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How I built a business after being made redundant

Karen Stenning is the founder and director of Absolute Alchemy.

Absolute Alchemy was born in 2015 after I was made redundant from a charity I worked at for over a decade. At first, I was unsure what the vision was but I knew I wanted to be a female entrepreneur.

Soon after setting up the business, I joined the Hatch programme, which helped me learn about setting up a business, how to grow it and make it a success.

A turning point

During this programme, I learned the foundations in building a business, including marketing, sales, and financial forecasting.

Later on, I went on to join the team and managed the female founders’ programme. Since that time, I’ve helped more than 50 female entrepreneurs grow and scale their business.

Absolute Alchemy

Whilst being part of the Hatch ecosystem, I transformed the business into an event organisation, producing and managing ethical and sustainable events.

Today Absolute Alchemy is an events agency and its aim is to bring people together through conversation storytelling, connection and action to change the narrative of the planet for now and into the future.

Since starting event production, Absolute Alchemy has hosted more than 20 large scale events including three festivals and five conferences, with plans to take some events online.

Creating change

In September, I will be launching an online series of events to discuss complex and difficult issues such as Black Lives Matter, overcoming grief, the menopause, climate change, tackling the plastic pollution problem, disability in the workplace and many other difficult issues.

The aim is to bring people together to be inspired by expert speakers, give people a chance to discuss difficult questions that they see in their everyday lives, and then take action. The hope is that people can make valuable connections to create change.

Bringing harmony

The only way that things can change in the world today is through making connections, listening to one another, having a dialogue, and then taking action. Now more than ever, our divided communities are causing disharmony and fractures that benefit no one. There is no better time for people to come together, listen to each other’s points of view with kindness and compassion, and then take action.

We need to take courage and find our moral compass to direct us in the right way forward. We can do this through online events; and hopefully, in-person events in the future.

Motivating others

I’m a massive advocate for helping young people, especially young women into business.  I want to help young people from all backgrounds who have an entrepreneurial spirit, to explore setting up their own business so that we have a more inclusive and diverse economy that reflects the world we live in. 

With several years behind me as an entrepreneur, I know the challenges that an entrepreneur faces, particularly during a pandemic. Working on your cash flow has been extremely hard and finding new business, now we are facing a global recession. 

Advice for entrepreneurs

My advice for other female founders would be to reach out to your community; there’s a huge value in having good mentors,  it’s incredibly important at this time.

Another piece of advice would be participating in a business programme, as this is a good way of building your network and developing your skillset. 

As part of my journey, I’ve also learned that it’s important to work ON your business NOT IN your business, in order for it to grow and develop.

Charlotte Harding
Charlotte Harding
Charlotte is a journalist and the co-founder of The Women's Work Collective.


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