INSPIRE Conference & Awards 2017

On 8th March, I went on a journey.  Well actually the journey started some months before.  I had this crazy idea of hosting a conference on International Women’s Day. For me, International Women’s Day is all about improving inclusion, empowerment and celebrating our achievements.  I believe we are seeing greater parity in all areas of the female business world.  We are making great strides as inspiring female leaders and role models against difficult odds of trying to juggle it all. And we really do juggle it all.  I hear story after story and they all pretty much mirror each other.  There is a very common theme.

Birthday cake – Hardip Pabla from Perfect Lovely Cakes.

Much more needs to be done to nurture women to realise their potential.  The growth potential of our communities become much more prosperous if women are encouraged to contribute positively.  Too many of us face restrictions in starting and building a business and far too many of us think it is an impossible task.  Yet with some support, motivation and empowerment we can collectively help women advance and unleash their limitless potential.  I believe communities like The Business Girls Network DO help to bridge the gaps and ARE giving women the confidence to set up a business.  The conference for me was a culmination of 3 years of hard work in building the community.  It was very overwhelming to see the room full of women all trying to achieve the same thing and connecting with each other, in a way that only women know how.

Weir Bank looked stunning.  The venue was set.  The quotes and balloons were floating quietly above us.  The small business stands looked incredible and there was a full house of women, eagerly waiting for the conference to start.  I couldn’t actually believe I had made it happen.

Everybody was seated on their tables with names of prominent women in the world of business.  Ladies participated in a fun game of dressing the mannequins following our ‘Dressing for Success’ charity drive to support Smart Works.

I wanted to inspire and felt i had chosen a line up of guest speakers who did exactly that with their stories.

Sarah from Smart Works has set up something quite special and follows our ethos and culture of helping women.  I didn’t truly understand how amazing they are until Michala one of the service users spoke.

Michala had many people in tears.  She delivered a truly inspiring and impressive talk.  Her story without doubt will empower other women in the same situation.  She spoke with true grit, determination and passion and is an exceptional ambassador for Smart Works.

Esther really did highlight what it takes to overcome life’s challenges.  She is walking proof that whatever the obstacle, you can overcome them and come out of it as a resilient, positive and healthy person.  Finding yoga changed and saved her life.

Tabitha from Light Mind took us down an unforgettable journey of laughter after lunch.  She had us doing wonder woman poses, belly laughing and injected some fun, fun, fun into her session, whilst not forgetting that there was a serious purpose. Tabitha showed us that laughter changes lives by connecting with ourselves and those around us.

Julie Waddell from Moorish inspired us all with her fantastic success story in setting up her business from her kitchen table, and now selling 20,000 pots of humus a week.  Julie spoke with great passion and authority.  She had a unique resonance with the audience and her story captivated us all.   She really motivated some of us to stop ‘thinking about’ doing something and to ‘take action’.

The Mayor, Sayonara Luxton joined us briefly before lunch and was looked after by some of the ladies on her table.  She also enjoyed walking around some of the stands and I know made a few purchases!

We hosted a short Q & A with our speakers and Harriet from Flourish PR.  We were able to connect and hear even more about their inspirational stories as well as learning some valuable tactics to use in our businesses.


The inaugural Business Girl Awards was perhaps the pinnacle of the day. Although there were so many fantastic moments during the day, it is hard to choose one stand out but i think this had to be it. I looked around the room and was filled with admiration for all of the amazing, determined women and felt lucky and proud to be a part of it.  It was an immense honour to be standing at the front of the room.  A moment I will not forget. The Business Girls Network is growing and evolving, but Maidenhead Business Girls will always be the baby and the flagship group.

The conference and awards has been months in the planning and has showcased the very fine talent of the women in our community.  It is important to recognize and reward accomplishments, from every single person that was nominated to the shortlisted finalists and the winners.  It had all the glamour and excitement of a red carpet event!

The Business Girls community has gone from strength to strength over the last 3 years and has received amazing feedback.  We must not forget that it was also the 3rd birthday of Maidenhead Business Girls.  We were treated to yummy cakes by Hardip from Perfect Lovely Cakes.

The awards provided a platform to showcase the best in our community and was also a strong indication of the talent of both established and new and upcoming female driven businesses.

It was a real pleasure to recognize the immense talents and congratulations again to all our winners.  For a full list of our winners please click here.

Trophy and Goody Bag Sponsor – Goyals Maidenhead

At the end of the conference, the energy and confidence in the room was palpable. What I got from the conference was that we, have the ability to make the impossible possible, regardless of our situations.  I truly heard and felt this message flowing around the room throughout the day.

I hope this post gives you an insight into how amazing the day was and perhaps has given you the inspiration you need to keep going.  To find out what some of the attendees said, click here.

Flower Sponsor – House of Flowers

I am already planning next years’ event.  If you would like to participate, be a sponsor or contribute in some other way, please get in touch by emailing Pre bookings for small business stands will be open soon.

Please feel free to copy and share any of the images used.

Photo Credits – Nysa Harris and Jodie Humphries, Maidenhead Mum.

The Business Girls is expanding.  If you would like to work with me and set up a Business Girls group in your location, please register your interest to receive the updates and info by clicking here.

Amanda Ayres

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