More often than not, business is about looking at how things have been done before and having the courage and imagination to reinvent the rules. That’s what Anne Boden did when she created Starling Bank, an app-based bank for personal and business current accounts. Born out of her determination to give customers control over their money, Starling strives to be fast, adaptable, friendly and supportive - just like a murmuration of starling birds.
Starling is all about questioning old logic and disrupting the established order. That's why it’s built an app-based bank to suit the lifestyles of millions of people who live their lives on their phone. With no branches, it's able to offer 24/7 customer service. Another example is its sleek debit card, which has a vertical design and is reflective of the way we use them today: inserted into card machines, ATMs or tapped to make a contactless payment. Portrait makes sense.
In this series, we’ll be shining a light on other Great British entrepreneurs who, like Anne Boden, are pioneers of change.
In the second edition, we meet Great British Entrepreneur Awards 2019 winner Celia Hodson, who runs Hey Girls.
Picking out your biggest achievement is so often a conundrum for many entrepreneurs. Many can simply pick out the one thing that makes them most proud, but Celia is someone who struggles to pick out just one, especially after such a magnificent couple of years.
A huge sense of achievement comes from her efforts to make an impact beyond just the products. And it’s something that is catching plenty of attention.
She explains: “It’s not just about giving products away. A lot of people don’t know what periods are.
“Children might get 15 minutes of education here and there, but they need ongoing conversations about menstruation so that there isn’t a stigma and taboo around periods.”
Hey Girls runs education sessions for anyone that receives its products, whether it’s donation partners, schools or community groups. Importantly, they’re run for boys and girls, men and women.
“It’s so important to get young men to understand menstruation. It helps to break down the shame women face.”
Last year, Hey Girls launched the ‘Pads4Dads’ campaign, fronted by actor and activist Michael Sheen, centred around getting more men to understand periods. A father to two girls himself, Sheen said “it can be hard to start the conversation.”
Explaining the campaign, Celia says: “Whether they’re single dads or dads who are at home while mum is at work, when their daughter starts their period they need to be prepared and understand menstruation.
“We had men telling us they were ashamed that they didn’t know anything about periods. But we also had dads of young girls saying they wanted to prepare now in order to have that conversation when their daughters have their first periods.”
Despite her pride in helping to educate more people about periods, Celia believes that no achievement is bigger than another. Each achievement is significant in itself and contributes to the main goal.
“Not long ago,”a lady in her 70s or 80s stopped me in the street and gave me a little envelope containing £5. She said it was the winnings from her bowls season and she’d been carrying it around with her, hoping to bump into me in our little town. That was a beautiful thing that makes you realise the impact you’re having.”
She goes on: “Of course, it’s amazing going into a supermarket and seeing your products on the shelves. It’s even better when you stand there for a minute or two and someone comes along and buys one!
“Creating jobs has given me a huge sense of achievement, as well. We’ve created jobs for parents, giving them the flexibility to work around their lives. They can drop the kids off at school and leave again in time to pick them up, without a drop-in pay. They’re a really happy group of people because it’s so hard to find jobs that fit around children.
“I’m also really proud that Hey Girls has been built by a community. A group of around 50 people gave up a little bit of their time or knowledge to help us. Everything about us is all created in the community, which gives you a very warm feeling. I’m not Hey Girls. Our community is Hey Girls, the team is Hey Girls, and our supporters are Hey Girls.”
The Great British Entrepreneur Awards and Starling Bank are avid supporters of Celia’s mission to end period poverty in the UK. Starling Bank and the Great British Entrepreneur Awards are committed to providing all its female staff members, in all office locations, access to the period products they need, when they need it.