Meeting Female Heroes at the First Women Awards

Thursday's First Women Awards (FWA) 2012 was as inspiring and thought provoking as I thought it should be. The awards program, sponsored by Lloyds Bank, was founded in 2005 by Real Business and the CBI and recognises trailblazing women from the business, entrepreneurial, engineering, science and technology, and media sectors who have broken new ground and are now laying the foundations for the next generation of female talent. 

The evening started with a champagne reception where I was privileged to be in the company of phenomenal women like Fiona Cannon OBE, Director of Diversity and Inclusion at the Lloyds Banking group and other VIP guests. 

Clare Balding was host extraordinaire and gave a wonderfully motivating and commanding opening to the evening.   

The entire evening was inspiring but two winners (well three) struck an especial chord with me. They were the entrepreneurial duo, Sophie Cornish and Holly Tucker, founders of and Julia Hobsbawm, founder of Editorial Intelligence (EI)

Sophie and Holly picked up the First Women award in the Retail and Consumer category. Chatting to Sophie, she said how excited they were to have been recognized in this way. She talked about how they started with nothing, the challenges they faced on their way up and the drama of nearly going bust a few times. I admired her honesty in sharing that side of their journey. They overcame their setbacks and have gone on to incredible success whilst helping kitchen-table creatives all over the UK to get their work in front of millions. These duo are putting money in the pockets of people who would have struggled to market their products.

I always refer creatives who are struggling to monetize their hobbies to so it was wonderful to finally meet the people behind the brand. 

Sophie’s top tip for new startups was never to forget who their customers were. She also mentioned how being part of a duo had been really beneficial because they complement each other’s skills, each person bringing something different to the table. Her top tips for startups looking to work with a partner was to really know the person you were going to partner with. Check out their new book 'Build a Business from your Kitchen Table'.   

Their website sells over 49,000 unique goods from over 2,500 independent British SMEs.”  - FWA 

Another trail blazing entrepreneur who came tops was Julia Hobsbawm, founder of Editorial Intelligence (EI), the unique think tank networking business. She was awarded the First Woman in Media award. I’ve been following Julia’s work for a while and I’m truly fascinated by what she is doing with EI. Her approach to networking is fresh and she seems to have successfully commercialized networking. I wasn’t able to get hold of Julia to pick her brains but she did give some tips about networking whilst receiving her award.

Her advice about networking ( as an honorary visiting professor in networking at Cass Business School) was to focus on building long-term relationships. When with people we should focus on being with them. Great tips as your business growth is really dependent on the quality of relationships and networks you are able to build.

The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Shere Hite, the globally renowned feminist and sexologist.

It was a lovely evening of good food and good wine whilst in the company of truly inspiring and highly motivated women– what else could a young entrepreneur wish for?

The full list of winners is available at

Griselda Kumordzie Togobo (ACA, MPhil) is a Business Growth Consultant to independent professionals and small business owners. She specializes in using high-impact but low-cost business growth strategies to improve profitability.  She is very passionate about supporting women in business through her educational workshops, seminars and speaking engagements. Griselda runs AWOVI Consulting, a consultancy whose vision is to help business owners increase their profitability, cash flow and productivity. 

She also writes on entrepreneurship, personal development and small business management issues for various publications, at her blog and at Huffington Post UK.

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