FABULOUS Women, a not-for-profit community group that aims to support women in business, and more generally, has launched in Ealing.
The 25 present at Ealing’s Hotel Xanadu included women of all ages, some who brought years of business experience and others who turned up with no more than an idea.
The new group, which describes itself as female-friendly but open to men, works to support all businesswomen, but is especially focused on promoting small and start-up ventures.
Glenda Shawley, of Ealing, who has been running her own company for 21 years, said: “The launch was fabulous – really vibrant. And the atmosphere was very friendly and supportive.
“Everyone did a one-minute pitch on her business and there was an opportunity to have one person in the hot seat while everyone helped her work through her business problem.
“There was a man there, too!”
When a previous national women’s networking group, Ladies At 11, folded, Glenda and the other members of the Ealing branch turned to Fabulous Women to continue their meetings.
Ealing is one of 14 places across the UK to launch a Fabulous Women group. Experienced entrepreneur and single mother of two Paullette Schwartz founded the organisation in 2011.
“It’s important to say that Fabulous Women is not a network – it’s a community,” she insisted. “Our community spirit sets us apart from other groups – we’re not just another networking organisation.”
To distance Fabulous Women from a corporate networking culture, Paulette has coined the term ‘netwin’.
“Traditional networking events tend to be a sale environment and are intimidating,” she said. “So, we call our groups netwinning.
“No one’s trying to sell anything. They’re more about building long-term business friendships in a supportive environment. We share our knowledge freely.”
Fabulous Women also aims to foster members’ personal development.
“We have members who aren’t business owners,” said Paullette. “At-home mums can also benefit from the motivation and support provided.”
Fabulous Women is even reaching out to teens as Paullette’s 14-year-old daughter helps her mother at the events.
“My daughter says she feels so good after these meetings and thinks we need to make sure teenagers get the same information - about stress, exercise, positive thinking, looking good and what we eat,” she explained.
Entrepreneur Anya Kinneavy, 26, who started a successful overseas yoga school three years ago, commended the ethos of Fabulous Women and welcomed a mutually supportive platform for working women.
“However, it would be nice to see more focus on the actual hard skills and achievements of women, instead of seeing them almost compensating for being ambitious by acting even more girly,” she added.
Ealing’s Fabulous Women group will meet on the first Friday of every month. Meetings last two hours and cost £10. Venue to be confirmed. Register online or find more information at www.fabulous-women.co.uk