Member Spotlight 

Each month we profile four of our members so that you can find out a little more about everyone in Women that Connect. 

Anni Pekie 

What do you do, and how long have you been in business? 
I’m a photographer under the name Anni’s Looking Glass. The second part of that question is actually not as straightforward for me to answer as it may seem! Photography slowly morphed from being a hobby that I was passionate and ambitious about into a business idea. Once I knew I wanted to turn it into this, I still spent several months fine-tuning my portfolio, doing further training and building my website. Therefore, I can’t say my business has a specific birthday that I celebrate. However, this month it will have been two years since I took out business insurance and let HMRC know what I’m up to. 
 
Why did you create Anni's Looking Glass? 
I think most artists will be used to hearing the sentence “You’re so good, you should charge for this!” I never thought that much of it as I felt it was just flattery. However, with some gentle encouragement from my boyfriend I began to realise that I could actually really enjoy running a business. I have always loved independent work and I’m good at motivating myself. I knew that taking that next step would also enable me to really create a unique service for people, providing them with images and high-quality products that an amateur will not be able to create. The timing was right, too. As I was doing a PhD and had a part-time job at the university, there was not as much pressure for me to make the business work straight away, but I could easily fit it around my existing work. 
 
What do you think has been your biggest achievement since launching your business? 
I think my achievements are twofold. The way my work makes my clients react. For instance, every time a mum can’t hold back a tear of joy, in the corner of her eyes, when she sees the photos of her kids; that’s an achievement for me. Every time someone that thought they could not stand themselves in photos realises their portrait actually doesn’t look half as bad; that’s another achievement. However, I also see achievements on a very personal level. There’s a common disease among artists, it’s a sense of perfectionism that is always treading on the fine line between a desire to improve (great) and a crippling self-criticism (inhibiting and not so great). The latter has always been a major challenge of mine as I’ve struggled to appreciate my own work (and hence actually recognise my achievements). Lately I’ve occasionally found myself looking back at a photo of mine, thinking I did really well there. Any fellow perfectionist will know that this alone is in fact an amazing achievement. 
 
Is there something most people don’t know about you? 
I love to play World of Warcraft (or WoW for those in the know). It’s an online role playing game set in a Fantasy world. For some reason this one always surprises people. 
 
Is there a single person who you have learned the most from in your life? If so, what did they teach you? 
No. I should probably say my parents or grandparents or something like this, and they have indeed shaped me. However, I firmly believe that 1) no-one is perfect and 2) it doesn’t always work for us to emulate what we think other people are or want (i.e. what I think you think I should be or do). I have role models and I meet people that inspire me with their art, their life or their sense for business. I try to learn from each of them and incorporate aspects of them that I feel will suit me in my own art/life/business. However, I know that I need to first and foremost work on myself, improve on my personal talents and overcome my personal challenges. 
 
If you could have dinner with one living or non-living person, who would it be and why? 
I of course have lost loved ones that I would like to see again, if only for one dinner, but I’m interpreting this question being more about the fictional dream celeb scenario. In that case, I should probably pick Ansel Adams/Robert Capa/Annie Leibovitz (they’re all famous photographers). I’m more about stories than only photography per se though. I’d definitely meet the man, who in my eyes is the greatest and most elaborate storyteller of all times: JRR Tolkien. 
 
What is your favourite film of all time? 
I’ll always prefer a book over a film, so only original screenplays will qualify for this one. The Star Wars Saga means a lot to me. Yes, all of them, despite Jar Jar Binks... my favourite is probably “The Empire Strikes Back”. Also, now thinking about it, I should have picked Leia Organa for the above question. 
 
What is your best advice for people starting out in business? 
1) Have a plan. 
2) Don’t freak out if it doesn’t go according to said plan (because it probably won’t). 
3) Readjust plan. 
4) Keep at it! 
 
What's next for you and your business? 
1) Have a plan. 
2) Don’t freak out if it doesn’t go according to said plan (because it probably won’t). 
3) Readjust plan. 
4) Keep at it! 
 
Clare Farrell
 
 

Kelly Payne 

What do you do, and how long have you been in business? 
I am a website designer and I have been running my business for 10 years. 
 
Why did you create Kelly's-Webdesigns? 
Because I have no imagination!! I’ve had several Kelly’s businesses, Kelly's-Computers, Kelly's-Scanning!! But luckily coding is more about precision than imagination!! 
 
What do you think has been your biggest achievement since launching your business? 
Creating a life I am really proud of and happy living – I have an illness that makes me really hard to employ. I didn’t want to sit on benefits my whole life so I started my business when I was 23. 
 
Is there something most people don’t know about you? 
No, I wear my heart on my sleeve and chat until there is no shutting me up!! But some fun facts, I have competed trampoline gymnastics at national level within the last 5 years. I enjoy knitting and am a rather enthusiastic person. 
 
Is there a single person who you have learned the most from in your life? If so, what did they teach you? 
One of my favourite things to do is learn, so I try and learn as much as possible from everyone I meet. I think the best think I have ever learned is exam technique from one of my teachers at school. It not only taught me how to pass an exam but how to think outside the box. 
 
If you could have dinner with one living or non-living person, who would it be and why? 
No thought needed, my grandad. He passed away last year and I would love to talk to him about my new little boy, who is named after him.. 
 
What is your favourite film of all time? 
Calamity Jane, nothing beats Doris Day!! 
 
What is your best advice for people starting out in business? 
“Just keep swimming”, Dory has the best advice! You never know how close you are to achieving your goals, just keep going you will get there, its about hard work and persistence. That’s all luck is! 
 
What's next for you and your business? 
Another fun filled 10 years!! I really enjoy what I do, not only the coding but also running my business. I am going to carry on as I am and keep growing my business. 
Louisa Sando Patel
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Aime Armstrong 

What do you do, and how long have you been in business? 
As a freelance HR professional, I help to take the stress and worry out of staffing issues for small businesses. Sometimes people just need a bit of advice, sometimes they need help with recruiting or helping someone to move on. I’ve only officially been freelance for a month, however I’ve been getting ready for this move for a little over a year now. 
 
Why did you create Ninja HR? 
A friend heckled me when I was giving a presentation about what I did saying I was an HR Ninja. I loved the idea, it communicates that I am skilled and able to step in and help, but only when necessary. Hopefully it also communicates my desire to move away from the bland corporate world. 
 
What do you think has been your biggest achievement since launching your business? 
Overcoming my fear of pitching and sales. Having worked in the public sector for a long time, this was really scary. But I just dived in and tried it and it turns out it isn’t that bad after all. 
 
Is there something most people don’t know about you? 
I really can use a sword. I was school fencing captain, and as a group of mostly Essex state schoolgirls we once beat the Eton boys, and they cried. 
 
Is there a single person who you have learned the most from in your life? If so, what did they teach you? 
Definitely my Dad. He is an Educational Psychologist and we still talk for hours. He told me early on to separate out someone’s behaviour from them as a person and tackle the behaviour rather than target them. This early lesson is one of the reasons I am able to remain calm in really difficult situations as I don’t take things personally and can empathise that even when people have done really nasty or naughty things that isn’t necessarily who they are. 
 
If you could have dinner with one living or non-living person, who would it be and why? 
George Clooney - do you really need to ask why!!!! 
 
What is your favourite film of all time? 
Whatever I’m excited about watching next. I’m not a great fan of repeats. I love Sci-Fi. 
 
What is your best advice for people starting out in business? 
Remember that it is going to be tough, but if you take one step at a time and just keep going, you will find you can achieve truly amazing things. 
 
What's next for you and your business? 
Sorting out my marketing. I’ve been lucky so far and my customers have all come through word of mouth, but I need to work on my brand, social media and actually get a website. 
 
Lisa Bacon
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Anita Baldwin 

What do you do, and how long have you been in business? 
I help businesses with their marketing. All aspects really but essentially, I help businesses try to get more enquiries and sales. I have been working in marketing for 25 years and working for myself for about 6 months. 
 
Why did you create Anita Baldwin Marketing? 
I love marketing and I’m a sucker for it!! Packaging in particular and clever advertising. Oh and a great tag line too. I think it’s tragic when a business has a fantastic product or service but doesn’t know how to describe it in a way that will appeal to people and equally, I think there are an awful lot of confusing messages out there. I often look at a website and think, yes but what do you do? I think marketing should be straight forward, honest and have integrity but still appeal to the right audience. I can help with that because for some reason I see it all really clearly when it comes to other people’s businesses!! I’m rubbish at marketing myself though!!! 
 
What do you think has been your biggest achievement since launching your business? 
Definitely making a success of networking. I was in corporate-land for a really long time and knew exactly what that consisted of. Deciding to go for it and work for myself happened pretty quickly and I knew I needed to find customers but I’m not a natural when it comes to walking into a room full of strangers. I took a deep breath and went for it (needing to pay the mortgage was a good incentive!) and I’ve met some amazing people. And I actually enjoy it now! And I’ve found some customers who I help with their marketing and they are happy. So I’m really proud of myself for making it work (although I’ve also been lucky and met some great business owners who have helped me along the way). 
 
Is there something most people don’t know about you? 
Loads!! My friends and I used to give Chesney Hawkes nuisance phone calls when we were at University. Odd I know!!!! Looooong story…….. 
 
Is there a single person who you have learned the most from in your life? If so, what did they teach you? 
I’m still learning! I’ve had some great bosses who have inspired me and some really awful bosses who I’ve probably also learnt from. I get inspired from all sorts of people and things. I’m discovering more things about myself since starting my business however and I’m finding it an interesting journey. 
 
If you could have dinner with one living or non-living person, who would it be and why? 
Maybe Stella Rimington. I love a good conspiracy theory and I’m convinced the government are up to stuff all the time. I bet she knows some very interesting stories. 
 
What is your favourite film of all time? 
I wish it was something intellectual or more highbrow but probably Big. It’s a great film!!! The most recent film I saw that I loved is The Favourite. It is so different from the Hollywood formula, it’s totally weird but in a good way! 
 
What is your best advice for people starting out in business? 
Go to everything you can, meet loads of people and try to help them out if you can. I believe in the law of attraction. Also, with my marketing head on, I’d say try to be really clear about what you do, who it benefits and how it helps them. Don’t try to be all things to all people, you won’t appeal to anyone. 
 
What's next for you and your business? 
I am starting a monthly marketing coaching club to try to get a few businesses in a room and help them with their marketing together. This is a good way for me to work with small businesses for an affordable fee while still being able to earn what I need to so I’m hoping it takes off and I get to meet more interesting business owners. 
I’m really inspired by all the people getting off their butts and doing it for themselves in all manner of weird and wonderful ways! Helping them to be more successful and being paid to do so seems like an ideal job to me! 
 
Gerri Moore
 
 
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