This week, we had the pleasure of interviewing local businesswoman Kate Stewart! Kate is responsible for setting up Vitality Homes – a community organisation here in Liverpool that offers support to those struggling with drug and alcohol addiction and helps get them back on their feet. Keep reading to learn about Kate’s unique journey from leaving school at 17 to becoming a female founder and a self-made millionaire.
1. Why did you start your business? What spurred you on?
I started my business after leaving school without any qualifications. After falling pregnant at 17, I knew I had to take control and so I worked as a secretary and studied for a business and management degree whilst raising my daughter Caitlin. I ended up running a company, before leaving and owning a string of tanning and beauty shops. I then invested my money wisely and took ownership of Liverpool’s Heritage Market before selling it.
I have continued to grow my business with the Sandon Group, Vitality Homes and Kate Stewart Enterprises, my current endeavour. I now have four children and they continue to inspire me to achieve my goals every day. Everything I do is for them.
2. What are the unique challenges that you have faced as a female founder?
Being a female in business can be tough but I have also been lucky enough to meet so many other inspirational female bosses. I think there is an understanding amongst women to support each other in business and give each other the confidence and power to keep growing in their industries.
A challenge I’ve faced is garnering the respect that I deserve from professionals. When I first started out, not many people wanted to take a chance on me which was really difficult. Now I’m much more established it a lot easier but I think there is still a stigma around female business owners – I’m as knowledgeable as male entrepreneurs!
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We are open 🏆🏆🏆🏆 thanks @23_carra for coming along to open our hotel 🏨 it’s been a long hard road but we made it !!!! Thanks to everyone who has been on the journey with us x. #liverpoolbusiness #northwest #liverpool #liverpoolfc #sandon #thesandoncomplex #thesandon #propelpr
3. What were the three steepest learning curves in your first year in business?
- Trust your gut instinct
- Take risks
- Invest wisely
4. What is your favourite thing about founding your own company?
Having the freedom to do what I want when I want to.
I think there is an understanding amongst women to support each other in business and give each other the confidence and power to keep growing in their industries.
5. What is the best business advice you have been given by someone else?
‘Always be whiter than white, that way, nothing can ever come back to bite you.’
6. Do you ever suffer from Imposter Syndrome? If so, how do you tackle it and move forward?
I don’t actually, I’m really self-confident. I try to be my own biggest fan.
7. What’s the best book on business you’ve read?
Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg – it’s brilliant and I couldn’t put it down.
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8. What advice would you give to yourself if you were starting your business now?
Firstly, you have to believe in yourself. It’s so important to be confident in what you’re doing. And always adhere to everything that is required of you and keep on top of it. Finally, take risks!
9. If you had a marketing budget of £1,000 what would you spend the money on?
A PR strategy, easy!
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We hope you enjoyed Kate’s story and are feeling inspired! If you’re looking to read about the journeys of more inspiring women, we recently interviewed Amy Collins, the founder of one of Liverpool’s favourite enamel pin brands: Pin Head. Follow J&R on Instagram and Twitter to find out when the next Female Founder interview is up!