Meet Fiona Grayson, the founder of ‘She Can. She Did.’
Fiona Grayson is the founder of ‘She Can. She Did’, an online platform that puts the spotlight on young women that have dared to go solo and set up their own businesses throughout the UK. Documenting their highs, lows and everything else in between, the platform provides young women with honest insights into what goes on behind the scenes to launch and run a successful business. As well as having an online platform, Fiona also hosts events called the ‘Midweek Mingle’, in which she interviews a panel of highly successful, inspiring women. The panel is followed by drinks and of course lots of mingling! Best of all, you get to leave with a pretty impressive goody bag if we do say so ourselves. We spoke to Fiona about what inspired her to start this venture, and what difficulties she has experienced along the way…
Where did the idea behind the blog come from?
It’s a tough one because looking back now, unbeknown to me at the time, there were a few things that had been building up that led me to launch this! I’ve always wanted my own business but just presumed it would be something I did when I was older. I’d work my way up in my corporate career, earn as much money as I could, make use of all the perks that job offered me (who doesn’t love all expenses paid trips around the world and a free eye test eh?!) and then launch a business later on in life. My parents both did that when I was about ten, their salaries disappeared overnight, yes, but they were so much happier for it! It meant that I’ve grown up with an understanding of how much heart and soul goes into running small businesses, the pressures that come with the job (ie. holidays cost twice as much because no pennies are coming in when you’re away, if you’re sick, no money is coming in, irregular hours etc…) and the knowledge that yes, having your own business has a lot of perks but oh my gosh, it’s bloody hard work and is a real test of mental strength, grit and stamina too!
Anyway (!) on a personal level, my career and education have always been really important to me and so the day I woke up and realised I was no longer excited to go into work was the day I decided to do something about it. The problem was though, I didn’t know what I wanted to do! I’d started to notice that girls my age (and younger!) were starting to pop up on my Instagram feed or in the odd magazine under titles like, ‘meet the women bossing life’ where there’d be a few photos and perhaps a couple of sentences explaining what they did and I was so inspired by them but at the same time thought, ‘it can’t be that easy!’ There must be more to it than those few sentences and glossy picture let on…
I was in Boston with my old work at the time, I had a whole day to kill before my flight home and I just remember walking around Harvard Uni thinking ‘what would Elle Woods do!?’ I’d always loved research, I’d always loved writing and any excuse to sit down over coffee and biscuits and talk to inspirational women is a good one in my opinion! So with that in mind, combining stats showing that one of the main reasons holding women back from launching a business is a lack of role models in the public eye to aspire to; together with my frustrations at a lack of knowing the full story behind the scenes and on a selfish level, wanting to learn from their experiences first-hand myself; I decided to reach out to a few of the young women I’d stumbled across, explained my idea about sharing their entire story, warts and all, and fortunately for me, they said yes!
What’s been your favourite thing about starting ‘She can. She did.’?
The messages and reaction from the girls that follow it, definitely. I have been so overwhelmed with how supportive they’ve all been. From how honest the girls have been when I’ve interviewed them to how much advice and supportive messages I’ve been sent from girls I’ve met/connected with along the way, ‘She can. She did’ wouldn’t be anywhere without them so I’m so grateful for them. I also have loved seeing that online community come together in person at The Midweek Mingles. I definitely prefer interviewing face to face as opposed to over Skype/a phone call because I think you can get so much more from a face to face conversation so getting to meet the girls that have been following ‘She can. She did’ since the very beginning at the events always feels amazing.
You’ve interviewed a range of woman that have gone out on their own and set up their own businesses, what inspires you most about these women?
I think it’s that not one of the women I’ve interviewed have had an easy ride. Be it that they’ve suffered from complete burnout from putting all of their energy into their business or have struggled managing a team or in one case, their accounts were hacked and the majority of their savings were stolen which meant that they had to let staff members go and build the company up from scratch four years in, they didn’t give up. Instead, they address challenges head on, they don’t dwell on them and are the first to look for ways to move forward. Their willingness to share those low points with me and their ‘glass half full’ attitude reminds me to keep going if I’m ever having a bad day!
What’s the best advice you’ve received throughout the process of setting up ‘She can. She did’?
In one of my first interviews, (with Lucy Coleman, Founder of Postcards Home) Lucy said that “pressure is a privilege” and it’s stuck with me since. I am so grateful that girls have got behind ‘She can. She did’ and supported it from the outset but there have been days along the way where I’ve worried if I can do it justice and that I’m losing control of the reins at times because I constantly feel like there’s not enough time to do everything that I want and need to do. By saying that, she reminded me that being busy like that and having people reaching out and wanting to work with you is such a privilege. I’d much rather be busy and for ‘She can. She did’ to be working than not have work and I always fall back on that advice when I need reminding of that!
We love the sound of the ‘Midweek Mingle’, what has been the most challenging aspect of setting up an event like that?
Thank you! You should come along! To be honest, organising The Midweek Mingles has been the easiest part of this journey so far as I used to produce conferences around the world in my former career so for the large part, I was in my comfort zone! The scary bit however was that I no longer had a big publication backing me and that it was my brand that was responsible for the event so I was so nervous that no one would show up and no brands would want to partner with it but thankfully they have which I am SO grateful for! I guess in my old job, I never had to look after things like the venue and food and drink etc… so wearing that operations hat was a first but to be honest, I’ve really enjoyed wearing that hat so I can’t complain! Having something concrete to be able to put out there and share with the girls has felt amazing and I’m just so happy that the girls have enjoyed them so far!
If you could go back to when you first started ‘She can. She did’, would you do anything differently?
It’s a tough one because I’m a big believer in everything happens for a reason! However, I started ‘She can. She did’ as a project initially, not a business, so knowing how much I love it now, I would probably have planned it a tad more at first because I’ve definitely been making it up as I go along!
How do you unwind after a hard day’s work?
I’m a country pumpkin at heart so for me, nothing beats a long walk outdoors with my golden retriever, Hector! I also love going for a big run with my sister or pilates/ a good HIIT session to clear my head. Failing that, pj’s and Love Island tend to do the trick!
Lastly, what is your favourite nail polish colour?
See, it changes depending on the season! Right now, I’d always opt for a bright coral or hot pink but in winter I’m definitely a nude girly through and through! Having said that, treating myself has gone out the window since launching this so my nails currently look horrendous!
For more information about ‘She Can. She Did’, click here.