Hi, I’m Emily, founder of Simply Great Britain and this is the story of how we got here.
What we do: celebrate, support & connect stand out small, indie, micro, freelance business across Great Britain from Simply HQ in the heart of Britain – Staffordshire.
What we value (in no particular order): people, places, planet, balance, nature, connection, relationships, love.
A bit about Me…
As a child of the 70’s and a teen of the 80’s I did what I was supposed to do while being told that, as a woman, I could do anything. That is I got a bunch of good GCSEs, seriously lost my way in 6th form and scraped just enough A levels to get into a Uni through clearing. It was the beginning of the 90’s and going to uni was still free and still the only option for a girl like me. I look back at my degree now and see that it was a bloody brilliant one (Modern European Cultural Studies and French) but I was thoroughly unappreciative and was more focussed on Regal Kingsize and Grolsh (no I didn’t wear them on my shoes…). Some of the best things about my years at Uni were the friendships I made and still treasure today.
Still desperately trying to do the right thing, I got into retail with a well known high street store hoping to get onto a graduate training programme – heading for ‘grown up’. After more than 2 years I realised that corporate retail was not for me. A friend of mine mentioned that there was a role opening up for a pharmaceutical company which had a company car and double the salary and I went for it. That is where I stayed until I had children.
That life taught me many things which helped me on my journey but what it mainly told me was that I was never cut out for a corporate life. I earned more money than I could have dreamed of, I worked with lovely people, got promotions and had a fancy car but I was miserable. I assumed it was because I was either lazy (I was stressed, exhausted and bored) or that I simply hadn’t tried hard enough.
With the clarity that a new baby and lack of sleep brings you, I left. I simply walked away to nothing. Financially it wasn’t a text book decision but I have never, ever looked back. There wasn’t a nursery in the land that could cope with a 5.30 red eye flight and my gut told me that I just could not carry on this way.
I started a new business with my Mum, running self catering accommodation back in Staffordshire. Our eco holiday house was a learning curve of epic proportions and we made a ton of mistakes, but we did win a few awards and I did start to work with independent businesses & a long lost fire began to burn.
I realised that there was nothing wrong with me. I was simply one of those people who was better being their own boss. I was meeting amazing people doing the same thing. Some were like me and had run from a stressful corporate career and some had always had a dream to run their own business. It was like a light being switched on. At 32 years old I finally discovered that I wasn’t alone.
After 7 years running our successful eco holiday house, the house was sold and I had a decision to make. Continue to work with, connect and help these amazing small businesses I had built relationships with or get a job.
My 2nd business, Simply Staffordshire was born and at the very heart of it was community. Bringing together all those amazing business owners out there who don’t get recognition, you don’t hear about on the telly and who now make up 94% of all British business. These tend not to be the SMEs that big government talks about (which have 10 employees or more) but the micro businesses who don’t always want to take over the world or expand but simply want to live a life that they love, doing something that makes them smile. How perfect is that?
So in 2018, we needed to spread our wings just a little beyond the borders of Staffordshire and embarked on a whole new journey to build our community of indie business owners looking to build a beautiful life. Our offer and community has evolved and is evolving all the time, as am I, but the mission is there – to change our communities and our lives through small, micro, independent business.
I want Britain to fall in love with indie business – all sectors of it. I want the recognition that small is beautiful and builds communities, supports humans at all levels and makes life just that bit more beautiful. Our community is growing as we work every day to make our members feel connected, supported and celebrated which is, after all, what life is about.
Today I live in Staffordshire with my husband, two teenage sons & two dogs. Life is chaotic, balance is still something I strive for every day and I am on the same journey as a small business owners as everyone else. I walk every day, practice yoga often, drink too much tea and am grateful for everything that comes my way.