19 / 100

With International Women’s Day, Mother’s Day and the Kent Women in Business Awards looming,
we honour some of Kent’s leading ladies.

MMM Magazine March 2024

Starting a business – however grand or modest your ambitions – is no easy task. Doing so while juggling children, partners, friends and family can be more challenging still.

So, in a month which brings us International Women’s Day, Mother’s Day and the Kent Women in Business Awards, it is only fitting that we shine the spotlight on those local women who have made a name for themselves. Or have just started out on such a voyage. Because when it comes to plate spinning, the female of the species knows all about the skills required.

Here you can read about a host of successful female business owners – but we thought it also worthy to highlight those who have already climbed the ladder and now find themselves an inspiration to others.

Take Susie Warran-Smith, CBE, DL. Born into inner city poverty against a backdrop of racist and misogynistic 1960s Britain, Susie finally ‘made it’, becoming a self-made multi-millionaire 
at 59 years old. “Admittedly slower than some entrepreneurs,” she admits, “but I got there in the end.”

At the age of 54, when her kids left home, she sank her entire savings into a new business after working for 35 years as a highly successful designer, illustrator and marketeer specialising in brand development.

A tax company might not sound sexy, but Breakthrough Funding proved a huge success. After five years, its distinctive branding and achievements saw it snapped up by the multi-billion pound EY (Ernst & Young Global).

Today she remains active as a non-executive director for a number of concerns, a broadcaster and an author. It’s never too late, as she proves, to follow your dreams.

Someone who has also taken her dreams into reality is Laura Bounds – owner of Kent Crisps, a brand that promotes the county on the shelves of shops and supermarkets the length and breadth of the nation, as well as further afield. She has proved such a success she was awarded an MBE for services to international trade in 2020.

“I do hope,” she said at the time, “this shows others that with commitment and determination, we can all make a difference and that anything is possible.”

Staying with the popular snack, what about Nimisha Raja, MBE, who founded and continues to lead from the front at Nim’s Fruit Crisps – another brand which stretches far and wide from its headquarters in Sittingbourne? She sank everything she had into her business and it’s paid off.

Another celebrated female leader is Jo James, who received an OBE for services to the Kent economy in 2019. For 15 years she was the much-respected Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce – cheerleading the county’s businesses before opting to step down in December.

Floortje Hoette is CEO of local food and drink promoters Produced in Kent. She joined the organisation in January 2020 from the University of Kent, which, itself, has Professor Karen Cox as Vice-Chancellor. She has been VC and president since 2017.

Then there’s the likes of Sally Newall, founder and owner of the celebrated Simply Ice Cream brand. She had been in the catering industry for 20 years before launching her brand, which is now available on shelves around the country.

In the corridors of power, too, there are many women leading the charge. Kent’s MPs include the likes of Helen Grant, Rosie Duffield, Tracey Crouch, Helen Whately, Natalie Elphicke, Laura Trott and Kelly Tolhurst – all fighting for their communities in the House of Commons.

While the Chief Executives of Kent, Ashford, Maidstone, Swale, Folkestone & Hythe, Dartford and Canterbury councils are all women. These are non-elected roles which effectively manage the authorities and their huge budgets on the direction of councillors.

And the list goes on and on…

There’s Liz Gibney, Chair of the Kent and Medway Economic Partnership (KMEP) and Partner at the Canterbury-based, award-winning architecture and design studio the Lee Evans Partnership; or Miranda Chapman, Managing Director of digital strategic communications agency Pillory Barn in Maidstone and Canterbury, to name but just a couple more of Kent’s top businesswomen.

And, of course, we have our very own Rasa Dregva as Publisher of this very magazine, MMM, and its sister publications.

She concludes: “That so many women hold such positions in this county is a testament to the hard work and determination they have invested. Things have changed over the years, but there are still extra hurdles women need to leap over in what remains a man’s world.

“Spinning the plates of all the different aspects of their lives is no easy task – and I speak from experience! But we have all achieved great things and the next generation should feel emboldened to follow in our footsteps.”

MMM Magazine March 2024

Hilary Steel: Presenter, Business Awards Host and Funeral Celebrant

“My mum used to say: ‘If Hilary could have a job where she spoke, she would be happy.’ So true. My career path has evolved since I started out as a linguist working within the Global Banking Industry, leading me to where I am now. 

“This year, I will proudly host my 30th business award ceremony in Kent. Each event is a professional highlight for me and it’s inspiring to discover, from a privileged viewpoint, the thriving business community we have in our fair county. 

“Change is inevitable, and because of personal circumstances and an opportunity that was presented to me, I have embraced my role as a Funeral Celebrant. 

“Having now led services for over 500 families in their time of grief, I consider myself to be a person’s storyteller on their final public outing. Writing unique poems about people has become a big part of this as we celebrate their lives and capture many of their quirks and adventures through poetry. 

“Each day introduces me to people from all walks of life, and yet unites us as we remember those close to us with fondness and respect.”

Issy Szumniak: Nuvé Clinic

Issy Szumniak is the visionary behind Nuvé Clinic, which specialises in beauty, wellness and aesthetics.

“My journey into the clinic is deeply rooted in the belief in the transformative power of self-care. As a busy mum myself, I’ve witnessed the collective neglect we often subject ourselves to. 

“It’s the spark in a client’s eye after a brief ‘me time’ session that fuels my commitment to advocating self-love and self care. Treating ourselves with kindness ripples into our external world, making us more adept at navigating life’s challenges.”

Within a year of proudly opening the doors, Nuvé was honoured with the New Business of the Year Award at the Kent Health & Beauty Awards. Subsequently, they clinched gold for Beauty Salon of the Year and silver for Permanent Make-Up Artist of the Year two years in a row. This recognition extends to their remarkable team, including an award-winning complementary health practitioner and a multi-award-winning lash expert.

Moving into 2024, the commitment at Nuvé remains unwavering. The aim is to deepen the impact on wellbeing in Kent and beyond, continuing to unite beauty, aesthetics, and wellness under one roof. From massages and aesthetics to health and wellness coaching, Nuvé is a haven for all aspects of self-care.

A crucial principle of Issy’s practice is to enhance, not transform. Natural beauty is the essence, and she takes pride in subtly enhancing features – restoring what time may have gently taken away. Additionally, Issy extends a half-price offering for her permanent make-up services to those bravely facing hair loss due to conditions like alopecia or cancer treatments – a small gesture to boost confidence during challenging times.

At Nuvé, they are not just a clinic, they are a community devoted to enhancing the best versions of ourselves, and the Nuvé family looks forward to continuing the journey of growth, empowerment and wellbeing.

Denise Cheasley: Dressed by Dee

“I started operating a clothing boutique in West Malling using the name ‘Fragolina’ in 2015, but I felt that it did not truly reflect my vision for the business. Therefore, building on suggestions from my customers and after careful consideration, I renamed the boutique ‘Dressed by Dee’ in 2018. 

“I feel the name of a shop is very important, and I didn’t want to be just another ladies boutique. I wanted to offer a special, personalised shopping experience which I think is now reflected in both the name and in our relationship with our customers.

“We like to purchase items from a broad range of suppliers. Each supplier is selected based on quality, style, value for money and, of course, the collection offered for the upcoming season. 

“I buy local where possible, our nearest designer being in Margate, Chalk. They offer casual clothes which proved especially popular during lockdown and continue to be best sellers due to their ease of wear.

“As I have a family connection to Denmark, and I have spent a lot of time there myself, I am proud to stock the Danish brand KAFFE. Their dresses and separates are always stylish and colourful, reasonably priced and are timelessly classic. My other suppliers tend to be predominately European.

“I enjoy selecting and purchasing items for each season and I always think about how items can be fashioned together focusing on their suitability for my customers, who are central to everything I do.”

Jane Bevan: Cherry Bakewell World

“I grew up as a very shy girl in a Kent village with my mum, dad and brother. My mum, Mary, was a great cook and an amazing lady who taught me to bake, but unfortunately she died of cancer when I was 15, which left me devasted and full of anxiety. 

“I trained as a secretary and worked for 17 years in this industry. After starting a family, in 1998 I set up my own catering business called Primrose Fayre. 

“In 2019, I decided to write a series of six children’s story/recipe books called Cherry Bakewell, two of which are published, the second winning an award. Ten per cent of sales go to Cancer Research UK in my mother’s memory. Writing the books was really cathartic, bringing back so many memories. 

“In May 2022, I changed the name of the business to Cherry Bakewell World, combining my love of catering and writing. 

“I am now taking Creative Writing Workshops to primary schools with my books, teaching children a fun way to write stories using the ‘Story Trifle’ method. 

“I also share some of my experiences of anxiety and coping mechanisms, in the hope of helping some children who also have anxiety.”

Emma Kidd and Tracey Lane: Bay Contour

Bay Contour in Herne Bay is co-owned by business partners and friends Emma Kidd and Tracey Lane. They formed a close relationship and bond while working as clincal nurses over 20 years ago. They initially met when Tracey was assigned to Emma as her clinical mentor.

Tracey departed a few years later to pursue a career in emergency frontline services, while Emma is still employed as a nurse to this day. 

The concept for Bay Contour emerged from Emma’s experience working in the intensive care unit during Covid-19. She wanted a way to channel her interest and passion in aesthetics as a way of distraction, and also to learn a completely new skill set. Emma’s love of Permanent Make-Up (PMU) was the initial driving force behind the formation of Bay Contour in November 2020.

Today, Bay Contour is a thriving, multi-award-winning business that provides a variety of specialised treatments. 

Emma and Tracey will be especially happy to celebrate their success on International Woman’s Day, and say to all the ladies in their lives who have had a good influence, thank you, and let us honour the beauty, fortitude and power of women!

Victoria Corcoran: Bleu Rose Beauty & Aesthetics

“I started in the beauty industry back in 2016, when I trained as a beauty therapist. I worked as a mobile therapist before building a shack in my back garden and working from there as well as renting a room in Tunbridge Wells to build my clientele up in the area. 

“After Covid I decided to make the jump and open my own shop in Tunbridge Wells, which is now known as Bleu Rose Beauty & Aesthetics and is now an established and thriving business.

“I am a very ambitious person with a passion for skincare, beauty and facial aesthetics. I have spent the last four years training to become an advanced practitioner, and will continue to train and advance my theoretical and practical knowledge in new trends and more advanced products as they develop. 

“Bleu Rose has been a dream of mine, and I knew I would have my own shop as I strove to succeed. Being a mother to four children and being a businesswoman shows my children that when you put your mind to something and you work hard you be successful in having a family and career, that nothing is impossible, and if you want it badly enough, go and get it!”

Eleanore Quadri: Revive Cosmetics 

This medical aesthetics company has been running for 13 years, with all the nurses being master trained. The nurses have over 50 years of NHS-trained experience combined, are CQC-regulated and rated ‘good’ in all five areas.

Founder Eleanore is continuing professional development within the aesthetic field through conference and face-to-face teaching, and all the nurses are experienced injectors and offer a variety of treatments. The clinic’s focus is on natural ‘tweakments’ and enhancements and that help restore and rejuvenate the face, and their client base stretches internationally.

Based in Romney Marsh, Revive is a friendly and highly-skilled clinic. As they celebrate all things women, it is important to mention that Eleanore was shortlisted as a finalist for Business Woman of the Year and Customer Service in the Ashford Business Awards 2023, and Revive featured in three categories in the Kent Women in Business Awards 2023. 

This was a huge achievement, and we wish Revive Cosmetics continued success.

Ella and Esen Yesilirmak: ELES Cosmedic

Sisters Ella and Esen Yesilirmak embrace International Women’s Day by being proud business owners in the aesthetics industry. With a collective background in a cosmetic surgery company, working alongside knowledgeable, experienced surgeons, the sisters have gained extensive knowledge in the industry. Their dedication to beauty, safety, and overall wellbeing is evident through their combination of industry experience and aesthetic training. 

Empowering women by making them feel and look their best is their passion. With innovation and drive, Ella and Esen have built their business independently over the past five years and now hold a powerful presence in the world of aesthetics.

The clinic is located in the charming town of Hythe, with its doors always open to welcome you. It offers an array of non-surgical cosmetic treatments. is fully insured, and proudly holds membership of the ACPB (The Association of Cosmetic Practitioners). 

Operating as a family-run business, the clinic strives to exceed client expectations by delivering personalised treatments tailored to individual aesthetic goals. 

From the initial consultation to the aftercare process, they are committed to supporting clients every step of the way.

Katrina Festorazzi: Razzi Dazzle

Since its inception in 2023, this cleaning service has been dedicated to transforming spaces into clean and welcoming environments across Kent and London. 

Founded by Katrina Festorazzi, its journey began as a humble endeavour and swiftly evolved, which is testament to the company’s commitment to excellence.

Central to its success is the passionate team, whose dedication and expertise drive every aspect of operations. From meticulous cleaners to diligent supervisors, each member of the Razzi Dazzle family is united by a shared goal – to exceed client expectations and leave a shining lasting impression.

The team understand the importance of a clean and inviting atmosphere, whether it’s in a bustling office or a cosy home, and a tailored approach ensures that every space receives the attention it deserves.  

The commitment to excellence extends beyond surface cleaning – they strive to create environments that inspire productivity, relaxation, and overall wellbeing. With meticulous attention to detail, they have earned the trust of businesses and homeowners alike.

With Razzi Dazzle, cleanliness isn’t just a service – it’s a promise of a brighter, more welcoming tomorrow.

Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.