Thursday 25 August 2016

2inspire Inspirational Woman: Lucy Kenefick Founder of Crossfit Return

Meet Lucy Kenefick Founder of Crossfit Return Gym who has a dream and made it into a reality! 

Please tell us what is a typical business day for you?  My day to day schedule can vary depending on how many classes I have for the day.  I rise at 5.30am to be in gym for 6am for the first class of the day.  I train myself after the class and hit the computer for a few hours doing my daily admin work.  If we have a lunch class on that day I will be there for that and then again back to classes in the evening from 4pm to close, group and individual sessions.  I have a fantastic team of coaches with me and we work together to balance our schedules and work/ life attitudes, as a team.

What made you start the business and how did you get started?  I was doing CrossFit as a hobby in Melbourne, Australia back in 2010 and found it a very challenging yet rewarding and fulfilling activity. At the time I was working in investment banking and thought I had my life wants sussed, the proverbial boxes ticked and Ts crossed...  But deep down I knew something wasn’t sitting right but I chose to ignore it.   One sunny Saturday morning after training a flippant comment about opening my own CrossFit gym took some momentum and what was originally a joke started to become real.  Myself and my brother, Chris decided to work together on this mutual project and bring, what we thought would be, a very beneficial and fantastic service back to Cork, Ireland.  Looking back on it now it was a massive risk, to leave successful jobs and our comfort zones especially in recession times, to start from scratch but we both had the fire in our bellies and the belief that it would work.  Four years later I am thrilled to say it did!!

What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment in the business world to date?  There has been many, luckily but the one that sticks out in my mind as the most rewarding was celebrating our 1st birthday with our members, family and friends.  Chris and I had worked so hard with very little financial reward and sleep for 18 months prior to that but to see our new community come together and see people improve and enjoy our gym, that was payment in itself.  Cheesy but true!!

What has been your biggest challenge in business so far?  Honestly and I hope he won’t mind me saying so but working with my brother!  We have always been very close siblings but working together professionally did pose its challenges. We had clear roles from initial set up but personalities did clash every so often and as most siblings can attest to, we didn’t like being told what to do by the other…  We luckily had the maturity to sit down when necessary and talk things out and get back on track, keeping focus on the business and openness and understanding in our personal relationship.

What are your future plans for the business? To keep growing and keep providing the best service and facility we can to our members.  We pride ourselves on being professional and personable with all our members and will continue to ensure they feel comfortable but get value for their money and see results!! 

If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?  From an administration perspective I would have better procedures and systems in place sooner, to make the work load lighter and easier.  And not be so slow to ask for help from the professionals in their industry, you can never know it all!!

Realistically I have found in business we are our own worst critics and would usually do things better in hind sight but overall, to date, we’ve done a pretty good job. 

Why is it so important to inspire young women in particular to follow their dreams?  When I was growing up there was always a bigger emphasis on men participating, engaging and succeeding in the professional world and to a certain extent this would have directed my decisions as a young girl.  But when I started CrossFit in my late 20s I got a certain feeling of empowerment from it that I never experienced before.  It gave me a confidence that no dress or pair of shoes ever did and it allowed me to get to know myself better, know my capabilities and push my self-imposed boundaries.  In turn having this control and energy gave me the confidence to change my career path and change my life.  I have learned that women are amazing humans, resilient and often humble, more so in the last 4 years in the gym.  Our female members push as hard if not harder than the men. We are most definitely a unisex gym. 

Women, like men can do what they want to do, be it run their own business, be a mother, climb the corporate ladder or follow a creative path.  The earlier we can teach and assure these young girls and inspire them to follow their dreams and aspirations the better!!

What advice would you give to somebody who wants to start a business in your industry?  Read as much as you can from as many as sources as you can and have a definite idea of what and how you are going to run your business.  In the fitness industry there are many trains of thought, old school and new, which is often conflicting and confusing.  There will always be a few people out there that are not with you, just ignore and focus on those who help you and want your help.

What or who inspires you in business and why?  In business I take a lot of strength and direction from my girlfriends.  They all work in fast paced, stressful, male dominated industries and still manage to work full hours, raise families and be good, dependable friends.  That is real life to me and very encouraging and focusing.  They deserve the credit in my eyes and not the celebrity business guys that make millions!

What is your favourite inspirational quote?  Carpe Diem – so much so I have it tattooed on my wrist to remind me every day!

Lucy Kenefick
CrossFit Return
Dosco Industrial Estate
South Douglas Road
087 191 3242

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Thursday 18 August 2016

2inspire Inspirational Woman: Artist Elle Smith

Elle Smith is an artist who has followed her heart to pursue her dreams, read her inspirational interview below and be encouraged to live a life of your dreams.

Please tell us what is a typical business day for you?
Well, I do not think there is anything like a typical business day when you work alone. Usually, my day will start with a long list of planned tasks for the day, which I will systematically tackle. However, I have come to appreciate that things may not pan out as first expected, and that there is always a tomorrow, or the next day to achieve those goals.
There is always much administrative work to address, involving speaking with people on the telephone. This is actually part of the task list that I actually enjoy as I find people very interesting, and these interactions even on a business basis can be very enlightening and a learning curve.
A great deal of my time is spent on social media and interaction with my fan base, which is in the region of some 65,000 people. Even I do not appreciate the enormity of this number, as it has grown very rapidly. I guess having worked within finance that I have come to normalise large numbers.
However, it is quite a challenge to manage social media for such a large fan base. I do have some help now, but I still ensure that I personally interact with my fan base on the various platforms; as to me this is very important. These people or “friends” have supported me on my journey, and sometimes even the criticism has been the thing to push me to work harder. It is often moving to me, and humbling to hear the stories of people that I have “touched” with my creative works. Even the other day, someone opened up to me about some abuse they had suffered as a child. It was through a poem that I had written, which had resonated with them and offered understanding to the deep wounds they feel.
I try to include some element of creativity in each day; however whilst I am developing the business, it has meant that my creative time has reduced. Clearly, I love to paint and write poetry especially if the inspiration is given to me. My mind is a furtive place for imagination and alternative perspectives, so I especially enjoy developing ideas. Sometimes this is easy as I connect with the topic, but not always. I have at times had to go on a rapid learning curve, but that’s good as I enjoy learning about new topics.
My day is always busy, not just in physical terms but intellectually too. My head is often flooded with new ideas and thoughts constantly. I must admit this is challenging to manage, so I now tend to reach for a sheet of paper or my I-pad to note down those thoughts. Usually the day starts very early and goes on into the early hours, when I enjoy the silence of the night as there is a clarity of thought at that time, provided I can stay awake.

What made you start the business and how did you get started?
The path to this business was a strange one indeed. I have always been very creative, even in my commercial career, as I would always visualize problem solving differently to others. My actual artistic side was present to a lesser degree as well, and probably only manifest itself in terms of fashion and cooking.
People would often say “You should really get into that as a career”, but I had been brought up to believe that being creative would never amount to anything. Thus, I never explored my creative side probably for financial and social reasons.
I was inspired by someone to explore art a few years ago. Equally, I had probably at that point served enough years in the world of finance and academia. I suffered a bad injury from a car accident, which also had other ramifications to my health. I was in fact, advised that I could have been paralysed from that accident. However, not being one to give up, I decided to fight on and overcome those injuries, which still cause me problems but I live with this daily.
It was totally accidental that I discovered I could paint, and I now realise that if I put my mind to a task, there is not much that I cannot achieve.

What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment in the business world to date?
My greatest accomplishment is probably that I have built a brand without any help of others, and as I was reminded this brand is about me. It is still surreal to hear people saying how fascinated and interested they are…in ME!

What has been your biggest challenge in business so far?

Well, doing this alone is on a certain level a mammoth achievement, but it is also extremely hard. Financial stability is always a concern, as I do not have that support mechanism. I would love to have a mentor and that support around me, who knows maybe it will come in the future as the business grows.

What are your future plans for the business?

I have so many future plans, including joining the literary world. I have started to write a book, which has a great concept behind it but it is stalled, as I need a team around me to bring this to fruition in the right way. Clearly, this is new territory for me and as always, I will not do the project unless I can do it justice.

Recently. I created a fashion item, which is simply stunning. This is more the territory that I feel comfortable with. This new bolero scarf even surprised me, as seeing your design in 3D is so different from an on-screen impression of what it will look like. I was truly overwhelmed to see my scarf in reality.

One of my goals is to touch everyone with creativity, and I would like to exhibit my art in a unique way. Quite what this will entail, I have no idea but maybe some day soon this will be possible as the business grows. There are so many people who cannot access conventional exhibitions, that this would be a great project to host.

If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?

The only aspect that I would like to have changed is perhaps the financial pressure of doing this alone.

Why is it so important to inspire young women in particular to follow their dreams?

I think the times that we live in are very different and there are many challenges for young people. One of these challenges is belief and self-worth. There is a lack of role models and people willing to inspire the young that every door is open to them.

There is much undiscovered talent around the globe, where individuals never explore their dreams, as the external pressures are too great. Even my personal story is one that would fascinate and motivate the young, given the obstacles and hurdles that I have overcome.

Women still sadly face inequality on several levels, so inspiring them to overcome such hurdles would be a great thing to do. Of course I am biased but women do bring strength and empathy that is quite unique as it is instinctive. It would be wonderful to inspire young women to see that their dreams are achievable.

What advice would you give to somebody who wants to start a business in your industry?

I do not want to give some vague advice, but to say that it is possible to do, but not easy. You must believe in yourself every step of the way, even when the challenges occur and they will. You need to remind yourself that you are amazing and that you will succeed. Determination is definitely a key factor to success. However, you must realise that success is unlikely to come overnight, and in the form you expect as often we set our sights too high. Success is relative to your perspective of life.

What or who inspires you in business and why?

Well, there are several people who inspire me. Firstly, my mother who was an amazing person in her own right as she had an inner strength that was phenomenal. The person that made me awaken to my creative side is also an inspiration to me. They have a natural ability to nurture and inspire everyone around them by challenging thoughts and ideas. This in itself is a rare talent.

Of course, there are many conventional characters like Richard Branson, where his inspiration is about his ethics too. I like that his Virgin brand has an honesty factor about it, and is not just solely about money.

What is your favourite inspirational quote?
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” Mahatma Ghandi

Elle Smith
07512 028893

Thursday 11 August 2016

2inspire Inspirational Woman: Jane Evans, Founder of The Invizibles & Creator of Tantric Beauty

Jane Evans is a phenomenal woman, after being at the forefront of the advertising industry and running her own advertising agency she is now the founder of a content marketing firm which is dedicated to improving the visibility of women over 40. Read on and be inspired.

Please tell us what is a typical business day for you? 
Wake up have a cup of tea and check my social media. I get the kids off to school, walk the dog then I sit down and write till lunchtime. While eating, I watch whatever show I’m binge watching at the time (for research, inspiration and to force me to take a break). Afternoons are for the logical stuff, business development, finances, client calls and meetings.

What made you start the business and how did you get started?
I ran my own advertising agency in Australia for 18 years. I moved back to the UK for my eldest daughter, she’s a very talented singer-songwriter and there are many more opportunities for her here. I took the opportunity to study screenwriting at the NFTS and the SAI at the BFI. I have been passionate about branded entertainment since the early 2000’s and I knew I needed to increase my skill set in storytelling. I had planned to go back to working in an advertising agency or content production house, but as a 54 year old woman I was most unwelcome. So, I took a New Enterprise Loan and started the Invizibles, to create creative content with brand messages weaved into the storyline. We have made a pilot episode of our first series and are currently talking to a number of advertisers to join in the rest of the series.

What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment in the business world to date?
I created Australia’s first craft beer James Squire, it is now the biggest craft beer in Australia with 30% of the market and was recently voted one of Australia’s most iconic brands.

What has been your biggest challenge in business so far? 
I started my career in London, but I made my name in Sydney. Starting again in London in my early fifties has meant a lot of networking and cold-calling.

What are your future plans for the business?
The dream is to have a fully branded television series on a major network or cable channel.

If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
I would have charged more.

Why is it so important to inspire young women in particular to follow their dreams?
I have two teenage daughters, both of whom are chasing their dreams and learning that it takes, hard work, dedication, a lot of time, and some disappointments. I don’t think young girls should be encouraged to follow their dreams, I thing they should be advised to work hard for them.

What advice would you give to somebody who wants to start a business in your industry? 
Have confidence in your ideas and find a group of people who can help make them a reality.

What or who inspires you in business and why?
Cindy Gallopp is my hero. She has the courage to shout about what everyone’s been whispering for years, she is genuinely making a massive difference for diversity in the advertising industry and her work on Make Love Not Porn is inspirational.

What is your favourite inspirational quote?
“Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.” Carrie Fisher.

07721 477 440


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Thursday 4 August 2016

2inspire Inspirational Woman: Olympic Snowboarder, Zoe Gillings-Brier

Olympic snowboarder Zoe Gillings-Brier is the brand ambassador for defibshopwho are the UK’s number one supplier of AEDs.
Zoe has just announced that she is pregnant and she’s still very committed to her training, and believes that she will be able to come back stronger and better for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. What an incredibly inspirational woman! 

Please tell us what is a typical training day for you?
A typical day of training for me can really vary as I travel a lot - from Austria, France, Italy and back to my home, the Isle of Man.
With plenty of competitions throughout the year and around the world, I’m often working towards one particular event but I’ve currently got my eyes set on the Winter Olympics in South Korea in 2018.
In the summer months I’ll focus a lot on fitness and I love to try other sports to increase my fitness levels, such as mountain climbing, kayaking and BMX racing. I love giving new things a go and challenging myself so I like to keep it varied and try out anything to get my adrenaline pumping and keep me engaged.
In the winter months I can focus on my skills, so I work towards really improving my positioning in the air as well as my landing. You can still snowboard down glaciers in the summer, but the winter gives me more of a chance to focus on honing my skill even further.

What made you start snowboarding and how did you get started?
I started snowboarding when I was ten, but started out as a skier at first. I won a few ESF races and picked up a few snowflake badges.
I entered my first competition shortly after I’d started snowboarding at ten years old, and then at 16 I did my first winter season and started racing internationally.
I’ve come a long way and it’s always been hard work, but I’ve loved every minute of it. Every day I get to train and work towards my next competition and see myself getting better and better. It’s such an exciting and unpredictable sport and it’s a great chance to get your adrenaline pumping, particularly when you’re reaching high speeds on the track!

What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment in the sporting world to date?
I am so proud to be on Team GB and it makes me feel very proud to stand alongside my teammates. To be stood in the start gate, waiting to race, with ‘Great Britain’ on my back, is one of the best feelings – and it gives me so much pride.
I’m very patriotic and proud to be British, and I hope to inspire other people to get into sport – of any kind.

What has been your biggest challenge in sport so far?
I had a setback way back in 2005 when I hurt my foot jumping over a car for a photoshoot, but I’ve come back stronger.
Initially the doctors were worried I wouldn’t race snowboard cross again but I didn’t listen and was determined to come back fighting – and I did!
It took me some time as I found I had to relearn a lot of stuff and it took me a while to get back to full fitness as everything felt different after recovering from my foot injury. I do sometimes wonder what kind of rider I would be had I never suffered that injury and had to take time off from training, but it’s a dangerous sport and you have to allow yourself to recover come back stronger.

What are your future plans for snowboarding and your sport?
Right now I am still focused on my sport but with my due-date in August, I’ll be settling into parenthood and getting to grips with it before looking to qualify in December for the Winter Olympics in 2018.
Everyone is constantly improving in sport so I think it’s really important to make sure I come back strong and ready to give it my all. You can never tell what’s going to happen in a race and it’s so unpredictable.
I also plan to continue with my brand ambassador work, I currently work with defibshop who have provided myself and my teammates with two defibrillators to ensure we’re safe in the event of a cardiac arrest. I think it’s such an important message, and one that I’m glad to be able to represent as a brand ambassador.

If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
When I look back I like to think I’ve done everything that I could do and explored every avenue possible. I think I’ve tried as hard as I can, and I’m proud in what I’ve achieved.

Why is it so important to inspire young women in particular to follow their dreams?
I think it’s important to inspire everyone – not just women – to follow their dreams and achieve their potential. Whether that’s in snowboarding or skiing, or another sport entirely.

What advice would you give to somebody who wants to start snowboarding, or any sport in particular?
I think the best advice is just to get involved and try your best. I started sport at a young age but I think if you want to try something at any age it’s best to just get stuck in!

What or who inspires you in sport and why?
I’ve been hugely inspired by many women in sport, and particularly Jessica Ennis and how she returned to sport after pregnancy. It was hugely motivating and I think it sends a great message to women, in sport and otherwise.
I’m keen to emulate Jessica’s success and come back fitter than ever in time for the qualification period for PyeongChang. There are so many women who do amazing things whilst pregnant and afterwards too, and research even suggests they come back stronger so I can’t wait to see what benefits I might pick up!
Even just in snowboarding, there are so many amazing women and I’ve got a lot of respect for all of them. Jenny Jones, who also snowboarded for Team GB, is a really lovely girl and somebody so worthy of the medals she’s won, and I was delighted when she won back in 2014 for her event at the Sochi Winter Olympics.

What is your favourite inspirational quote?
I think to ‘Always try your best’ is a brilliant motivational quote, and as long as you know you’ve given it your all you can look back and be proud.
       Zoe Gillings-Brier - | @zoegillings
       Defibshop - | @defibshop