone who holds that space for you, while you awaken your inner healer so that you may heal yourself” Maryam Hasnaa.

She has also shared some simple tips for us all to try:

If are if you are short of time to relax, a simple ten-minute meditation can do wonders. Try:

1. Walking in nature

2. Standing with your face in the autumn sun

3. Grounding, by walking or standing barefoot on the grass in your garden

Whatever helps you to relax!

Follow Diana’s social media’s to find out more about what she does to help herself and others:

Email :
Mobile : 07951 506407

We would also like to say a massive thank you to Diana for being so vulnerable with us and sharing
her beautifully inspiring story.


How do you ‘be authentic’ yet ‘professional’? Should I work through illness? What do I say as a business owner with a disability? “I need to explain how I work so I can perform at my peak…

It can be hard enough navigating work and life as an entrepreneur. Not to mention the two popular buzzwords of ‘needing’ to be authentic yet professional! Surely they are in conflict?! But with the right support your set-back can be your leap forward into creating a better business community for all.

The choice really is yours, primarily, whether you disclose your own ‘disability’ or ‘illness,’ you have a right to privacy because authenticity as a leader doesn’t have to be declaring ‘everything.’ Authenticity is about being an open and ethical leader because not only can it ensure your organisation is sustainable, it can mean that you set a positive culture for your team and yourself, as professionalism is about integrity and can be individually defined by the culture you set.

Authenticity and professionalism is subjective and as we finally evolve into a more inclusive world, we look at the skills that disabled entrepreneurs can offer, with a comparatively large percentage of entrepreneurs thriving with a ‘disability.’ 

Did you Know?

  • The UK has one of the highest rates of ‘disabled entrepreneurs’ with many people starting a business because the ‘workplace’ isn’t appropriate (Enterprise Times) 
  • Many millennials search for ethical businesses to work for with ‘purpose not pay check’ (Forbes) 
  • Work as humans-to-humans rather than ‘faceless brands’ just transacting with one another 
  • Hoping for a healthier more holistic future for entrepreneurship and indeed, the workplace…

Entrepreneurial spirit has always been present within AD:VENTURE ambassador, Freelance Journalist and Communications professional Sophie Mei Lan, who set up a documentary and story-telling multi-media company Evoke Media Group Ltd ( with her film-making colleague with the dynamic support of AD:VENTURE (, utilising their diverse skills to flourish in business and life. Sophie (https://sparklecommunications), who has a range of ‘hidden disabilities,’ has since worked with Channel 4 News, ITV and BBC News. In her latest blog, she shares how she navigates a communications business, life and so-called ‘disabilities…’

“I would love to see a more inclusive world, where we are seen for our skills rather than labels… Let’s unlock our business powers…”

The Power is in Your Hands

“Power” as a leader is not about exerting ourselves over others, it’s knowing our own power and what is important for you and what values in which you want to build a business. 

For me, it’s all about maintaining your own dignity, whatever that means to you. 

We have the choice to choose what we want to share. 

It has always been important for me to be fairly open about my “hidden disabilities,” because ironically they have helped me to harness and hone my own success story, especially as I began to to really build my profile in the media and win international enterprise, communications, digital and journalism awards.

The more my personal brand accelerated, some of my more corporate-looking enterprises, merged into this brand as I represented them all as a leader, evolving into the ethical entrepreneur that I had aspired to become. 

That said, over time I have told my ‘story’ but just parts at a time as and when i feel comfortable to do so and think it will help others. I still not choose to disclose everything. 

I consciously have chosen, however, that my core values in business and life are to showcase the fact that despite our challenges, we can use these to our advantage… with the right support! I wanted to demonstrate that even what other entrepreneurs and clients may deem as the ‘ultimate’ success such as me appearing regularly in the press, on national TV and Radio. The more I felt inclined to use my profile as a personal brand to talk about disabilities and inclusivity, because not only am I surrounded by other neurodiverse and so-called ‘disabled’ entrepreneurs, the more I realised that I wanted to share about my invisible disabilities and how they have enabled me rather than disabled me. And anyway the media thrives off powerful personal stories and it’s much easier to connect with people as humans not ‘corporations,’ so ideally in terms of your own business (as long as you’re aware of any possible repercussions of sharing any personal story), it is much more powerful getting press coverage and better coverage as editorials and feature pieces rather than relying on clear adverts. As they say… 

Facts tell… stories tell.

“How should I treat someone I am working with if they are undergoing an illness or have a disability?” 

My own “disabilities”which I see as my “superpowers” help me in business and life and I am proud of them. But whilst I view my neurodiverse mind and even my own current physical ailments as strengths, some may still hold bias (consciously or subconsciously) and judge what tasks someone can or cannot perform. 

Whereas, for me personally, I find that by always managing my ‘hurdles,’ I am hyper-aware of what my ‘genius’ skills are (in writing, creating powerful communications content for brands which tells stories, digital training and empowering personal brands with a purpose to get heard by their desired audiences worldwide) and my own coping mechanisms with the right support. 

That said, I won’t pretend that everything is ‘easy’ to navigate, as I candidly share on my personal blog and vlog. I can at times feel ‘awkward’ when my personal world has leaked into my business communications online. But I choose to blog and vlog openly about mental health and wellbeing and disabilities which is becoming more prevalent and even ‘on trend’ in the business world. But most of all, it is part of my values as an ethical business that I am relatable and open about my ‘diversity,’ to empower others thinking of building their own personal brands. 

As I say in the not-so very corporate quote of ‘Flashdance: The Musical’: Take your Passion and Make it Happen! 

Hopefully one day, I am seen beyond a diversity champion and that we foster a truly inclusive transformation. 

Changing the face of ‘work’ and ‘productivity’ 

The beauty of this challenging yet transformational period of the Pandemic, I believe, has been the fact that working has changed. What it looks like, what it involves and what it is, as it’s finally becoming more respected and a holistic future for those running businesses, leading teams and employees. 

That’s said, no one model fits all which is why it’s important for all of us to focus on how to untap someone’s strengths whether that be through ‘agile working’ or ‘flexible working’ or being part of a physical team… or a hybrid approach. But again we return to the power of ‘choice’ and working with our team as individuals because not only does this make sense to boost productivity and for everyone to perform at their peak at work but it also means that everyone feels happier, healthier and prospers.

We do however need to make a conscious effort to improve internal communication so people still feel connected. 

Fostering communication, empowering people and creating spaces for all to HEAR, SEE and hyper-focus on the human… because: “Together, one gives each other energy to live – to create health for life.” A quote from the international Microsystems Festival which I delivered a speech at, as a ‘multi-platform Journalist and ‘multi-faceted’ person. Microsystems are a way of transforming huge healthcare systems, breaking them down into their smallest fun

ctioning form to cultivate growth within teams and exploring solutions so that everyone’s voice is carefully heard and accepted at the ‘metaphorical’ table.

Here’s How I would like us to support one another to unlock all of our superpowers…My Top Tips:

We have a choice over what we share about others but most of all, we can decide how we act in the face of ‘adversity’ or when you’re unsure what’s best to do…

  1. Let’s change our language so it is positive and uplifting around a more inclusive and fruitful working environment for all. There’s a lot of power in language. 


From diversity to inclusivity, from disability to accessibility, from tick boxes to human communication, From social mobility to levelling up, From divide and rule to Kinship…

  1. Human-centered support for each other…  no one size fits all – see beyond someone’s hurdles respect one another’s wishes, as autonomous humans! 
  2. If someone does disclose an illness or disability..The worst thing we can do to entrepreneurs who are unwell is to assume it’s ‘best’ NOT work with them or consider not offering them a job…because we know best.  Whether it be physical health and visible or they choose to disclose a mental or invisible disability or illness…  Why? “But you genuinely care?” “you don’t want to bother them” they look poorly you’re concerned?”

4) So you either don’t work with them, stop contacting them or you try to turn a professional meeting into a therapy session because you want to help …

5) Instead, if you’re in a position to support them in some way… Ask them if, how and what you can do to best support them? 

I also run a Yorkshire Families blog to help all families access the best of the region and to make online and in person activities more accessible for all especially those with disabilities. Online we have a project called Digitally Active 

One of our volunteers aka “Digitally Active Dan,” he has shared how he feels his only option ‘career wise’ as someone on the Autistic spectrum would be to volunteer at a cafe or charity shop rather than find work digitally… until he took part and helped co-create Digitally Active with his mum Julie and I – which trains people with disabilities to work as a freelancers (and hopefully one day for the project) assisting small businesses with online virtual assistance tasks from blog writing to cleaning up websites… 

Digitally Active’s Dan writes on “The world as a digital entrepreneur is a good world for me as it means I can showcase my knowledge and skills of things such as: Sports blogs, using Canva to make templates and graphics, using IMovie to make videos and other knowledge and skills, and I would say I am finding my own way online with the help of my social media coach The Sparkle Coach by using my skills to the best of my ability. 

“I prefer the digital world to a workplace as the workplace would probably be too busy and too much going on for me and it wouldn’t suit me working in a garden centre or a café for example as they wouldn’t utilise my skills, whereas a job to do with computers or technical stuff would be much better for me.” 

He said that his parents have had to fight for every opportunity for him including sixth form. 

“Some famous entrepreneurs who inspire me are Richard Branson who has dyslexia and made his first million when he was 21, Lord Alan Sugar and some famous sports people who have a disability who I like or admire are:

Ellie Simmonds whose sport was swimming in the Paralympics

Jamie Stead who’s taking part in the Paralympics in Tokyo after the Olympics has finished, he’s from Normanton and he plays wheelchair rugby.

David Weir who took part in London Marathons despite being a wheelchair athlete 

Hannah Cockroft who is a wheelchair racer.”

Whilst I don’t personally face as many barriers as some, as a mixed-race single mum who doesn’t have a car, works freelance from home, whilst running magazines and a city centre company based at Wakefield University Business Centre, all whilst thriving with an array of invisible disabilities and having derived from a richly diverse yet low-income background.

That’s why we all need bespoke support because for a lot of us ‘entrepreneurs’ whether we’ve built a business through necessity or purely passion, we have to factor in life, work and finance into the equation. That’s where AD:VENTURE ( have been brilliant at seeing the human not just the spreadsheets.

I have definitely experienced some of the roadblocks faced by many since childhood but I am so relieved to see that we are joining together to stride forward as a sport-tive community! Not to mention a vast array of self-love and life needs from dancing to Disney films, from threaded brows to treading the earth on my running pursuits fuelled by a love of nutritious foods and fresh shakes to proper coffee and a proper brew! Whatever suits you step back inside this flourishing fountain of community spirit which is welcome to all.

You can read more from Sophie Mei Lan at and her Women in Business Magazine as well as a community reporter project which supports all families regardless of ‘disability’ to get active across the region at or you can follow her @SparkleComms, @SparkleUpNorth & @YorkshireFamilies on social media.

To access free support from AD:VENTURE, go to:


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 

or through our social media @SparkleUpNorth


Two freelancers who felt fed up with relentlessly pitching for work in any free time they had, decided to supercharge their success by writing their own story and setting up a Women in Business Magazine to champion the work and lives of other flexible workers, business owners, content creators, and enterprises. 

Sparkle Up North Magazine & Community, founded by multi-platform freelance journalist Sophie Mei Lan and Social Media expert Amy Downes, shines a spotlight on female-run businesses, brands, and content creators across the North of England through celebrating success stories, creating a collaborative community, and championing thriving northern enterprises. 

Now the Yorkshire mums are celebrating their own community success story as their online launch has already led to a publication deal for their thriving Sparkle Up North Magazine. 

Magazine co-founder, editor, and media consultant Sophie Mei Lan said that she was ‘chuffed’ by the success of the launch deal but most of all it means that they can reach and support more women: “Whilst pitching for work has always been part of freelancing and running a business, after a decade of spending most of my spare moments of competing for work. I started to feel depleted, by spending so much of my time doing this and not focusing on my skills of writing other people’s stories and creating content. 

“Then like a lot of women I have struggled with confidence in an increasingly competitive world with so many people working from home, I wanted to make sure that I utilised some of that time to be proactive and help others too. 

“It can be lonely freelancing or running a business and blogs without a team around you… but rather than complain as I love what I do, I decided to help carve for change in our own way.” 

Whilst Sophie freelances by choice to suit her business. Her co-Editor and fellow founder Amy Downes was, however, initially forced into freelancing after being made redundant. 

Amy said: “Like Sophie, support networks seem to dwindle when you’re working so much online, without the security of being part of a team at work and you’re over the age bracket of young entrepreneurial support services! 

“You can feel left in limbo.” 

Sophie agreed: “You get to a point where you feel over-qualified and are told you are ‘too experienced’ or expensive and you’re stuck in a catch 22. 

“But we have that northern grit, where we can just create our own community to develop our confidence and to also invest and learn from one another’s skillset.” 

She added that it’s an ‘honour’ to be writing brand stories and supporting prosperity for northern people. 

“That’s not to mention the need to support inclusivity in all ‘new ways of working’ which we hope to do. 

“I know as a mixed-race woman, a single mum who has been brought up in an impoverished area as well as being someone who transforms her hidden disabilities into superpower skills in her journalism work as a columnist, feature writer, digital trainer and video creator, just how challenging it can be when you are facing stigma in life and applying for work!

“But that is beginning to transform which is great to see and I am optimistic for my young entrepreneurial daughters.” 

Whilst Sophie has a positive mindset and wants to help others a few steps behind in their journey. She too sees reaching out for support as strength. 

The Blogger of The Year 2020 and PR Week Campaign of the Year winner 2019, 33-year-old Sophie, said: “Whilst working for a number of other wonderful publications I always dreamed that alongside these collaborations I could create my own magazine as it was actually online blogs and magazines that helped me break the glass ceiling into the professional media world.” 

And after late-night WhatsApp Voice memos with a friend and fellow female campaigner Amy, the duo decided to develop one of the content creator communities Sophie had created into a magazine to reach more people as well as reach new audiences for those involved. 

Amy said: “I never imagined that I’d be made redundant later on in life, and it was a huge knock to my self-esteem after achieving so much success in my media and corporate career. 

“So I started a blog to document my journey as a new mum with mental health challenges who still had lots of dreams ‘a Mum Full of Dreams.” 

Mum-of-two Amy Downes who now runs The Content Planning Wizard met Sophie at a northern bloggers event in Leeds where the pair hit off with a shared love of flexible working, football, and bossing not fitting the ‘norm.’ 

Sophie said: “As Amy like me had worked in radio journalism and sports reporting too, we had a lot in common even though we are from different backgrounds, we love that! 

“Having someone with aligned values in women, business and loving life are what is important. 

“After all the pillars of wealth include wellbeing in mind, community, and managing a thriving life, not just financial aspirations.” 

Amy later accompanied Sophie to speak at BBC Radio 5 Live’s Mental Health event in Blackpool before attending and speaking at more conferences across the north together. 

Sophie said: “It was great to get that support from a non-judgemental friend and collaborative colleague. 

“And I am acutely aware of the importance of such support as it was a local business community which helped me to carve one of my other media company’s Evoke Media Group Ltd start-up success. 

“AD:VENTURE, which supports start-ups based in the Leeds City Region, helped me to officially set up Evoke, a video production, digital training, and content writing business which had been slowly evolving with my best friend and film-maker Daria Nitsche.” 

After commissions with Channel 4 News, training and working for global brands, they were advised to develop a structured enterprise but as creatives didn’t know the best framework or have time with also freelancing to focus on it. 

 “But when I attended their workshop I was relieved it was tailor-made as I had already spent years working for myself or other businesses and found a lot of support to basic. 

“They helped us to set up, get funding for broadcast equipment and signpost us to places that helped us to level up.

“We didn’t have a lot of time because as freelancers you’re either pitching, carrying out the work, or you’re showcasing your work to sow seeds with prospective clients, all whilst running a home, family, and office.” 

AD:VENTURE helped Sophie and Daria accelerate their growth and they have kept connected ever since. 

Sophie said: “As they assisted us so amazingly and supported us with creating a business and income streams, we have kept in touch ever since as I am a keen ambassador for their free support!

“Then when our new women in business magazine launched in lockdown alongside my Sparkle Communications Media Consultancy business, I have been in regular contact through our shared passion to use these turning-point times to support people from all walks of life start-up and accelerate their business but also to champion diversity.

“I know from personal experience how not ‘fitting in’ can help boost your work but it can take its toll on your confidence when you’re judged or held back because of your ‘diversity.’ Even speaking up for some on zoom can be challenging let alone pitching your business in a boardroom or promoting yourself as a personal brand and asking for fair pay.” 

Sophie said that even though she blogs, vlogs and has delivered speeches at global conferences, she has struggled to have the confidence for her ‘last hurdle’ and demand the fees she deserves. 

“As someone who now embraces and loves my diversity, I can see how it aids and informs the work I do, and yet I too have a room for growth. 

“But as Sparkle Up North is championing a range of women of all backgrounds across the north and I am particularly passionate about those seldom-heard voices who have been stifled. 

“It has given me more power to help them make a profit too although I can understand they may be a few steps behind me. With the right support, we can use are disadvantages to foster deeper connections and champion one another.

“And I find it easier to grow the magazine as a truly supportive collaborative which fosters finance, promotes passionate people, and includes everybody.” 

And Sophie has faced her own fears early on as she aspired to make the magazine in the same glossy style as some of the top publications she works for but to do that she needed to raise finance to grow it from an online platform blog-style to being published as an online magazine site and download. 

She said: “I am all about pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and took it on myself to grow the magazine as we wanted to accelerate our audience and accessibility is close to our heart. 

“Plus you can’t beat a good glossy mag!” 

At this point, AD:VENTURE stepped in to sponsor, enabling us to develop a website and make it look the part of the journalistic professional style of content it creates. It’s so important to share these inspiring stories and in a desirable format.

Programme Manager Sarah Carling said “At AD:VENTURE we are always seeking new ways to reach diverse audiences, and we are passionate about encouraging more women to have the confidence to start their own businesses. Working with Sparkle Up North and supporting their storytelling to inspire and help future female entrepreneurs is a great way to do that.”

Sophie added: “I was ecstatic that they opted to support us to transform our online offering and once that is slick and built my next step is to find money to print the magazine so it can virtually and physically pop-up region and nationwide. 

“I want to champion our sparkly northern brand stories, reach all communities to support but also to make an impact on changing the face of the north which is blossoming with business success, we just don’t always know how to shout about what we do!” 

The magazine is booming even before its ‘full-face lift’ with a strong social following, readership, and engaged community. 

“It was just what was needed for us all! Let’s join together to celebrate and accelerate our success in our own enterprises and those of others!” 

The full magazine transformation will be revealed in September! 

Read or to apply to be featured, go to @sparkleupnorth

For more information and sponsorship opportunities, email or, go to 

Fancy finding out more about AD:VENTURE? Go to:


A West Yorkshire fashion designer and stylist has seen her unique activewear range, which embraces every woman’s body and style, in huge demand this season. Summer is when she would normally be swamped with bespoke swimwear and party dress orders. 

But the Leeds-born, Kirklees based ‘instagram-famous’ fashion house has had a makeover too by creating a special summer wardrobe of workout wear to meet demand! 

Swimwear, holiday clothes and packing essentials are normally top of our shopping list at the moment, but as we lunge into a very different style of Summer of staycations, one Yorkshire designer has seen a staggering shift to people instead  shopping for her activewear. 

West Yorkshire fashion designer Jordan Wake, who specialises in tailor-made styles to suit every woman, would normally be measuring people for holiday outfits and partywear, has instead launched her third activewear line of the last year due to the huge demand in her clients now “wanting summer workout gear instead of Sangria-ready sarongs!” 

Leeds-born Jordan, who runs Wake Bespoke from her ‘Pink Palace’ HQ in Cleckheaton town centre, styles every woman from travelling TV stars to traffic wardens, says: “Whilst we would normally be finishing off prom dresses, creating confidence-boosting bespoke bikinis for all bodies, because everybody is a beach body, and party wear, has instead been overwhelmed with demand for her Lockdown love of sourcing the best activewear to suit all of our changing needs… from lounging around at home to more people than ever working out at home. 

She said: “It’s wonderful to see women all over Yorkshire and those who travel to me from further afar, seizing this challenging period by shifting their Summer plans to staying active whether that be at home or on holiday in the UK. 

“The great thing about my ‘athleisure’ line for my Workout with Wake brand, is that it combines comfort with style, and is suitable to wear at home or to go on those Summer strolls and staycations.” 

28-year-old Jordan, who has amassed a following of more than 50,000 online has herself swapped her summer wardrobe in favour of her new line of bright tie dye activewear and summery coloured tracksuits which she wears to the gym, on dog walks or at work. 

She is normally known for her extravagant dresses and occassionwear, and whilst she is still fulfilling a steady demand for this, it seems that people are on a mission to use these months to move more at home in the UK instead. 

Jordan who began designing clothes from her grandma’s attic in the suburb of Leeds as a shot teen, jokes: 

“We may not always get the same sun of Sydney but Scarborough and Scunthorpe will be our replacement for Muscle Beach this year! 

“It feels like we are utilising that Australian-style trend of athletic wear being the norm to wear out and about.

“Not to mention your motivation levels when you can work, move and go out in our special collection.” 

And whilst it’s a relief to see that business is in booming instead of down turning which I think most independents have feared at some point this past year, I am just ecstatic that our many multi-faceted female customers are staying focused in feeling-good whatever this season will bring.” 

Workout with Wake not only caters for more of us working out from home than ever before, or vowing to get fit, but Jordan has proved that workout clothing can help improve positivity and empower peak performance in work, life, home and outdoors. 

Jordan herself understands this as someone who runs businesses, enjoys socialising, personal development and has a range of interests from Ibiza island-hopping to winding down on family walks in her local park aims to help all women embrace their unique beauty and wear whatever makes them-feel good. 

The ‘Young Entrepreneur of the Year’ and ‘Fashion Designer of the Year’ says: “As a family-run business we all wear my ranges from my young niece to my Grandma, the great thing about my designs and off the rack lines is that I create and curate everything for the individual.

“That said we do love my twinning ranges too.” 

Wake Bespoke has seen an astronomical growth since it launched 5 years ago, relocating it’s rooftop HQ in Leeds City Centre to a three-storey shop in Cleckheaton town centre will always keep its humble Yorkshire roots whilst also creating a huge online community of women worldwide. 

Jordan herself is looking forward to Summer thanks to a positive mindset and a love of living her life her way, like a lot of the women she styles inside out. 

She says in her Leeds accent: “I have been using the Pandemic for making the most of working online and giving myself plenty of time for personal development coaching so that I can be in the best shape mentally and physically to support as many women from all walks of life to dress, work, live and love themselves inside out.” 

Jordan’s own diary this year she says also reflects her own transformation as well that she sees in a lot of women who love her holistic approach to design clothes for them inside out, will be participating outdoor pursuits such as Tough Mudder as well preparing to make her first appearance and compete at a beauty pageant. 

“Life is more than what you wear, it’s how you feel inside, which is why we try to coach, consult and care for each customer not just to style for her body but for her mind too. 

“Our clothes, life journey and frame of mind, is so important. Focusing on my holistic style has helped me too from going from a shy and unconfident young woman who battled to ‘fit in’ to today where I feel so good in embracing who I am and I see all of me as assets. Flaws and all. 

I am just a real woman. And we are all wonder women, I just want you to feel it too and move with confidence and power within!” 

Wake Bespoke offers a range of consultations in store and online as well as off the hanger designer wear to tailor-made Bridal wear and loungewear. 

Jordan is also busy preparing for the annual Leeds-based Simply Ladies Fashion Show which celebrates real women loving themselves and lavish designs as they are welcome to walk down the catwalk and attend a lavish ceremony in September. 

She adds: Here at Wake and all of our sisterhood want you to feel empowered, strong and comfortable whilst looking and feeling fabulous. “Bossing your own personality which can come from wearing the right clothes to suit you because you are unique and perfect as you are! It is about you feeling empowered to live your life your way with passion, power and to achieve peak performance in all of your loves… starts with believing in yourself and we can be your community who will love you inside out!” 

Independent Fashion house Wake Bespoke designs tailor-made clothing for special occasions from weddings to proms, from parties to events. Whether you’re strutting down a red carpet in a ball gown or you’re active around the house… all women deserve to feel the best, wear the best and most of all be their best selves. 

  • Tailor-made Clothing for special occasions  (Wedding dresses, Mother-of-the-bride, Bridesmaids, and bespoke designs for any occasion)
  • Couture Outfits and Costumes (As seen on TV and the Red Carpet) 
  • Ready-to-Wear Collections (from Party wear to activewear and loungewear) 

You can shop now for Wake Bespoke’s latest collections via the boutique section on their website, by going to: or you can opt for made to measure services, all done online for the  time being. 

You can also follow Wake Bespoke on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @wakebespoke. 

Wake Bespoke’s new premise is located at 51 Northgate, Cleckheaton, BD19 3HS.

Independents’ Day UK: Let’s give our city centres a feel-good real revival

Like most my moral compass and core values have been challenged somewhat  in Lockdown. I have gone from instagramming my surprise ‘charity shop finds’ to fast fashion that is delivered in the post. 

I have gone from a love of discovering plant-based food (often at bargain shops or past it’s sell by date grub). To being at home, shopping on Amazon when I needed everything from groceries to cleaning products. 

And ironically whilst it’s appeared initially cheaper at first, the accidental subscriptions, the long term impact of my not-so eco friendly foot print will be long lasting and those instance hits of dopamine in Lockdown challenges from the mind dulling nature of social media escapism to the quick hits of desperate next day deliveries… and who would blame us for resorting to hedonistic ways when we are facing huge challenges in life, it is by human nature that we can and need to go into survival mode. Granted in our modern life of excess means that this so-called ‘survival mode’ is sometimes panic over possessions and clutter rather than the threat of being killed by a tiger… but we can still experience feelings of constant trauma from work stresses relative to some of my own personal experiences of more acute situations but I understand it’s all relative and often how we perceive situations levels our response. Either way we experience trauma or fight or flight feelings and no longer always have the communities and warrior rituals to shake and heal it off. We have natural instincts but without the natural coping mechanisms often our bodies need. 

And as I felt my soul dwindle, and started to get on a new track of I am determined to be more eco-friendly, less cluttered, busy and most of all, to focus on supporting issues close to my heart such as soulful enterprise, independents and community spirit which combines a lot of my passion. 

Ironically as a child growing up in a beautiful community there were just three places that brought some of the community together which I attended such as the church hall for dancing and fundraising, the local charity in the park and a new shopping centre! 

Now I live in Wakefield the shopping centre I frequent has a much broader offering than just groceries, less supermarket style and more community based and accessible. 

The Ridings Centre is my favourite place connecting the community with independent stores, coffee shops, entertainment and arts! More on them below. Where do you like to shop? 

And if you need a friendly reminder to shop local and independent now most places are opening back up, that this Independents’ Day UK which is a campaign that exists to support and promote independent retail businesses which takes place this 3rd-4th July Independents account for 65% of the approximately 290,000 retail outlets in the UK.

If you’re a retailer or looking for an independent don’t forget to follow us and tag us @SparkleUpNorth on social media! 

Have you got a special offer or offering for Independents’ Day? Let us know below…. 

By Sophie Mei Lan: 

And here’s more about The Ridings from me, Sophie Mei Lan at and a special offer to get people making the most of their array of retailers celebrating the best makers, creative talents and produce locally… 



From bespoke clothing and one-off antique finds to eco-friendly cleaning products, hand-made ‘gifts for life,’ to affordable arts and crafts, interesting groceries, ethical clothes and hand crafted coffee and freshly made smoothies… and that’s just my favourite array of a few things on offer at The Ridings Shopping Centre-come-community hub… Whether you enjoy a self-care trim at the barbers or your eyebrows threaded like I do!… 

After losing access to someof our favourite independent retailers in Lockdown, I for one am vowing to return and support more than ever our independents old and new. From craft markets to records, if there’s something you love… Please shop local and independent. 

Whilst corner shops and independent grocery stores have reported a 63% surge in trade as shoppers turned to local outlets during the coronavirus crisis, we all know how much internet giants have thrived even more (online groceries for example, leaping up by 75%)… Not to mention the fact that most of our favourite indies have been forced to temporarily close completelywith no replacement online for the personal touch and customer service like no other.

 Plus, The Ridings Shopping Centre have a special offer for customers. 

To grab a FREE, quality canvas shopping bag when you spend just £20 in one of their independent stores over the weekend of the 3rd & 4th July. The stores involved are: Created in Yorkshire, Made and Found – Yorkshire, Morgana Clothing, Hellraiser Records,Niche Handbags, Wakefield Antique & Collectables The Ridings Centre Wakefield, Transform Images, Future Links, Hidden Extras, Home and More, More Value Everyday and Art Originals. 

Just take your receipt alongto the customer services lounge on the upper mall adjacent to Boot on Saturday or Sunday between 10.30am and 4pm, to claim your free bag. 

Full details and the lis  of stores that qualify can be found here 👉

The rise of independent retail is reviving our high streets with its dynamic colourful creative offerings from our sometimes hardest hit yet strongest community bonds that independent businesses can offer. Not only when we shop local and independent are we supporting more ethical tradingand sometimes supporting families as a result but I can promise you, you tend to get better quality produce, a wider variety of interesting clobber, groceries and hand-crafted goods… but genuine feel-good retail therapy. 

To support The Ridings’ independent retailers, you can find them here: —

Best Wishes

Sophie Mei Lan

Peace, Love & Sparkle!