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This week we interviewed our amazing Founder and Director, Antonia Edwards. She tells us all about starting her own business and life as a female entrepreneur…

1. So Antonia, you have been in recruitment for many years, what made you decide to launch your own business?
Partly it was an opportunity presenting itself and partly from my own ambitions. I’ve always grown up around inspiring business people, with both sides of my family owning and running their own businesses, coupled with having many successful friends, this has all been an immense influence on me. Having that grounding and then later on working for entrepreneurs and direct with Founders has definitely left an impression. Whilst working full-time in recruitment I had also set up a side hustle business – an e-commerce store importing textiles into the UK from Turkey, which my partner and I still run to this day. Setting up a retail business from scratch, with no prior experience in the sector, really gave me a further understanding of taking ownership and the highs and lows of what it means to build up your own business. It helps having an incredibly supportive network and this, alongside everything else, gave me the confidence to launch Chace People, believing it was a challenge I could take on.
2. Was it difficult as a female entrepreneur, to launch your business?
Recruitment in general is incredibly diverse and so being a female boss hasn’t impacted me detrimentally and I am a strong believer that it shouldn’t! I am incredibly lucky to have a wide contingent of very strong female figures in my life, both family and friends, so this has always been a driving factor for me. We’re currently an all female team at Chace (not intentionally I may add!), but this doesn’t go unnoticed.
3. Did you have any influencers / supporters who you looked up to when you were launching your business?
My husband has always been my biggest cheerleader throughout my business journey, I couldn’t have done half of what I’m doing without his daily guidance and ear! I’ve also been super lucky to work for some incredible founders and CEO’s throughout my professional career, stemming from my family, to my time in hospitality and most recently – and through which my career in specialist recruitment was born – at Quintessentially. I’ve also been lucky enough to have some fantastic mentorship via another female boss – a family friend who has built up and sold several Executive Search firms. Being able to have someone as a sounding board has been invaluable.
4. How do you stay motivated, even through the most difficult times?
Tomorrow is always another day. There are absolutely peaks and troughs with running your own business and more often than not it is only you who you are answerable to, so you automatically put more pressure on yourself and this is human nature to do so. I’m still learning of course, but I try not to be so hard on myself and to always see the bigger picture. The Dalai Lama said “If it can be solved, there’s no need to worry, and if it can’t be solved, worry is of no use.” I think this is a great mantra to live by and one in which I try to channel every day.
5. What has been your most satisfying moment in your business up to now?
Definitely employing my first member of staff. This was a major leap for me, as I’m sure for any young business. We’re a company which puts a lot of emphasis on people and so to build up the business with great people is my absolute aim. We’ve just employed our second permanent member of staff in London and we work with some amazing consultants globally…this I hope will only continue to grow.
6. What piece of advice would you give to people / females who are thinking about launching their own business?
If something isn’t working for you then take a step back and don’t be afraid to change it. I’ve spent many arduous hours toiling over something which actually, after taking a moment to pause, could have been solved simply by changing my outlook or the course of action. I would also advise any female founder not to be afraid to ask for help or to ask questions. I’m a member of an all female members club in London, The AllBright, which champions women from all backgrounds and sectors; from those smashing through the glass celling, to innovators and creators. Being part of this community and surrounding myself by others also doing it for themselves has given me an enormous sense of encouragement and confidence, with Chace People and with my side hustle.
7. How do you balance your entrepreneur life with friends who don’t understand the challenges as a business owner?
It is tricky sometimes as it’s hard to switch off from your own business and so unless you are in that position yourself I can certainly appreciate that it’s difficult to really understand what it feels like and what it takes. Over the past few years I’ve had to choose between friend’s birthdays and social occasions (which once I would have been the first to turn up to and the last to leave!), with business commitments and it’s the latter which has always won. There have been a few hard instances where I’ve had to let people down, but your real friends have always got your back and even though you might miss one another, you know your relationship will always be the same, and even stronger for it.
8. Where do you see Chace People going / where would you like it to grow?
Globally for sure, we work with clients and candidates all around the world, so to build Chace People hubs in key locations is definitely something we are driving towards. Also, we’re living in a digital world and so building our presence online and enabling our client and candidate base to work with us virtually is something which really excites me…watch this space!

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Author milliehutchinson

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