IWD: Making the breakthrough


Unlocking Potential is marking International Women’s Day (Mar 8) by sharing the stories of five inspiring, innovative, and resilient female business owners that they are proud to have supported through their Breakthrough, InFocus, Future Focus and Digital Transformation programmes.

This year’s theme for International Women’s Day 2022 is #BreaktheBias, which highlights the importance of challenging biases and misconceptions in the interest of creating a more inclusive and gender-equal world.

Amanda White – Amanda White Digital

Amanda White started her business whilst on maternity leave and during lockdown. Freelance work grew until – with the help of the Breakthrough programme – Amanda White Digital became a fully-fledged business.

“Confidence was the one thing I didn’t have when I started my business. I’d worked in my niche for ten years: I SHOULD be confident, but to be a business-owner? Not at all … I was also offering a service that I thought was more than my employee’s wage … but then Breakthrough were telling me I could not only double it, but triple it … Thinking I could have less working hours, more time with my child, and still earn the same amount: win-win, so thank you, Breakthrough!”

Abi Taylor – Wild Harbour

Wild Harbour’s founder and director Abi Taylor has successfully provided the hospitality industry with sustainable seafood from Cornish waters for over ten years.

Future Focus, in partnership with the University of Exeter, helped Taylor launch Coast to Home, which offered the same sustainable, traceable, fresh local fish, but direct to the public. Not only is Wild Harbour expected to triple its turnover in 2022, but her leadership means she is a compelling role model for Cornish women in business too.

Jenny Shipley – Cut By Beam

Jenny Shipley personifies the dream of leaving the day-job to work for yourself but has had to navigate the early, turbulent years of a business’s life and the challenge of rapidly scaling up to cope with sudden growth.

InFocus offered Jenny a three-strand solution to help her rise to that challenge – the input of a business development manager, grant support and access to growth planning sessions to control the business’s rapid growth.

“I felt that Cut By Beam was at a point where I needed to be in control of our growth for the future – we’ve been operating reactively over the past couple of years. The grant we received enabled us to invest in a new machine which will mechanise some processes, speeding up production, improving efficiencies.”

Alison Bick

Alison Bick’s lampshade-design business benefitted from Breakthrough’s coaching on SEO and Google Analytics, moving away from selling primarily on Etsy to selling through a new ecommerce site. In addition, Bick boldly started running live social content. The upside to all of this? Doubling her previous years’ income in just seven months. Another gamechanger moment came from being contacted out of the blue by the producers of BBC’s Escape to the Country.

One thing led to another: not only did being featured on the show bring Bick’s lampshades and cushions to the attention of many interested viewers, it also led to stockists getting in touch in such numbers she exceeded her sales targets for the year.

Emma Caddis – Treseren

For Emma Caddis at Treseren, a thriving wedding venue, progress was less about solving an obvious problem and more about a leap of faith to transform her business. Always spinning plates, working with the Digital Transformation programme meant that within a year Treseren became a paperless, streamlined operation with a new client portal and showcasing Treseren in winter months using Augmented Reality (AR).

“It can seem overwhelming, and it is an investment of time and energy, but in the end adopting digital has been such a timesaver … the business is so much more efficient now, there are no overlaps; it’s been an absolute gamechanger.”

What all these stories share is a common theme of resilience, ingenuity, innovation, and a will to succeed which explains why in 2022 Cornwall is home to so many impressive and thriving woman-run businesses.