10 Women running unconventional businesses (Part 2)

Nadine Sandcroft - Just Entrepreneurs


In the first part of this series we saw a huge variety of amazing businesses being run by equally outstanding women. These women are smart, fun, creative, independent and pioneering. And they’re making major waves in their fields. Here is our second series on women who are being unconventional, proud and constantly inspiring. Enjoy!


Dr Helen Johnson (Founder), Goddessacumen

Dr Helen Johnson is founder of a company that helps women (and men who have their own gods) to tap into their goddess power sources.

Helen started her career as a barrister which she says was a natural progression for an Oxford philosophy graduate with a somewhat geeky streak. Helen was naturally playful and free spirited so she chose to leave because her job as a Barrister wasn’t a fit. Helen believes that “goddessness” comes from within and that goddesses can thrive in all walks of life. Her aim is to help people to find a way of living that suits them – be that money, relationships, career, wellbeing - and to release any negative thoughts and beliefs that do not serve their purpose.

Helen also helps with many of the issues that challenge entrepreneurs on a daily basis, managing stress, dealing with change, finding the right work life balance and so on.


Elena Dieckmann (Founder), AEROPOWDER 

Elena is the Shell LiveWIRE Smarter Future Winner 2016 and the founder of AEROPOWDER, a company that creates high performance insulation materials – such as insulation boards, granules, and blanket material – from feather waste. The UK generates approximately 2 thousand tonnes of feather waste every week.

If all homes in London were properly insulated, the resulting CO2 emission savings would equal 10% of London’s total carbon footprint. Existing feather disposal methods either involve incineration or processing into a low-grade animal food which are both energy/carbon intensive and involve a hazardous rendering process. By using feathers to create insulation products using comparatively simple techniques, these current environmentally harmful methods can be avoided.

Elena is currently a student at Imperial College London where she studies science and design. AEROPOWDER also recently won the Mayor of London’s Low Carbon Entrepreneur Award 2016.

Sherry Collins (Founder), Pitch Magazine

Before becoming a mother to two boys, Sherry had a demanding career producing music videos and commercials for various well-known and high-end production companies in the Advertising industry. After six years of devoting her time to her sons, she went back to work, and, much like many working mothers, felt disheartened at the realisation that being at a desk five days a week wasn’t quite the return to her career that she’d expected. At this point, now feeling optimistic, she quit her job and answered her entrepreneurial calling by starting Pitch Magazine, an advertising industry magazine showcasing photographers, animators, illustrators, film, content, music video and commercial directors.

Issues are distributed directly to a bespoke list of 1000 contacts in the advertising industry: advertising agencies in the UK & abroad, production companies, edit suites, post houses and is also sold in selected newsagents in Soho, London.  

Next year, each back page of Pitch will be donated to a charity, with the ad gratuitously designed by Saatchi & Saatchi.


Gemma Johnson (Founder), Hoop Like A Boss

Not one to be beaten by a Hula Hoop, Gemma’s determination to keep the hoop up during a fitness class lead her to get well and truly bitten by the Hula Bug, chalking up 8-10 hours of practice a week. She soon became a teacher and started custom making hula hoops. In February 2016 Hoop Like A Boss was launched and Gemma has been spreading her love of hooping and shouting about its transformational benefits far and wide.

Gemma currently teaches 6-8 classes a week, one to one sessions, after school clubs for children, teaching girl guides and even corporate team sessions helping office workers with stress relief and bonding sessions. Within 6 months Gemma has taught hundreds and hundreds of people to Hula Hoop and has even written about the nine transformational benefits of Hula for The Huffington Post. Gemma has even been featured in the No:1 Natural Health Magazine and is heading to Hawaii in 2017 for an advanced Hula Hoop retreat to progress her skills.


Kim Johnson (Founder), Little Helper

Kim Johnson, Sheffield-based inventor of the award-winning FunPod started Little Helper in 2006 when her daughter had a very close call with a pan of boiling water in the kitchen, resulting in a desperate search for something that would keep Aimee, her daughter aged 14 months, safe in the kitchen. Finding nothing that fit the bill, Kim designed The FunPod, a child safety device, elevating toddlers aged 1-5 up to kitchen worktop height on a height adjustable platform to play, bake and learn all about food preparation or simply getting wet in the sink. 

The idea of the FunPod came as she was sharing a glass of wine with her parents. Drawing a rough version of what is now the FunPod, Kim’s dad said “yes, you could call it Little Helper” and the brand that is now Little Helper, was born.  Taking two years to develop, the FunPod launched at the end of 2006. The FunPod is sold all over Europe, and soon launching in China and The States whilst Little Helper as a brand has grown beyond Kim’s wildest dreams. Some 10 years down the line, the company employs 7 people in the UK and a full time member of staff in China and has a large range of children’s furniture, rugs and wall art as part of the product range.

Evelina Girling, (Founder) The London Cabaret Club

The London Cabaret Club is a hugely successful show that’s made its name as the hottest ticket in town, with fans such as Simon Cowell, Millie Mackintosh and X-Factor’s Louis Walsh. Evelina Girling is woman behind it all.

Evelina went to business school in Sydney, Australia before moving to London/New York to work in Management Consultancy & Finance. It was then that she became a Broadway and theatre enthusiast. She discovered Lio Cabaret in Ibiza and fell in love with it. Evelina met Doni Fierro (Co-founder) during a dance class where they decided to share their love of theatre and dance by turning it into a business.

Evelina provides a launchpad for rising stars through her business by hiring young performers as waiting staff. Each month those that have shown exceptional pizzazz are given their very own spot in the show itself, an initiative which Evelina believes is an integral part of her business model. Evelina has taken The London Cabaret Club from strength to strength and has recently made Bloomsbury Ballrooms the former pop-up’s permanent home.  


Ellie Wharton (Founder), Positivitea

Yoga and tea enthusiast Ellie Wharton founded Positivitea - a range of seven teas that are specifically blended to help the smooth running of the organs associated with a particular chakra or to counteract the ailments associated with its imbalance. They recently released an eighth blend, Three Chi Chai which won Best Wellbeing Tea by The Beauty Shortlist.

Ellie founded Positivitea after raising an impressive £111,280 worth of backing using crowdfunding site Crowdcube in May this year. Positivitea have big plans including an exciting new partnership to be announced later in September. They will also be bringing out innovative new product ideas to get ahead of the trends and secure their place as the nation’s best option for tea that not only brings functional benefits to your body but, it also improves your overall wellbeing and mindset.


Julie-Anne Uggla (Founder,) Zamcog

Julie set up her charity, Zamcog in 2003 and has now raised in excess of £5 million pounds. Zamcog’s aim is to help to educate thousands of disadvantaged, orphaned and highly vulnerable children in Zambia. As well as funding a school and housing 90 orphans, Zamcog serves more than 70,000 meals to children every term – some days, this meal is all the 446 enrolled children will eat as 99.5% of them live below the poverty line.

The Charity runs programmes to sponsor children through school/university and over the next 3 years, aims complete a comprehensive skills training programme for their students which would give them valuable hard skills so that they can have careers as carpenters, cobblers and mechanics.


Jess and Charlotte (Founders), 100% Natural Foods

This Raw Chocolate Brownie company has recently re-launched its website and the product to a national market. Founders Jess and Charlotte are unique in that they are a mother and daughter team. The last four years have seen them grow a raw brownie company from supplying a local store with 20 units to supplying 20,000 units a month to 200 stockists nationwide.

Healthy eating doesn’t have to be boring, and foods that are good for you don’t have to be tasteless

The company boasts an impressive stocklist and even has a fan in a Middle Eastern queen!


Dr Stephanie Eltz (Founder), Doctify

Stephanie is an NHS surgeon and entrepreneur who, along co-founder Dr Suman Saha, founded Doctify over a year ago. Stephanie initially came up with the idea for Doctify about two years ago when she wanted a second opinion on a mole she had. Even through her many contacts as a doctor, personal recommendations to GPs and even Google, Stephanie couldn’t find the right doctor. So she decided to create something that would solve her problem.

Doctify is a search engine which allows patients to search and book appointments with the right specialist by providing step by step guidance, information and reviews before, during and after your consultation or treatment. With Doctify, you’re tailoring your healthcare needs by being able to choose the right NHS services and private “pay-as-you go” doctors for your specific needs.

Stephanie is still splitting her time between a full time NHS career, her start-up and her speaking obligations despite now being almost 7 months pregnant.




Melina HarrisComment