Fiona Grayson, Founder of She can. She did. - the platform for young, female entrepreneurs in the UK

If you’re reading this now and we haven’t had the chance to meet yet, hello, I’m Fi and I’m the Founder of She can. She did. I’m often asked about why I decided to launch this platform and launch a business focused solely on providing support for female entrepreneurs so thought I’d use this ‘About Me’ section to answer that very question and give you a little insight into what I get up to when I’m not tucked away behind my laptop too.

(Should you be interested that is..!)

Suffice to say working with female entrepreneurs wasn’t an obvious choice from the outset..! After graduating from the University of Leeds in 2013 with a 1.1 in International History and Politics and a brief stint with a backpack in South East Asia post-uni, I plunged myself into the fancy world of conference production for a big publishing house in Central London that specialised in launching financial conferences across the globe. From day one, aged 20, I was tasked with researching and writing market leading conference agendas and securing senior speakers from around the world. I’d then project manage the conference from start to finish and manage the event on site when conference day came around. Taking me across Europe, South Africa and America on multiple occasions, it was a job that gave me so many incredible opportunities and skills that I’ll forever be grateful for and for the first couple of years, I absolutely loved it.

However… was I an avid finance fanatic? Sadly not. (There was a reason I dropped maths after GCSEs..!) So, spending my days researching everything from foreign exchange to banking regulations didn’t exactly float my boat three years on! Plus, I had one very expensive commute at one very unsociable hour of the morning, so the day-to-day reality of the job became increasingly less appealing after time!

The problem that I faced however, was that in order to keep the salary that I was on at the time, every job that I liked the look of required a minimum of 5-6 years of management experience which I lacked. Or, it meant going back to school, choosing completely different A-levels and moving to Africa to become the next David Attenborough… a girl can dream right?! I was also adamant that I didn’t want to jump ship to a job that offered more money but when that novelty wore off, boiled down to another job that I wasn’t passionate about.

Fast forward eight months of job hunting in my spare time and feeling more and more trapped in the role that I was in, I found myself out in Boston for one of my conferences across the pond.  It was there that the idea for She can. She did. popped into my head.

On the 26th April 2017, I woke up in my hotel room the day after an event, checked my emails as you tend to do, and an email came through from the London office that I didn’t want to see, that instantly made me realise that I was ready to leave.  After screenshotting it and sending it to my sister saying along the lines of, ‘I don’t know if I can do this anymore’ and receiving an instant reply saying, ‘just leave Fi! You’ve been saying you’re unhappy for ages, you’ll figure it out’, in that moment I realised enough was enough and finally I decided to hand my notice in when I got back to London.

Given that my flight home wasn’t until that evening however and feeling restless knowing that I wouldn’t be back in Boston anytime soon if I was going to leave my job (!), the Elle Woods fan in me wanted to see Harvard University before I left. So, I grabbed my backpack, ventured off into the rain and power walked through the city for two hours until I made it to the famous campus, trying to figure out what I was going to do if I quit my job in the process…

Ultimately, She can. She did. boiled down to figuring out what I was passionate about.

I loved researching… but wanted to research topics that genuinely inspired me. I loved interviewing people… but would much rather interview people that I could relate to and learn from and I’d known since I was little that one day I wanted my own business (I just had zero idea what that business would look like and figured that I’d work my way up in the corporate world and launch something ten years down the line when I had more experience under my belt).

Having noticed that more and more inspiring women my age were now becoming female entrepreneurs and launching businesses of their own for a good few months leading up to Boston though, I decided to escape the rain for a bit, taking respite in a coffee shop (I’m a massive caffeine addict!) and Googled ‘women under 30 who have launched their own businesses in the UK’. Naturally, the Forbes ‘30 under 30’ list popped up along with numerous articles from leading women’s magazines with glossy titles like, ‘meet the women under 30 bossing life’. I remember reading each article and feeling so in awe of the women I was reading about because they’d launched these incredible businesses but equally so frustrated because all these articles offered was a glamorous photo of each founder with a small paragraph summarising their highlights so far.  Having grown up in a household in which my parents both walked away from their corporate careers to launch their own small businesses and therefore witnessed the highs and lows that it involves at every step of the way, I just remember thinking, ‘it’s not as easy as these articles and social media are making it look’ and felt so frustrated that I couldn’t find anything that gave me their whole story in full.

By the time I eventually got to Harvard therefore, all I could think was, ‘what the hell would Elle Woods do?!’

If I can’t find the stories that would help me to feel more confident about setting up a business on my own at 24, why don’t I just treat this like a project, reach out to female entrepreneurs that I admire and ask to interview them about everything they’ve been through to get to where they are today? I’ll then share their stories online for women like me, who want to set up a business but don’t know where to start or might feel ‘too young’ to launch a business.

By the time my Mum picked me up from Heathrow the following morning, the idea for She can. She did. was swimming around in my head and after sharing it with Mum and getting her approval, I walked into the office on the Monday morning and handed my notice in.  After working my three months’ notice (which oh my gosh dragged!), on August 7th 2017, I opened my laptop for day one of She can. She did.

I now spend my days travelling the country interviewing female entrepreneurs that I admire (usually over a large cup of coffee and a plate of biscuits!), recording their stories for the She can. She did. podcast (which is available on iTunes, Spotify and Acast if you fancy a listen!), sharing their inspirational stories with the ever-growing She can. She did. audience, and organising The Midweek Mingles around the UK.

Away from She can. She did. I can often be found head to toe in unflattering lycra, sweating it out on a country run with my sister; hunting down the quirkiest coffee shops that know how to make a proper Americano (I tried going decaf once and it all got a tad ugly); playing ‘dens’ and watching Frozen for the umpteenth time with my seven year old Goddaughter; and going on muddy walks with my Golden Retrievers, Hector and Humphrey.

I’m always on the lookout for new faces to interview so if you’re a female entrepreneur or just fancy a good old natter, feel free to reach out and say “hi” at any time!

Big hugs and I hope to see you at one of The Midweek Mingles soon!


Ps. If this didn’t help, I’ve answered some FAQ here too!

Want to listen to my chats with some of the UK’s most inspiring young, female entrepreneurs?

 Listen to the She can. She did. podcast here! 

Fiona Grayson, Founder of She can. She did.

Recording the trailer for the She can. She did. podcast back in January!

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