Celebrating inspirational women for #InternationalWomenDay
Today, the 8th March, marks International Women’s Day – a celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women. Women have come a long way over the years. Today 47% of the current UK workforce is made up of women which contrasts massively to the past where it was not the norm for women to have a career. The traditional ‘weak’ stereotype of women is rapidly vanishing and the three influential women running the successful gifting company Beefayre, are a perfect example of independent, strong women who deserved to be recognised on this day.
The four-year-old company is predominantly run by three powerful females – they all have a passion for the business and are determined to promote health, conservation and happiness through the creation of its bee supporting products.
The business idea was born when Founder, Sharon Jervis was visiting Romania with her son and was inspired by the purity of the pristine bee-keeping environment. She decided to channel her passion for wildlife and artistic flare into creating her own business. Sharon, 59, has a wealth of skills and knowledge – she spent many years painting as a miniaturist in watercolour, and finds her inspiration from her close relationship with the natural world. She has painted for the gift trade as a commercial illustrator for the past 37 years.
Recently Sharon’s love of wildlife through her bird watching inspired her to complete a MA in Contempory Art. Without Sharon’s consideration towards nature and passion for bees, there would be no such thing as Beefayre. She now hand draws all of the intricate designs found on the Beefayre packaging and is keen to continue educating people on the importance of all pollinators.
Despite starting a business during a time of financial hardship with the recession, Sharon’s business has grown from strength to strength. As a single woman in her fifties, it was a considered choice but one which is rewarding and Sharon would recommend: “Follow your dreams and if you do something you love you will be motivated to succeed and make a living out of it.”
Bex Hewetson, 41, is Beefayre’s Sales & Marketing Director and joined the business in 2012. After a ten-year career in London raising money for film finance, Bex decided to trade the city life for country living with her family. She is now passionately learning about the giftware sector and enjoying creating a buzz about the Beefayre products.
Bex also has another full time job…being a mother to her little boy, Zephyr: “Juggling work and parenthood can be a challenge, but we have built in lots of flexibility with my working hours and working from home. As a baby, I would bring him to office with me, pop him in the pram outside in the garden and make the most of his sleep times! Now it’s a little less relaxing as he wants to chase the chickens, ducks and dogs! I think many capable women end up feeling their work options are limited after having a child. Companies would benefit by attracting skilled workers back into the market place, simply by creating more flexible working habits.”
Bex is always coming up with innovative ideas to help Beefayre grow and to make the small team more efficient, with a particular emphasis on using smart technology and systems.
Alyx Weston, 26, has been a friend of of Sharon’s daughter for many years. She has a varied role within Beefayre, which involves looking after trade customers and their orders as well as invoicing the accounts. Despite being the youngest of the Beefayre team, Alyx has an extremely important role and her input is vital not just in terms of the numbers but also with the design and development process. Understanding the shopping habits of the ‘millennials’ has been key to growing the online business. Alyx balances her work at Beefayre alongside an Accounting and Finance course at college: “Part of being in a small business or team is being adaptable – by developing skills in other key areas the business will grow and I will be able to see this journey firsthand. Working alongside two strong-minded women has taught me so much about life and what I want from it.”
The success of Beefayre would be nothing without these three hardworking, committed and motivated women. The age differences between them, has created an interesting dynamic and a strong collaboration of skills that has turned a small, unknown business, within four years, into an established and well-respected brand. The story of Beefayre is a reflection of the changing workplace and opportunities for women in careers. #InternationalWomenDay