Businesswomen encourage Sunderland female entrepreneurs

Fiona Simpson and Laura Kemp, right, from the Inspire Network, Sunderland.
Fiona Simpson and Laura Kemp, right, from the Inspire Network, Sunderland.
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WOMEN entrepreneurs are being given a helping hand up the career ladder by their peers.

Two businesswomen, who juggle motherhood with running four firms between them, have teamed up to run networking meetings especially for Wearside female entrepreneurs.

The Inspire Network is a North East group of women in business, providing free networking opportunities, advice and support throughout the region.

Fiona Simpson and Laura Kemp have now launched monthly group meetings in Sunderland.

The first of 2013 is scheduled to take place at Goals Soccer Centre, in Bede College.

“The Inspire Network runs monthly meetings throughout the region, but there wasn’t previously a meeting in Sunderland” said Fiona.

“Both Laura and I were keen to get monthly meetings up and running in the city, as they are a great form of support and advice for women who run their own businesses or who are thinking of setting up on their own.

“Our January meeting will be our fourth meeting since we set up in October and we’ve been really pleased with the turn out and the feedback from the women who’ve come along.”

Fiona and Laura run two businesses each. Fiona owns and runs ARTventurers art classes, parties and events for children as well as producing a range of handpainted ceramics under the name Just Pottering.

Laura runs listing magazine, Raring2Go, as well as being the co-owner of ChocCards, producing personalised chocolate bars and other items.

The women both have two children each and say the meetings are very understanding of the demands placed upon working mums.

Fiona said: “Our meetings are very different from the traditional business networking events that many women find intimidating or off putting. They are informal, free to attend and children are always welcome.

“Many of our attendees are mums themselves ,and we all understand the challenges of trying to juggle running a business with day-to-day family life.

“Businesses of all sizes and types are represented at our meetings, from mums who make handcrafted products or direct sell, to people building up national brands.

“We know many women will have made realising their business dreams one of their New Year’s resolutions, and we hope to see lots of new faces at our January meeting.”

l The January meeting will take place at Goals on Friday, January 18, from 10am until noon.

Forthcoming meetings will take place on February 15 and March 15, from 10am to noon at the same venue.

You can find out more about the Inspire Network by visiting

You can register to attend the meeting through the website.

For more information visit Fiona at

Twitter: @sunechokaty