Happy Women’s Entrepreneurship Day!#WomenseDay #WED ! In today’s blog post, we show how one female entrepreneur has brought Bristol quite literally a breath of fresh air! Bristol born and bred, Sharon, explores with us her passion, energy and enthusiasm for skating as well as her mantra for a successful business.
My parent emigrated here from Jamaica in the 1950’s. I was born in Bristol in the 1960s and grew up in Easton, then Eastville as the youngest of 3 children. We were one of only two families of colour that lived on our street at this time. On the weekend, I would roller-skate into Easton to the local roller-disco at the sports centre.
During primary school, I participated in St Pauls Festival, sat on one of the floats during the procession with my friends, waving at the crowds. We loved every minute of it! Attending this festival is ingrained in me – I am so proud to have seen the carnival grow and evolve over the years.Both my parents worked hard whilst I was growing up. My dad was a welder working away from home during the week, and mum worked irregular shifts in a local factory. Seeing how hard they worked and the sacrifices they made moving here, made it feel natural to get a full-time job at the age of 18. I have worked ever since, working my way up to become a Legal Executive for a multinational company here in Bristol.
Even though my mum had a small clothes shop on Stapleton Road in the 1970’s, I never had any particular aspiration to start my own business, nor consider myself to be business-minded. In fact, I thought that roller-skating was so much fun that everyone should do it! I mentioned this to my mate Nikky and incredibly, she had the same idea too!
Nikky and I formed Lets Sk8 in 2011, in which we organize and run roller-skating discos for all ages around Bristol, fitting it in around our jobs and families. Initially, only one leisure centre allowed us to use their space, but this grew to 5 centres in 2012, and 7 in 2013. We now run regular sessions in Easton, Horfield, Patchway, Withywood, Weston, Portishead and Nailsea with more promised for 2014. Roller-skating is a fantastic activity because it is ageless, classless, fun for all the family, and most importantly, it puts a smile on people’s faces! For me, it doesn’t feel like work! In fact, I try to skate at least one session each weekend, so that I can improve my fitness, as well as it being fun of course.
Without the support of our families, both Nikky and I would have struggled to get Let’s Sk8 up and running. We all sacrificed our weekends for over a year so that we could get our business off the ground. For a long time, we paid everyone apart from us. Whilst this could have been detrimental, having our own firm belief and encouragement from our customers, helped us to persevere.
I am a proud Bristol Woman – I have seen massive changes in Bristol, from seeing an old bombsite on Stapleton Road turned into new leisure centres, and the Galleries, De-lux cinemas, and a Mall developed. I am part of a great city and community, personally witnessing its continual growth and improvement. Becoming a mother gave me a new outlook on life and wanting to provide a solid and happy life for my daughter. I want to be the positive role model my parents were for me, in the hope that she will go one to achieve whatever she should desire in the future.
My mantra is a bit morbid, but “you only get one shot at life, so live it.” If you have a business idea that you really believe in, seriously consider taking the risk. Remember, success doesn’t happen overnight, so be prepared to put in time and effort and hopefully see it flourish into something you can be proud of.
Words: Sharon Black
Photography: James Barke