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Insights

17 Brighton Women in Business Sparking Change

Written by 
Rosie Murphy
 on 
March 21, 2022
Plus X Innovation
Brighton
4
 min

Based on nominations from the Plus X Innovation team, this list celebrates just some of the brilliant businesswomen in Brighton and Hove.

Three women sat together on Plus X Innovation Rooftop

Having been chosen as the top city to start a small business in four years out of five, Brighton and Hove is a city full to the brim of innovators and change-makers.

This city is blessed with an abundance of talented and successful female business leaders, who work hard to enact positive change and impact Brighton and beyond.

Based on nominations from the Plus X Innovation team, this list celebrates just some of the brilliant businesswomen in Brighton and Hove that are sparking change, leading the way in their industries, and inspiring our community.


Ruth Wainwright, Founder, The Feminist Bookshop


With beginnings as a local bookclub taking place in living rooms across the city, Ruth Wainwright opened The Feminist Bookshop’s permanent location in 2019 after a hugely successful crowdfunding campaign.

The shop has gone from strength to strength, with Ruth curating over 1,000 titles by women and non-binary authors. The Feminist Bookshop also serves as a community hub, hosting a plethora of workshops and events focused on bringing to light the issues that women and other marginalised genders face.


Mo Kanjilal, Co-Founder, Watch This Sp_ce


Having had a lengthy career as a Sales Director, Mo Kanjilal’s knowledge and experience lent itself seamlessly to Watch This Sp_ce and its goals. Watch This Sp_ce works closely with businesses to ensure that they are delivering on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in all areas of their company. Mo, alongside co-founders Allegra Chapman and Rachel Peason, performs inclusion audits of organisations, as well as workshops, training, and marketing support.

Mo is a certified NLP Master Practitioner, offering coaching to help people enhance their skills and gain experience in their chosen field. Mo acts as a mentor for a charity that helps young people from underprivileged backgrounds kickstart their careers. The impact of her and Watch This Sp_ce’s work is making waves throughout Brighton and beyond.


Sarah Ticho, Founder of Hatsumi, and Co-Founder of Lemonade and the XR Health Alliance

Sarah Ticho, Hatsumi


A self-described ‘serial founder’, Sarah Ticho launched Hatsumi in 2018, wanting to explore the connections between Extended Reality (XR) and health. Hatsumi is revolutionising the ways the health industry treats mental and physical health through its development of interactive XR.

They build VR experiences that bring together storytelling, participatory art and immersive technology designed to improve the health and wellbeing of its users. Sarah also works as a consultant for XR Safety Initiative’s MedicalR Council, a group of industry leaders at the forefront of this technology.

Alongside Hatsumi, Sarah is the co-founder of both The XR Health Alliance and Lemonade and producer at Explore Deep, an award-winning clinically validated breath-controlled VR experience.

A member at Plus X Brighton, Sarah is also an alumnus of BRITE’s INSPIRE programme, a five-month one-to-one innovation coaching programme.


Jenni Lewin-Turner, Founding Director, Urbanflo


Jenni Lewin-Turner


Coming from a career spanning 35 years in arts practice, development and delivery, Jenni Lewin-Turner launched Urbanflo to change the landscape in the arts industry. Urbanflo is an arts agency with a difference; it’s a socially-engaged business motivated by a shared belief in creating equity and excellence within the cultural sector.

Jenni is at the helm of driving this change and works as a consultant with other businesses to help them develop and deliver their EDI strategy. Jenni is instrumental to the Plus X community, curating photography exhibitions to display in the Launch Space, including our most recent photography exhibition, IDENTITY by Chris Jepson, which was created to mark and celebrate LGBTQ+ history month.

IDENTITY by Chris Jepson at Plus X


Hazel Reynolds, CEO, Gamely

Frustrated with her 12-year-old sister’s obsession with her iPad, Hazel Reynolds decided to create a game so good it would lure her away from her screen. And so, Gamely was born. Backed by an enormously successful crowdfunding campaign, Hazel officially launched the company in 2015.


They have now created eight original and innovative games that transcend age and bring people together. To date, they have sold over a quarter of a million games worldwide, were named Amazon’s Small Business of the Year in 2019, and Hazel even made a now legendary appearance on Dragon’s Den.


Hannah Dawson, Co-Founder and CEO, Futrli


Hannah Dawson launched Futrli by learning the hard way. Having come close to losing a business due to a lack of understanding of cash flow, she created Futrli, a platform for small businesses that uses AI and smart prediction software to optimise their cash flow and cash management.

Her work with Futrli has seen her chosen as one of the 2019 Maserati 100 cohort of entrepreneurs and innovators. She’s also become a leading figure and champion of women in FinTech, an industry that is seriously lacking in female representation.


Rifa Thorpe-Tracey, Coach, Consultant and Connector

Rifa Thorpe-Tracey is a powerhouse in Brighton and Hove’s business scene. She runs her own radical consultancy company, which operates with diversity and inclusion at its core, helping people to transform the way they work.

A born change-maker, Rifa leads SheSays Brighton, an organisation that hosts events across the city for women in the digital and creative industry. She’s also the Festival Director for Spring Forward Festival, a month-long celebration of women in the digital sector, coinciding with International Women’s Day every March. And she co-founded the Brighton Women of Colour Facebook group, which now has over 800 members.


Sarah Springford, CEO, Brighton Chamber

After working with Brighton Chamber for over 10 years, Sarah Springford became CEO in 2019. She has since worked tirelessly to support the city’s entrepreneurs and small businesses. Sarah and her team’s work has helped to grow the Chamber to become an organisation comprised of over 700 members, 80 ambassadors, 30 partners and an extensive portfolio of projects and initiatives.

They champion the Brighton Living Wage campaign, curate the yearly Brighton Summit and formed Catch The Wave, a local business support programme.


Laura Way, Founder, Votch

Laura Way, Votch

Laura Way is the founder of Votch, a vegan and cruelty-free watch company. Laura’s approach to her business has meant the company values centre around sustainability, giving back and pioneering change-making in the industry and beyond.

Laura is another BRITE alumni - and another Dragon's Den contestant - who utilised the project to innovate and further her business


Tara Elie, Managing Director, Star Performance

An accomplished education professional, Tara Elie created Star Performance with an ambition to spark cultural change within businesses and boost the wellbeing of teams using positive psychology.

Her holistic approach sees her offering professional development training, one to one coaching sessions and confidence training to develop change that can endure. Tara also qualified as a personal trainer in 2018, meaning that she can offer an all-round health and wellbeing experience to her clients.


Clare Griffiths, Founder, The Thrive Effect

Clare Griffiths

Starting out her career in the business support industry in 2003 as an innovation advisor, Clare Griffiths founded The Thrive Effect in 2018, turning her expertise to support women in business. The Thrive Effect is a social enterprise, with a mission to advocate for female founders and business leaders.

Clare has recently been listed on #ialso100 2022, a national, annual campaign managed by Small Business Britain that highlights 100 inspiring female business leaders and founders from across the UK. The Thrive Effect holds regular workshops and events. On top of her work with Thrive, Clare is Entrepreneurship Business Development Manager at the University of Brighton. In this role, Clare helps students and graduates start their own businesses through the beepurple programme.


Ruth Anslow, Co-Founder, HISBE and the Good Business Club

A self-proclaimed ‘Food Rebel’, Ruth Anslow co-founded HISBE with her sister Amy in 2010, on a mission to transform the food industry. The pilot store opened in Brighton in 2013, and their second store opened in Worthing in 2021. HISBE challenges the ways big supermarkets do business, and they’re working hard to make HISBE a nationwide chain of independent stores.


Ruth then co-founded The Good Business Club with Sara Osterholzer in 2018, encouraging businesses to become purpose-led and creating long-lasting impact through connecting, working and learning together.


Emma Anastasi, Founding Director, Diamond Dental Staff

Emma Anastasi, Diamond Dental Staff

With over 12 years of experience across all sectors of the dental industry under her belt, Emma Anastasi made the leap to launch her own dental business consultancy, Diamond Dental Staff in 2018.

Diamond Dental Staff offers services for the dental industry, including workshops with tailormade interactive training surrounding team work, communication and leadership, and the Diamond Dental Staff Academy. The team also offer HR, marketing, web design, and business consultancy support for dental businesses.

Emma is a valued member of the Plus X Brighton community, and currently on the Profitnet innovation programme. Last month, Emma kindly welcomed us into her world to show us a day in the life of her business.


Carolynn Bain, Founder, Afrori Books


Carolynn Bain, Afrori Books

The impact of the death of George Floyd sent shockwaves across the globe, and the following movement of Black Lives Matter became the catalyst for Carolynn Bain to find a permanent location for Afrori Books. Coming from a background in freelance event management, Carolynn had been operating Afrori Books online, but launched a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign to give Afrori books a material home.

Opening in 2021, Afrori books is Brighton’s first black-owned bookshop, that promotes and champions the works of black authors. The shop also holds regular events and workshops and is quickly becoming a hub of community.


Olga Hopton, Expansion Director, Plus X Innovation


Olga Hopton, Plus X

The hard work of our very own Olga Hopton has been key to the business’ growth and continued success. Having joined Plus X in its early days, Olga ensures that ensures that Plus X transforms places, unlocks the potential and driving the business growth of its locations.

She has been a key part of building community and overseeing the management of commercial properties all over Brighton and Hove. Her expansive experience places Olga as an expert in what it takes to make a great workspace and a strong community – and we’re very lucky to have her!


Lucy Hughes, Founder, MarinaTex


Lucy Hughes, MarinaTex

MarinaTex began its life as a final year project by Lucy Hughes while she was studying at the University of Sussex. The product Lucy created is a home compostable bio-plastic, made from fish waste and reg algae that can replace single-use plastic packaging.

There has been a lot of excitement surrounding the product, with Lucy winning the James Dyson award in 2019, and was the Future Impact Pencil Winner in 2020. Lucy is an alumni of BRITE, and has a very exciting future with the continued expansion of MarinaTex and its positive impact upon the planet.


Rosa Monckton, Founder and Chairman, Team Domenica

Rosa Monckton founded Team Domenica in 2015, with a purpose to remove the barriers in workplaces faced by young people with learning disabilities. The charity works to support its candidates, including her daughter Domenica (pictured) find and retain employment and offers skills training, qualifications and supported internships.

Their 2020-2021 impact report found that 76% of their candidates had found employment through their supported internship programme, and Rosa’s hard work and campaigning has seen her receive an MBE.

Plus X Innovation in Brighton is home to Café Domenica, which keeps our members well-fed with fresh, healthy food and delicious coffee!


Resources for Brighton Women in Business

Here are a few of our favourite groups and organisations supporting Brighton women in business.

At Plus X Innovation, we’re committed to helping business leaders and teams from all walks of life.

Rosie Murphy

Content + Social Media Manager at Plus X Innovation.

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Open innovation between startups and corporates at the Better World Collective Innovation Summits
Three Things Corporates Can Learn From Small Businesses About Innovation
Insights
4
min read

Innovation has proven to be a crucial component to success in business - for corporates and startups alike.

Two people working together in the workshop at Plus X Innovation Brighton
20 Inspiring Innovation Statistics for Businesses in 2023
News
5
min read

Want to boost your business innovation? Be informed and inspired by 20 of the most interesting 2023 innovation statistics.

Paul Rostas and Mat Hunter, Co-CEOs of Plus X in the Plus X Brighton workshop
How Cities Could Benefit from Innovation Hubs: An Interview with Mat Hunter
Stories
5
min read

Hear from Mat Hunter, Co-CEO at Plus X Innovation to uncover what we look for when exploring for new innovation hubs.

Entrepreneur pitching to corporates at Better World Collective Summit
What Small Businesses Should Know About Pitching to Corporates
Insights
5
min read

Ready to take your idea to big business clients or partners? Here's what you need to know about pitching to corporates.

The first cohort of BRITE Pioneers at Plus X Innovation
The BRITE Pioneers: Cohort One
Insights
8
min read

Plus X Brighton welcomed 15 businesses that are on their way to change the world to Pioneers.

Plus X Brighton reception from above
A Guide to Downsizing Your Business's Office Space
Insights
5
min read

Due to the growth of hybrid working, many businesses have opted to reduce the size of their workplace or move to a coworking hub.

A Plus X Innovation member working on their laptop
How to Register Your Business with Companies House
Insights
5
min read

Read our guide about why you should register with Companies House.

Product Foundry Cohort Two in the Plus X Innovation Brighton Workshop
Welcome Product Foundry Cohort Two: The Greater Brighton Product Makers
News
6
min read

Product Foundry is a BRITE innovation programme for cutting-edge product makers in Brighton. Meet the second cohort of makers.

Group of Dad La Soul parents and children in the Brighton Launch Space playdate
Dad La Soul Brings Family Fun to Plus X Brighton
News
2
min read

For the next 12 months, we're proud to announce that Plus X Brighton will become home of Dad La Soul's new Brighton playdate.

Toby Kress, Plus X Innovation, applauding on stage at CRL Accelerator Demo Day 2022
Congratulations to CRL Accelerator Cohort 9
Insights
2
min read

Learn about the 9th cohort of CRL Accelerator.

The second cohort of the Pioneers Programme at Plus X Innovation
The BRITE Pioneers: The Second Cohort Making a Better World
News
7
min read

Take a look at the second cohort of pioneering businesses who want to make a difference.

Plus X Innovation Brighton in motion
How to Start and Run a Business During Economic Change
Insights
5
min read

Tough economic conditions can actually be beneficial for startups to exploit market gaps.

Innovation happening between members in the Plus X Innovation Workshop in Brighton
The Case for Collaboration: Why Corporates Should Work with Startups
Insights
2
min read

Startups exist to be disruptive. Corporate-startup collaboration can bring benefits to both parties. Learn how to make it work.