We are the change

Thrive 2013! A day of inspiration, learning and magic…

On Friday, March 8th (the 102nd International Women’s Day) over 200 women descended on the BAFTA headquarter in Piccadilly for a day of inspiration, learning and connecting for our 5th annual conference Thrive 2013!.  And what an amazing day it was.

The Mentoring Breakfast

Mentoring SessionRuth LowbridgeThe day began with a fantastically successful meet a mentor breakfast where 40 mentees and 40 mentors came together to discover whether there was good match between them.  In December we ran a Get Mentoring workshop with SFEDI and partnered up with SFEDI so that our newly trained mentors could work with women in our own community to run the mentoring breakfast before the conference.   The buzz in the room was palpable and everyone was raving about the process afterwards.

Maria Miller: The Culture Secretary

Maria MillerWe were incredibly proud that Maria Miller, the Culture Secretary, made the Thrive Conference part of her packed International Women’s Day schedule.  She arrived at about 8:45 and met with the SFEDI team before spending time talking with both mentors and mentees about the programme and how they felt about their businesses.  Maria was incredibly generous with her time, speaking with lots of the conference delegates, mentors and mentees. She was incredibly friendly with loads of time for everyone that she met, really making them feel like they were being heard.

She then opened the conference for us at 9:45 by sharing how important it is to support women business owners and how important women are to this government.

The morning

CarolineRLCaroline Redman Lusher, the founder of the singing phenomenon Rock Choir, came on stage and blew us away with her story, her passion and her amazing success. In a few short years Caroline went from teaching a few college students how to sing, to leading an organisation that teaches over 17000 members to sing in 60 different regions.   Caroline created Rock Choir to be fully inclusive where anyone regardless  of individual talent, to join their local choir and have fun singing a variety of pop songs each week. Inspired doesn’t even begin to describe how we all felt.   And then she showed a video sharing the growth of the choir and the music that they create leaving many of us with silent tears streaming down our faces.  The bar had been set for the rest of the day…

Gabrielle Bernstein, the Spirit Junkie and author of May Cause Miracles came on stage and immediately made everyone laugh by commenting on the difference between the overtly promotional nature of Americans versus the gentle way that British people promote themselves.  GabbyBGabrielle was warm, funny, inspiring and engaging.  Talking about finding your true path and how when we commit whole heartedly to that path, forces come together to make it happen.  She closed her session leading us all in a powerful meditation where we brought our energy to others and to ourselves, leaving us uplifted and full of potential.

JulieHallI then came on and shared a bit about my journey with Women Unlimited, and how we almost closed our doors before we even started.  Women Unlimited has gone from strength to strength over the last 5 years and I love the shape of it today and all of the women in our community and feel so grateful to be a part of this amazing community.

WendyKerr2The morning closed with Wendy Kerr from Corporate Crossovers sharing with us the value of our time and why it is so important that we recognise where we are spending (and wasting!) our time.  Wendy has an impressive background, having been the General Manager at the FT.com and Marketing Manager for Asia Pacific for Apple and she now works closely with women business owners to help them achieve their potential and break free of corporate life and build a business and life for themselves as small business owners.

LUNCH!  The BAFTA put on an impressive spread of finger sandwiches, fresh fruit and delicious scones.  We had some wonderful exhibitors including our key Sponsor Constant Contact UK,  some founding members of Stella and Dot, Jo Tall from Offtoseemylawyer.com, Wendy Kerr from Corporate Crossovers, SFEDI the people behind the Get Mentoring training and John Cassidy (also known as the Headshot Guy) who had a lineup of women the entire day looking to get their picture taken for their free social media headshots.  The buzz in the room was palpable as everyone was discussing what they had seen and learned that morning.

The Afternoon

Kate HardcastleAfter lunch the amazing powerhouse that is Kate Hardcastle came on stage and it was like a tornedo had arrived in the room. Kate’s energy and enthusiam for her subject was a force that could be felt by everyone. Kate runs and organisation called Insight for Passion where she helps businesses connect with their customers and become passionate about customer service.  Her presentation was outstanding and included many words of wisdom from her Nan :D.  She also runs a fabulous charity called The Positive Image campaign which aims to help children and teenagers who are being bullied and is a wonderful cause.

WVP_9631Viv Oyolu was the first of our My Journey speakers.  I met Viv when she came along to my first WordPress course back in 2009 and she was so good at creating her websites after that, that she joined me as my assistant when I ran all my live workshops!  About 20 months ago, Viv decided that she wanted to become a radio presenter, despite having no experience in this area and within a week had made a connection with an online radio station and within a month had launched Dream Corner, a show which celebrates women business owners and is now aired on one of London’s most successful internet radio stations. Viv is a great reminder that you can reinvent yourself at any age and it is never too late to pursue your dream.

WVP_9642The pace changed completely when Anna Ostergren, writer, Director and actors coach came on stage to talk about the impact of our physicality and voice when we walk into a room and when we are engaging with people.  Anna has an amazing presence and by the end of her 40 minutes I think everyone in the room had fallen a little bit in love with her.  She showed us how we can own our space, our voices and our names.  We all came away from her session feeling empowered and walking a little bit taller.

Galia OrmeGalia Orme, the founder of Choc Chick was our second inspirational journey speaker.  Galia has also been a member of the Women Unlimited community for over 4 years and even came to our very first conference back in 2008.  Galia’s story is one of persistance and passion and her dedication to getting her ethical chocolate making kits out into the marketplace is an inspiration to us all.  She shared her story of going from knowing nothing about creating products to getting her kits on the shelf of John Lewis, Planet Organic and Whole Foods.  We were also very lucky to be able to try some of her lovely chocolate at the end of the day when we were picking up our goody bags.

Tamsin Fox DaviesThe first session of the afternoon closed with a fantastic presentation from Tamsin Fox Davies, the Small Business Mentor for Constant Contact, our keynote sponsor.  Those of you who follow Women Unlimited will know that I think email marketing is the important form of marketing and I believe that ALL small business owners should use it as part of their marketing strategy.  Tamsin shared loads of strategies and techniques that helps to create more successful email campaigns (for those of you who weren’t there, we’re going to be doing a webinar with Tamsin next month, so keep an eye out).


After the networking break, Catherine Watkin from Selling with Heart came on with our last practical session of the day.  Catherine ran a fantastic webinar last month on how to sell without being pushy and at the conference she expanded on how to connect with our clients and make them feel safe as well as her 5 rules for non-pushy sales.  It was a great session that left the room feeling much more confident about the sales process and how they could use those skills in their own networking.

JuliaStreetsWe always like to end our day on a high, so our last speaker of the day was Julia Streets. Julia is a business owner by day and a stand up comedienne and writer by night!  She works closely with the UK’s leading community for female comedy, Funny Women, to help women perform, write and do business with humour.   She hilariously shared her take on Buzzword Bingo and had the audience in stitches.   A brilliant close to a brilliant conference.

Giving back

As part of the whole day, we held a raffle where the delegates got to both nominate and vote for which charity should receive the raffle revenue and we are pleased to share that the winning charity was Kids Company which was founded by one of the speakers  from a previous WU conference Camila Batmanghelidjh.  Thanks to the generosity of all the delegates we managed to raise £336.00 for this fabulous cause.

Thank you

I would like to thank my fantastic team; Jayne Ryan, Kizzy Bass and Sam McCulloch for all their hard work on the day and making sure that everything ran smoothy.  I’d also like to thank Dianna Bonner for her amazing photography (you can see all the photos from the day here on Dianna’s site). I would also like to thank all of the speakers for being so inspiring and giving us such valuable insights.   Finally a big thank you to Constant Contact UK for their sponsorship and support.

For those of you who attended… what were your highlights?  We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.



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  1. Marie Fraser says

    I am still buzzing from the Thrive 2013 Day. As I said to Julie after the event, I have never been to a conference where all, and I mean all the speakers were so Top Notch. Every single one of them came across as authentic, individual, charasmatic, down to earth and funny. It is hard to choose a favourite, but if I was pinned against the wall, then Gabrielle Bernstein by a whisker! Oh and I was delighted to be sitting in a seat endowed by Daniel Day Lewis!

    Thank you so much Julie and your amazing team for putting on such a wonderful event, I can only imagine, the organisation that went into it.

    No pressure for 2014 then! 😉

  2. Vanessa Viner says

    Hi Julie,

    What an amazing day full of amazing women. I was on such a high after meeting so many inspirational & supportive people. The speakers were top notch, with an abundance of great takeaways; the bag faff will be eliminated forever! From the emotional journey we took with Caroline from Rock Choir, the realisation that our time is precious and needs to be used wisely from Wendy, and the firecracker Kate who left us breathless with her enthusiastic delivery. But as well as the wonderful speakers, I met some fabulous women in the breaks and afterwards too. Isabel from the British Library was lovely, Tamsin and Dianna were so friendly too. Congratulations Julie, you put together a hugely inspiring, awesome day. Thank you so much!

    Who knows, maybe one day I’ll be up there telling my story 🙂

    Laters baby xx

  3. Marian Forkin says

    Excellent day and thanks for the round -up. I missed Tamsin’s presentation so I’m delighted that she’ll be doing a webinar soon.
    Thanks to Julie and the great team at Women-Unlimited

  4. Caroline Forman says

    Hi Julie,

    This was my first Women Unlimited event & it is safe to say I was blown away. The speakers you had invited were all so inspirational and engaging in their own way & I took away so much from each of them. The energy was great & I now sit here on a Monday morning in Leeds feeling like I can conquer the world!!

    Thanks so much & I am looking forward to the next one already.

    Best Wishes


  5. Carole Bozkurt says

    This was an amazing event from start to finish and I feel so lucky to have a seat in the audience and to have the opportunity to listen to all these wonderful and inspiring women. I have to say it’s the best event I have been to in the last 12 months. I cannot wait for next year!

    Big congrats to the events team led by Jayne – this was a massive undertaking and only a calm and well organised team could have pulled something of this size off – well done ladies and fellow entrepreneurs.

    And a massive thank you to Julie Hall who masterminded an unforgettable experience.

  6. Jo Tocher says

    This was my first Women Unlimited conference and it’s safe to say that it won’t be my last!
    It was truly inspirational… Amazing speakers and I was so happy to hear Gabrielle Bernstein as I’ve heard about her, and wanted to go to her workshop, but I was committed on that day.
    All your speakers were wonderful and I got so many tips to take away with me.
    Looking forward to next year already!

  7. Julie Pell says

    I have to agree wholeheartedly with the other comments in that I have never experienced such a wonderful line up of speakers before, anywhere! The whole day was just fantastic, meeting amazing women entrepreneurs in such a fabulous venue. Thank you to everyone who helped put this great event together!

  8. Ruth McCarthy says

    Julie #Thrive2013 was 100% effective from beginning to end – a perfect model for everything you talk about and teach during the year. Productivity, clarity, energy, originality coming over in wave after wave from the speakers, and a terrific buzz in all of the breaks. As sole traders it is inspirational to spend time with colleagues in similar or different fields hearing about both successes and challenges, and to know that we share difficulties as well as success.

    There were some key themes, cropping up over and over again from Maria Miller onwards – authenticity, self-belief, how to own our own status as skilled entrepreneurs and practitioners, how to step up to the next levels as business owners. Anna Ostergren’s performance was a revelation – body language, deeper voice levels, using calm, assured movement – once seen never forgotten.

    Every speaker brought something new, and often built on what went before at the same time. Each was unique. And thank you Julie for all the thought and energy that you’ve put in – up to and including the set of five inspiring cards in the goodie bag – not to mention happy hour champagne at Jewel afterwards!
    So what’s next?!
    All best

  9. Dorothy says

    My first WomenUnlimited conference was MIND-BLOWIING! The speakers were fabulous: informative, entertaining and gave so much of themselves. There was no way I was going to miss a word (even for the pee I was so desperate for!). I also learnt so much from the delegates I met at the breaks. I feel a true baby in my business beside you awesome women. I’m so glad to be part of your community.

    Thank you Julie and team for putting on such a GOOD event.
    And thank you Karren Haller for my prize

  10. Amanda Allan says

    Dear Julie & team,

    The Gods seemed to be conspiring against me last Friday morning & I nearly didn’t make the event (3 kids to school by 8am, roadworks, no parking space, delayed packed train, annoying husband…)

    I am SO glad that I did; I loved every minute of it. The variety & quality of the speakers was outstanding.

    Dry politician to open? Mmm…
    How wrong was I?! Maria Miller was engaging, smart & savvy.

    Caroline Redman Lusher was the manifistation of the word inspirational – she made me want to sing, quite literally!

    I wasn’t sure I’d “get” Gabby Bernstein but I loved her humour, her story & her message.

    Pocket Rocket Kate (& her Nan) filling us with energy & determination to get it right for our customers.

    Engaging practical insights into composure, body language & presenting yourself from Anna Ostergren (bag faff be gone!)

    I could just go on & on… but I mustn’t or Wendy Kerr will tell me off!! (£122 each & every hour remember!)

    I will be back for more, no doubt about it.

    Thank you,


  11. Sarah Christie says

    Hi Julie,
    This was my second conference and whilst I was blown away by last year, I think this year was even better! Although I wasn’t very well and really didn’t feel like attending, I’m so glad I did. I was particularly inspired by Caroline and Gabrielle, your morning speakers and it felt like I needed to hear those messages on that day! The whole day was fantastic and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Thank you for organising it and for putting on such a good line-up of speakers, including you!

    Best wishes – Sarah

  12. Heather Waring says

    I attended my first Women Unlimited Conference last year and then said I would be at the next one and this one has been just as great. The speakers are always fantastic and I love hearing from ‘the names’ but also from those women who are sharing such as Galia and Viv, so inspiring. Every speaker gave me so much to think about as I continue my own journey so thank you so much.

    There is such a buzz as women do what they do so well, which is connect, support and build relationships. I caught up with folk I hadn’t seen for ages as well as meeting new people and establishing new friendships.

    And a big thank you for Gabriella Bernstein, I was so wanting to attend her workshop but had another commitment which had been in the diary from before Christmas so I couldn’t and then there she was on the Women Unlimited stage.

    I’m looking forward to 2014 already and to claiming my Wardrobe Cleanse that I won!

  13. Kenny D'Cruz says

    I saw a couple of other men mingling just before ‘kick-off’ – did they escape and leave me on my own for the day?

    I loved the openness, honesty and inspiration of the day and met some magnificent women. I am often in masculine environments (in the company of both men and women) who are stuck and invite me along to add some heart and reality to their situations and help move things forward.

    I’d like to offer the fact that many men share similar issues that I heard from many women in the room, of being limited and controlled by …men! It’s not all of us men who control, rule and manipulate natural flow. It’s the few ‘at the top’ who can be difficult to topple, or at least difficult to get to and work with in order to turn things around. I wonder who these men (and women) are and how we might all play our roles in shifting this outdated patriarchy?