KATE Everett and Jo Clifton are passionate about helping women get into business.

The pair have worked with Colchester Business Enterprise Agency (Colbea) for many years and have now joined the agency’s board of directors.

Former journalist Kate set up her copywriting and marketing agency The Write Impression back in 2008.

Before that she worked freelance after deciding she wanted a work life balance where she could keep her career and look after her children.

Kate, 51, said: “It was a struggle to juggle a job I loved with children I loved.

“I really wanted to be able to pick them up from school.”

Her firm has sponsored Colbea’s training and Kate herself acted as a trainer to budding businesswomen.

Kate helps run the six week In the Market for Success programme which has helped dozens of women take the first steps to launch their own firms.

The project helps them develop a business plan and test out their products.

“I see the huge value of it,” Kate said. “We had Helen Armstrong, who runs Silver Cloud HR visit and she was one of the first women who came to the course.

“She worked in London and wanted to see her children and work as well. This year she turned over £2 million and now employs lots of people. That is how powerful it can be.

“It is such a vital service for the area and that is why I am so committed to it. I see the good it does and people’s lives being changed.”


  • Team - Kate Everett (left) and Jo Clifton(right) have been welcomed to the Colbea board. Picture: Mark Jarvis

Earlier this year, Fenwick and Colbea ran a competition to offer aspiring female entrepreneurs the chance to trade in Colchester’s department store.

Sam Luxford, of NaviStitch, was given a pop-up shop where she could sell her maritime and coastal-themed artwork.

Kate says these opportunities are life changing for up and coming firms.

“She sold more in that one week than she had for the previous year. They have also invited her back,” she said.

“There are so many opportunities for women and I think it is going to be female businesses which lead to a resurgence in our economy.”

Kate said helping women realise their potential, however small, is a huge part of their work.

“You might not be Richard Branson but it is fair money and you can work hours around your children. It just takes a little bit of a leap of faith.”

Jo has more than three decades of experience in the HR world and started her own business Heptagon HR in 2007.

Since then she has worked with organisations such as Amnesty International, the Home Office and Bloomsbury Publishing.

Jo, who has also worked as a sponsor for Colbea, wants to help more women get on the business ladder.

She said: “Starting a business is tough and there are a lot of additional barriers and challenges which tend to impact on female entrepreneurs more.

“Equitable access to funding, lack of strong female networks and mentors, juggling family responsibilities, confidence and self-belief to name a few.

“The targeted work Colbea does, for example through programmes such as In The Market For Success, provides support and expertise that can make a huge different to their business success, and provides a valuable and lasting network of support.

“The success stories from women who have benefited from Colbea’s support are truly inspiring.”

And Jo hopes to use her role on the board to help drive business in Colchester forward.

She said: “Having strong and vibrant enterprise is vital to the local economy, the employment market and our standing as a region.

“The work Colbea delivers to new and existing businesses makes a real difference to how well they succeed and thrive.

“With the world of work changing so rapidly and the challenges and uncertainties for businesses currently, it is so important Colbea is available to provide business support, training and other programmes to maximise their chances of succeeding.”

Jo also launched and runs Colchester’s Biscotti business networking events.

She said: “As a female entrepreneur and working parent I have tried to make it as accessible as possible.”