Mary Macleod MP Celebrates Women in Business

As Parliament discusses International Women's Day


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Mary Macleod MP spoke out for local women in business:

In my west London constituency, in Chiswick, Brentford, Isleworth and Hounslow, one of the most well-known female entrepreneurs is Cath Kidston, who opened her first shop in 1993 and now has 59 stores in the UK and 54 across Spain, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, Hong Kong and China. She started making wash bags and aprons because she had over-ordered fabric.

Another entrepreneur from Hounslow is Shavata Singh, who is now famous for doing the eyebrows of the stars. Almost every department store now has a Shavata concession doing eyebrows—if you ever need them done, Mr Deputy Speaker. She has now established her flagship store in Knightsbridge and is doing amazing work. Angela Lyons-Redman, of My Plumber, is based in Brentford and Chiswick. She left her job as a solicitor because she thought she could offer a better, faster service in the plumbing world—initially working from her bedroom, with a plumber on a motorbike—and now employs 38 people and several apprentices. She is doing a great job with that company.

Lorraine Angliss created Annie’s, a lovely, quirky and comfy restaurant in Chiswick and Barnes, and now has a sister restaurant in Richmond, and they are much loved by locals. Julia Quilliam set up a property business in Brentford, an independent family-run estate agent. Anila Vaghela, of Anila’s Sauces, which is also based in Hounslow, makes curry sauces. She set up the business in her 50s after being made redundant. She has won many Great Taste awards, and her sauces are all about love and harmony.

I have a range of other examples of great local female entrepreneurs, such as Charlotte who set up Badger & Earl, Maggie who set up Maggie & Rose, Anette who set up Chateau Dessert, Esther Gibbs who set up, Sarah who set up Sprinkled Magic, and Martha Keith. They have all made their mark by setting up their own business.

Martha Keith has an interesting story. When I entered this place, I wanted to encourage more women to set up businesses. I feel that in many sectors we just need to encourage more women. I attended a Commonwealth meeting of female parliamentarians in Edinburgh. We were a group of 15 women all standing together, and we all said that we got into Parliament because someone had tapped us on the shoulder and said, “Why don’t you do it? You’d be great.” It strikes me that we need to encourage women constantly. We know that they have the ability and the skills, but we need to encourage them to take that step.


I met Martha Keith when I decided to conduct an experiment in west London by setting up three entrepreneurship workshops—I called it the start-up challenge—in Hounslow, Brentford and Chiswick. I leafleted the whole area, going from door to door to hand out a really positive flyer that said, “I believe you can do it, so please come and find out how. Let’s work together to make this happen.” We were inundated with women who wanted to find out more and see if they could do it. The inspirational part of those events was hearing the entrepreneur’s story; a women standing up and telling her story, explaining what she had done in her business—the good, the bad, the challenges and the obstacles—and how she eventually succeeded. The women listening realised that maybe they could do that too.

Martha Keith came along to one of those events. She had left a good job in GlaxoSmithKline to set up her own business, Love Give Ink, which makes brilliant stationary. I also introduced her to the Prime Minister when he visited Brentford, and he then used her as an example in his speech to the Federation of Small Businesses last year. She now employs several people, is doing a great job and has never looked back. People like Martha can make a difference not only by changing their own lives and contributing to the economy, but by doing something new and different or better than anyone else.


Read the full debate. Or skip to Jo Swinson's excellent summary

March 6, 2015

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