The Western Isles Women in Business group is a networking initiative set up by local entrepreneurs Sharon MacRury and Lindsay Cameron. The idea came about on a day when they had worked together and then began to reflect on the amount of business, opportunities and inspirational women that exist in the Western Isles. Their main aim, from the beginning, has been to bring people together from all corners of our Outer Hebrides.
‘It’s really an opportunity for women to learn, inspire, encourage and promote each other.’
Lindsay of Long Island Retreats had reached out to Sharon of Island Dreams to support her with an event. While working together, the ladies sat down and had a bleather!
In our initial conversation, we were chatting about the endless opportunities there are out there for women on the islands to work together. Both Lindsay and I had just so many ideas and I think we’re both very motivated individuals and we have a good understanding of the power of collaborative working. We’re people who don’t just talk about things, we like to actually take action and do something about it.
So that’s exactly what we did.
The next step for the pair was to set up a Facebook group and get the message out there. The group was an instant success with women across the Western Isles.
Sharon mentioned that:
‘Sometimes when you run a business, it can be quite a lonely place. So, all the more reason to form a networking group and just try to work together for the community, and hopefully really make a difference.’
Sharon and Lindsay started to make that difference by hosting an event in the Dark Island hotel. On the day, women from Lewis to Vatersay could meet, share ideas and look at how they could work together in future. All participants got to meet the faces behind the businesses for a minute and a half at the speed networking event – and talk business! Lindsay mentions that:
‘The buzz and the excitement was just amazing to see. The noise just grew and grew as people got ideas and made connections. The energy in the room was incredible.
All the women that were at that event want the same again, but they want more time to speak to each other. So yeah, it was a success. People left feeling really positive and really motivated.
In future, Sharon and Lindsay hope to hold meetings across different islands with the intention of giving an opportunity that would be to meet like minded business women. While talking about plans for the future, Lindsay said that:
The big ambition is to be able to host a conference where we invite guest speakers and we’ve got a few in mind for that.
The group is for anyone at any stage of their business, whether you’re thinking about starting up or whether you’re a fully established enterprise. Sharon says:
Who better to be inspired by than people who are doing the same thing as you. So the networking group is certainly open to anybody, and I’d like to think that it’s an environment where anyone can ask questions and just learn from other people.
In a final note of inspiration, while thinking of people who would like to attend a future event or even begin their own journey, Lindsay mentions that: ‘I think if you’ve got a passion or an idea and you know where you want to go then there is a place for you. There is so much support and knowledge and inspiration here in the islands. There is no competition, it’s very much about support.
Sharon’s parting words are:
Self doubt and all the rest of it can get in the way. You just have to throw yourself out there and launch yourself into it. We’re all there juggling different jobs and childcare and things like that. We’re all just really trying to do our best. That’s another reason why I think this group is just so important, it’s great to have other people around you that you can reach out to and you can talk to.
Keep an eye on the Western Isles Women in Business page for some local inspiration.