Female-owned British startups you need to know about

Female entrepreneur’s are changing the game in 2017. Here are just some of the startup company’s to watch out for:

Swoon Editions | Debbie Williamson

Swoon Editions is an online retailer of hand-crafted, high quality furniture, sold at affordable prices. In just three years, Swoon Editions has achieved 300% growth, and now employs staff across London, Vietnam, India and China.

Debbie Female startups

“When starting a business you must choose the right partner. Running a business is hard; it helps to have someone who you can talk to when things get tough. You need to have the same ethos but it helps if they have a completely different skill set. If I’d launched the business on my own, I would only have been able to take it so far. It’s a massive journey, full of highs and lows; it’s nice to be able to share that with someone.

The second piece of advice I’d give is to just get on with it. Detailed business plans aren’t necessarily that important at the very beginning. You don’t need one to be able to verify that you have a market. I’d suggest getting clear on your business model, developing a prototype and using it to test the market. If there’s an appetite for it, build the proposition from there. It doesn’t have to be complicated.” 

BorrowMyDoggy | Rikke Rosenlund

The business connects dog owners to trusted people in their area, who will happily take care of their dog when they’re at work or on holiday. Founded in 2012, the concept has now grown to have over 500,000 members.

Rekke startups

“Starting a company has been one of the most challenging and most rewarding things I have ever done. BorrowMyDoggy was never started as a company, but rather was a little idea, that turned into a weekend project, and then grew from there. I am passionate about what we do and our aim to leave ‘Pawprints of Happiness’ on the lives of dogs and people… and every single time I hear a lovely story on how we have helped make a positive difference, then it makes me incredible happy and proud.”

Bianca Miller London | Bianca Miller

The Apprentice runner-ups business venture is a collection of hosiery for women of all skin-tones. The range is currently sold at TopShop and suits over 45 different skin tones.

Bianca Miller

“I had a business before I went onto The Apprentice, so being on the show was an amazing experience and opportunity to put my business knowledge to use in a very unusual and high pressure environment. Being on The Apprentice has helped me to launched my second business ‘Bianca Miller London’ and work on redefining nude hosiery. This success has spurred me on and inspired me to keep working on new innovations and on topics that inspire women.
I think it takes great vision, determination and passion to succeed – the road to starting a new business or a new career is not easy and there are often many obstacles but if you don’t expect the road to be smooth you will see just how resilient you are when you do make it.
Oh and a supportive network for me is a key part of success, having people around you to support and champion you is crucial.”

EyeFitU | Isabelle Ohnemus

Isabelle is a former broker who left investment banking after more than 10 years to bring a new solution to the fashion retail business. EyeFitU is an m-commerce portal that lets users shop directly in their size, removing the risk of badly fitting clothes needing to be returned.

Isabelle startups
Photo by Adriana Tripa

“To all the women starting their own companies: never stop being passionate about what you do. Be curious and humble because every day is a school day and you have to make the most of it. Sometime risk is part of the journey of being an entrepreneur, embrace it and don’t let it stop you. One last tip: don’t take every criticism personally. Some are good.”

Gym Bites | Alexis Oladipo

Gym Bites creates delicious, healthy, on-the-go meals. Packaged in jar’s and using only fresh ingredients, any leftover meals are donated to a homeless shelter at the end of each day. Twenty-nine-year-old founder Alexis Oladipo got her big break when Gym Bites was sold at Selfridges in London.


“I wanted to make a product that when people google it, they’ll be like, ‘What? This is a black Nigerian girl from Hackney?. I learnt that if you can’t get a job, create one – and that’s what I did”

 Lorena Öberg Skincare | Lorena Öberg

Based in Surrey and Harley Street, London, Lorena’s company is a leader in the field of Skin repair. She founded her successful business five years ago with just £100 and balanced business with having two young children to support. She also runs an international training academy teaching invaluable skills to the next generation.

Lorena Oberg

“You can’t expect people to be supportive. Seek professional advice really early on from relevant resources – such as the likes of the UK Trade & Investments. More importantly when you get this advice, ensure you follow the advice. Have a long term business plan but don’t let it be set in stone. As your business grows, adapt it to suit new opportunities coming your way.”

Don’t Buy Her Flowers | Steph Douglas

The concept for Steph’s business was conceived through providing thoughtful gift packages for new mums, as an alternative to flowers. Don’t Buy Her Flowers has since featured in several major newspapers and also features the blog ‘Sisterhood’ about motherhood, relationships and the idea of being in it together.

Photo by Sam Furlong

“Don’t worry about everything being perfect when you launch. In fact, you want to leave room for improvement and new ideas, giving you something to build on for customers. You’ll also find your customers will tell you what they want – we launched as gifts for new mums and straight away found customers wanted to also send our packages for get well, bereavement, birthday and a whole host of other occasions. We had no idea this would happen; once you get going the lessons (and opportunities) will really pour in.” 

Little Moons | Vivien Wong

Vivien Wong, together with her brother Howard, is the co-founder of luxury Japanese dessert brand, Little Moons. The company became the first mochi brand to be available to buy Nationwide in the UK through its launch into Ocado in 2016.

Female Start ups

“I find that a lot of people who want to start their own business can often have self-doubt, but it’s really important to remain confident in what you are doing, believing you know best and keep focused on the end goal, as this will always help you to succeed.

My advice would be to attend networking groups and reach out to other individuals in the food industry who have more experience than you. I have found other young entrepreneurs really helpful and supportive when I launched Little Moons as they understand the everyday challenges you face when it comes to running your own business from scratch. Even if they don’t have the exact answer, you can learn something from their experience.”

Geekzonia | Carina Walsh

Geekzonia is a social, entertainment and retail space, built to be experienced entirely in virtual reality. Users can explore strange and wondrous worlds dedicated to geeky genres, with VR videos and experiences.

female start up

“You have to be a master of all trades and know about everything from dealing with suppliers, to ventilation and employees issues, to accountancy, and finance.

I think that’s why I’d pass off the suggestion that before you start a company, you need a network. Establishing a close network of individuals that can help you on all things will free up some mental space so you can take care of other things.”

The Author School | Helen Lewis

Helen Lewis is the co-founder of The Author School, alongside Abiola Bello, supported by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin StartUps. The Author School, set up in 2015, runs classes for aspiring writers and established authors.

Helen Lewis

“Surround yourself by people who reflect your personality, goals and beliefs. For me that means being true to myself and treating people as I wish to be treated. I love to work with people who are full of passion and energy, positivity and truth. Collaboration is so important. I’ve also learned the hard way that it’s vital that you give yourself time out of work, space to ‘be’ and relax, it’s imperative that you look after yourself!”


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