Inspirational women who started at home…

People of all ages and backgrounds are starting and growing businesses from home. But of late I’ve got to thinking about a few great ladies who have chosen this way of working. For them, home represents the heart of family life and a busy commercial hub.

The Lady Laura

It all started when I read an article about the great and late Laura Ashley The story was how her house, Rhydoldog, is to be given to the National Trust and opened to the public. In the piece, Ashley’s daughter Jane was quoted:

“The fact that the business was built in this house over decades is what makes it special”

The piece went on:

“Although Ashley’s designs seemed to have deep rural roots, the business was actually started in her kitchen in Pimlico, London, where she created printed Victorian-style headscarves and napkins while working as a secretary. The family home served as an office and studio, as well as a canvas for her designs.”

This smart lady started her business from home by ‘working 5 to 9’ and went on to build an empire that spanned continents.

Catwalk Confidential

In a second feature (Sunday Times, 21st June 2009) entitled ‘Catwalk Confidential’ we hear about Sarah Doukas, founder of Storm Modelling Agency, with a story that goes like this:

“Her house, nestling in a row of Victorian terraces in Battersea, is a slice of fashion history. It was here, two decades ago, that Doukas founded Storm, the agency that has gone on to represent names such as Elle Macpherson, Carla Bruni, Sophie Dahl and, of course, Kate Moss.

Doukas ran the agency with two friends from the house, driving round in her car all day, scouting for fresh talent. She often brought her ‘finds’ back there. “We didn’t even have a proper phone system, and would have to run up and down the stairs shouting to each other to come on the line. It was quite mad, but so exciting to start something new.”

There are many following in the footsteps of Ashley and Doukas.

Heather Gorringe has turned the family farm in Herefordshire in to HQ for the highly successful Wiggly Wigglers ( business. The podcast recorded from her ‘wiggly sofa’ beats Chris Evans in the podcast charts and she sells to thousands of customers worldwide.

From country to city, Simone Brummelhuis is the Founder of (; a site and resource dedicated to women in technology and once a month the kitchen table in Simone’s Notting Hill home becomes a dining place for tech luminaries.

These stories are a collection and but a reflection of what can be achieved with vision and from your own home. May there be more great ladies to come!


About the Author: Emma Jones is Founder of Enterprise Nation and author of ‘Spare Room Start Up – how to start a business from home’

Emma Jones

Emma Jones is Founder and Editor of Enterprise Nation, the home business website. She has successfully started two businesses from home offices in London, Manchester and rural Shropshire.Following a career with an international accountancy firm, Emma started her first home based business at the age of 27 and successfully sold it just 15 months after launch.Redbrick Enterprises Ltd was founded in 2002 to advise the public sector on effective homeworking. Spotting a gap in the market to provide information and inspiration to homeworkers, Emma launched Enterprise Nation [], the home business website, in January 2006.The website is a free resource for people starting and growing a business at home and has a readership of more than 390,000 people. As well as site content, there is also a free fortnightly e-newsletter and podcast.Emma’s first book on how to start a business from home Spare Room Start Up: How to Start a Business from Home will be published by Harriman House in May 2008.

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