Inspirational Woman: Sam Williams | Founder, BOMIMO

Sam WilliamsEntrepreneur, mother, and wellness enthusiast, Sam Williams started off her career on the trading floors of New York City and London, building a high-flying, successful career in a male-dominated industry.

After working for JP Morgan, Credit Suisse, and Deutsche Bank, Sam began to feel that she wanted more than a jet-setting City life and wanted to start a family with her husband Tim, so she decided to leave her trading career behind.

After years of focusing on her children, Sam started feeling an urge to carve out a new career for her future. Combining her entrepreneurial spirit and interest in the fitness sector, she created Rush Trampoline Parks, an enormous indoor family entertainment complex, which made her the UK’s first female trampoline park owner. Within two years, Samantha built Rush up from scratch into an extremely lucrative business making a £1.2 million profit and £6m revenue per year.

Most recently, Sam has founded BOMIMO, new UK-based supplement brand specifically designed for women, by women. BOMIMO®’s mission is to create a range of delicious nutritional products to support and empower every woman to be her best self at every hormonal stage.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

After studying for a Msc in Mathematics at The University of Oxford, my first job was a Junior Equity Derivatives Trader on the Exotics Trading Desk at JP Morgan. This was an exhilarating first role which I split between London and New York, and I was the only female trader in London at that time. I later moved into Equity Derivatives Sales and Marketing at Credit Suisse First Boston covering the UK & Ireland Market, but I was then talent spotted from within the organisation to join the Fund Derivatives Desk which was a new and exciting growth area in financial markets. I spent several years structuring and marketing derivative products linked to Hedge Fund and Mutual Fund Portfolios to institutional clients and private banks. Later, I was head hunted for a role at Deutsche Bank to head up European Fund Derivatives Structuring and Marketing but after a year in this role I fell pregnant with my first child and decided to take a one year maternity leave. I had planned to return to this role after maternity leave, however I fell pregnant again after 9 months so made the decision not to return straight away although the door was kept open. Tragically, I suffered from a still birth at 8 months later and after suffering this loss, I no longer had the ambition to return to my city career as my outlook on life had completely changed and I wanted to prioritise my family.

I went on to have 2 more children over the following few years (my children are now 16, 14 and 11) however I knew that I needed to be doing more with my time and my brain.  Overtime I researched and explored many business ideas, but it was whilst my family and I were living in Paris between 2012 and 2014, that I came across the idea of starting a trampoline park business in the UK. From that point onwards I couldn’t let the idea go, and when we returned to the UK in June 2014, I decided to go for it. I found a financial backer, set-up the company and projected managed everything from negotiating leases, obtaining planning consent, designing and managing the fit out and build, to employing staff, designing the website and so much more. I opened the doors to Rush Trampoline Park in High Wycombe in December 2015 to roaring success. I opened the second park in Birmingham in November 2016, and by the following year I had achieved a £6million turnover with £1.2m profit. Rush was a huge success and received over 1 million jumping customers in the time I was CEO and at its peak, I was responsible for 200 employees.

During my time as CEO at Rush, upon reflection, I was experiencing a very steep and nasty perimenopause although I did not realise this at the time. I was suffering from anxiety, insomnia, stress, weight loss and low mood, all of which I was attributing to the stress of running a very demanding business.  By July 2019 I had transitioned into menopause.

I made the decision to step down from the business in August 2020 during lockdown. There were many reasons for this decision, but I had also stopped enjoying it and the trade-off between stress and reward was out of balance. I took some time out to reassess what I wanted out of life. I knew that I wanted (and needed) to start another business as I could no longer envisage working for someone else and that I owed it to myself to try. However, I also knew that I need to fully own my next business so that I would be in greater control of my own destiny and would not have to deal with another difficult business partner.

After doing considerable research into menopause and the information, resources and products available to women in perimenopause and menopause, I realised that this was a hugely unexplored area and certainly one of opportunity. I started BOMIMO, a new nutritional supplements brand for women, out of a passion to empower other women to be their best self at every hormonal stage. Our first product, The MenoShake, launched in November 2021. I am the CEO and founder of Girl Power Nutrition Ltd which is the company name of the BOMIMO brand.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Not really. My career as evolved and grown as I have grown as a person. I have never been afraid of challenge and of hard work. I am also not afraid of taking measured risks. If I believe in something I’ll go all in 100%. At the start of my career, I knew I wanted to do something that excited me and that would use my mathematical ability, which is why I chose to become a trader. But after a few years of trading both in London and New York, I wanted to move into a more people facing role which is why I moved across to marketing and sales. After leaving the city to have a family and suffering the tragedy of losing a child, my priorities changed and I knew that whatever I did next had to work around my children. I travelled a lot whilst working in the city but I no longer wanted to do that as I wanted to be around for my family. So, the only option for me seemed to be to work for myself so that I could be in control of my time but also achieve my ambitions and goals. I’ve always dreamt big! Starting a trampoline park was probably bigger than even I’d ever imagined, but the challenges and lessons I learned along the way were huge. There were many highs and lows in that journey, but the brilliant part of it was, that my children could come to work with me during the holidays and at weekend – what kid doesn’t love bouncing on a trampoline! Now my kids are a bit older and I am much wiser, time is equally as important to me however my priorities have shifted again and I am learning to be kinder to myself. Running a huge multi-million-pound business with 200 staff took its toll on my health. My new business is entirely different. I currently work for myself from my home office and for the time being that suits me. However, I have big ambitions for BOMIMO and eventually want to take on office space and build a team of staff around me who share the same passion to support women’s health at every hormonal stage.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Where do I start with this one? Yes is the short answer, at every stage of my career. I’ve listed them out for ease:

  • During my time as structurer on the Fund Linked Derivatives Desk I was bullied by the traders on the desk who were disgruntled by the fact that the head of the desk hired me onto the desk without involving me in the process. They were often rude and insulting to me. I vividly remember them sticking post it notes on the wall with their bets on whether or not I’d land any deals. It was a really horrible time in my career and I often would feel like quitting or leaving because of how they were treating me or making me feel. Their attitude eventually changed when I landed a £2 billion deal with a large client – they started opening doors or me after that, and being polite, but it was a bit too little too late and I eventually left to move to another bank.
  • Opening the High Wycombe trampoline park was a significant challenge because it was difficult to convince an institutional landlord to take on a start-up so to find the building and sign the lease took 12 months and a lot of tenacity. It was also very difficult to obtain planning consent to convert an industrial warehouse into a leisure facility; it was challenging to recruit 100 staff and set up contracts. It was also challenging dealing with the health and safety aspects of running a trampoline park, and managing accidents and insurance. As the Director, it was my responsibility to ensure that the park was safe at all times for all of its customers.
  • Whilst running Rush, I encountered several issues with very difficult employees including a suicide attempt, mental health issues, and drug use to name but a few. These were all very challenging to deal with.
  • My previous business partner was very difficult to work with.  He initially courted me into a business partnership, but as soon as the pen had dried on the legal formation documents, the goal posts shifted dramatically. He was unpleasant over emails, regularly criticised or decisions. He wouldn’t respond to my messages, often ignoring my emails for weeks at a time so it was very difficult to make any strategic decisions. He also refused to pay me a salary that was equivalent to my market value and I was being paid much less many other counterparts were being paid in similar businesses. I made several attempts to raise the issue of being underpaid to him and he ignored and refused them all. Eventually the relationship became so untenable that it was making me extremely unhappy and it was affecting my health. This is the main reason why I decided to step away from the business in August 2020.
  • Having 2 hip replacements within 7 months in September 2020 to April 2021.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Opening the doors of Rush Trampoline Park both in High Wycombe in December 2015 and November 2016. They were both huge projects that took over a year, and involved overcoming so many hurdles and challenges to get open. I managed the entire High Wycombe project myself and my husband helped me with Birmingham. When the doors finally opened to both parks, my dreams became a reality.

I am also proud of myself for knowing when it was the right time to step away from Rush and to move onto my new venture, BOMIMO. I am hugely product of how far I have come with BOMIMO in only 12 months and I am very excited for what the future holds for this brand.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

I have always dreamt big, and I have also always had the self-belief that I can achieve anything with lots of hard work and that anything is possible if I set my mind to it.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

I would love to be a mentor as I feel that I have a lot to offer and could give advice and guidance to other women who are looking to start and run their own business. I haven’t had the opportunity to mentor anyone (outside of my role as the CEO at Rush) so would be interested in doing this now. I have never really been someone’s mentee, although I feel at times that it would be really beneficial as I currently do not have anyone (other than my husband) to discuss ideas or issues with and to get advice.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Equality, what would it be?

Equal pay after experiencing being underpaid in my position as CEO of Rush for 6 years, I feel very strongly that women should be paid equal to men, in similar positions.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

When I was younger, I think I followed my heart rather than my head in some of my earlier career decisions. I didn’t appreciate at the time how successful I had been to secure a trading position at JP Morgan, and with the benefit of hindsight, had I continued in this role for a few more years, I may have been more financially secure than I am now, so I wish that I had thought further ahead and understood the opportunity that I had created for myself.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

My next challenge is to grow BOMIMO into becoming a globally recognised nutritional supplement brand for women. In the next 5 years, I want to grow this brand into a range with at least 6 products supporting women at different hormone stages, including menopause, puberty, post-natal women, post menopause, weight management and libido. I want to be selling both online and through retailers both in the UK, but also in the US and Europe.

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