Enterprising women combine forces for charity

When a group of enterprising women made the right connections at Aberdeen Meet a Mentor it led to them pooling their talent and experience to organise a fantastic charity event. We caught up with one of them – Erica Wallace of cosmetics company Mary Kay – to find out more.

As you’re probably aware, each year the IOEE runs a series of Meet a Mentor events up and down the country. At these events, hundreds of people running all sorts of small and medium businesses connect with enterprise mentors who give their time and support freely to help business owner / managers. However, Meet a Mentor events are also brilliant networking opportunities where ideas and opportunities are exchanged by people who would otherwise never have met. Erica Wallace is an ambitious business woman who works as an Independent Beauty Consultant and Director for Mary Kay from her home in Montrose. The event she came along to on 4th May in Aberdeen was the third Meet a Mentor she’d attended, and it was there that she met Debbie Ameh and mutual friend Reetika Puranik planted the seeds of an idea. Erica recalls:

“We were all having a coffee after the Meet a Mentor main event. We discovered we had certain passions in common. There was a meeting of minds and we decided we could combine forces to arrange an event for women entrepreneurs and their female customers.”

Debbie Ameh runs a fashion accessories and textiles company called Eden Vogue. Meanwhile Reetika distributes Indian jewelry through her company Divavi. Erica remembers how their idea developed into something tangible:

“We realised that between us we had an inordinate number of skills. We run our own businesses! We were tired of going to markets that were badly run by people looking to make money for themselves. Together, we decided we’d run our event so that we could raise money for charity and provide local female-run businesses with a showcase for their products.”

Between them, these three women have organised Her Creations Aberdeen, a fabulous female-friendly event that will take place on the 13th August in Aberdeen’s Hilton Treetops Hotel. Bringing together a collective of stallholders, retailers and crafts people, all of them selling luxury items specifically for a female market, Her Creations Aberdeen is the first event the women have organised but it most likely won’t be the last. Erica told us about what she hopes the afternoon of lovely luxuries will achieve:

“It’s a charity fundraiser raising money for CLAN in Aberdeen, but it’s also the chance for women entrepreneurs to come together and to raise the profile of their own individual businesses. There’s a chocolatier, a cupcake lady, a lady that makes greetings cards, and a lady that distributes candles – they’re all goods we felt were commensurate with women shoppers. They’re products women like to treat themselves to.”

Interest in the event is already growing fast and Erica and the team have deliberately pitched Her Creations Aberdeen as something a bit special – a day out to remember, somewhere to take your daughters, your mum or your best friend:

“We’ve chosen an upmarket venue, somewhere nice for our customers. It will be open for the full afternoon and people can have a good time, try local products they’ve never tried before and have a bit of fun. If it’s successful we’ll certainly do it again.”

Funds raised through Her Creations Aberdeen will be donated to a local Aberdeenshire charity called CLAN Cancer Support. Significantly, Erica and the others have decided that Her Creations Aberdeen should remain a charitable event if it is repeated. She told us why:

“It will always be for charity because it’s the giving that makes it special. We want to cover costs but we’re not doing it to make money – we already have our established businesses. This is a way of giving back to the community.”

The quick timeframe in which this event has been pulled together and the way women from diverse walks of life have worked together to make it possible is, Erica believes, testament to the way women simply get on with things, and get them done without fuss. She says:

“You know what women are like, we don’t really like to blow our own trumpets. We’re not always aware of how much we know until we start speaking to other people in business. Aberdeen Meet a Mentor was great because I met a load of likeminded, inspirational women who want to do something more.”

Erica remains a devoted believer in the Meet a Mentor ethos and intends to come along to future Scottish events. She was particularly impressed by the speech SFEDI Executive Chair Ruth Lowbridge gave at the Aberdeen event:

“I thought Ruth was absolutely exceptional. She has a down-to-earth, no-nonsense approach and she’s honest about the good and bad times that can arise when you’re running your own business. But she’s always come back and given enterprise another go. I just thought ‘wow, what a woman.’ I think there’s something about women – generally we will just get back on the horse and ride again, no matter what.”

Her Creations Aberdeen takes place on 13th August at the Hilton Treetops Hotel in Aberdeen, 11am – 3pm. To find out more go to www.facebook.comHerCreationsAberdeen/ or Eventbrite.