Stacey Sheppard, the founder of The Tribe, Devon’s first female coworking space, is spearheading a campaign to encourage people to make one switch this Christmas and buy from women-owned businesses.
“The current business landscape is challenging for all small businesses right now,” says Stacey. “In fact, the 2023 Small Business Report found that 60% of small businesses fear closure in the coming year due to inflation, increased costs,and an economy teetering on the edge of recession.”
Whilst the climate is tough for businesses in general, Stacey says that the after-effects of the pandemic and the ongoing struggle with affordable childcare has simply widened the gender gap leaving female entrepreneurs more at risk than ever.
Unlocking the untapped potential of female entrepreneurs
However, research by NatWest has shown that there is huge unrealised economic potential linked to female entrepreneurship in the UK and supporting female entrepreneurs to thrive could play an integral role in kickstarting the economic recovery by unlocking £250 billion in economic value.
“The convenience of shopping with huge multi-national companies like Amazon cannot be denied,” says Stacey. “But in doing this we risk seeing the many independent businesses that populate our highstreets and Christmas markets, disappear from the map. So, it’s important that we take action at this time of year if we want to see these businesses survive.”
Marisa Guthrie, is a local business coach who helps small and micro businesses become profitable. She believes that they are the lifeblood of our communities. She says: “If all of us stopped supporting the big corporates that, let’s face it, are causing more problems in our world than they solve and just lining the pockets of shareholders, and decided to support micro women-owned businesses in our local communities, our world would be transformed.
“All of us have a choice about how we spend our hard-earned cash. Supporting local micro businesses makes a huge difference to those business owners, that in turn benefits their families and their communities. Not only that, but as those enterprises grow, they employ other local people and that boosts the local economy because that’s where the money stays,” she explains.
Encouraging shoppers to buy local
Inspired by the likes of entrepreneur Holly Tucker who founded the online marketplace notonthehighstreet.com and who now champions the nation’s entrepreneurs through her platform Holly & Co, Stacey decided to do what she could to highlight all the incredible women-owned businesses in Devon that need our support during the holiday season.
“There is an organisation in the US called Women Owned and they ran an autumn campaign encouraging people to Make One Switch this year and buy a gift from a woman-owned business. According to research by Holly Tucker, if we all bought one gift from an independent retailer, we could re-allocated £2.7 billion and that would go a really long way to helping these businesses survive,” says Stacey.
Cheerleading women-owned businesses
“I am always trying to be a cheerleader for the women who are part of our coworking community, whether they work in our space, come to our events or simply follow me on social media. I know that we are stronger when we work together and bring our different skills and experience to the table.”
Stacey decided to use the skills that she has gained from 15 years’ experience working as a journalist, freelance writer, professional blogger and social media influencer to shine a light on the talented female entrepreneurs that run their own businesses here in Devon.
She created an 18-page downloadable gift guide that features women-owned businesses and their products that would make fantastic Christmas gifts. Not only that, but she has also created an advent calendar on Instagram which she is sharing every day until 24th December. Behind each window is a different woman-owned businesses that people can shop with this holiday season.
And to support local women who run serviced-based wellness businesses she is creating a digital toolkit full of supportive videos that she will distribute to her community to help them look after themselves both physically and mentally this winter and also to raise the profile of those service providers who are supplying the videos.
“I want people to know about the amazing female talent we have in the county and I am encouraging everyone to share the gift guide and the Instagram advent calendar with their friends, family and co-workers so that they can make one switch this year and help support local women-owned businesses,” says Stacey.
Collaboration is the key
Bespoke + Local is one of the woman-owned businesses that features in the gift guide. Founder Alison Logan curates luxury gift boxes which feature products from local Devon artisans. She says: “Collaboration within communities is so important to ensure local business grows and thrives. At Bespoke + Local, we proudly champion over thirty talented Devon artisans. By choosing a Bespoke + Local gift box, you directly support these individuals and help to keep artisan craft alive across many local communities in Devon.”
Collaboration also happens to be one of Stacey’s core valuesboth personally and in business. “We have so much to gain from working together, supporting one another and helping each other to grow,” says Stacey. “There really is no need for us all to be struggling along alone and my hope when I opened the Tribe was to create a community of women who could come together to work and to support one another to learn and grow and that is exactly what The Tribe has become.”
You can download the gift guide and shop with local Devon-based, woman-owned businesses here.
Featured image credit to: Claire Gillo
Bespoke and local luxury gift box photo credit to: Girl Behind The Lens
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