Mrs Hinch, Kon Mari, and many other decluttering gurus hit the spotlight during the Pandemic when it seemed like most people were using this time with their 2.4 families to spring clean and bake sourdough bread. But what about those who found themselves hoarding, cluttering up their homes, and feeling overwhelmed by cleaning? 

“Many people were left alone at home and our home reflects how we feel. 

“Many people didn’t have the same motivation to sort their house as when they were hosting guests,” explained Rachel Smith who runs Clutter is the Enemy. 

Rachel doesn’t just declutter someone’s living space but their mind too. 

Wakefield-based Rachel, 45, pivoted her career during Lockdown when people needed her to support their mental wellbeing. 

Here she took part in our Sparkle Start-Up Series: 

“Your home is a direct representation of your mind.

“Your home should be your happy place.

“My mission is to make people happier, one room at a time.”

Why did you set up your enterprise: I was made redundant during Covid and took it as a now or never moment. I realised that there were a few gaps in the market that I could fill but my real driver is to make people happier by improving their home environment.

How did you get into your enterprise? I’ve always been interested in houses and interior design and when I was made redundant I took the opportunity with both hands to do something I love.

Do you have any challenges in your business? Yes, there are several. Because the services I provide are not widely known about, I’ve had to educate the public as to their existence. One group of clients that I work with often suffer from mental health problems and are liable to cancel appointments at the last minute.

What has been the most challenging thing about Covid for your business? I am lucky as I have been able to work throughout the last year and a half. People have been spending so much time at home that they are more likely to ask for help to improve their home environment. The most challenging thing has been that my original business plan was centred around Home Staging, but that all fell off when the market went even crazier at the beginning of 2021. As demand far outstripped supply, estate agents were able to sell any property for over the asking price without even trying.

What’s it like being a social entrepreneur? I don’t really regard myself as a social entrepreneur but I do work with a housing charity to prevent people from being evicted. I’m looking into what funding I can get so that I can help the most at risk. I also want to raise awareness for people who live in dire situations at home and raise awareness of the ways that your home affects your mental health and vice versa.

What drives you? Inspires / motivates/ excites you?

I always thought my main driver was to make people’s homes nicer but it is in fact to make people happier one room at a time, no matter what their budget/story/mental and physical health status. Everyone deserves to live with dignity and have a home that is a sanctuary.

What do you hope for the future? 

My hope for the future is to carry on the conversation about our homes and our mental health; to introduce colour into people’s lives; to help people get the most out of their spaces so that they have a positive impact on our mental health and our relationships.

Find out more:

FB – @clutteristheenemy

IG – @clutter_is_the_enemy


Not only has the Pandemic connected some communities but it has exposed and triggered a number of huge barriers that remain for many people and businesses from ‘diverse’ backgrounds. 

There are so many inequalities that exist for northern entrepreneurs, especially women in business as it is women who have been financially and mentally hitting the hardest in recent times. 

But there is hope with the ‘right support.’ Here’s how one northern female entrepreneur used Lockdown’s setbacks to spark a new business and magazine. 

A self-proclaimed ‘diversity tick box, a young mixed-race woman from the rough suburbs of Sheffield, eventually discovered that her initial barriers were eventually her ‘way in’ to a largely inaccessible media world. 

Determined for her underrepresented community to be heard in the media, Sophie Mei Lan set up htps:// an online magazine with a team of community reporters who were ‘experts by lived experience.’

She said: “I was inspired by the stories around me and from all the people I had met on my own journey, much greater than I. Yet they too remained unheard so whilst I was at university studying Italian and Social Sciences with Philosophy, I reached out to those from my home city of Sheffield and in Manchester where I lived.

“To my surprise, assisting them with writing and reporting we created a multi-platform magazine with the help of O2 and UnLtd, which went ‘viral.’ Eventually this alongside all my years of work experience was my way into the mainstream media industry who finally took note.”

But once Sophie had forced her unpolished shoe through the backdoor of mainstream media thanks to the magazine’s team, diversity schemes, and her unique talent to tell stories from communities most of the staff struggled to engage, no sooner did she realise that she would need to conform to thrive. Whilst policies had changed and research showed the power of a diverse workforce, very few organisations managed to address the issue of culture and hierarchy within such bubbles. 

That’s when I, Sophie Mei Lan began feeling just like a tick box exercise, which is why I referred to myself in the third person. For many years, I wasn’t accepted for being me, albeit perfectly imperfect. My diversity was appreciated by many when it came to telling untold stories but it wasn’t sustainable for me to conform and not thrive. 

At times diversity quotas had helped me to battle my way through barriers but I quickly discovered that without that, most of the recruitment was for ‘lower level’ jobs. 

When actually we need to create ways to place talented individuals from diverse backgrounds in leadership positions. Then we are not just ‘modelling’ diversity and imitating a range of values but these values naturally filter through. 

Whilst this was a great lesson in hindsight, at the time I just felt grateful for the opportunities.  

I was on a number of diversity boards and panels and often was the only one there in an unpaid capacity as a ‘diverse voice,’ so I couldn’t afford to continue. 

I was so passionate yet my poverty mindset and lack of confidence held me back in asking for expenses. 

That said, I was constantly reinvigorated and inspired by the support from a range of organisations addressing this imbalance such as the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) Journalism Diversity Fund who helped me avoid a plateau in my career when I became a ‘young mum.’ By this point, I had already freelanced for some huge broadcasters thanks to winning an Amnesty Human Rights Media Award for the initial magazine I had set up championing some incredible community writers. But I wanted to have the qualifications in journalism to work for print, online, and broadcast which NCTJ funded.

In between studying, freelancing for national newspapers, and raising a baby, I set up an all-female video production company and my own parenting and mental health blogs and vlogs. 

Through Evoke my business partner Daria Nitsche and I managed to secure commissions with ITV, Channel 4 News, and a range of brands. As two dual heritage northern women in film and tech, we were on a mission to make films that came from the heart of communities that evoked emotions. 

Again, we did not do this alone and got incredible support from AD: Venture, Leeds Beckett University, and Wakefield First as well as a range of business support across South and West Yorkshire where we are both based. 

My own personal blogs and vlogs took off too as I was extremely authentic and candid about my life and mental health. 

Yet when Lockdown hit, our bread and butter documentaries subsided and so did a lot of my freelancing commissions as a multi-platform journalist. 

But as they say, when one door closes, another opens, and again we received support from Leeds Enterprise Partnership, AD: Venture, and businesses locally which inspired me to start a new business magazine (, soon to be and eventually Sparkle Communications, a social business combining my passions to train and empower community journalists and social entrepreneurs to ‘make it in the media’ and as leaders in their own right.  

Sparkle Communications is a dynamic, digital story-telling agency that creates multimedia content with meaning. From its own in-house publications, content creators studio including professional podcasting booth and its media training programmes for brands. Not only does Sparkle produce professional content for online and traditional media but it proactively trains community journalists budding digital entrepreneurs and it creates long-lasting connections between people and the media.  

We have even secured our first content creators studio and co-working space thanks to The Ridings Shopping Centre which will be our launchpad for our media work, training schemes, and also a wellbeing hub as we will use surplus profits to provide accessible wellbeing workshops for marginalised communities. 

I am thankful for my background and even the barriers I have faced, to help me discover what is needed and where I can add value in the world by championing others to become powerful leaders to ‘do good’ and my hope is that they will be recognised and appreciated for their talent. And paid and promoted for it too! 

By Sophie Mei Lan / (soon to be relaunched to champion UK based entrepreneurs who ‘do good’).

INCLUDE ME: Unmuting entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds

Include Me is a community platform developed for entrepreneurs in the North of England. It is a place for anyone who feels unheard of or underrepresented in their journey as an entrepreneur. 

Their aim is to provide an open platform; a safe way to connect, communicate, and a place where we can work together to bring about positive change across the North. 

A big part of this initiative is the #Unmute campaign which serves to ensure all voices are heard and important themes around diversity and inclusion are identified, amplified, debated, in order to bring about positive and lasting solutions. 

Why are we featuring Include Me?

Our founder, Sophie Mei Lan, started blogging for Include Me after being connected to them on LinkedIn through AD:Venture (an inclusive start-up programme). After speaking with Include Me founder Mel Ellyard, we invited Mel to participate in our Sparkle business stories.

More about Mel Ellyard & Include Me

Mel Ellyard – Include Me

Leeds-based Mel has a broad and extensive range of experience of working with entrepreneurs and SMEs across the North of England, she is a big supporter of diversity and inclusion, and currently works as the Senior Manager Yorkshire, Humber & Tees Valley, in the UK Network team at British Business Bank (the UK’s economic development bank).

Why did you set up your enterprise?

“I set Include Me up to give a voice to black and underrepresented entrepreneurs and communities in the North. As a mixed-race, Northern female, brought up on a housing estate in a very ‘white’ community I understand what it is like to feel like you can’t speak out, and if you do you are never quite sure of the repercussions.”

How did you get into your enterprise? I founded it.

It all started when I posted an article about my upbringing and background on LinkedIn. This was a very scary step for me to take, as I am a private person, and you never quite know how people are going to react. 

Unless you have been discriminated against or experienced racism it is difficult to fully appreciate its impact. As a mixed-race female, I chose to work in white-male-dominated industries. I didn’t fit the mould back then, and I look around now and still don’t. 

I am deeply disappointed at the lack of women and people of colour in STEM. I look at the people who are influencing these sectors (educating, investing, founding, leading) again I see a lack of women and people of colour. 

Things need to change on an individual and institutional level. Institutional discrimination is very real and will only diminish when barriers are broken down and those who can make change happen truly listen. 

The time is now. The world is changing. There is no place for discrimination of any kind. Diversity enriches our working world. 

I also published an article on LinkedIn (below) which was the catalyst to #Unmute

The response from my LinkedIn contacts was overwhelmingly supportive and I quickly realised if we could harness the power and reach of this network then it was possible to create a vehicle to help bring about positive change in our region. Do you have any challenges in your business? Yes, we rely on the time and passion of our supporters and ambassadors. These people are equally passionate about issues around diversity and inclusion and give their time and skills selflessly to helping Include Me in its vision to empower entrepreneurs and bring about positive change. 

We welcome new supporters and ask anyone interested in getting involved or sharing their story to reach out to us. 

What has been the most challenging thing about Covid for your business? Connecting with people, meeting up face to face, and encouraging people to share their authentic selves are very important. Covid has made this more challenging do the restrictions on events and get-togethers. 

We have overcome this with some online events, videos, and blogs (like the fantastic content that you are providing) to keep in touch with our community.

What’s it like being a social entrepreneur? 

I don’t think I’ve ever thought of myself as a ‘social entrepreneur’, I see myself as someone who can give back, share experience, and through my network of highly experienced connections – help and make an impact. 

What drives you? Inspires / motivates/ excites you? The possibility of being about to make a difference, bring about change – if we are able to help just one black female in her career as an entrepreneur then I would be happy. However, our ambitions are far greater!

The enthusiasm and support that Include Me receive give me life! I really am humbled by some of the offers of help and inspired by the ideas that some regional organisations are bringing to us. 

What do you hope for in the future?

I hope that we can keep conversations about diversity and inclusion alive and get to a point where we can see and measure real impact. I hope we see a change in the barometer and that gender and ethnicity become a thing of the past and that younger generations can access the same opportunities, without barriers, regardless of colour, gender, or background.

I also hope that strong female role models continue to step into the light and again I encourage anyone interested to get in touch, #Unmute and support Include Me

Discover more at:


Vegan enterprises: Veganuary- How to eat more consciously and plant-based

If you’ve considered going Vegan, you’re not alone as more than a third of us are or perhaps your trying Veganuary? There are lots of northern businesses offering plant-based products and Vegan alternatives.

Here our editor Sophie Mei Lan shares her Vegan journey and just some of the eco-friendly brands she discovered recently:

I have been a ‘fake’ Vegan, a ‘Fegan,’ for a few years, as I feared the repercussions of being ‘rude’ at a dinner event or I admit there are a few things I have been reluctant to ‘give up.’ 

But if I have found ‘going vegan’ a challenge as a lifelong Vegetarian, why are a so many of us considering going Vegan and thousands taking part in Veganuary? 

The good news is there are more options than ever before from ethically sourced produce to Vegan sweet treats and meat alternatives. 

At The Ridings Vegan fair recently I tasted locally made Vegan protein powder, Rocky Roads, Fair Trade tea, and purchased ethical beauty products. 

Not only can Veganism be good for our gut health, animals and the environment but even just a plant-based meal a day can create a positive impact. 

For many of us Vegans, our Veganism journey is more about eating and living more consciously. This is on the forefront of a lot of our brains following COP26. And you don’t need to go ‘full Vegan’ with what you eat to start to make reduce the negative effects of climate change.

There are pioneering social enterprises leading the way such as Eco Baby which prevents clothing and toys from going to landfill. As well as, Crafting for Good CIC which sells recycled craft supplies inside The Ridings Shopping Centre. 

In West Yorkshire alone we are also perfectly positioned to eat home-grown or locally sourced produce. As a diverse county, we have our rich heritage of the Rhubarb Triangle as well as a range of independent suppliers and supportive communities.  

ArrowFresh is a great example of this as they sell a range of independent suppliers’ produce as a collaborative affair, including delicious Vegan DoughBoy donuts. 

Not to mention, all the cultural influences that feed how and what we eat, you can get a quick taste of this if you venture around Leeds Kirkgate or Morley Market. And whilst sadly our Wakefield Market has disappeared in recent times, The Ridings hosts a range of markets combining traditional grub and produce with trendy treats. Plus Made and Found in Yorkshire which is a collective gift shop proudly showcasing over 20 Yorkshire artisan sellers .

I, for one, was super excited to devour a Chinese Vegan chicken drumstick at the recent Vegan Fair, as I have been unable to go to Malaysia to see relatives due to the Pandemic, so I had been missing my delicious layers of beancurd wrapped around a stick and deep-fried. Yes you can eat Vegan junk food too!

It’s not long until my favourite food festival either, the Rhubarb Festival, which spreads throughout the city centre and into The Ridings. It attracts internationally renowned chefs and local talent such as Karen Wright from Great British Bake Off who will be in the Tree Bar showcasing some locally sourced recipes.

Karen even designed Vegan versions of hearty stews for me over on our Yorkshire Families blog.

 There is now more choice than ever before when it comes to becoming Vegan or living more consciously and it doesn’t have to cost the earth either. 

Whether you’re getting your groceries from Morrison’s, treats from Marks & Spencers or your local allotment and you can save money using the Too Good to Go app or shopping at a charity shop such as the British Heart Foundation and Wakefield Hospice. Plus any of the artisan fairs which are coming up.

When I am not in the city centre, I don’t even live in a trendy bourgeoisie neighbourhood of bearded craft ale drinkers, coffee houses, and whole foods shops selling Sushi, yet there are a range of local allotments, shops such as Polish Greengrocers and South Asian supermarkets, where I can buy my fresh produce, including Vegan goods.

By Sophie Mei Lan

Feature Photo by Gary Kenyon









Sophie Mei Lan 


A trip to Mongolia that saw a Yorkshire woman fall in love with yurts inspired her to set up her own sustainable enterprise hiring out yurts here in the UK. 

Becky McClure, 31 from Leeds is co-founder of North Sky Yurts Ltd which is a female-founded, eco-conscious yurt and bell tent hire company based in Leeds covering Yorkshire. ‘They create magical spaces for events that don’t cost the earth.’

Here Becca shares her sustainable start-up story… 

Why did you set up your enterprise?  

We set up North Sky Yurts to change our lifestyle to spend more time outdoors, be creative and bring smiles to people’s faces. We wanted a business that helped people to celebrate their special events from weddings to birthdays to supporting businesses and charities to host exciting events. 

How did you get into your enterprise? 

We were originally looking to set up a glamping site but as we set up in a lockdown it was tricky to get any type of funding to buy/rent land which is why we went into mobile events. I stayed with a family in Mongolia in 2017 and fell in love with yurts there. I love how light and airy the structures are, whilst also being cozy and comfortable. They’re such a unique space and we love helping people host their events in them. In early 2021 we then bought a glamping business to accompany our yurts and it’s been such a good combination of bell tent villages for people to stay in whilst using the yurts for their event. 

Do you have any challenges in your business? 

We have a couple of challenges limiting our growth at the minute which are storage and sites. We are limited on storage which means it’s difficult to scale up with more tents and larger structures. We are also wanting to do more pop-up sites or longer-term sites; however, land is a premium. 

What has been the most challenging thing about Covid for your business? 

The uncertainty. It makes it so difficult for customers to know when to plan things and whether to go ahead with their event. It makes it tricky for us when plans change last minute as we have to change the logistics. However, it’s also meant we’ve had a lot of last-minute bookings where people have had to move their event outdoors. 

What’s it like being a social entrepreneur? 

We are really focused on sustainability which is really important to us to be an example to both our customers and other businesses of considering the environment. We consider sustainability within all of our decisions and as a result have spent more on quality equipment that lasts longer, ditched single-use plastics, and offset our traveling through planting trees for our customers. 

Read more: 

What drives you? Inspires / motivates/ excites you? 

We get such a buzz when a customer tells us what an amazing time they’ve had and how well their event went. We love being a part of the build-up to something than hearing all of the stories after. We also have big plans for North Sky Yurts so we’re motivated to grow our business as well as grow ourselves through learning new skills. 

What do you hope for in the future? 

We’d love to have our own site where we can host incredible events and support more environmental charities. We’d also love to have an element of outdoor education for both adults and children. 

You can find them at 

Or on social media @northskyyurts 

If you have a start-up or social enterprise ideas that you have set up, we look forward to hearing from you follow us @sparkleupnorth or email your answers to the above questions to

Photo by Andrew Neel on

OGSM Method: How to set PR, Marketing and Business goals

OGSM METHOD which is an abbreviation for Objectives, Goals, Strategy, and Measures is a great way to set your marketing or business goals for the year ahead.

OGSM Method helps with what you want to achieve and the strategy you should use to get there. It’s a popular method used by many organisations.

You could do this as an excel spreadsheet or to start with a mind map to make notes.

Photo by Polina Zimmerman on

What is the OGSM Method?

OBJECTIVES: These can be personal or professional E.g. I want to work four days a week in school hours or I want to increase my profit margin by £100k.

GOALS: Then split your objectives down into specific goals e.g. I want to achieve (x) goal by (x) date.

STRATEGY: How am I going to achieve that? What things can I do to achieve that e.g Networking / Facebook Ads/ PR.

MEASURE – How am I going to measure it works? E.g. Every event I go to I want to come out with 3 leads for my 10k packages or a certain conversion rate for your ads.

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

“Focus on the journey, not the destination,” so whilst we wish for the desired ‘outcome’ goal focus on daily wins and the ‘process’ goals because rituals= results.

Photo by Julia Larson on

RISE AND SHINE: The flexible power morning

Most people want to get a book published or have a ‘story in them,’ but for many, it is merely a dream. Whereas a ‘dream came true’ for talented Sheffield siblings who have used their knowledge in therapy and psychology as well as life experience to get their first book published which has not only transformed their lives but promises to transform anyone’s life and business by adopting their simple approach to the morning routine.

Fellow Sheffield Author and Wellbeing Journalist Sophie Mei Lan writes:

Maybe I best check my sleep app? Oh no! I am not supposed to look at a blue screen that blog said?! But hang about I am working a night shift when I return to work so then do I just meditate and not sleep?! 

But I am accumulating sleep debt and reducing my life expectancy by such shift working. Yet I need the money so don’t really have a choice. 

If you have had some confusing internal dialogue with yourself around wellbeing, the right routines, and what you ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t’ do – I don’t blame you. Our lives, homes, minds, BUSINESSES, and the world is more cluttered than ever before. And even the wellbeing ‘industry’ can feel like added clutter when it comes to deciphering the endless amount of information online. 

When really what we need when starting our day is “clarity not clutter,” explains therapist Toby Oliver who has written RISE AND SHINE – How to transform your life, morning by morning with his psychologist sister Kate. 

“This isn’t about telling people off or even telling them what to do, it is a method that evolves around the full human. 

“Even just adopting one principle in the book can help you build a better day and transform your life when it becomes a habit. But to become a habit it needs to be sustainable,” explains the Sheffield-based first-time author. 

“Even just waking up 10-15 minutes before your normal ‘wake-up’ time to build in some helpful self-care techniques can really help.” 

Toby’s gentle nature and wholesome approach to health and humanity are as refreshing as my morning Yoga and coffee (Oh wait, should it be hot lemon water? Oh no the dentist said the acid isn’t good for my teeth?! I mean glass of water, not coffee. I jest). 

Rather than the hand-bag sized book collecting dust on our shelves alongside our other physical ‘clutter’ it is designed with a handy, flexible, and holistic approach to wellbeing. 

“It follows the S.H.I.N.E. method. A unique and flexible way to build positive, long-term habits.” 

So if this isn’t like the usual morning manual or scientific recipe book approach, what is the secret ingredient to make you ‘shine?’

S.H.I.N.E. represents five elements we all need in our mornings: 

Silence – create stillness, peace, and reflection 

Happiness – discover techniques to help you begin the day on the right side of the bed 

Intention – find practices that empower you to shape your day 

Nourishment – feed your mind, body, and soul 

Exercise – get your body moving, creating energy for the day ahead

Toby starts his own day by lighting a candle and meditating before doing some stretches and journaling.

The book provides a simple approach which means we don’t have to do it all at once, we could just start by doing something positive for ourselves, explains Toby who says that his morning ritual may not work for everyone and it is important we add clarity to start our day. 

“Set aside your clothes the night before and try and do whatever you need to do to plan for the next day ahead. So you can wake up and follow your ritual without having to think too much.” 

Toby plots out his to-do list but more essentially his ‘to be’ list to plot out what the day will look like and what he needs ‘to be’ his full self in it. Toby is also a trained Yoga instructor who incorporates trauma-based practices into his classes as well as inspiring youngsters ‘to be’ whatever they want to be in life as a passionate Stonewall ambassador. 

“We all need to value time for ourselves but if we don’t build it in first thing, it often gets missed. 

“My partner can always tell when I haven’t done my morning meditation,” he laughs. 

Toby and Kate’s sincere yet flexible approach means that this handy guide can be picked up at any point and we can pick and choose what works for us, offering a much-needed flexible approach to wellbeing. 

Based on the latest scientific research, as well as ancient traditions and insights gathered from decades of personal and professional experience, Rise and Shine offers thirty different practices that will encourage you to curate a routine that blends seamlessly with your lifestyle. ‘Because by changing your mornings, you can change your life.’ 

For me, I was drawn to writing techniques, journaling, and even dance quotes within the book. I use writing and dancing as a way of decluttering my own neurodiverse brain into some linear order. First I dance and move to shake off anxiety and then I write to create peace in my mind. 

The process of writing whether it be to reflect, comfort, express or plan our future, can alleviate stress, make sense of our emotions and help us to feel more grateful.  Not to mention, the positive impact it has on our overall wellbeing, whether that be “free writing” or “structured journaling.” 

“The key is to make time to write, ideally at the start of your day,” explains Toby.

“Free Writing is a powerful form of self-expression which by doing regularly can improve clarity, focus, and feeling in control.” Not to mention, structured journaling to reflect, set our intentions for the day and focus on what we are looking forward to. 

Writing is such a powerful tool that helps us to appreciate, achieve and alleviate challenging emotions. And as a dyslexic and dyspraxic journalist talking to a fellow Author Toby who is dyslexic and has ADHD, it just goes to show by adopting a few simple techniques and experimenting with what works for you can transform your life, career, and overall wellbeing. 


By Sophie Mei Lan / 

Dan who is our accessibility volunteer at has also found his solace in sports reporting as someone who is on the autistic spectrum. He interviewed Toby for our community site: 

What made you write a book? 

He wanted to write a book because he had an idea with his sister. 

Have the five elements you encourage people to do, changed your life? 

He said that the five elements he encourages people to do have changed his life because he does at least 3 or 4 of those things, he also said that something people could do is get up 10-15 minutes earlier, get clothes out the night before, do something positive for you.  

Do you think you have helped young people deal with anxiety/grief? 

He says he hopes he has helped young people but there are not enough life skills taught to primary school kids these days. 

Where can people buy the book? 

People can buy the book in all good bookstores e.g. Waterstones, WHSmith.


After another rollercoaster year, most people are intending to get active this New Year and prioritise health whilst getting their business back on track. But how do we set resolutions or goals that are sustainable rather than unrealistic. Dry January and Veganuary are great for January but what about from February onwards? 

  • Try exercising, moving, stretching, or dancing within an hour of waking up. Do all the things for YOU at the start of the day. Brand Story’s Donald Miller goes to the gym and does all of his self-care in the morning and won’t make any meetings until 1pm. You could even plot out your exercise timetable whilst enjoying a morning coffee at Grind Cafe or another inedependent you love.
  • Habit stacking: If you do a daily routine without thinking e.g. boiling the kettle add some star jumps in or some stretching every time you do that specific task. 
  • Find exercise that you enjoy: Whether that be Bellydance or Fitness classes with me or Yoga with my friend Dani or even a HIIT class. I may be a ‘serial entrepreneur’ but I find my best ideas, strategies, and solutions come from taking space to move and create. 
  • Book in exercise as you book in a meeting.
  • Smart Swaps: Replace your lunch break stuck at the screen, to go on a jog or attend an exercise class. 
  • Walk more: Swap online shopping with in-person to get in that walk you keep putting off. 
  • Activewear: 69 percent of people say that having nice workout clothing that they enjoy putting on helps push them to exercise.
    TIP: Set your #activewear out by your bed the night before so you can jump into it as soon as you get up.

I tend to wear smart activewear most days so I can run to meetings or attend them and build in time to move too. We have finally seen the trend of Ath-Leisure take off in the UK too. Oh, and if you’re on video calls, you can always throw on a smart jumper with those tracksuit bottoms. 

Make sure you head to The Ridings for a stroll, a shop for your activewear (TKMaxx, Primark, and Wakefield Hospice shop are my go-to places for this), you can even pop down to The Yard for a Bellydance or Yoga class with me and Dani or to the rooftop car park where you’ll find Grow Wakefield’s rooftop allotment ( Don’t miss out on the range of community events The Ridings (have on offer from tea dances, community spaces, and ArtWalks. 

Anything is better than nothing when it comes to getting moving this New Year, be realistic, set yourself attainable goals that are mini wins and then reward yourself regularly for adopting a better routine. By rewards try not to include unhelpful coping mechanisms you may have done previously. 

You’ll find you can work smarter and more efficiently, the more you take time to exercise. When we think of business and wellbeing we think of two separate entities but with so many leaders and entrepreneurs – your physical health comes last and actually, wellbeing includes financial wellbeing but to create that we need to be as well as possible.

Health is Wealth!

For more on how to get fit in mind, body, and business this New Year, go to: https://sparklecommunications / or tag me @TheSparkleCoach 

DISCLAIMER: Article is an affiliation with The Ridings Shopping Centre where our Sparkle HQ is based.

“COMMUNITY IS QUEEN” for female founder and entrepreneur to one of the ‘most’ supportive business communities online 

It’s easy to see a woman on stage wrapped in a decadent independently designed dress with a sparkling smile to match her dazzling shoes and assume this powerhouse of a woman has got it all. A family, self-confidence, and a roaring audience of grateful clients alongside her booming business which has just held its annual Real Women Fashion Show event at the prestigious Royal Armouries in Leeds. 

But behind that multi-talented woman is a multi-faceted human being who was given the gauntlet of a challenging journey to be able to show up for herself and most importantly for Carron, is to stand up for her children and the cheerleading business community she created from “nothing.” 

Carron, the genius woman behind Simply Ladies Inc which is a rapidly expanding community of hundreds of female entrepreneurs, designed this success in “the worst time of her life.” 

Carron who lost the dad of her kids and partner suddenly, felt like she had had “everything I ever wanted – two babies and a soul mate,” felt like the “world was pulled” from under her feet. 

So how did she go from being grief-stricken to striding along her self-designed catwalk in the dazzling heels she wears today? 

Carron used her own transformation to be the vehicle to make a positive impact. And with children at home, the most accessible way to do this was to create her own community group online. 

“As women we are multi-faceted and we all need support around us to thrive in life and in business.

“In the depths of despair, I found the tool to repair myself was to champion others as we connected in our fight as women but also in starting enterprises which positively impact the world. 

“My mission is that I want women locally, nationally, and locally to be treated equally and as a whole In mind, body, and soul.” 

Carron does this in her own talented style to transform any woman who joins. 

“I offer life coaching, empowerment photo shoots, modeling opportunities for all women, business tips and social media management. But most of all I support each complex woman all on their own diverse journey to run their life, home, family, and in turn business – because she deserves to ‘have it all,’” explains trailblazing Carron. 

From a simple ‘Facebook group’ to empowering thousands of women online 

“The key is a community for success online and offline,” explains Carron who founded Simply Ladies inc to realize her dream of elevating all women to thrive via her supportive sisterhood online and through organising such empowerment events, photoshoots, and one-to-one life coaching sessions. 

How do you create a community? 

To foster this community of raving fans you need to “engage,” “be genuine,” and people will want to follow you, explains Carron who still runs this popular women-only facebook group – something she would have loved to access when being hit with bereavement. 

“Without this community, I don’t know where I’d be at today in life and in business, community is queen.” 

For more information on Simply Ladies, their awards show, and to join their growing yet closely-knitted community where “all women are welcome,” go to and follow them on social media @simplyladiesinc–

Business ‘Christmas Do’: The Rock ‘n’ Roll Panto – Review 

“We are family, I’ve got all my sisters with me…” a perfectly apt song start to the night ahead as a few women in business gathered for an intimate Christmas celebration to review a pantomime for Sparkle Magazine. 

But I have misled you already in making you think this was ‘work’ to us and a normal ‘pantomime.’  

We mixed business with pleasure as we danced along to a very different panto at City Varieties in Leeds… 

Beauty and the Beast: The Rock ‘n’ Roll Panto was on the bill this year and as ever rocked this luxurious lounge-like venue off the busyness of Briggate in Leeds City Centre. 

It’s the panto where there are more adults than children as we Rocked N Rolled into the festive season. 

The Rock ‘n’ Roll Panto is back where live music plays centre stage. 

“It’s like we’ve been through an 18-month episode of SAS who dares wins…” jokes the lead Dame Bessie Big Breaths as we missed out on all of the panto season last year in the Pandemic. 

Picture this, Beauty plays the trombone and the Beast sings “Let me entertain you…” with the whole ensemble really shining when they pick up their instruments and treat us to a tune. 

You’ll be wowed by this production which mixes traditional elements of audience participation and corny gags with a jukebox full of classic rock anthems and chart-toppers, all performed live on stage by the ultra-talented cast of actor-musicians.

Whilst the traditional luxury of the theatre setting and the staff, volunteers, and media team add to the warming welcome into this experience, the Rock n Roll panto is a perfect am-dram alternative to the ‘norm.’ 

From front to back of house, Leeds City Varieties ensure we are all welcome to “be our guest” in this sweet compact, and stunning experience. 

It’s so warming in here with the abundance of love put into this production, that you’ll even fancy ice cream in the interval… any excuse for a Yorkshire-made Northern Bloc tub sold from the Vintage Usherette Trays. 

Whether you’re having a social with colleagues or family, regardless of age, you’ll feel this warm embrace we all missed last year. 

Beauty and the Beast: The Rock ‘n’ Roll Panto is on now until Sunday 9 January 2022.

By Sophie Mei Lan /