Two Cheshire mums joined forces and launched their own women-only networking group two years ago and now stand with over 21,000 fellow women celebrating its success. Founders Julie Harrison and Karen Bellamy are now looking to empower more like-minded female entrepreneurs to carry on the conversations.
“Since launching in 2016, UK Gossip Girls Networking (Gossip Girls) has been instrumental in generating thousands of pounds worth of business for our members,” said founder Julie.
“We still have to pinch ourselves when it comes to the success of our group and now the success our members are seeing. But it isn’t that surprising when across Britain, female entrepreneurship is growing, and the proportion of women going into business has risen by 45 per cent in the past decade.
“This surge coincided with our light-bulb moment of there being a real gap in support out there for women in business, everyone needs to meet, share and continue to learn. Most networks have become gender neutral over the years, yet women often still experience that these male-dominated networks do not give them the support that they need.
“As a result, we launched Gossip Girls to cater for women of all ages, as well as the younger entrepreneurial generation who want connections and real tools for their start-ups.”
Julie, a mum of six, from Bramhall, with a career in customer services before helping to launch her husband’s engineering business, set up the networking group alongside her friend Karen, a mum of two and a reiki master and energy practitioner, from Bramhall.
Julie continued: “Being part of a network can boost your confidence, give you inspiration, support and advice. Importantly, it can also give you vital business exposure and access to funding.”
Gossip Girls is a female only business network, covering Cheshire and south Manchester, it’s dedicated to supporting local women in business and the local community and it does this through its website, events, networking and social media.
Co-founder Karen said: “We set up with a mission, to encourage our members to support each other and help generate business by sharing ideas, business contacts and recommending services of other members. Two years later, we are more than doing that. Our followers on social media are constantly growing and it’s increasingly being used as an efficient means to connect and collaborate, and our member directory is blossoming too, with us closely supporting over 200 businesses.
“Our members really are the most inspirational women, they offer lifelines to one another. We share best practices and our events we host always sell out and it feels like we are one, very creative, successful and passionate family.”
The Gossip Girls Facebook page currently stands at over 21,000 followers and it works with 240 Cheshire-based brands ranging from electricians to dog walkers.
“The whole ethos of Gossip Girls is to support women from all walks of life, irrespective of their age, creed or background. One minute we could be talking about cake toppings and the next minute plug sockets, the variety is what keeps the group so refreshing,” said Karen.
“In our early conversations, Julie and I were both committed to working with other Cheshire-based businesses. There is such creativity in the North West and we wanted to ensure that we gave very deserving and ethical local businesses further limelight.”
Member of Gossip Girls, Lynda Williams, who owns local business HandyVan shares her success from being part of the network: “Joining the Gossip Girls Directory in February has been one of the best decisions I have made for my family business. We immediately saw an increase in enquiries coming through, and as a result of which we have seen our revenue increase by 50% over the past seven months, and there is no sign of it slowing down.”
Since officially launching, the networking group has encouraged all its businesses to be involved in fundraising initiatives, including its own annual fundraiser for When You Wish Upon a Star, in which this year’s event raised £8,801.83 for the charity that grants the wishes of children living with a life-threatening illness.
Julie ended: “We are bursting with pride that around our second birthday we stand so strong and that we are encouraging more women across Cheshire to be their own boss. We would love to welcome more businesses into the fold and can’t wait to see what 2019 brings.”