What does ‘girl power’ look like today?
Brought into the global vernacular in the 1990s by the iconic Spice Girls, the slogan ‘girl power’ delivered a message of female friendship, empowerment, non-conformity, and confidence. In many ways, it was seen as a mainstream route to feminism for the youthful fans of the band - fans who today are in their thirties, and embody the modern ideal of ‘girl power’.
While the quintet focused on ‘girl power’ as a catch-all phrase which stood for them making their own decisions; from their selection of manager to going against record company advice in the selection of their first single, the maxim instilled confidence and positivity in a generation of women - including stars such as Adele. Feminism - meaning equality of the sexes - became not only possible, but desirable, and was no longer the sole purview of the serious and the educated.
So what does that ‘girl power’ look like today? Well, 1 in 3 businesses is now owned by a woman. And with over 780k new businesses formed in the UK last year – an increase of 12.3% on 2019 – the number of female entrepreneurs taking the business world by storm is growing rapidly.
Meet the top female entrepreneurs embodying modern-day ‘girl power’ in the UK.
A former powerhouse in private banking, half-Peruvian Maggie Colette (33) had to make the choice between wealth and health when her doctor told her she was at risk of a heart attack before the age of 35. Having grown up splitting her childhood between the UK and Peru, Maggie had experienced poverty from a young age, so it wasn’t an easy decision to give up a secure six-figure salary. However, years of endless pressure, travel, and the toxic, male-dominated industry eventually caused Maggie to leave banking and focus on her passion for leisure travel and blogging. It was following a three-month trip to Asia that she pivoted into the entrepreneurial world of online coaching. Three years on and she is the go-to global independent Instagram® strategist for some of the world’s most successful female entrepreneurs, and runs her own in-demand coaching business, Think Like A Boss.
Maggie says “I think my journey of becoming my own boss and career path of empowering other women to do the same is definitely today’s ‘girl power’. Ever since I experienced first-hand the pernicious environment of private banking with the still-present gender imbalances, I knew that I wanted to be part of building an amazing community of strong businesswomen.”
Maggie now helps other women to monetise their social media, develop unshakeable self-belief, and set strong boundaries. She is on a mission to empower others to create a life that they love, and to take their place in history as the generation that can, and do, achieve anything.
Once known as ‘thrifty Crumps’ due to her frugal spending habits, Amy Crumpton (35) grew up in a working-class family, leaving full-time education after sixth form and following her mum’s career path into banking. Growing up believing that an annual salary of £30k was a lot of money and that it took seriously hard work to get to that point meant that it took a lot of courage for Amy to resign and move abroad. After making the decision to travel the world and live an exciting life rather than the expected path of school and work, Amy participated in a plant-healing medicine ceremony in the Sacred Valley of the Incas in Peru. It was during that ceremony that Amy realised that she had to let go of her feelings of not being good enough, and that her path was to start her own business to help other women like her.
Amy said of her background: “My old boss used to call me Thrifty Crumps because I was frugal in my spending choices - bringing my own lunch to work and making coffee in the office kitchen rather than spending on takeaways. This was following a time I was living paycheck to paycheck and had thousands of pounds worth of credit card debt. I used to feel pretty worthless about not being able to buy myself ‘fancier’ things - which was entirely down to money mindset. I believed that I had to hold on to the money I had - a belief I often see in my clients so I can really relate to them”.
Amy has since become certified in Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Timeline Therapy and DISC profiling, and is a business and mindset coach. Through her company Social Cactus Amy helps hundreds of women to remove their limiting beliefs, negative emotions, and programming around money. She has said: “I don’t know what I like best about my job; I get to do something I love every day, I employ 8 other incredible female business owners who are an integral part of my team, and I’m able to help my fantastic clients to follow their dreams. My big passion is helping women to think differently about money. It wasn’t that long ago that women weren’t legally entitled to equal pay, and though society has taken incredible strides forward, there is still an overarching thought that women shouldn’t make a lot of money, and shouldn’t be open about it if they do. I work with women to help them overcome that block and that shyness – now that is girl power!”
Amy is now making it her mission to help as many women as possible to unleash their money-making potential and live a fulfilled, happy and abundant life.
Lucy Wheeler (34) is a practicing lawyer specialising in corporate and commercial law, and the founder of Lucy Legal Ltd, an accessible and affordable legal services company for entrepreneurs. While the perception can be that lawyers are stuffy, boring people who over-complicate issues, Lucy breaks the mould - she is known as a Badass Lawyer to her clients!
Lucy is a badass in her personal life too! No stranger to overcoming challenges, Lucy climbed Kilimanjaro on her 30th birthday, ran 50 miles in one day during a 6 marathon/5-day challenge in the Jordan desert, trekked the Arctic Circle, and cycled from London to Paris in under 24 hours.
Like the other female entrepreneurs on this list, Lucy didn’t have an easy journey to entrepreneurship. Having achieved her degree in Law at King’s College London, her career path saw her join the legal rat race in London, working in commercial litigation. A decade later and Lucy was suffering from severe burnout, caught up in the presenteeism of the industry and the ever-increasing pressure. Despite ‘ticking all the boxes’ in terms of achievement, Lucy still wasn’t happy and has described it as “completing the checklist left me empty”.
It was during the events of 2020 that Lucy took steps to change her life. She suffered a missed miscarriage at eleven weeks pregnant, and had to face returning to work having to share that very personal information to get the support she needed. However, her loss was not acknowledged. Two months later Lucy lost her second pregnancy. On her return to the office, there was again no support, and in fact, the pressure on Lucy increased significantly, with her workload being added to due to a tranche of resignations. It was later that month that Lucy herself resigned, after which she began working full time in her own business, Lucy Legal Ltd. She now specialises in making legal simple and accessible to small businesses, helping them to Get Legit®.
Lucy said “It’s so important for small businesses and start-ups to be able to protect their livelihood. For many, legal is seen as an expensive afterthought, when in reality it is a necessity, not a luxury. By making legal accessible and affordable, all entrepreneurs can have the confidence they need to run a successful business which is thoroughly protected.”
Rhiannon Bates (32), Founder and PR Director of Garnet PR looked as if she had it all; a super glamorous role working with celebrities, charities, and award-winning businesses, attending fab parties, hob-nobbing with A-listers, and nabbing freebies. However, what looked star-spangled and super sparkly from the outside, on the inside was years of workplace bullying, toxic environments, and extreme anxiety as a result.
Public relations expert Rhiannon says: “I spent a huge amount of my 20s feeling undervalued, overworked, and bullied, primarily by other women in the workplace, which led to extreme anxiety. I loved public relations, but the culture in a couple of places was horrendous, and I know I’m not alone in going through something like this.”
These experiences are at the core of what Rhiannon now stands for - giving women a voice and supporting them to turn their dreams into reality in their own businesses. The events of her 20s helped her to realise that in many organisations, you are just a number and will be stepped on by others as they strive for the ‘top spot’ - when actually, women should be supporting each other.
Her experiences also led her to develop serious imposter syndrome and stress-related anxiety, for which she overcame by undergoing therapy. She now uses the techniques she learned, along with mindset practices, to help other women lead with positivity and overcome their imposter so that they can boldly step into their most powerful self and use their voice to build a business and a life they love.
She continues: “So often, especially as women, we feel judged or held back by what other people think, and this leads to bouts of debilitating imposter syndrome. True ‘girl power’ to me is women supporting each other, leading a life focusing on collaboration over competition, and becoming the best version of yourself. It’s really important that we lift each other up; it’s like a ripple effect, when one woman uses her voice or supports another woman, we pave the way for others to do the same, and that’s what will create huge change in the world.”
Just as the concept of ‘girl power’ united our generation 25 years ago, we are still united today in this incredible community of female entrepreneurs whose entire ethos is to support and collaborate with other women. As Maggie’s mission above states, this generation of women will go down in history as the generation that could, and did, achieve anything.