IWD 2017: Belle Magazine’s most inspirational women

Wednesday 8th March marks 2017’s International Women’s Day (IWD), celebrating the girl bosses, the leading pioneers and the incredible powers of the female kind. It’s not been an easy history for women, however, with every year, comes a new inspirational story and inspiring individual. Our favourite time of the year, the Belle team have put together a list of the most inspirational women, from yoga teachers and finance specialists to gin creators and charity authorities.

Claire Fountain, founder of TrillYoga

Claire Fountain, otherwise known by her social media handle CB Quality, is a yoga instructor whose unorthodox approach truly embodies the union of lifestyle and practice. She is an experienced holistic lifestyle educator and social media influencer, Claire founded Trill Yoga, a fitness and wellness lifestyle which – through the support of online audiences – has become a cultural movement practiced around the world. Wowsers.

Primrose Matheson, founder of Primrose’s Kitchen

After a childhood of ill-health Primrose decided to take things into her own hands and studied naturopathy and complementary health studies.  With this knowledge she created Primrose’s Kitchen in 2017, a delicious line of healthy, naturopathic food products – in particular award-winning Raw Vegetable Muesli. What began from her kitchen table, the dishes are now stocked in Waitrose, Ocado, Planet Organic, Wholefoods and many independent food stores throughout the UK and Europe. 


Alison Edgar, Managing Director of Sales Coaching Solutions and The Entrepreneur’s Godmother

Alison has over thirty years experience in the sales and customer service industry. A pioneer in enterpr
ise and one of the UK’s top 10 business advisors, Alison has won countless awards while working closely with the government to improve support for business. A frequent public speaker and adored by her many business owners, Alison is charismatic, supportive and energetic. She does this all while being a wife and a mother of two teenage boys.

Camilla Brown & Liz Beswick, founders of Young In Spirit

These two ladies are seriously ones to watch. Their company, Young In Spirit is the world’s first alcoholic drinks company which combines spirits with pure collagen, with the first product being CollaGin. The brains behind the unique idea are Oxford based PR girls turned ‘Gintrepreneurs’ Camilla Brown and Liz Beswick.

Camilla Brown, 30, has worked in the hospitality industry for years in all forms – from bar to PR, her passion lies in creating stand-out, and sometimes controversial products that ignite ‘surprise and delight’.

Liz Beswick, 29, is the ‘tonic’ to Cam’s ‘gin’ and is the brains behind the collagen aspect. Being a beauty fanatic, Liz takes the company from ‘just drinks’ to becoming the leaders in collagen distilled spirits, with the vision to produce a selection of premium products by merging the popular worlds of beauty and spirits into one, beautiful unison.

Shalini Khemka, E2Exchange

Shalini Khemka is a champion of entrepreneurs.  In November of this year, Shalini was appointed by Sadiq Khan to the Mayor of London’s Business Advisory Board tasked with boosting economic growth in the capital. With a wealth of banking and investment experience, Shalini founded The E2Exchange Group in 2011 as a catalyst for entrepreneurial growth, helping to build and foster connectivity for a 12,000-strong entrepreneurial business community. She is also a Director of the Centre for Entrepreneurs (CFE) and a judge for the Great British Entrepreneur Awards.

Karen Thompson, Owner of KAM Hair and Body Spa

Developing your own brand and launching a successful salon is an arduous task, especially being in the saturated market that it is. Karen opened her salon at the young age of 17 and has since grown it to be the leading hair and beauty destination in the North of Scotland. Receiving an enviable portfolio of awards and accolades throughout the salon’s life, Karen is this year celebrating its 25 year anniversary.

Emma Warren, Entrepreneur, Director and Business Mentor

Referred to fondly as the Development Duchess, Emma has an impressive portfolio of companies, all of which are quirky specialists in their niche. Emma has many year of experience and is the backbone to successful companies such as Hiho Silver, Doris & co (our favourite home goods) and Blackdown Shepherd Huts. 

A ‘YES YOU CAN!’ women, Emma is also a wife and mother to two amazing boys and the owner of the award-winning Dimpsey Glamping. She is also a lover of gin, cake and balance in life – we’ve tried her Victoria Sponge and its heavenly.

Charlotte Vohtz, founder of organic beauty brand Green People

Charlotte Vohtz is a real pioneer of organic beauty. She is an inspirational woman on a mission and certainly one to watch. Two decades have passed since Charlotte launched her organic beauty brand Green People, encouraging a more natural approach to beauty. Green People is now a multi award-winning range and a front runner in the organic beauty industry. With more than 140 natural and organic products, the only way is up for Charlotte. 

Dr Kate Evans, founder of the charity Elephants for Africa

Turning her passion and lifelong love for elephants into an inspiring charity in 2007, Kate divides her time between the research camp in Botswana, and promoting the charity’s work in the UK and USA. Kate is a wife and mum of two with an inquisitive nature, encouraging her to follow her childhood dream to work with and understand the great elephant. 

With 18 years of experience as a field biologist in Southern Africa and a BSc in Zoology as well as a PhD specialising in adolescent male elephant behaviour, Dr Kate Evans is truly inspiring. With a current focus on educating female farmers in the bush about how to live and work successfully side by side with the great elephant, Kate is a serious authority in the field.

Sian Holt, MD of Fudge Kitchen

What is now a leading company in the industry, Sian Holt began Fudge Kitchen 35 years ago, fresh from university. Sian has an undeniable ‘can do’ attitude and supplies over 200 stockists in over 20 countries from the smallest deli to Selfridges and Harrods. Sian is a visionary with a scrupulous commitment to quality and refuses to compromise on the central tenet of handmade, hand decorated products.

A fudge matriarch, Sian is a force in the industry and has a team of over 80 people in which she invests in as the core of her business. So much so, that she has an incredible retention rate – 10 years being an average employment, with some having been there over 30 years.

Bethany Eaton, co-founder of CO YO

Bethany is a British police officer turned culinary pioneer and food entrepreneur, who launched the business with her husband, Paul, whilst she was on maternity leave. Life on the beat had taken its toll on her health which led her to launch a successful career as a nutritionist.  Through the daily interactions with her patients, Bethany came to realise that something integral in food was missing.

Bethany was determined to find an answer, a real ‘free from’ non-dairy, non-soya alternative to the limited supply of dull products on offer. Knowing first hand through her own personal health journey that eating well is the primary key to unlocking incredible benefits of wellness, her research led her to Australia where she found CO YO.

Bethany and Paul now craft every pot of CO YO in their own “coconut only” premises in Kent. Motivated by a genuine desire to make life a little easier (and tastier) for those with food allergies and intolerances.

Neely Reyes, founder of Sapphires Model Management

Neely Reyes is the founder of the award-winning Sapphires Model Management, an agency that has worked with and provided models for some of the biggest names in the industry. Her client list boasts brands such as Vivienne Westwood, Victoria Beckham, Rimmel, Chloe and ASOS to name a few.  Working with everyone from independent designers through to large European retailers, her advice, guidance and knowledge of the fashion industry has been of valuable use to many companies.

Neely is truly a success story and has created and developed a new concept of modelling agency highlighting ethical business practices and high-level customer service. Neely’s vision for entrepreneurship, generosity and positive impact on the fashion industry has helped aspiring models and her prestigious client base alike.

Marissa Montgommery, founder of Rotten Roach

Founder of cult slogan t-shirt brand Rotten Roach, Marissa set up her own business when she was 23 and was recognised as one of Forbes original 30 under 30 to watch.  Her slogan t-shirts feature artwork and slogans exclusively designed by prolific illustrator and Oscar Nominee Hugo Guinness( for his work on Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel). The label launched to immediate success with celebrity fans including Kate Moss, Sadie Frost, Rosie Huntington Whitely, Anna Hendrick, Pixie Lott, Laura Whitmore and Michelle Rodriguez to name a few. And launched at Harvey Nichols with stockists now including Donna Ida, Baar & Bass, plus stores in NYC, France and St Barts.

Susie Howell, founder of Ibiza Retreats

Best know for her unique, multi-disciplinary approach to health and wellness, celebrity yoga teacher Susie draws on her integrated knowledge of yoga, holistic fitness and anatomical mindfulness to help her clients achieve true body-mind balance.

Located in Ibiza, Susie traverses the UK and Europe, sharing her knowledge and expertise with those seeking to achieve optimal physical and psychological condition. Susie’s company, Ibiza Retreats, is very geared towards helping and healing women. In particular, Nourish, which is a 5 night retreats, specifically helps women strip back the layers of armour they have acquired from modern living that has disconnected her from her true feminine essence. By reconnecting to her inner self, she can achieve true happiness.

Iza Minkiewicz, founder of Blue Almonds

Originally a high-profile business woman with a degree in Economics from Poland and a Masters from Europeaisiche Wirtschaftshochschule in Berlin, Iza originally moved to the UK to work in one of the top hedge funds in London. As more of her friends settled down and started families, Iza started to see there was a need for a place you could rely on for gorgeous, unique baby gifts. Starting a business based around children and newborns with no baby experience was certainly a challenge! But shortly after Blue Almonds was officially opened, Iza became pregnant and gave birth to her son Filip. As the business has grown, so has her family, and Iza is now a proud mother of two.

This year the business is celebrating its 10 year anniversary, with a successful Ecommerce site and first own-brand products in production, Iza’s future plans ensure that everyone around the globe can have the Blue Almonds experience!

Joeli Brearley, founder of Pregnant Then Screwed

Joeli launched her business, Pregnant Then Screwed which is an international pressure group lobbying against maternity and pregnancy discrimination. It was launched on IWD in 2015 and since then has launched a free legal advice line, a free tribunal mentoring service and this week the #GiveMeSix campaign to gather signatures for an online petition to extend the time limit to bring a maternity related case to tribunal from the current 3 months to 6 months.

Catkin Bodmer, founder of BRYT Skincare

“Skincare should be viewed as part of a healthy lifestyle, of which beauty is a by-product” is the mantra of Catkin Wemyss- Bodmer, who launched her new generation botanical skincare range, BRYT Skincare in January 2014. Beginning her career in Beauty PR, Catkin fell in love with the whole ethos of aromatherapy and phytotherapy. Her firm belief is that if you are confident in your skin, you shine.

A winning combination of determination, passion and knowledge of the skincare market enabled her to create and develop BRYT in just 15 months. And the effectiveness of the formulations speak for themselves with the brand now available at over 120 Waitrose stores, online at Ocado and Amazon, plus independent stores throughout the UK and Ireland.

Kirsty Henshaw, founder of KIRSTY’s – healthy, naturally ‘free from’ ready meals

Life as a single mum can be hard, but, as free-from food entrepreneur, Kirsty Henshaw says: “When life gives you lemons… make lemonade!” 30-year-old Kirsty was a Dragon’s Den winner and her company, Kirsty’s, is now one of the UK’s leading naturally free from range of ready meals. Launched in 2012, the trusted brand can now be found in over 1400 supermarkets throughout the UK, with an RSV of £6m, meeting demand for readily available, healthy meals for a busy lifestyle.


Pippa Murray, founder of Pip & Nut

Pippa Murray, 28 launched Pip & Nut in January 2015 and the brand has had phenomenal success becoming the fastest growing nut butter brand in the UK.  Pip & Nut offers innovative flavours such as Coconut Almond and Crunchy Maple Peanut which are all natural with no palm oil, refined sugar or artificial ingredients.

Pippa also has numerous award under her belt including ‘Young Achiever of the Year’ at the 2016 First Women Awards and the Woman in Business Awards at the‘s 2016 Awards.  This January Pippa launched her first ever cookbook, Pip & Nut: The Nut Butter Cookbook, and the company ran a Pop Up Toast Bar at Selfridges showcasing recipes from the book for a month – the only way is up from here!

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