When Breakfast Meets Soap

Guest article by Sally Dhillon of Career Mums

The early risers at last week’s Balsall Business Club were in for a treat as Emma Heathcote-James, founder of Little Soap Company, told her spellbinding story of shifting from completing her philosophy doctorate at Birmingham University, then building her media career to start producing organic, home-made soap in her Cotwold cottage kitchen.


Inspired by the non-drying, natural soap that her Grandma used, she started making soap from a children’s crafting kit, and after unsuccessful trial and error, bought some soap recipes from a local producer.

Within 6 weeks, she achieved her ambition of selling her bars to her local Waitrose store – amazing given that this was a hobby business for Emma. She has subsequently gone on to grow the business and her organic soap ranges are available through many national chains including Tescos, Sainsburys and Boots.

Emma’s inspirational talk took us through many snapshot moments in which she made significant decisions that have lead to creating today’s hugely successful business. Many of these snapshots were critical times when the business could have easily folded or turned in quite different directions. Emma seeps tenacity, go-getting ambition and courage built on by overcoming each of these milestones. She now employs a small team in her Broadway-based factory, office and shop and she has won many awards for her product range and enterprising skills. This base also houses The Little Soap School which is teaching people how to produce ethical and organic soap products and is having a global reach.

The most striking messages from Emma were:
The importance and influence of her family in creating her business
How she has learned and grown the most when the stakes have been against her.

Along with my business partner, Nishi Mehta, our business has equally been strongly influenced by our family situations – just like Emma’s. I am continually curious as to how and why people get into the professions and jobs that they find themselves in – so it was lovely to hear her story.

As a partner in Career-Mums, we are a local business that helps parents to return to work after a career break and supports employers to make the most of this amazing pool of talent. We run inspirational and confidence-boosting workshops and/or individual sessions for people who want to relaunch their career – perhaps starting their own business, securing a job that fits around family life or retraining for a new career.

If you have a desire to turn a hobby into a business, need the motivation and nudge to try something new or want to explore potential work avenues, we’re here to help you. www.career-mums.co.uk/returners/

The next Balsall Business Club meeting is on Friday 18 November. Find out more and sign up on their website.




Balsall Buzz

Balsall Buzz promotes local independent brands with multi-media services including digital marketing and also provides coverage for the best of everything else in and around Balsall Common.

Balsall Buzz – The Best of Balsall Common

Media production and digital marketing services for the area’s most respected and reputable brands in Balsall Common and the Meriden Gap.   To find out how to apply for coverage and additional digital marketing services visit the website for details:


Business Management and Marketing Consultancy

Expert help for ambitious business owners looking to grow their independent business fast.  We can help you find your vision, mission and voice, understand your long-term business and marketing strategy, short-term goals and put together your execution plans.

We’re especially good at Start-Up Strategy for businesses looking to be seen as premium brands from the outset and overcome challenges specific to these types of launches.


What’s Balsall Buzz?

Balsall Buzz is the brainchild of founder Craig Burgess and is all about helping independent premium brands get in front of potential clients via multi-media in a way that helps them to be seen as the authority locally in their field of service or expertise.

Hollies Farm Shop is open for business

The Hollies Farm Shop is a treasure trove of fresh fruit, vegetables, salad, and plants, situated on the Kenilworth Road as you leave Balsall Common after you’ve headed out past the George in the Tree and Edwins garage.

The new manager, Charlie Barber, took redundancy from his office job and wanted to do something different. He knew that Les had retired from running the Farm Shop there and decided to give it a go.

Eight months on the shop, and its range of products, is growing all the time, selling a wide range of seasonal fruit, vegetables, and plants and flowers. Although Les has retired he is still on hand for advice and guidance.

As Charlie explains the produce is local and fresh, but not too expensive:

“We bring in produce directly from local farmers and produce sourced locally through the bustling wholesale market in Birmingham. This means that our stock is always fresh and available at great discounted prices.

“Organic seasonal produce from local farmers is delivered directly to the shop and is often harvested as required.”

Charlie is always happy to expand his range, to stock products on request, and take bulk orders. He has also just started offering home delivery.

One regular customer told us why she always shops there: “I can buy in bulk, buy fresh products, and it is convenient, I can also choose exactly how much of each thing I buy. I don’t like all the wrapping and packaging from supermarkets and you don’t get that here. There is always something different and seasonal.”

The Hollies Farm Shop is open from 9am to 5pm from Tuesday to Saturday. They have a Facebook page and a new website.

Lord Digby Jones to speak at the Balsall Business Club

The Balsall Business Club is delighted to announce Lord Digby Jones as the guest speaker at their April meeting. Currently an active crossbencher in the House of Lords, he served as Director General of the CBI (2000–06) and Minister of State for Trade and Investment (2007-08).
The meeting takes place on Friday 15 April at the Royal British Legion on Station Road, Balsall Common. Lord Jones’s talk is about ‘Challenges for UK Businesses in 2016’. This is a ticketed event and we are expecting it to sell out so please make sure you are registered if you would like to attend.
The meeting starts at 7.15am for registration and networking. There will also be time after Lord Jones speaks for more networking.
The Balsall Business Club is a friendly, local networking group for businesses based in or serving the Balsall Common area.  Meetings are usually held on the third Friday of each month.
You can buy tickets via Eventbrite, or for more information about the club please email balsallbusinessclub@gmail.com

Balsall Common based mums launch new company

Balsall Common based, professional coaches, Sally and Nishi, have set up a unique partnership ‘Career-Mums’ to help women relaunch their careers after having a career break.

Both Sally and Nishi have a background in coaching, training, HR and recruitment and run their own independent coaching businesses. They too are mothers and have faced the challenges of having a career break and understand how daunting it can be to make plans to re launch a career after having a gap in the work place.  Careermums evolved from meeting like-minded women who wanted to re enter the work place but increasingly faced multiple barriers.

The ‘Re-launch your career’ workshops are currently being run in central Leamington Spa. During these interactive sessions women are able gain more than advice and guidance and receive real tools and techniques to support and achieve their career plans, whether that’s returning to a job or starting up their own business. Participants are exploring what they want from their career, how they can fit this around their family life, learning confidence boosting skills and creating a return-to-work plan. Workshops are open to women who want to explore re launching their career break, whether that has been a short break after maternity or a much longer period. Women will get the opportunity to learn from career coaching experts and meet like-minded women.

Nishi from Career-Mums said: ‘‘We’ve just completed a series of workshops which have been great. Feedback from the women has been incredibly positive and constructive; one example is “thanks for the course. It’s useful for me to put some structure around what I’m doing in terms of planning my next move(s) and to think about what fits with my values, ideas and circumstances. It feels constructive and positive, thank you”. Another participant quoted “ I thoroughly enjoyed the workshop. It’s helping me to focus on what I need to do to get where I want to be. I’ve made progress!”.

Career-mums are also working with businesses, supporting the management of maternity leave before, during and following. The benefits are both for the employee and employers. Maternity coaching through successful transition, improves staff engagement and retention ensuing an overall happier workforce.

‘Re-Launch Your Career’ workshops will be held in Leamington Spa on 20, 27 April and 4 May. Contact Nishi Mehta on 07912 944945 or Sally Dhillon on 07736 066262. Career-mums can be found at www.career-mums.co.uk or on Facebook.