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8 inspirational women in business in the Cotswolds

PUBLISHED: 11:00 16 July 2018 | UPDATED: 15:51 25 July 2018

(c) Peshkov / Getty Images

(c) Peshkov / Getty Images


We’ve some extraordinary, and inspiring, women in business in the Cotswolds. We talk to 8 female trailblazers in local industry who offer the business advice they’ve lived by

Emma Heathcote-James

Little Soap Company

99 High Street, Broadway, Worcestershire, WR12 7AL

01386 853025

Twitter: @Little_Soap_Co

Facebook: @TheLittleSoapCompany

The eco-savvy, multi award winning Little Soap Company began life on Emma’s kitchen table, making on the Aga and selling at Cotswold Farmers’ Markets to then becoming the first organic soap to line the supermarket shelf. Her products are now stocked in all the top end supermarkets, chemists and online retailers.

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Always say yes. Even if you don’t know how you will do it, work the logistics out later. ‘Yes’ is a word that opens doors and enables the magic to happen. The more it scares you, the more vehemently you should seize the opportunity with both hands.

What does the future have in store for you?

Having just got married, next up are the 10th anniversary celebrations for Little Soap Company: a new grapefruit range including organic shampoo and conditioner launch next month. These have taken two years to create and will go into Ocado and Wholefoods as well as niche hotels too (without plastic containers!).

Emma Heathcote-James, Little Soap CompanyEmma Heathcote-James, Little Soap Company

Charlotte Houghton


Countrywide House, 23 West Bar Street, Banbury, Oxfordshire, OX16 9SA

01295 250401

Twitter: @Ellacotts

Facebook: @ellacotts

Charlotte Houghton joined Ellacotts as a part qualified trainee in 2006 rising through the ranks to become Partner in 2016. Now responsible for the Corporate Services department, Charlotte has led many firm changing projects, including a new practice management system, developing an academies specialism and creating a cloud accounting offering.

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Listen to other people and be open to their ideas. We all see and do things differently and our own experiences shape the way we interpret things, meaning everyone has something to offer and we can learn so much from those around us.

What does the future have in store for you?

Our big project over the next few months is helping our clients become compliant for Making Tax Digital, which comes into force next April. We already have a dedicated cloud accounting team which we plan to grow to help more clients and support the rest of the firm.

Charlotte Houghton, EllacottsCharlotte Houghton, Ellacotts

Michelle Gibbs

Adjacency Recruitment Ltd

Westmoreland House, 80-86 Bath Road, Cheltenham, GL53 7JT

01242 226971

Twitter: @AdjacencyRec

Facebook: @adjacencyrec

For over 20 years, Michelle has specialised in accountancy recruitment, identifying exceptional people for organisations throughout the South West. Adjacency, in its fifth year, prides itself on connecting people with life changing career opportunities. Their values of Care, Integrity, Respect and Trust represent the thread in their approach to partnering people.

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

My mother shaped me in telling me there’s no such word as ‘can’t’. This is the root of my determination. I give everything to the most challenging recruitment campaigns and I am confident long-standing clients would vindicate my relentless determination to deliver. I genuinely cannot rest until I’ve met expectations.

What does the future have in store for you?

As part of the management team, I have contributed to the development of a fantastic team and look forward to continually growing our proposition. It’s a very exciting time for us. I love what I do and simply want to continue being happy and good at what I do.

Michelle Gibbs, Adjacency Recruitment LtdMichelle Gibbs, Adjacency Recruitment Ltd

Rachel Brushfield

The Talent Liberator

Energise – The Talent Liberation Company

Charlbury, Oxfordshire, OX7 3AA

0845 22 55 010

Facebook: Energise Facebook Professional Page

Rachel Brushfield, The Talent Liberator is an experienced career strategist and coach specialising in second careers, portfolio careers and marketing yourself. Lawyers and women are client specialisms. She is founder of Energise, established in 1997 and is co-founder of PWHub, a network for senior employed women in Oxfordshire.

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

‘Be yourself.’ ‘Give what you lack.’ ‘Happiness is in the present moment.’ ‘The best way to predict the future is to invent it.’ ‘When the winds of change blow, some people build windmills, other’s walls.’ ‘If you believe you can, you can, if you believe you can’t, you are right.’

What does the future have in store for you?

I am really excited about doing career retreats and seeing two books I am currently writing for The Law Society, published. Last year was amazing being shortlisted in the entrepreneur category of the WeAreTheCity Rising Star Awards, a lovely acknowledgment after 30 years of much hard work!

Rachel Brushfield, Energise –The Talent LiberatorRachel Brushfield, Energise –The Talent Liberator

Sara Lewis

Kestrel Communications

Bell House, Cambridge, Gloucestershire, GL2 7BD

01453 890964

Following twenty years in public relations, Sara took the opportunity to launch Kestrel Communications in January 2018. The business provides communications campaigns for technology brands that integrate with marketing objectives, adapt to the changing business landscape and connect with audiences.

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

I’ve received some great advice over the years – I have them on multi-coloured Post-it notes dotted around my office. ‘Face up to failure and learn from it’, ‘be brilliant in the basics’ and my favourite note is from Benjamin Franklin who said, “energy and persistence conquers all things.”

What does the future have in store for you?

I’m on a mission to develop an authentic, passionate and savvy communications agency. The world of business is constantly changing, and we shouldn’t be just keeping up with it. We need to be either driving the change or be a major part of it. That’s the ambition for Kestrel.

Sara Lewis, Kestrel CommunicationsSara Lewis, Kestrel Communications

Lindsey Braune and Elizabeth Poole

The Cotswold Auction Company

Bankside Saleroom, 2 Wilkinson Road, Cirencester, Gloucestershire, GL7 1YT

01285 642420

Twitter: @CotswoldAuction

Facebook: @CotswoldAuctionCompany

Liz and Lindsey started The Cotswold Auction Company in 1998 and are celebrating the company’s 20th anniversary this year! Their salerooms in Cirencester and Cheltenham host a wealth of interesting lots – from antiques to art deco, classic cars to costume, medals to model trains and much in-between.

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

A valuation is like a treasure hunt – look past the obvious! We’re often called out to value furniture, but nowadays good vintage fountain pens are worth more than the bureau they’re in. And we once rescued an Australian aboriginal shield on its way to the tip, selling it for £10,500.

What does the future have in store for you?

We’re delighted with our new saleroom in Cirencester – it’s attracted many new customers, with parking, Saturday morning viewing and a cafe – and it’s a great venue for customers wanting to bring pieces in for valuation. Specialist sales are our hallmark and these continue to grow – classic cars the most recent addition.

Lindsey Braune and Elizabeth Poole, The Cotswold Auction CompanyLindsey Braune and Elizabeth Poole, The Cotswold Auction Company

Sally Haines & Emma Taylor

Hillers Farm Shop

Heath Farm, Dunnington, Alcester, Warwickshire, B49 5PD

01789 772771

Twitter: @HillersFarmShop

Facebook: @HillersFarmShop

Award winning Hillers Farm Shop is run by sisters, Sally and Emma who are at the forefront of this busy, flourishing site that has a fantastic restaurant, gardens & gift shop. The Farm Shop has an array of delicious homemade products and many other items all carefully selected from specialist suppliers.

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

We would both agree to treat people as you would want to be treated yourself; this advice has been passed on by a number of individuals that we respect and look up to. To keep a positive attitude to life and daily duties and always remember to twist the bottle and not the cork when opening a bottle of champagne – it really does work!

What does the future have in store for you?

To continue to develop the business in order to give our children the fantastic upbringing that we enjoyed - farm life, business understanding and lots of fun and, of course, to maintain a stable business for our family, staff and customers to enjoy.

Sally Haines & Emma Taylor, Hillers Farm ShopSally Haines & Emma Taylor, Hillers Farm Shop

Charlotte Boston

Cornwell Manor

Cornwell, Chipping Norton, OX7 6TT

01608 698673

Twitter: @cornwell_manor

Facebook: @cornwellmanor

Charlotte was fortunate enough to be offered the job of creating a weddings and events business at Cornwell Manor just over three years ago. In that time it has grown rapidly into a thriving business, achieving booking targets by the second year and thus quickly exceeding the team’s expectations. Charlotte has built up a great team of suppliers whom she knows she can rely upon. That, together with a fantastic small team of staff at Cornwell Manor, make this business the success it is.

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

To always do your very best and to go to sleep knowing you have done this. Ultimately in this line of business, customer service is everything.

What does the future have in store for you?

I think to continue to look for new ways to make Cornwell Manor work for the client – it really is the most perfect blank canvas to work with- and I strive to make it personal and original for each client so they will leave feeling they had a very special time here, which is always unique to them. So far, so good!

Charlotte Boston, Cornwell ManorCharlotte Boston, Cornwell Manor


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