Hampshire’s leading ladies in business


Hampshire's women in business - Credit: Unsplash

The trend towards women in leadership positions is on the rise, we meet some local women making their mark 

Jo Humphreys – Head of Early Years, Stroud School 

Who or what inspires you? 

I have been inspired throughout my career by early education pioneers such as Froebel, Montessori, Bruner and Reggio Emilio. The emphasis they place on a young child's need to make sense of the world and develop through play, and the importance of the outdoors and the holistic approach to education that they championed, really resonates with me.  

In life I have also always been inspired by people who live their lives adventurously. I was fortunate to be able to join adventurer Anna McNuff for a very small section of her barefoot run across Britain. She is joy personified. 

What do you love most about your job? 

I love making a difference to children's lives. I think it is so vital to get a child's first experience of education right and at Stroud we really strive for that. We recognise that each child is unique and so their development needs are consequently supported in diverse ways. I love the relationships you create working in the Early Years environment and being reminded to constantly see the world through the eyes of a child.  

What does your ideal day off look like? 

A day spent outdoors. Hampshire is the most beautiful county to live and work in. I love to be in the New Forest or by the sea with my family, striving to live our life adventurously. I love to run, surf and had my first experience of wild swimming on Boxing Day which was exhilarating! 

01794 513231, www.stroud-kes.org.uk

Lynda Allison – Director, The Menopause Boutique 

What do you love most about your job? 

As a Nutritional Therapist I strive to help people to help themselves. I meet women from all walks of life, each of them in a different place, no two women are the same. I love it when my advice is taken on board and I then see a result, this makes it all worthwhile. My role as a Nutritional Therapist gives me the opportunity to have a positive impact on women's lives and to make a difference every day. 

Who or what inspires you? 

My inspiration comes from my drive to help women through menopause. I feel there is so much information available in today's world, but women don't have the time or the knowledge to determine what is best for them.  

I want to help women feel good, feel happy but more importantly feel comfortable and confident in their own skin. The way we feel, both physically and mentally, is the very essence of life. 

What are your plans for 2021? 

To provide women with a go to place - an online platform covering all things menopausal, from nutritional advise, physical and mental wellbeing, sexual healing, skincare & haircare and clothing.  

07730 252 505, www.themenopauseboutique.com 

Kathryn Jones – Reception Teacher, St Swithun’s School 

Who or what inspires you? 

I am inspired by my colleagues at St Swithun's; gifted teachers who are willing to share their expertise. I have always wanted to teach and am fascinated by how young children learn. 

What do you love most about the job? 

Seeing the progress made by pupils. Working closely with them I discover their interests and how they learn so I am able to help them flourish. 

What does your ideal day look like? 

A brisk bike ride to school gives me time to think about the day ahead. Who might need a little extra help? How can I make sure they get special one-to-one time to monitor progress? We are able to offer this individual attention in small classes. 

It is lovely to see our girls walk into school confidently, get on with their tasks, whilst I hear someone read or chat to parents. Then it is straight into learning - whole class phonics, small group writing tasks or practical mathematics. Story time at the end of the day is a chance to share wonderful stories. 

My perfect day ends with reflection and planning before setting off home on my bicycle. 

01962 835750, www.stswithuns.com 

Izzey Hung – Owner/Director, XV Stripes 

Tell us about your business? 

We create sustainable cotton and eco-fibre bedding and interiors, with a coastal vibe. From our dazzling blue stripe duvet sets, to hand-drawn images of our cushions, our products are inspired by life on and off the water.

Our online shop provides a variety of soft furnishing to customers across the UK, USA and the Southern hemisphere. We offer a bespoke design service to clients for that extra special cushion, wallpaper or fabric, all unique to their own stories. 2021 sees the launch of two new collections. Firstly the introduction of the grey stripe bedding, followed by a completely new collection in the summer, full of colour. 

Why Hampshire? 

Being an outdoors person, you have the choice of walking the downs or coastal paths. As an avid sailor, life on the water is a constant inspiration. This year we are partnering with the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust to support the work they are doing. The blues of the sky and sea continue to be the backdrop of our collections. We are blessed to live here! 

Best piece of advice?

I am very lucky to have had great mentors in my career. Each of them has always said be true to yourself, have integrity and never be afraid to speak up. Customer service, communication and community are the backbone of any business. And of course, as Disney said, if you can dream it you can do it! 


Izzey Hung

Izzey Hung - Credit: Izzey Hung


Clare Dove – Residential Property Solicitor, Godwins Solicitors LLP 

What do you love most about your job? 

Conveyancing by its very nature is often stressful for clients. The best thing about my job is when a client tells me that I have taken the stress out of the transaction for them. Good communication is key - it may not be essential to getting the job done but does make for a smoother experience for the client. 

On the technical side, I love working with plans, and working out the intricacies of a client's title, with the aim of finding solutions where the title or title plan are unclear. 

What does your ideal day off look like? 

I love being outdoors. I live in Hampshire, near the border with West Sussex, where I was born. I am particularly drawn to the sea. On a day off, I would ideally either go kayaking with my husband around a part of Chichester Harbour, or meet up with a close friend who lives by the sea, and go swimming together followed by a hot chocolate. 

Who or what inspires you? 

My husband inspires me. He has a gift for getting the best out of his young staff, so that they feel valued and engaged. I try very hard to be respectful to my colleagues, and to remember to give positive feedback to my wonderful secretary. 

01962 841484, www.Godwins-Law.co.uk 

Leanne Smith – New Business Director, Drew Smith Limited 

What do you love most about your job? 

I have been lucky enough to work in the housing sector for over 11 years and I am privileged to have a career where I can make a real difference to people's lives. Drew Smith deliver beautiful homes, for our affordable housing partners and for open market sale. As a partnerships business we work collaboratively with our Local Authorities and Housing Association partners and I love seeing what can be achieved when organisations work together to benefit the community. 

What inspires you? 

Making homes happen! Hampshire is an incredibly expensive area to live and getting a foot on the housing ladder can sometimes seem like an impossible dream and we make those dreams a reality. Handing over the keys of a new home to a family who, without our help would never have been able to afford to live near their family, was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. 

What has been your biggest challenge in business? 

The construction industry is a male dominated environment and encouraged by my peers I am proud to be successful in this sector. Alongside my female colleagues I want to be an advocate for women to join this highly rewarding industry, recognising that starting career conversations at an early stage with our young people is critical to our future success. 

01489 861400, www.drewsmith.co.uk 

Leanne Smith (Tim Pestridge)

Leanne Smith - Credit: Tim Pestridge


Kimberley & Lexie Elliott – Head of Strategy/Media, This Dog Bites 

Why Hampshire? What makes the area so right for your line of work? 

Running our marketing and PR agency requires just three things: great customers, great pubs and great dog walks. Hampshire has all this in abundance, we regularly re-site our office for a strategy meeting on the beach or schedule a client update at an independent coffee shop with a locally inspired menu. With three company dogs, most of our creativity comes from a walk in the forest. We know this beautiful part of the world contributes to our productivity and much needed energy levels. 

What has been your biggest challenge in business? 

We started the company in 2019 as a mother-daughter duo working from home. We had just found office space when COVID-19 hit and we went into lockdown. This meant Lexie and her rescue pup moved back into the family home which already has an overcrowding issue. In a nutshell, eating, sleeping, working and socialising 24 hours a day with three small dogs and an over enthusiastic teenager has undoubtedly been our biggest challenge to date. 

What are your plans for 2021? 

Buy a big boat and sail into the sunset? We are incredibly excited about 2021, after an uncertain year for a lot of businesses, we have had a lot of fun and managed to steadily grow the business, working with great ethical companies, one of which we hope will provide the aforementioned boat! 

01590 681261, www.thisdogbites.co.uk 

Dr Olwen Wright – Headmistress, St Nicholas’ School 

What has been your biggest challenge in business? 

Without doubt, managing a business during a pandemic has been the biggest challenge of my working life. Schools are unique in terms of the need to balance staff wellbeing, pupils' continued education, parents' expectations and governors' requirements. Luckily, at St Nicholas' School, everyone is wholly and utterly committed to our vision and ethos. There is a strong camaraderie between pupils; a supportive network amongst staff; a shared commitment from parents and a singular dedication from the governors. This makes the challenge that much easier to manage. 

What does your ideal day off look like?  

No day is ideal if it doesn't start and continue with coffee. So, wherever I am, coffee features. I always read the paper at the weekend; I take some exercise; I touch base with my family and friends. I play the guitar, badly, so if I've got time I try to practise... and I taught myself to knit during lockdown so if I'm in the mood, I also attend to the never-ending scarf I'm making for my daughter. Soon, I will teach myself how to cast off!   

What do you love most about your job? 

I love the variety. I can go from watching a GCSE lesson, to a meeting with governors or the Girls' Schools Association and then back to talking about lunch menus or bus routes. The variety keeps the job interesting. And I am blessed to work in a beautiful school with fabulous pupils and quite the most amazing colleagues. 

01252 850121, www.st-nicholas.hants.sch.uk 

Hampshire's leading ladies

Dr Olwen Wright - Credit: Hampshire's leading ladies


Miss Abbey Fecher – Head of Pre-Prep, Prince’s Mead School 

Who or what inspires you? 

Children have been my greatest inspiration throughout my career as they forever plant the seeds for a better future. Their no filter, limitless energy and enthusiasm for life, always brings a sense of perspective to each day. Why look up when there is so much to learn from those who just reach our knees. 

What do you love most about your job? 

Always striving to make a difference, however small, not only to the pupils but to the team I lead. I always endeavour to be the leader that I wished I'd had in the early stages of my career and I'm not afraid to stand up and be counted. 

What is the best piece of business advice you've been given? 

Firstly, 'listen', we are evolving into a world where we're always on transmit rather than receive, or we combine listening with another task so that we're not truly processing the information being shared with us. Next, 'wait', for every challenge and solution process, take your time and sleep on it. Now you're ready to move forward. Probably the most valuable of all though, always wash the paint pots regardless of your position! 

01962 888000, www.princesmeadschool.org.uk

Princes Mead School Winchester

Abby Fecher - Credit: Princes Mead School Winchester


Lucy Wolfe – Voiceover Artist 

What has been your biggest challenge in business? 

Taking the first step. Having worked within various media organisations for 25 years, including the BBC and British Forces Broadcasting Service, learning how to promote myself as a brand required a whole new mindset. Networking is key and understanding how to target social media with relevant content is vital. Learning new technical skills has also been important. During the pandemic my home studio has been a life-saver, enabling me to connect with clients and record remotely. 

What do you love most about your job? 

The wide variety of work. I have a lovely group of clients from all over the world, so one day I might be hooking up with the US to voice a TV commercial, and the next I could be voicing a Swiss corporate video or role-playing for a global E-learning course. It's hugely rewarding, especially when clients give feedback, such as “Lucy was amazing, she knocked our socks off, literally, and we're all in the office barefoot now!” Those kinds of comments spur you on. The power of the voice is incredible, and I love adding that extra bit of sparkle that brings a film to life and reaches out to the audience.   

What is the best piece of business advice you've been given? 

Your expectations should never exceed your effort. Never wish for something more than you are willing to work for it! 

07710 178662, www.wolfe.co.uk

Pat Maguire – Founder, Pat Maguire Natural Body Balms and Oils 

Why Hampshire?

I was born and raised in Winchester, Hampshire so when it came for me to start my business offering sports, remedial and aromatherapy massage in 2006, it was an easy choice to remain based in my home town. Hampshire has a lot to offer - a wealth of historical sites to visit, stunning countryside and amazing independent coffee shops. I feel privileged to work alongside many small independent businesses and be part of a supportive local networking community.  

Best business advice I was given? 

Do not take a ‘no’ personally. You will hear 'no' many times in business so don't dwell on it. Instead, explore why they said no to your product or service and be confident in what you have to offer. Also, take time for yourself. Running a business is demanding so it is important to know when to take a break otherwise you risk burnout.

Plans for 2021? 

I have had many requests from people who want relaxing bath oils to aid sleep, lip balms, facial cleansers and toners so this year I will be expanding my range. I want to make my products available to other businesses for wholesale and have them available for people to purchase in luxury spa shops. Also, when we are able to lead a normal life post COVID-19, I plan to have a big party for all my friends and family to celebrate. 

07981 508865, www.patmaguire.co.uk 

Hampshire leading ladies

Pat Maguire - Credit: Hampshire leading ladies


Emma Houghton – Owner, The Flawless Guru 

What do you love most about your job? 

Being an Aesthetic Practitioner and owner of my own business is my dream job. Since completing my degree I have always been hugely focused on cosmetology and anti-ageing. Alongside my 25 years in the industry, amazing customer service has always been my priority. I am lucky enough to meet amazing clients daily, new and returning, who make every day exciting and fun. Making a difference to these people's lives with a little treatment or two is so inspiring and heart-warming, it's certainly not rocket science, but it makes people smile and that brings me a huge amount of joy. 

Who or what inspires you? 

My family and friends are my inspiration and true loves. I am always encouraged by them to achieve whatever I set my mind to and they believe in me and my aspirations.  

How would you like to further your career? 

The pandemic has put so much of life into perspective for so many. Because of this I have recently started a nursing degree. I have been so touched by the amazing work of not just the NHS but all key workers in any industry. I want to give back once qualified and then volunteer as a nurse. That and a training school of The Flawless Guru too before I'm 50! 

Mention HANTS21 for 10% discount on all treatments. 

07814 917262, www.theflawlessguru.com

Kerry Southern-Reason – Managing Director, Care Home Interiors Ltd 

When and how did your business start? 

Passionate about interiors we have been manufacturing curtains since 2001. This progressed naturally to furniture and furnishings, starting the Care Home Interiors Company in 2014. We were travelling the world working with celebrities, royal families, and premiership footballers; we've even worked with the hit TV show, 60-minute makeover! It was a real journey that really developed our business, but the change in focus came after my own grandmother's time in a dementia care home, and my mother's time in a hospice. These places felt nothing like home, it left me with a deep desire to change that and create care interiors that residents could enjoy and feel inspired and wowed by.  

How have you managed to get through the past 12 months? 

Personally one day at a time, as a family we've supported each other and made the very best of the additional time together. From a business perspective many of our projects have been put on hold but my ability to keep fixed costs very low has helped.  

What are your hopes for the next 12 months?

We have projects for 2022 and are ready to scale the business up as required. In fact we are likely to double in size in the coming year and we are currently recruiting more team members.

0781 206 0857, www.carehome-interiors.co.uk 

Hampshire leading ladies

Kerry Southern Reason - Credit: Sarah Legge


Sheina Wright – Head of Prep, Embley 

Who or what inspires you? 

Heather Reyes, my English teacher, inspired my passion for literature and a desire to always improve. While I loved writing stories and reading at school, I was disheartened by my English grades at Sixth Form. One day Mrs Reyes unexpectedly started reading aloud - it was my Chaucer essay! She said it was like reading a degree essay. This was a real turning point, my grades not only improved but I went on to study English at university and became a specialist leader in education. Mrs Reyes is no longer with us sadly, but the impact she had will stay with me forever.  

What do you love most about your job? 

As Head of a Prep school I am lucky enough to work with 2 to 11 year olds. Every day is incredibly varied and rewarding. I love that the children inspire me to follow the school values of ambition, belief and compassion in all aspects of life. It's also a privilege to work with talented teachers. 

What are your plans for 2021? 

I've been in post since September and I'm loving every moment. At Embley, we continue to develop our approach to teaching and learning which builds skill and character as well as a rich knowledge, preparing the children for the future that is rather than the future that was. With Covid restrictions easing, bit by bit the school will be able to reintroduce fixtures, residentials, visits, workshops and school and community events and so much more.

01794 512206, www.embley.org.uk 

Sheina Wright

Sheina Wright - Credit: Hampshire leading ladies