THE STRUGGLES and triumphs of two Rugby entrepreneurs are among the stories featured in a new book celebrating inspirational female achievers.
Businesswomen Abbi Head and Tracy Richardson are two of more than 30 women whose stories make up I Am A Woman Who, the latest book by Coventry entrepreneur Sandra Garlick MBE.
Abbi Head has been forced to overcome personal demons to mark out her place as the respected public speaker and businesswoman she is today.
It’s a journey that has taken the former community mental health worker to dark places in her life, due largely to a diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder 28 years ago.
She said: “I have seen the mental health services from the inside and the outside. I think that my practical motivation helped me to be a great keyworker to people who needed someone who could tap into their own experiences to help them back into the community.”
After three years working in mental health, she applied for a position as an administrator at a charity supporting victims of domestic violence.
But it’s her creativity – and her time at art college – that drive the ambition behind her successful bespoke jewellery design business Amoreantos, and in her role as a member of the Guild of Jewellery Designers. She also has a hallmark with the London Assay Office.
She said: “The hedonism of fellow students, a severe lack of money, no food, infestations of mice and insects, peer pressure to take drugs, recovering from an eating disorder and a secret past that caught up with me eventually shattered my personality.
“My life was out of control and it took several months to recover enough to go back to art college and start again. I am so glad that I did because I began to discover a way to recognise when my life was out of equilibrium and I learned to manage my mental health.
“It has taken 28 years for my physical disability, amnesia, and the emotional abyss to subside. I am now ready to share my career and personal journey with others as a public speaker.
“Today as a designer, I want to inspire people who have experienced trauma to use their ingenuity to promote healing, to find their hidden voice and to believe in their own recovery journey.
“Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder can shape our past, but it cannot define who we become in the future.”
Also featuring is Tracy Richardson, the owner of Rugby-based Hybrid Therapy UK.
The award-winning holistic practitioner, who attracts students from all over the world, has come full circle in her relationship with health and fitness.
Aged just 19, she found herself fighting for her life in a hospital bed after her body succumbed to the effects of burn-out from her years of stress as a student and top-ranking junior athlete.
I Am A Woman Who is one of a series of passion projects for Sandra Garlick.
The solicitor-turned business coach and mentor has herself overcome huge personal and professional challenges, including struggling for several years as a single mother of two young sons following the collapse of her marriage.
It was after spells working in a variety of other roles – including typist, cashier, PA, and sales rep – that she went on to qualify as a solicitor and establish her own law practice in Coventry. This was later to merge resulting in Sandra leaving the company and, finding herself once again, in a position of financial uncertainty.
However, after suffering a serious fall in 2016, she was forced to re-evaluate her life and her business.
It was a wake-up call for Sandra who soon realised her true ambitions – and the Woman Who brand was born.
Since then it has gone from strength to strength, including the launch of the Woman Who Achieves Academy as well as hosting awards celebrating female achievers across the UK.
She said: “Now I teach the women I mentor to find their passion and find that sweet spot. If you enjoy doing something, you’re more driven and more productive and more successful.
“For me it’s about instilling in women that they shouldn’t be embarrassed to be confident, it’s a good thing to have confidence and to have goals and strive for those goals and work towards them.”
The academy, which marks its first anniversary on May 1st, has adapted and grown despite a series of Covid-19 lockdowns, and is now supporting business owners ‘virtually’ across the world.
She added: “I very quickly realised that Woman Who was about a journey of transformation and that I facilitated that transformation through my network events, awards and speaking opportunities. It became a journey of discovery for me, and for every woman. The successes were real. I could see this in each woman throughout her journey.
“As for the future, I would like to grow the academy side and create more women in business role models.”
Visit www.womanwho.co.uk for more information.