It’s been a year of resilience, hurdles and setbacks for many, but two female entrepreneurs are determined to add the sparkle back to the business community by launching a new magazine and online community to showcase the best northern businesses and influencers.
Two Yorkshire-based business women wanted to transform the lives of female-run businesses, brands and influencers by sharing their stories in a new magazine which showcases “the best businesses in the north” with a passion for highlighting northern talent, championing businesses up north and to grow a ‘sparkly community’ together following the challenges of the Pandemic.
Multi-award-winning business owner, Media Consultant and “Blogger of the Year” Sophie Mei Lan and fellow Small Business Owner and Influencer Amy Downes launched Sparkle Up North - a new magazine, online community and learning platform on International Women’s Day as they want to change the perception of the north and women in business as well as sharing the wide range of transformational success stories of businesses, brands and influencers here.
Journalist, Wellbeing Influencer and Media Consultant Sophie Mei Lan started her career as a journalist by setting up a blog “as well as getting a part-time dancer job” to fund her studies, young children and to use her passion for community driven journalism to shake up the media industry online and offline in the mainstream media.
She said: “Even the barrier for women in business… from leaders to personal brands, from online influencers to people managing a job, family and a business… it can be hard for women to even have the confidence to identify themselves as business owners in their own right, let alone shout about their success and find unwavering support, no matter what challenges they face.”
Single Mum-of-two Sophie, 32, who lives in Wakefield, West Yorkshire and originally from Sheffield knows what a juggle it can be managing her work as a journalist, business owner and online influencer alongside family, health and home life.
“Not to mention my need to spend time with my daughters, to eat well, sleep and exercise. It can be hard trying to ‘do it all, especially without a cheerleading community around you!”
Sophie turned to online media, such as blogging and vlogging, as a young mum, to vent her struggles with mental health problems and her passion for cheerleading those who “don’t fit the status quo,” like her, she says.
She won awards for her human rights blogs and mental health vlogs whilst being a student at University of Manchester (BA Philosophy, Social Sciences and Italian) and later University of Salford (PGDip/NCTJ Broadcast Journalism- funded by Journalism Diversity Fund/NCTJ) which secured her work freelancing at Channel 4 News, ITV News and BBC News whilst working from home in Yorkshire and setting up all female media company Evoke Media Group.
Sophie, who continues to work as a newspaper columnist, mind & body fitness influencer and now published author, said: “I have been stubborn about staying up north despite all the amazing opportunities London had to offer, I was determined to create my own opportunities for myself and others up north through setting up my own businesses.
“I originally set up an influencer marketing network alongside creating my own content online and in the press.
“Blog Up North has been a great platform over the years to connect northern influencers with brands and media opportunities as well as setting up what’s on guides for Yorkshire and the north of England.”
But as lockdowns meant that TV documentaries and feature films came to a standstill in her company, she focused on writing newspaper columns “my huge luxury and honour to write about social affairs and mind & body fitness” as well as working online as a media consultant @TheSparkleCoach…
Sophie was determined to emerge from Lockdown even “stronger and sparklier than before” and to help other women like her. After chatting to fellow mental health and flexible working influencer Amy Downes aka the Content Planning Wizard, the pair who have a shared love of feminism, football and media, decided to set up Sparkle Up North - a magazine to share positive business stories up north to showcase and support northern business women.
Mum-of-two Amy Downes, 37, who lives in Leeds originally from Ipswich, said: “The last 12 months has been horrendous for many but after every storm, the sun must come out and I believe amongst the sad stories of businesses closing, there are also tales of incredible business people who have adapted their business through the pandemic so that it not only survives but thrives.
“Lots of these are women who have overcome terrible circumstances and those are the entrepreneurs we want to shout about for Sparkle Up North.”
Amy is a social media coach who helps small business owners wave a magic wand over their social media pages, by making content creation easier and less time-consuming. She offers one-to-one coaching through her Power Hours, as well as group support in her popular Facebook community.
Together the pair have launched Sparkle Up North Magazine and Community as a social business in its own right.
Sophie added: “We’d love to hear powerful stories from business owners and for women across the north to join our online community of entrepreneurs from a variety of backgrounds, all adding sparkle back into the northern economy and showcasing the incredible skills we have on offer.”
For more information, go to:
https://sparkleupnorth.com or email email@example.com
and follow them on social media @SparkleUpNorth @TheSparkleCoach @ContentPlanningWizard