Celia Hodson

In the latest issue of the Great British Entrepreneurs Magazine, Jonathan Davies spoke to Celia Hodson, founder of Hey Girls, about her remarkable life and entrepreneurial story. It became the issue’s cover feature and starts The Social Series, which looks at the stories of entrepreneurs who put people and the planet before profits.

“The 2019 Great British Entrepreneur of the Year is… Celia Hodson!” She stands, hands covering her gasping mouth. She makes her way through the room, flanked by applause and cheers, raising her hands in a noticeably humble celebration. Making it to the stage to collect the award, her silver sequin jacket glistens in the spotlight.

In a room full of tuxedos and ball gowns worn by entrepreneurs making often vast amounts of money, it was a surreal moment for social entrepreneur Celia Hodson; a far cry from the life she left behind, sparking a journey that led her to create Hey Girls and become the 2019 Great British Entrepreneur of the Year at the Great British Entrepreneur Awards.

Hey Girls is a social enterprise that offers environmentally friendly and biodegradable period products. Using the ‘buy one give one’ model, Hey Girls’ mission is to eradicate period poverty in the UK, and since launching early in 2018, along with its customers, has donated more than seven million period products.

“I remember standing in the queue at the supermarket – they told me my shopping came to £14.33. I looked in my purse and counted up just over £12. I had to put the tampons back. I had to feed my family.”

Before being named Great British Entrepreneur of the Year at the National Final, Celia won the same award at the Scottish regional final.

“I was completely overwhelmed when I won in Scotland,” Celia beams. “Scotland is quite a small place so I knew a lot of the entrepreneurs in the room, and I admire a lot of them greatly. I just thought ‘look at these people, there’s no way I will even get close’. I was speechless and a bit wobbly-legged.

“Going to London for the National Final, I didn’t expect to win again. I had incredible people on my table and I looked around the room and thought ‘how amazing are all of these people?!’ Then to have my name called out was just so surreal and amazing.”

She adds: “Our profile has just gone through the roof after winning. It’s definitely raised the profile of both Hey Girls across the UK, and for me as the founder. It makes a huge difference, drives sales, and makes the team feel fabulous. It’s just really great.”

‘I couldn’t park the idea’

By the time Celia was a single mother of three – the youngest of which was just a few months old – she was no stranger to a tough life. Although growing up in the Lake District, swimming in the lakes and walking the surrounding hills might sound idyllic, Celia admits it was far from perfect. A brutally strict father whose job in construction didn’t bring in a steady income left her mother forced to shield Celia and her sister from the harsh realities of their lives…

You can read the full feature in the latest issue of the Great British Entrepreneurs Magazine.

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