In celebration of International Women’s Day: an interview with a female business founder

International Women's Day. Hannah Greasley, Trophy Tails, BaseKit

International Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women the world over. For us here at BaseKit, that means celebrating female small business owners and the remarkable things they are achieving and can achieve in the future!

We caught up with Hannah Greasley, who set up her business online using BaseKit software via our partner Fasthosts. Before setting up her business, Hannah worked in the fashion industry as a designer and pattern cutter specialising in ladieswear, pet clothing and homeware.

Today Hannah is the owner of global online business Trophy Tails – which offers quality, custom-made equestrian products designed to keep horses looking their best before shows and events – a career change that changed her life in more ways than one!

For small business supporters, business owners and those thinking of starting a business, this is Hannah’s inspirational story.

A new business venture is a step into the unknown

Hannah has made a success of her business in a short amount of time. Though she acknowledges that the journey wasn’t always smooth.

“When I set up my business, I was excited, ambitious, and nervous all at the same time. Starting out as an unknown brand, I faced challenges in reaching my target market as well as proving my new products are as good as I said. Thankfully, I soon gained trust and support online.”

The pandemic has put a huge strain on many businesses, including Hannah’s. She spoke honestly about the contrast between the challenges she faced at the start of her business journey compared with the stresses the pandemic put the business under:

“Sourcing and buying supplies has been difficult. Many of my suppliers are still working on skeleton staff and haven’t yet returned to more “normal” practices, such as those we were used to pre-pandemic. Not to mention the ever-rising costs to us all, which have been challenging.”

“As an online business, I rely heavily on the postal service to deliver my goods near and far. Not only did the pandemic cause disruption, but Brexit has meant there’s been quite a change in where and how I can send my goods abroad, with new changes to customs documentation.”

“I don’t think any of my previous experiences or difficulties could have prepared me for what we faced during these unprecedented times. But unlike many small businesses, we survived! The support from customers has been amazing and I’m grateful to be able to trade all over the world.”

“It certainly hasn’t been easy; it has taken many sacrifices to achieve my goals but it’s all been worthwhile. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”

Female entrepreneurship: inspiration at its heart

It’s clear that Hannah’s drive has given rise to her extraordinary success. Her determination is inspiring, but what inspires her? We asked Hannah about the origins of her business and what prompted her to give up the day job.

It starts with the love of her animals.

“When I bought my first Traditional Gypsy Cob ‘Suzie’ and began showing her, I would spend hours bathing her in preparation for a show, only to find the next morning I’d need to do it all over again!”

“This is where I noticed a gap in the market for products that didn’t yet exist. I began designing, developing and testing my products to help keep horses clean for when presentation matters.”

Trophy Tails’ range includes tail bags, mane bags and horse hoods, designed to cover horses and protect their hair, keeping them clean before a show.

As a passionate horse lover and horse show enthusiast, setting up a business to reflect her interests was a logical step forward for Hannah.

“I needed to be able to work around caring for my herd of horses as well as preparing them for shows.”

Hannah spotted a marketing opportunity, giving her a chance to increase the business’ reach:

“When I attended shows, I promoted my business by using the products on my horses. I also offered customers the option to collect their orders from me at the shows. I love that I get to see people using my products, as it helps me to develop existing products and design new ones.”

Overcoming barriers to entrepreneurship for women in 2022

Hannah spoke candidly about the pressures women face, not just in business but in life.

“Over the decades women’s stereotypical roles have changed,” Hannah points out.

In 2022 it’s not unusual to find women running side-hustles, launching products and setting up their own microbusinesses. And while female entrepreneurship is growing, Hannah observes that the more traditional burdens of housekeeping and taking care of the family haven’t gone away:

“Many women work full-time while juggling everything life throws at them!”

The need to be everything and help everyone is perhaps, then, the biggest barrier to entrepreneurship for women. In Hannah’s personal experience, overcoming those barriers begins with letting go of the need to do it all:

“Perhaps the biggest business and life lesson I’ve learned as an entrepreneur,’ says Hannah, ‘is to never be afraid to ask for a little help, whether that be from friends or your partner.”

Challenges for those setting up microbusinesses

Microbusiness owners need support and friends and family are a great place to start for lots of people. But what about the tools available to microbusinesses; how do they help entrepreneurs succeed?

Hannah identified time as a big challenge for her business.

“Everything my business makes is manufactured in-house, meaning my time is often stretched – especially when I was overwhelmed by the initial demand for my products.”

“I needed an online presence that was quick and easy to set up, something that connects to social media platforms with easily-accessible support channels.”

Building her website with BaseKit’s software gave Hannah the capabilities she was looking for. She was able to build her online presence easily with reliable software from BaseKit and ongoing support from her hosting platform, Fasthosts.

Trophy Tails, Hannah’s company, now trades around the world. From zero to international business for a first-time entrepreneur is an incredible achievement! The whole process was quick, too, and didn’t take up too much of Hannah’s precious time:

“Once I had created my own graphics, product descriptions and product images, I had my website online within a few days.”

Self-doubt: accept the worries and carry on

Although Hannah’s entrepreneurial streak beats strong and fast, she still has doubts. For many women, self-doubt can sabotage their business plans before they even begin. If she were to share one piece of advice, Hannah would tell other women,

‘Be your biggest supporter. Believe in yourself and follow your dreams!’

Speaking of her own reservations about her business launch, Hannah was frank.

“After trialling my products so they were ready to hit the public market, I was apprehensive as to whether or not my risks would pay off. Would it work?”

“I had to hope others would enjoy using my products as much as I did, I had to have faith in myself, my ideas and what I had created. It was a lot of hard work to get to that point, but once I got online business picked up and snowballed rapidly.”

Fear is a natural reaction to the unknown. As Hannah’s story shows, the ability to recognise it and keep going is what matters. Hannah’s most recent achievement was having her products featured in the UK’s biggest equestrian magazine.

“I take great pride in all my work and it’s a great feeling to know my products are in high demand worldwide. Looking back on the anxieties I had at the start, who’d have thought this is how it would go?

Hannah’s story is inspirational not only because of her success, but because of her willingness to own the moments that shook her. The business launch, the pandemic, dealing with the unknown, setting up a global ecommerce store… Without any experience, Hannah has created a business that people love. A business that helps other people achieve their own goals. Now that, we think, is truly inspirational.

What’s next for Trophy Tails?

Looking ahead to the rest of this year and beyond, Hannah is optimistic:

“I am hopeful 2022 will be more “normal” compared to previous years. I look forward to releasing new products and continuing to develop my current product lines, all while supporting new and existing customers on the showing circuit.”

For Hannah, that’s the heart and soul of her business, where it all began.

“I meet many like-minded horse owners along my journey and being able to share my passion is such a pleasure. I love having the flexibility to enjoy time on the farm caring for the animals, as well as travelling around the county showing my horses.”

The best thing about running her own business for Hannah, is the opportunity to do what she loves. We’re grateful to share Hannah’s story and we hope you find it inspirational.

If your organisation supports small businesses and you’re wondering how to help them start and evolve with the digital economy, why not get in touch? We’d be delighted to explain how BaseKit software enables solopreneurs and micro businesses around the world to not only get online but to thrive online.

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