Women in business is always a topic that permeates the news, as the corporate world struggles to catch up to modern societal progression. There are young entrepreneurs, however, who are breaking new ground and providing platforms to cultivate powerful and successful female entrepreneurs in Brighton. Lola Hoad, solo entrepreneur, set up One Girl Band in September of 2015 with the goal of finding a safe place for women to collaborate, share ideas and grow their businesses and gain equal footing with their male counterparts, something that YellBusiness argues is needed in business.
What does your business do?
I own One Girl Band, which is a collective for female entrepreneurs and creatives who work for and by themselves. We have a female-only co-working space in Brighton where creative entrepreneurs have the opportunity to get their business off of the kitchen table and into a reasonably-priced space full of likeminded individuals, who they can connect and collaborate with, and in turn, grow their businesses.
We also have monthly meet ups, as well as Expertise Sessions where an industry professional will come and do a workshop on their field such as accounting, legal, social media, branding, copywriting etc. We’re not, and never have been, about suits and typical networking events, we’re just laid-back, relaxed and supportive. Through OGB, I also offer coaching services, as well as host a weekly podcast.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
I started my design studio, LH design, when I was 19 in 2014, and as I was developing and growing a strong following on social media, I discovered just how many amazing women who were doing their own thing were using social media as a marketing tool (Instagram in particular), as well as for creating a community of likeminded business owners. They were finding meaningful relationships and getting support they couldn’t access in ‘real life’, but it was also a breeding ground for comparison, self-limiting beliefs and confidence issues as we all know social media doesn’t exactly portray real life!
After writing a few blog posts named ‘One Girl Band’ that were all about being self-employed/uncovering these issues, and seeing the response they got, I realised everyone else was feeling pretty much the same (like they were winging it and everyone else knew what they were doing). It was time to get these women all together in one room, in real life, so that they could see we really are all in the same boat.
So, I organised a small meet up in a restaurant in Brighton, put it online and it reached capacity in a matter of hours. From there, we had monthly meet ups that consisted of female entrepreneurs and creatives from up and down the country coming in, chatting, and gaining some empowerment, support and connection.
How did you know there was a market for it?
Social media, as well as the monthly meet ups, helped me create an amazing online and offline community filled with women who wanted to create a life they deserved, and they were very much in agreement that Brighton needed a safe space for women to go and work from that wasn’t extortionate and was well-located. At the end of 2016, I knew it was time to go to the next level and start aiming for my dream of opening up a female-only co-working space, so I started looking for a space.
I was very close to giving up when I realised it just wasn’t going to be financially feasible in an expensive city, until I found a premises that was perfect and so well-priced. We got in, put up all of the furniture, opened, and within in a couple of weeks we were at capacity with a waiting list of 30. We’ve been opened 6 months (tomorrow in fact!) and we’re now thinking about our next phase.
How did you raise funding, and why?
I was very lucky with the fact that the premises was so cheap that we didn’t need much. I funded all of the furniture myself and it was already decorated to how I envisioned it, so we didn’t have to do too much to it. With our next phase, we are hoping to bring on an investor.
Describe your business model in brief.
A collective for female entrepreneurs and creatives who work for and by themselves, and are craving a reasonably priced, safe and comfortable space to work from and grow their businesses.
Your lowest point was…
Deciding whether or not to continue with finding a space after seeing it was going to be so incredibly expensive. For a girl who was surviving off of pasta and baked beans, £25k+ per annum plus rates just wasn’t going to be possible, but I kept going until I found our current space.
Your highest point was…
Opening the space to the public and hearing how much it’s changed member’s businesses and lives.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
Just get started. If you have an idea, don’t sit on it and wait for the ‘right time’ because it’ll never be the right time!
Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
The aim is to have OGB spaces open in London, Glasgow and Manchester.
If you weren’t an entrepreneur, you would be…
Either a musician or a vet. Or maybe a vet’s receptionist because I’m not a fan of blood but would love to see dogs all day, every day.
If you could go back in time, would you do anything differently?
I honestly wouldn’t change anything. I’ve learned something from every failure, every mistake, and that’s how the businesses and I have grown.
What is your philosophy on business or life, in a nutshell?
You’re not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s completely fine. Find the people who understand you and your work, and cherish them.
Do you/ have you ever felt at a disadvantage or discriminated in the business world because of your age?
There have definitely been occasions where people have been surprised by my age, and have made a comment along the lines of ‘you don’t have life experience yet, how can you give business advice?’ or ‘when I was your age I was off having fun! you should be too!’ but I can shrug it off now. I used to feel a huge disadvantage when I first started, but now I know the fact that I started a business at such a young age is a part of my story, and my clients/members are 100% happy with the results, no matter what age I am.