By Sally Underwood • 07 March 2021 • 9:16
International Women’s Day: A Focus on Strong Women in Business. Image: Corinne Green
Each in charge of their own seriously successful company, we wanted to find out how they have led their businesses through the pandemic, learn a little bit more about what makes them successful, as well as taking the chance to hear their most inspiring advice for any other women thinking of starting their own business.
Mary Willoughby from Darrmar Demolition & Waste Removal and Darrmar Storage, Mallorca
Tell us a little bit about your business, how did it start?
There are two parts to the business and I run them alongside my husband, Darren.
One area is our demolition and waste removal, which we have been doing for about 12 years now. My responsibility is to operate all the financials and make sure the guys have got the right health and safety equipment and licences.
The second part of the business is one I actively manage, a storage company that I’ve been running for four years with a second hand shop at the front.
It sounds like you have expanded a lot since you started, what do you think the key is to your success?
When we started 12 years ago it was just my husband and one other man, but as we have become well-known on the island we were able to expand.
Any money we’ve made we have put straight back into the business, buying things like more vans, more tools, more machinery; so we were able to expand.
The pandemic has been tough on many businesses, how did you make sure Darrmar continued to be a success?
Over the last year we did have a flow of work coming in but it wasn’t like the year before.
That just meant we diversified to find other things to keep us busy though, and when we have periods where there’s not so much work our boys are busy chopping up trees from land clearance jobs ready to sell as firewood.
We’re really grateful and happy that we’ve been able to survive. It hasn’t been easy but by careful planning and hard work we’ve been able to.
You have obviously built two very successful businesses. Do you have any words of wisdom for any readers thinking of starting their own venture?
I think if people have found something that could take off it’s a good time to take it forward, and if you’ve got a good product I think it’s going to be time for it to fly.
My advice would be to be optimistic and give it a good few months to see if it starts to take off and then just keep working hard.
Emma Mennie from Premier Removals, Costa Blanca South
You run a large removals company, how did that start out?
My parents first started the business about 16 years ago. When they set up after moving to Spain I was based in England, and for the first few years I was working with them driving lorries from the age of 21.
I eventually moved to Spain two years ago and took over the business. Now we have three lorries in Spain, two in UK and a fleet of other vehicles, mainly carrying out removals from England to Spain, as well as in Portugal and France.
And how has the pandemic affected business?
We traded the whole way through the pandemic, sticking to all the laws and disinfecting everything.
We thought the pandemic might have slowed things down but haven’t noticed any change and we’re actually getting busier at the moment, doing 11 or 12 hour shifts.
Has it changed the way you work at all?
I do more video moves now, calling clients from their house, and going round with them to make sure they’ve got everything they need.
The estate agent always stays for the first part of the meeting and a lot of agents recommend us. We then take everything to the warehouse and pack everything up.
When things like this happen in the world it’s the time to pull together, so we’ve also been helping other traders out to try to keep everyone in business.
You sound like you have a real enthusiasm for being in business, do you have any advice for other women thinking of starting their own company?
For me the most successful businesses are the ones that involve something you love, that you’re passionate about.
I love driving lorries and meeting people and helping. We’re part of peoples’ dreams of moving their families and when they get to their homes they are so excited.
Heidi Jungreuthmayer and wife Sam Lewins from Black Flame, Costa Blanca North
You own two large restaurants, how did you get started?
We started 30-odd years ago with Monroes in Moraira, which was owned by my dad. Then about 15 years ago I bought a place in Pedreguer, which we also called Monroes.
When Sam and I got together we did up the Pedreguer restaurant, updating it to a modern look and changing the name to Black Flame.
When my father sadly died last November and we took over Monroe’s in Moraira we thought the best way forward was to do a similar thing as we did in Pedreguer and update the place, and we are now reopening as The Winchester.
It sounds like you have updated and expanded a lot since you started out then, tell us more!
The businesses had both been themed restaurants but we thought it was time for a revamp. We know it’s important to keep our existing customers happy but we also want to attract new ones and it has worked really well.
And how has the pandemic affected the businesses?
We noticed fewer tourists last year but we do have a lot of locals so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been, and we have found people have always got money for a beer or a drink.
We also offer takeaways and we’ve noticed they’ve been a lot busier than in previous years.
It sounds like you are an expert at keeping a business successful over many years, do you have any tips for anyone just starting out?
The benefits of owning a business are making money and choosing your own hours, but you also have the responsibility to deal with everything when things are bad.
So I would say to think about it carefully before you start a business and be prepared to work hard, because you get what you work for.
Linda Rowe from Second Time Around Shop, Axarquia
You have owned and run very successful businesses in Spain for many years, tell us about your current shop
After many years running British food store Arkwrights when we sold we didn’t think of starting another shop, but when we sold in October by June we had another business!
Now we have the Second Time Around Shop and people bring second hand items which we sell on a commission basis. We believe everything deserves a second chance!
It sounds like you are experts in running a shop, how did it all start out?
We started off small at farmers’ markets selling English food and within two years we had a large premises, it was quite an achievement.
We already had a large customer following from the markets and people had been asking us for a while to open a shop.
We began to outgrow our properties and we eventually opened a large shop in Puente de Don Manuel. When we first opened you could have had party in the aisles but it didn’t take us long to fill it.
Now at the Second Time Around shop people still come from Torrox and Nerja to give us things because they know us, and people still call me “Mrs Akrwwight” when they see me in the street.
What do you think helped your businesses grow?
I’ve always advertised heavily and when I overheard someone mentioning Arkwrights on the plane once I knew we’d cracked it.
We have also always made our businesses all about the customer. We treat our current business the same way as Arkwrights, we’re here to help people. If we’re closing at 2pm and people are going to be late, we stay open. That’s part of being a small shop.
And how has the pandemic affected business?
We have found we are working a lot of hours now still, but not as many as with the previous shop.
You obviously love being in business, what words of wisdom do you have for anyone else starting their own venture?
Think of your customer first, and look after the little customer as much as the big customer.
I also believe you should put people before money always, the customer counts- without them we wouldn’t be here.
Corinne Green from Estepona Furniture World, Costa del Sol
You have been in business on the Costa del Sol for years. How did it all start out?
We are a family business which started about 25 years ago, but not always with the same name. We’ve now been trading as Estepona Furniture World for 15 years in the industrial estate.
We started out mainly with flooring and carpets and now we sell everything for the home.
You have expanded a lot over the years then, how did that come about?
We started off with something we knew about already and then we expanded and learned as we went along. We began with flooring but we began to see the need for everything else for the home and we have just progressed from there.
It is all trial and error but if you offer a good service people will always be happy and we offer a complete service.
A lot of is also down to your staff and how good they are with customers. A good percentage of our staff have been here for 15 years and they feel dedicated, which really helps.
And how has the pandemic affected your business?
We are now doing a lot more digitally whereas in the past the majority of business was face to face.
We have had to change the way we work a bit and are now offering an online store as well.
You know how to keep a successful business running in the long-term, what advice do you have for someone just starting out?
Do the research well from the beginning for the product and location.
It is difficult but also try to start from scratch correctly with all your paperwork. It also really helps to either learn the language or work with someone who speaks good English and Spanish.
Thank you for taking the time to read this news article “International Women’s Day: A Focus on Strong Women in Business”. For more UK daily news, Spanish daily news and Global news stories, visit the Euro Weekly News home page.
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Originally from London, Sally is based on the eastern Costa del Sol and is a journalist for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]
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