Kath Austin – Founder of BeeBee & Leaf

Website: http://beebeeleaf.com

“Every year International Women’s Day comes around I take a moment to reflect on the skills and capabilities of women I know and the remarkable way we are so unassuming in the presentation of ourselves. I think of the achievements we have attained, the struggles that it took to get there and the mere minute or two we allow to congratulate ourselves.”

“When I embarked on my startup, BeeBee & Leaf, I had little knowledge of the industry and even less knowledge about manufacturing and the technology we would need.”




“As a woman, what I do well is network. It’s a generalisation but women so love to talk. Calling on my network in Cambridge we pulled together the skill-set we needed to mechanise what was a handmade manufacturing process using temperamental materials like beeswax. Such was the success, now, four years on, we are innovating again to further gain efficiencies and increase our output.”

“All of my peers in the sector are female founders, which I find both terrifying and elating at once. Competing as a woman, with women surely comes down to compartmentalising the work from everything else. Taking a step back from the venture and not allowing the venture to define you as a woman.”

“At networking conferences men, and women too, will regularly socialise with their competitors at the bar and, whilst guards remain high, there is a camaraderie that comes from doing the same job. I’ve reached out to my competitors and congratulated them for their wins, it was hugely cathartic. Surely this is how we exist in the space. Shining a light on real achievement without shying away from the frontline ourselves.”

“If you’re the only woman in a room of men, then my advice is to be confident in knowing yourself, being sure of your skills and faking the missing experience until it’s acquired. Rather than shouting about how good you are, BE the best you can be and let the results do the talking. Starting out in any industry is filled with trepidation and it should be.”

“The fear we have fills us with the sharpness of mind to be surefooted and on the ball. But never let anyone say you’re not capable when you clear as day know you are. Too many women fallback behind the dominant yet poorly equipped leader.

International Women’s Day celebrates the indispensable, irreplaceable role of women in every walk of life, and I plan to take more than a minute to think on what my achievements are so far and what might come next!”