With International Women’s Day being on Monday 8th March and Mother’s Day falling on Sunday 14th March, we have decided to dedicate the entire week celebrating the inspirational women both around the world and right here on our doorsteps.
This started with celebrating empowering women such as Rosa Parks, Emmeline Pankhurst and Michelle Obama on our Instagram story along with our #CherishedWomen campaign which encouraged people to recognise and honour women who inspire them.
Though there are successful and remarkable women all over the world, we decided to also focus on the strong women around us who make a difference each and every day.
The founder of Cherished Care Services, Chandrea Clarke, who also works as the Director and Registered Manager of the company sat down with us to chat about her journey and what drives her.
Can you introduce yourself and the business?
Hi, my name is Chandrea Clarke. I’m the owner and registered manager of Cherished Care Services. Cherished Care Services was set up four years ago in front of our house. There was only room for two people and I had no experience on how to run a business. I started it from scratch, learning from my mistakes along the way. I spoke to people to see what I could learn from them, what worked for them and what didn’t work for them. It was challenging, because I was learning as a beginner.
Is there anyone else in your family that is entrepreneurial?
Actually, I have an uncle who I worked alongside in Zambia. He himself is very entrepreneurial due to his dedication to achieving his goals. I learnt to put my heart and soul into something I wanted. I had the privilege of working alongside him, supervising and managing people. When I moved to the UK, this was like a new experience altogether as there was a new culture with different beliefs.
I worked a year without a day off and have grown the company to sixty members of staff and a bigger office. It’s been a big achievement to grow from the pair of us to a whole team.
Altogether, it’s been a big challenge and a big celebration. I’ve seen the company grow from nothing to a successful business, and we’re only just getting started.
Every experience you go through is a lesson. Every hustle you endure is a learning curve. It’s about looking back at what impact your experiences had on you and what you take from those experiences.
Who or what is your biggest inspiration?
My biggest inspiration is my grandma. I remember when I went to Zambia, and she asked me what I did for a living. I had to explain to her that I look after people in their own homes. The question she asked was, “Oh but what about their family members? Where are they?”
I began explaining to my grandma about the difference in culture. Back home, the family members would quit their jobs and dedicate their time to looking after their relatives.
The difference in the UK is that more people have the responsibility to pay their mortgage and can’t afford to quit their jobs. They still have to maintain the same routine despite having someone in the family who needs help.
When I explained to her what I did, she said, “you know what, look after them the way you looked after me.” So, I always carry that with me, even on the toughest of days.
Have you had any obstacles you’ve had to face, especially as a woman?
Yes, there have definitely been a few obstacles along the way, but there was one that stuck with me. There was a big meeting organised by the local authority. There were a few providers who had been in the business for years attending this meeting. People who had been in the business for multiple years and had achieved a lot.
One of the men at this meeting asked us how many staff we had and how long I’d been running the company for.
I explained to him how many years we’d been running our business and what he said next astonished me.
“I’m sorry to say this, but with small businesses like yours, you won’t make it in this industry. If you’re thinking of selling your company, let me know as I’m looking to buy.”
It’s safe to say I was stunned that he had the audacity to say this to my face. In a funny turn of events, myself and this gentleman both applied for a tender from the local authority which would provide some important funding for our business venture.
I’m sure you know who won.
Do you have any advice for young women wanting to start their own business?
My advice to my fellow young women, I say as a fourty year old woman, is to never frown upon a job that you consider is beneath you.
When I first started this business, I started as a carer. I went from a carer, to a senior carer, to the manager that I am today. I run my own care company with a team who make a difference in people’s lives every single day.
Never disregard a job! Be passionate. Be tolerant. And most of all: focus on your goals. Look at what you want to do, think of how you’re going to do it and go for it because nothing is impossible. Nothing.