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.com @sparkleupnorth

For more information and sponsorship opportunities, email sparkleupnorth@gmail.com or sophie@evokemediagroup.co.uk, go to https://sparklecommunications.co.uk 

Fancy finding out more about AD:VENTURE? Go to: www.ad-venture.org.uk


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: https://www.wakebespoke.co.uk/ 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 https://sparklecommunications.co.uk 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 👉 https://www.ridingscentre.com/events/free-shopping-bag-when-you-support-our-independent-retailers

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: https://www.ridingscentre.com/independent-stores —

Best Wishes

Sophie Mei Lan

Peace, Love & Sparkle!


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/



“Fewer women wearing makeup in a bid to glow inside out after time in lockdown for self-care as well as  a rise in complementary therapies, video calls and developing new habits…”

Abigayle Andre of Glam Aesthetic

• Holistic skincare specialist launched new clinic two weeks before the first Lockdown but has seen a surge in customers who now wants to empower the female community with self-care
• With A Rise In Zoom Calls For Work, Women Are Wearing Less Makeup Creating Demand For Better Skin, Without Makeup Or Filters! 
• “Lockdown really could have been the end for my clinic, but thanks to an amazing community of women in West Yorkshire, my clinic has thrived. I’ve helped ladies feel confident in their own skin and have a lockdown glow up and now they’ve revived my business – thanks to those women!”
– “I’m so pleased that women are seeing how worthy they are of self-care & healing!”

Lockdown has changed the way we are working and there’s no sign of change, which means more Zoom and Skype calls and less leaving the house.

Holistic Skin Specialist, Abigayle André, aged 28 from Bradford says there has been a huge rise in skincare and the search for better skin without having to put on makeup or use a filter.

Since reopening she has seen a surge in women having her Bespoke Skin Treatments including The Million Dollar Facial, Dermaplaning, and Microneedling facials, in order to improve their skin and feel comfortable wearing less or no makeup.

“Your skin has a direct effect on self-esteem and mental health”, says Holistic Skin Specialist Abigayle André

Abigayle set up her skin clinic, Glam Aesthetic, based at Dudley Hill in Bradford just two weeks prior to the national lockdown in March last year. Whilst many businesses have had to close their doors due to COVID and lockdown restrictions, she says her clinic has thrived from the support of the local community.

“Lockdown really could have been the end for my clinic, but thanks to an amazing community of women in West Yorkshire, my clinic has thrived. I’ve helped ladies feel confident in their own skin and have a Lockdown glow up and my business has also had its own – thanks to those women!”

Abigayle’s clinic, Glam Aesthetic, is based at Dudley Hill in Bradford and serves women from
across Yorkshire, mainly West Yorkshire.

The Glam Aesthetic Owner and Skincare expert for women, says:  
“Your skin has a direct effect on self-esteem and mental health. I have had clients who couldn’t leave their homes without makeup or would only come to appointments when the roads were quiet to avoid being seen. They now feel confident to face the world without makeup.
“It’s amazing how improving their skin has a direct effect on their mental health and self-esteem.”

Abigayle recommends the following tips for looking after your skin at home:

– Use a cream cleanser instead of face wash as it is better for the skin barrier
– Always use lukewarm water instead of hot as it strips the skin!
– Bin the baby wipes and micellar water in favour of double cleansing with a cream cleanser to remove makeup!
– Wear SPF50 every day regardless of the weather and reapply by it regularly to help avoid premature wrinkles, pigmentation and breakouts
– Ditch harsh scrubs and pore strips that damage and strip the skin and opt for AHA/BHAs for gentle but more effective exfoliation

Glam Aesthetic has gone under recent renovation during Lockdown and is full of WOW Factor decor, featuring: a huge 3D dried pampas cloud, bespoke dried florals, and a wall that reads ‘You Look Like A Queen’. She has created a Bespoke Blending Bar where she creates custom serums for her client’s skin routines.

Glam Aesthetic top tips

The clinic is open for skin treatments including the Million Dollar Facial, Dermaplaning and Microneedling, you can book via their website by going to: http://www.glamaesthetic.co.uk you can also take their Skin Test online to find out what products would be best to help your skin look and feel better.

Glam Aesthetic is based at Suite 1, Dudley Hill Business Centre, Knowles Lane, Bradford, BD4 9SW.

Bookings are via appointment only and can be made via: http://www.glamaesthetic.co.uk
You can follow Glam Aesthetic on Instagram and Facebook @glamaestheticuk


By Sophie Mei Lan 

There’s not many journalists who can say that their most powerful stories to date stemmed from back bending on the floors of Shisha Bars as a professional bellydancer, and it’s something I always felt embarrassed about when presenting as a guest lecture in front of the next generation of journalists. 

These blurred lines between personal and professional from a paid hobby as a performer to my professional life as a journalist and business owner used to make me comfortable as I struggled to fit in whether it be in the entertainment world where most people were from private acting schools unlike me who shimmied her way through community groups and funded courses for the “under-represented” or in the media world where it is also not always what you know but who you know. 

Somehow I managed to navigate my own way through the side door of the stage. 

But I would secretly straddling roles as I tried to hide my multi-faceted life as an aspiring woman in the media who loved (and needed to earn the cash to fund my efforts) performing as a dancer. My multidimensional life became even more complex as a young mum with classed ‘disabilities’ and in one day alone I would drop my daughter off at nursery en route to a social enterprise course to fund a community magazine, before quickly changing into student clothes for a postgraduate journalism lecture, before a business meeting, then changing into a bellydance costume to perform that night before returning home to care for my daughter and then the following morning I would reappear in smart clothes on the news desk of a national newspaper before collecting my daughter and my long commute to home to tend to housework and admin for my journalism, businesses, hobbies and life. 

I felt less superhero and more like a Quick Change Artist, my scarcity mindset of “where there’s muck, there’s brass,” meant I was always hustling trying desperately to reach this ‘other world’ of a career as a journalist. Ironically, rather than asking to be paid for my endless ‘work experience’ stints, I would try self-fund my dream and make ends meet elsewhere. 

In recent times however we have all been forced to accept and celebrate the spectrum of humanity we come into contact with via video call ‘unveiling our professional masks’ with so many others are working flexibly from home. 

It was during a video call with my life coach Emily of Quantum Coaching where I had the realisation that I too was responsible for transforming my mindset rooted in my own past and me subconsciously trudging a ‘rags to riches’ fairytale, when in fact we are one world and the ultimate transformation comes from within, as Emily said: “Most of those money sayings are outdated and only serve to keep us in our past. If how we feel about ourselves is determined by anything external, we give away personal power. If something outside of ourselves has the power to make us feel worthy, valued and happy, then it has the power to take that away too. But when we love ourselves unconditionally and hold our value high, money is welcome as an expression of love, gratitude and appreciation.” 

With a rekindled fire in my belly and the new found confidence of speaking up on Zoom for myself and others from the comfort of my own creative home office, I realised that ‘true empowerment’ and inclusivity, means that to truly inspire the next generation and myself that we need to pay for people’s skills and services, because of their background, not just promote a more diverse world, we need to cherish and cheerlead it.

Read more from me at https://Thesparklecoach.com and read more on northern women in business at sparkleupnorth.com

It had previously been primarily women having to explain their need for flexible working hours, but as we all move to one much more flexible world with our colleagues, leaders and teachers feeling less on a hierarchical chain as we share video calls with screeching children, dogs barking and many a creative backdrop cutting through the normal sterile office backdrop we see on the news. 

As one business coffee appointment called it, who turned out to be a fellow creative thanks to displaying her array of craftwork on display at home via Microsoft Teams: “We are “multi-potentialists,” replacing my self-proclaimed misfit badge.

It felt a relief, having always felt held back by needing to have one niche or ‘USP’ in my pitches and CV which so many of us have had to dust off in recent times… to being able to showcase rather than hide my spectrum of skills as secrets. 

With that gusto I then revealed to my call the ‘secret’ behind my sparkly office curtains, which is an array of dance costumes and gym equipment nestled away from my traditional work-from-home media suite. Even though my wide vocabulary of mind and body fitness informs my journalism these days. 

After all there is no competition, there is only one you. 

These blurred lines actually helped us to carve a much deeper profound connection in just one quick meeting.  

It is such an asset to have diversity at the forefront of a more fruitful world where people can thrive. 

The less I too have witnessed the professional and personal world as two separate entities, much like I felt my ‘impoverished’ background as a bellydancer was a million miles away from the ‘rich’ I would often perform for, the more optimistic I feel now that I have overcome my own divisive barriers which were holding me back, as we are one world and there is an abundance of opportunity and money to pay for us all. So if you have the strength to speak up for someone who is yet to actualise their potential, make sure you offer them a space to flourish. 

I am now proudly showcasing my closet of sequins to add some sparkle to the normal ‘bookcase’ or ‘business banner’ backdrop we often see, who knows maybe I’ll be presenting Channel 4 News with all my sparkles on show one day! One thing I do know is that the more money is shared amongst those of us with values the much more prosperous a universe we will live in. 

I have now openly embraced the power of being multifaceted, embracing my beauty of a creative laterally thinking brain and,With a new-found confidence 

Read more from me at https://MAMAMEI.co.UK and read more on northern women in business at sparkleupnorth.com

From Meat based to plant based: how going vegan helped this mum start a community

By Shirin Tahmasebi

After delivering her first baby five years ago, The Superfood Bowl Cafe owner and vegan specialist, Amie Batow, felt undoubtedly insecure about her body and mind.

Being a mum wasn’t enjoyable with the shed load of insecurities pooling around in Amie’s head.

One day while scrolling through Netflix, Amie stumbled across the Plant Based diet docuseries and from that day onward, the food she put in her body, completely changed. 

“I just made the snap decision and I just cut everything out.”

I think many people look at veganism as an excuse to not harm animals but with the diet also comes health benefits such as losing weight, higher serotonin, which in the long run improves your quality of life notably. 

Amie is here to discuss how going vegan did just that for her and how she became inspired to open her very own café.

“My mood had lifted, and I was happier. I could get out of bed, get dressed, go out with my little boy and feel happy to do it.

Whereas before that I’d had a real black cloud over me and I wasn’t really enjoying being a mum, that that then became the main reason for doing it.

And, and the weight loss was like an added bonus that.”

Losing weight doesn’t come easy once you’ve had a child, and a lot of time it’s confusing enough figuring out how to start doing it. Mum of two, Amie found her switch to a vegan diet helped her lose an astonishing three stone but to her, it wasn’t just all about the weight.

“It’s not about fitting into a pair of jeans, it’s just about feeling happier.”

Amie found that the diet helped her mind as well as her looks which she described as an ‘added bonus’. Being vegan helped Amie so much that she began to want to spread the word for other mums or people out there who may be struggling as she was.

“Afterwards I thought, why aren’t people talking about this, mum’s in a position that feel like this, why aren’t we talking about this plant-based diet more, because to me it was just amazing.”

The impact the diet had on Amie is why she then set out to help other mums.

Selling from Home

Before opening her café, Amie had been cooking and selling foods from her house to neighbours and other locals who enjoyed the meals.

She found herself chatting away to mums on her doorstep for half an hour at times. The small home business she had started, grew and grew until Amie no longer had to return back to work.

However, selling from home wasn’t enough for Amie as she wanted to create more of a community between mums, and so while walking through her local town one day, she found the perfect spot for a perfect business. 

“I was walking through town and I saw a little shop for rent. So, I just rang the number, really flippantly and spoke to a lady and ended up going and viewing it and just falling in love.

I thought, this is the next section me to get out there a bit more.”

Not only did Amie want a place for her new community to grow, but she recognised the struggle for mums and where they go when they want to socialise, a coffee shop, a pub or even the dreaded play areas.

Her café would allow mums to eat well, feel better about themselves and also connect with other mums, much like themselves.

Shutting Down

During March 2020, Amie found herself in the hospital with her daughter who had suspected covid which thankfully turned out to be a chest infection.

Due to her focus on her baby girl, Amie struggled to pay attention to what the government were saying in regard to businesses shutting. Nevertheless, she shut her business eventually.

Lockdown became a difficult time for Amie as her landlord was causing problems with his expectations, while Amie struggled to pay rent due to the closure of her café.

These obstacles weren’t quite big enough to stop her.

Amie made the decision to keep her business alive by using her socials. 

“I decided that I was going to stay really present on social media. And so, I started doing Instagram, lives and ag TVs, and I was cooking, sharing recipes.

I was just really, really concerned that I would lose that connection with the group of women that I had built.”

At the same time, Amie’s sister had just shut her own business down and had planned to hibernate during lockdown. But Amie was so focused on keeping that bond with her customers, she couldn’t do what other business owners were doing. 

Looking towards delivery

In the café, Amie had been selling takeout boxes which were kept in a fridge, but some customers couldn’t come in to collect and so she made the decision to start delivering them herself.

However, after hours and hours of driving around, Amie soon came to the conclusion that it would be too much to do every day. 

“This isn’t an effective way to get these meals out, and I don’t enjoy being sat in a traffic parade, I was trying to find all these houses I was getting so stressed”

She then went onto exploring the idea of DPD, which is where the business is at currently. 

Post Lockdown

Amie finds herself at 90% deliveries with her business now, however, still encourages people to pop down and get a drink and some food in order to keep that bond.

“Although we could reopen our cafe. It never ever got as busy as it was before.”

Just before Christmas, Amie’s tenancy was up in the building and so she looked at moving, but the cost of somewhere else was too high. Luckily enough, Amie’s mum came to the rescue.

“If it wasn’t for my mum, I think at that point I might have had to stop. I think if there was a point where you would have had to just say, I need to close the business down it probably would have been at that point.”

Despite her struggles with her café, Amie still finds it within her to fight for that connection and bond she first started out with in the first place. The thought of how many people she has gotten to know and the community she built is what keeps her pushing through. 

She is proud to be the owner of an establishment where she is able to help other mums who may be feeling as she was, to feel better about themselves and to give them a place to gossip about their loud neighbours or scary in laws.

The Superfood Bowl café is now up and running, however, Amie finds herself still ‘fighting every month to keep it going’ so if you pass by on your daily walk today, why not stop in and show some support to help keep the doors to clean eating open. 

Thank you to Amie Bastow for sharing this very inspiring story, I think I’ll be taking a look at the vegan options on menu’s from now on.

To find Amie’s recipes and cafe updates, follow her socials below:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/the.superfood.bowl/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BowlSuperfood

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheSuperfoodBowl

Website: https://www.thesuperfoodbowl.com/

If you’d like to be considered to be included in our online magazine, drop us a line on sparkleupnorth@gmail.com or follow us www.twitter.com/sparkleupnorth www.instagram.com/sparkleupnorth and www.facebook.com/sparkleupnorth

How to connect on LinkedIn

Have you wondered why you may not be connecting as much on LinkedIn as perhaps you should? Here’s some ideas of how you can be better:

Find people to sell to , not take from

first 65 characters of first line under your name- what are you going to do for me?

Make sure first characters count, try not to say “I help” as too many people do that now.

People don’t want to do work with corporate companies now.

One thing you must do is come over like a real person

Selling is not wrong it’s the frequency we do it

Connecting is like a handshake and business card.  Mimic what you’d do in the real world on LinkedIn

Tips on how to connect

Be yourself

Once connected you don’t need to use an in mail/build relationship first

There is a way of writing a sales post that goes under the spam filter

You can comment and like other people’s posts

Your posts are spam-checked

  1. Spam   
  2. Suspect  – if there’s any words it doesn’t like
  3. Clear 
  4. Tip 1:  Be in your posts-  build resonance
  5. Search for target market

Search for target market, second degree connections

Connecting with people

Linkedin says only connect with people you know

You’ve got to take part and say Hi

Commenting on people’s posts

People read comments if you’ve said something interesting

What’s possible?

Connecting- Profile view- Post views, Comments and sales

Insight 1

Sell less frequently

Insight 2

Be yourself MUCH more.  Take your corporate hat off and explain about yourself.

Insight 3

Treat LinkedIn like a networking event

self before help: Focusing on the woman before focusing on the mum

By Shirin Tahmasebi

If someone asked you to run a mile, I bet you would… in the opposite direction.

In hope of changing that, Emma Stott, wellbeing and parenting coach, believes that exercise and mindfulness, can improve your anxiety and stress levels significantly.

“I wanted to help other mums like me who were craving balance and lacking time and feeling lost as I have for many years without recognising my purpose or passion. I don’t think I ever knew that.

Lacking confidence and self-esteem, not coping well but doing everything for everyone else and leaving myself till last. Now I teach mums to put themselves first.”

Working in Education

Emma has spent most of her career life in schools, starting out as an assistant support specialist, to becoming a learning mentor, however, also trained as a personal trainer through her time in education.

This training is where Emma started to recognise her passion for exercise and how it positively impacted her wellbeing, but is also a time where Emma took the pressure of becoming a single mum.

Emma came to notice a common theme throughout her time working in schools; the parents always questioned her about ‘fixing’ their child rather than helping their child.

“I noticed there was a theme underlying, ‘fix my child’. They would say ‘there’s a problem with my child’ but then I remember I was thinking to myself, is it the child? It may be but I thought, we need to work with the parents, and then see if we can get them to regulate their emotions because children copy what the parents do.”

Emma soon took up a job in adoption as a family support worker and has worked there for the last three years. Here she deals with a lot of emotional dysregulation trauma, attachment difficulties and behaviours.

It was here, in April 2020 where the thought of parents found its way back into Emma’s head once again.

“That led me to think again about maybe how we need to do things a bit differently and maybe it’s the parents that need a bit more support, which came to this bit where I wanted to be where I am a parent, wellbeing and parenting coach, so I’m doing the job.”

After April, Emma decided to retrain as a personal trainer and life coach but found herself becoming sick regularly and was experiencing the worst burnout she has had up to this day and never understood why she felt so rundown and sick until recently, when she was diagnosed with chronic inflammatory arthritis. A mix of her being off sick and the pandemic meant that Emma couldn’t return to work until June of 2020.

It was only then that she recognised how much she overworked herself and decided it was time for change in her life.

Time for Change

Emma took on less hours at work to focus on herself, and to avoid the impossible of juggling equal time for her health and work. But balancing work and health also came with the responsibility of being a parent.

Having three children can be hard for some parents, but with one at University, one living with his mum and another being the dream child helping around the house, Emma is currently at that point in her life where she can mostly focus on herself. 

The Pandemic vs the business

Emma had hoped to be a one-to-one coach but was forced to revert to online coaching as the country faced a national lockdown last year. 

“Everything had to be on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, if you could do that. Then I was trying to work on three platforms at once which messed with my head because it was too much.

Then I realised that I was going to have to go live, so that means I’m going to have to be more confident in selling things and saying what I do.”

Tackling self-confidence became a prominent factor in the success of Emma’s business.

“I needed to be seen for my business, so that means I need to step out of the comfort zone, and I’m used to doing it at work and training and doing adoption, but it’s different than it is online, just feels a bit weird. I think I’ve gotten over that now.”

Emma found working online a difficult task as body language is an important element when it comes to figuring out and helping someone. Nevertheless, she adapted to the situation and has found a way to help her clients using her own personal experiences.

During her time coaching and helping people, Emma finds herself relating to many of the issues that come up with the fellow parents. 

“Lots of my clients are saying that they’re really grateful. I think because I’ve experienced what they are currently going through, I just get it. You just understand. So, you know when they’re talking and you say, ‘Oh, I bet you felt like that, didn’t you’ and they say, ‘Yeah, how did you know’ and I reply with; ‘because I felt it too’. 

You can’t tell them what to do, unless you’ve gone through it yourself. That’s how people know you’re genuine because they know exactly that you felt what they felt to or are feeling separately.”

Well-being and Parenting

Emma currently offers a one to one coaching and therapeutic programme which uses CBT and EFT and the tried and tested, personally by herself, techniques such as tapping, meditation and mindfulness.

The programme is targeted at mums who struggle with stress or anxiety or just general feel overwhelmed and hoped to calm them initially.

The process of the programme looks at the different stages your brain goes through when experiencing anxiety or stress. Emma discussed the stages with us:

“Your brain will go into fight, flight, freeze mode and it thinks that it’s under attack, so you have to come up first because that part of your brain will let you access the logic. Here, you’re in your primitive brain, and you’re just absolutely out there and you don’t know what the hell’s going on. 

So, we have to get them come first and into the next part of the brain, which is the limbic brain. This part is all about attachment, belonging, love, support, and then you move them into the logical brain, which is where you can process things and kind of help make sense of everything that’s happened.”

After these stages have been identified with the client, Emma intends to go through a time management plan and talk through what the client hopes to achieve within the time they have in the programme.

What Emma hopes they will achieve is being able to manage and discipline those intrusive thoughts of self-doubt and self-loathing and for mums to be able to go be at home with their kids and project none of those anxious feelings onto their children.

After the nineteen weeks of the programme are up, clients will then be offered a ninety-minute consultation where a plan will be made with scheduled actions then can do daily for themselves to keep up the positivity. For example, one of these actions may be the likes of mindfulness, meditation or tapping techniques, already taught within the programme. 

“My mission is to empower mums to create time and balance and find themselves again. I focus on the woman first then the mum.”

Thank you to Emma for sharing your story with us!

To find out more about Emma’s wonderful campaign, Follow her Instagram and join her Facebook group below:



If you’d like to be considered to be included in our online magazine, drop us a line on sparkleupnorth@gmail.com or follow us www.twitter.com/sparkleupnorth www.instagram.com/sparkleupnorth and www.facebook.com/sparkleupnorth

Self-Doubt to Self-Belief: Finding your way through a maze of doubt and reaching for the stars

By Shirin Tahmasebi

From cutting men’s hair in the middle of Liverpool to becoming a coach for self-belief and confidence, Jan Ockendon joined us to talk about her struggles with her own self confidence and a new coaching programme she is due to release this year.

With heaps of self-doubt going through her mind, the qualified psychodynamic therapist mum of four, thrives in the world of mental health as she fought her way up through her own struggles, to creating a programme to help others with theirs.

However, since the dreaded pandemic hit the world in early 2020, eager not to have someone else’s ‘targets and expectations’ on her back, Jan came to the realisation that her ideal work involved her being her own boss and so began to set up her own business, whilst working full time.

“I’m in the process of launching at the moment. I think working from home in the pandemic finally made me realise this is what I want. To work from home but as my own boss and not have someone else’s targets and expectations”

Jan told us while discussing her plans for her future launch of ‘Self-Doubt to Self-Belief’.

The start of self doubt

Jan has tackled many different types of jobs; one being working and riding horses. However, it seems a common theme that stuck with Jan throughout her working life, was that she was never good enough to pursue these as life careers. When talking about her time with horses, she told us:

“I know that I was a good rider, I know I had a really good seat, but I was so lacking in confidence, so I never did anything with it.”

This lack of confidence carried through into Jan’s eventual ascent into her mental health career.

Mum Doubt

When delivering her first baby, Jan experienced her first feelings of self-doubt as a new mum. Back in the 90’s, they had a group of professionals walk around the hospital, making decisions on which care would best fit each patient.

It is here where Jan was so cold-heartedly told she was a “failure”.

“I lay in that bed, very sore because I’d had a caesarean, then a baby who was not feeding and then when she didn’t feed, she would scream because she had bellyache, because they were stuffing me full of antibiotics. All I heard from the midwives was ‘Caesarean section, because she failed to dilate’.”

This left Jan with an overwhelming sense of defeat, right after she had gone through a tough time in delivering her baby girl.

“They often talked like that and it fired me up.

I thought, do you know what, it’s no wonder that women go home and get post natal depression and think that they’ve they’re failures because they’ve had a c section, or because they’ve had to have a forceps delivery.

Because that’s how we’re talking about them.

Dynamically that’s going to transfer into that woman’s head. It’s bit like manifesting. That was what started my self doubt as a mother”

However, Jan pushed through the doubt and continued her work as a nurse, but soon took an easy five years out of working as a nurse when her second child was born, but became a childminder during this period.

Finding her way

After the five years, Jan decided to return back to her job as a nurse and was back to working with a mental health service again, before settling down in primary care.

“I wanted to be in primary care. I wanted to work in a sector where I felt I could make a big difference. Particularly to people who self-doubt.”

Jan’s journey for her dream occupation working with people who suffer with self-doubt began as she was determined to not ‘do anything by halves’ and went straight for the top, Tavistock Clinic based in North London, to do her training.

“Eventually I did my degree. I managed to get a 2-1. Then I could go on and do a master’s level course and that’s where I got into therapy. I trained and did a foundation course in that, and I never do anything by halves, so I had to work at Tavistock Clinic.”

Despite the pass marks for the Tavistock test being significantly high, Jan managed to secure a spot on a training course with the clinic and start the process of qualifying as the psychodynamic personal therapist she is today.

Being a therapist is enough for her, but she wished she could experience the more ‘in depth’ areas of therapy, as she believes the sixteen sessions patients are given isn’t enough.

“It doesn’t go into that real in-depth stuff that I really like.

A slow getting to know somebody; getting to know how they think, being able to think about why this is affecting me the way it is and if it’s affected me like this, does that mean something about the patient.

You can do a bit of that but it’s not as extreme, just not as meaty, I suppose”

Nonetheless, the restrictions at her workplace didn’t stop Jan from getting those ‘meaty’ sessions with patients.

Though the pandemic has been a real struggle for some, Jan thrived during her time off from work as she has begun to branch out on her own, letting go of her own limiting beliefs as well as helping others with theirs.

Becoming her own boss

During lockdown, Jan started to complete a coaching course, this opened up a world of creation for her and who is now creating her own belief programme so that she can help other women let go of their own negative beliefs.

The programme is to last eight weeks for each individual that joins.

Branching out on her own has not only made time for Jan to kickstart her own business but to also work on her social media skills. She now runs her own blog in which she never thought she would do due to her self-doubt problems.

“It’s also allowed me to set up my own instagram, my website and do blogs on my website.

I would never have done that before, I would never have written blogs because I would have thought, who wants to listen to what I’ve got to say? What can I say that nobody else can say?”

Jan discussed the plans for her programme with us. It looks at how doubt starts in our minds and how identifying what is ‘poking’ these feelings into action and then separating said thoughts and feelings and how the voice in your head often pulls you down. In Jan’s words:

“I want to ask lots of questions; what does this mean to you, how it has affected you, how can we change that. What would it be like to be different? What are you looking forward to about being different? How’s it limiting your life? And what would it be like to change that? 

Getting people to imagine sitting in that different belief and then rewriting the story and saying okay well this is what I want to believe so.

Not, I am going to believe it just because I want to, but how do I get there.”

In due course, Jan hopes to help people either eliminate those feelings or at least start the process of getting rid of them.

The feedback she has received since putting herself out there has been phenomenal, her audience are as excited as we are to start Jan’s programme. It took the twenty-nine years after her daughter was born for Jan to start feeling more confident in herself, but she is now blooming in the world of social media, as her own boss.

Thank you Jan for sharing your wonderful and inspiring story with us.

If you would like to find out more or see when Jan is to release her programme follow her on Facebook and Instagram below.


Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/clearspacetherapyandcoaching

Or visit her website: https://www.clearspacetherapy.org/?fbclid=IwAR2WYsr5iE1FNpU4Zh8GrS0hNg7FcREInejX5rL5BQmMVF2NbkEZ0kVkLZo

If you’d like to be considered to be included in our online magazine, drop us a line on sparkleupnorth@gmail.com or follow us www.twitter.com/sparkleupnorth www.instagram.com/sparkleupnorth and www.facebook.com/sparkleupnorth