Fife Women in Business – locked down but definitely not out!

Wednesday, 8 July 2020

It is a fact universally acknowledged that while the Coronavirus-induced lockdown has been good for some businesses, it has presented significant challenges for many others. The story has been no different for the female entrepreneurs who belong to Fife Women in Business, a thriving networking group which comprises around 60 businesswomen, all based in Fife and the surrounding area.

Pre-lockdown, FWB was running three monthly events – a catch-up over coffee in St Andrews, a networking breakfast at Balbirnie Hotel and a coffee drop-in session in Dunfermline –  in the first, second and third weeks of each month. Shortly after lockdown was imposed, these events were swiftly and easily transferred online to the ubiquitous Zoom platform.

One undoubted benefit of this move online was that members from far-flung corners of Fife have popped into meetings they might – owing to the travel time involved – not normally have attended, allowing them to benefit during this stressful time from the morale-boosting support offered by the famously friendly FWB group.

The FWB’s online AGM saw several changes to the committee, with Jane Banks of LaserFlair as President, financial advisor Norma Shiels as Vice-President, Clare Wade (CAT Lighting and Woodmill Game) taking up the post of Minutes Secretary, and Heather Warner (Enigmatic Business Solutions) assuming the role of Association of Scottish Businesswomen liaison officer.

Entrepreneurs are often encouraged to work ‘on’ their business as much as ‘in’ it, and the companies and organisations which were forced to down tools completely during lockdown did precisely that. During the weeks and months that followed March 23rd, they focussed instead on marketing and product development for the future.

Others adapted their business models – such as Woodmill Game, who did a roaring trade online. Former FWB President Caroline Trotter (Caroline Trotter Photography) gamely donned her apron to bake bread for her local community as well as embarking on a local doorstep portrait project, with her photos being compiled into a social history album to preserve memories of this unprecedented period for posterity.

Louise Mackenzie (Pretty Amazing Company) put her enviable sewing skills to excellent use, making facemasks to raise money for cancer charity Maggie’s. Meanwhile, engraving guru and FWB President Jane Banks was kept fairly busy throughout lockdown fulfilling the demand for craft kits from bored families stuck at home.

Jane is acutely aware, however, that the lockdown has been a mixed blessing for members, and she stresses that the nature of regular networking meant that FWB Zoom meetings played an important role in keeping members connected.

Over the weeks, candid stories emerged during the group’s Zoom meetings of hardships suffered, as well as resilience and innovation shown by members in the face of the pandemic’s impact on their businesses.

As Jane explains: “Being able to talk issues through was vital for our members, and if we can take one positive from this difficult experience, it’s that we were able to support each other when it mattered.”

For more information on Fife Women In Business please visit www.fifewomeninbusiness.com