Wellness Warriors: the women reshaping the health and fitness industry



    Celebrate International Women’s Month with us at the British Library as we bring together an inspiring panel discussion with five boundary-breaking women entrepreneurs who are transforming the health and fitness industry. As part of our Inspiring Entrepreneurs series, this event provides a unique chance to hear from influential women business founders and put your questions to them.

    Our ’wellness warriors’ will share their extensive experience of setting up and scaling personal training businesses, fitness apps, pioneering athletic wear brands and more. With the fitness industry valued at just under $100 billion globally last year* and with the Olympics fast approaching, these women have harnessed the booming interest in health and wellbeing to establish innovative brands, programmes and communities focused on empowerment and inclusivity.

    Whether you are an aspiring entrepreneur curious about the landscape or an established founder looking to stay ahead of the curve, this session will leave you feeling inspired, informed and ready to take the next step.

    *Statista, August 2023

    On the day, you can expect to:

    • Gain valuable insights into the evolution of fitness entrepreneurship and innovations reshaping the health and wellbeing industry
    • Explore emerging business models in health and fitness - from apps to in-person clubs to community-focused chains
    • Discuss how businesses and individuals are supporting marginalised communities within the fitness industry
    • Analyse how fitness brands leverage social media, influencer marketing, and ecommerce to grow their audiences
    • Understand how fitness influencers build successful brands and e-commerce identities
    • Get answers to your specific questions to propel you forward in your business journey.

Speakers

Kayleigh Benoit

Founder of BIND London

Rhian Stephenson

Founder of ARTAH HEALTH and former CEO of Psycle

Matilda Egere-Cooper

Founder of Fly Girl Collective

Ciara Madden

Founder of Body by Ciara fitness app and personal trainer

Leanne Pero

Founder of Black Women Rising

Yashmin Harun BEM

Founding Chair of Muslimah Sports Association (MSA)

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In conversation with Irene Agbontaen, founder of TTYA London

In this, the second of our two Inspiring Entrepreneurs interviews on Start-up Day, we meet and hear from Irene Agbontaen, founder of fashion brand TTYA London, in conversation with Anis Qizilbash.

Irene’s company TTYA - or Taller Than Your Average - is a fashion apparel brand for taller women, supplying a market that Irene - standing at 5’11’’ - knew was underserviced. TTYA launched in Selfridge’s in 2013, becoming their first tall-specific brand. TTYA has gone on to have a home in Barneys New York and was the first pioneering tall brand to debut on ASOS.com. Irene’s designs have been worn by major celebrities.

In this discussion Irene will be speaking about how she has navigated the industry and gone on to secure contracts with major stockists whilst keeping a very strong commitment to herself, her beliefs about inclusivity and to the essence of the business. There will also be lots of practical advice about how to truly be the face and voice of your brand, and how social media, e-commerce, endorsements and collaborations are all just as much a part of modern businesses as much as planning, accounting and sales.

Whether you are starting up in fashion, or another sector, you may find yourself being expected to change and conform to fit in with the establishment. Irene talks powerfully about her inner voice to resist this and how that, ultimately, has strengthened the business. For TTYA’s first catwalk show at Lagos Fashion Week in 2018 it was a team comprised solely of women of colour that went with her.

We all face a very challenging retail landscape in the light of the pandemic and changes in consumer spending. We’ll talk to Irene about how TTYA has faced this past year and what the future holds. Having played just a small role in TTYA’s story at the beginning, as Irene accessed stats on consumers from our market research databases to help progress her business, the BIPC is so happy to work with Irene again to inspire you as you begin your business now.

Inspiring Entrepreneurs: High street heroes


High streets are the beating heart of our local communities. Having a presence on the high street gives businesses a unique opportunity to connect with their customers, and the responsibility to meet their needs as these change and evolve. What additional service could you offer to those who interact with your brand in person? What extra impact could you generate by sharing your spaces with neighbours and fellow makers?

We have brought together a panel of three loved and respected local businesses, our high street heroes. Their founders will share practical tips through their inspiring stories and tell us more about their individual journeys.

Mary Otumahana, award-winning musician and founder of The RecordShop; a grassroots independent organisation based in Wood Green, that focuses on making an impact with a multipurpose music space located on the high street. By providing access to a recording studio and music career training, Mary is leading a mission to educate, inform and inspire inner-city youths to connect to their community through music.Hellen Stirling-Baker, founder of children’s store, Small Stuff, has led her business from an experimental pop-up shop to a successful, eco-friendly bricks and clicks model at the heart of her high street in Crookes, Sheffield. A perfect example that being a small shop doesn’t mean you can’t have big values; Hellen is a local leader who champions ethical suppliers and supports other retailers, often sharing her shop for community-building events. Hellen is the deserved winner of this year’s High Street Hero for the Small Awards 2022.Carolynn Bain, founder of Afori Books, the first Black-owned bookshop in Brighton. Carolynn almost did the opposite of most during the pandemic; inspired to stock only Black authors in response to the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, she started her business as an online shop. Demand was so high however, that Afrori Books was approached to open a physical bookshop in Lighthouse, a local Arts-based charity, with fit-out costs successfully crowdfunded.

We are running this event with the British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA) who are also champions of high street businesses and are here to help, all year round.

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