Bira marks International Women’s Day

Wednesday March 8 is International Women’s Day and the British Independent Retailers Association (bira) is marking the occasion by celebrating the achievements of some of its female members.

The trade association has asked a selection of them to share the secrets of their success.

One of bira’s long-standing supporters is Sadie Chalkley who owns hardware store J G Banfield and Sons in Tenbury Wells, a small market town in the very north west of Worcestershire. She broke a century old all male presidency line at the association when she became National President in 2009.

Sadie said: “Ensuring my finances are sound is the secret to my success. Keeping a good grasp of your finances is vital to any new business owner but overall, I measure success based on how much I have pleased people.”

Tanya Umpleby owns Cooking Fantastic at The Cud Life – a specialist cookshop in the North Yorkshire spa town of Harrogate. She started her business at the age of 25. Twelve years on, Tanya says: “Watching and listening to happy customers and happy staff, in the environment that we’ve all played a part in creating, is what success is for me. It’s never been about what’s in the bank – it’s all about happiness (and happy customers spend more, so that helps to pay the bills!).”

Tanya’s advice for women in business is: “Believe in yourself, your products and your prices – my aunt taught me that in my first year of trading. If you don’t believe the product is worth what you’re selling it for, then how will your customer?”

Claire Harper, owner of online children’s clothing and gifts retailer IndiaCoco, who will speak at the bira High Street Conference 2016, said: “I often get asked what success looks like. I’ve learned that success is about knowing your customer. Work out who your customer is and what they really want. It’s a process that should be ongoing.

“Starting a business is not for the fainthearted. Know from the start what you’re getting into. The other challenge I’ve learned is not to be afraid of failure. If you are really entrepreneurial, and have the passion and self-belief to go forward, failures will only make you stronger.”

Finally, Sarah Golden, marketing and membership director of bira, said: “As the first woman to become a director of bira, in 2011, I’ve always been inspired by all the leading women working in retail and owning their own businesses. “As an organisation, we proactively support women in business and praise their achievements in what still remains a male dominated industry. We have more women than ever as part of our board of management and have two incredibly successful women waiting in the wings to take up the role of National President in the next three years.”

The bira High Street Conference 2016 will be held on Wednesday May 11 at Chateau Impney Hotel in Droitwich Spa, Worcestershire. The theme of the event is the future of independent retail.

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