#FemaleFounders - Lisa Forde

Lisa Forde - director, dotty about paper

Dotty about Paper is a stationery company based in a Grade II Listed building in the lovely historic market town of Bridgnorth. Originally established as a wedding and christening specialist in 2004 under the name The Card Gallery, it has since grown to offer stationery for birthdays, engagement parties, anniversaries, and other occasions. All Dotty about Paper products are designed by in their very own riverside studio and made in Britain.

Lisa Forde, the company director, employs a small team of full-and-part-time staff, all of whom are passionate about what they do.

1. Who inspires you?

People who work hard and use their skills effectively are hugely inspirational to me. I have so much respect for those who earned their success through their own effort and talents.


2. What gets you out of bed in the morning?

Knowing that I have my family at home and my team at work relying on me gives me the motivation to start each day off on a positive note. Furthering progress towards my goals, both personal and professional, also give me the boost I need to keep going.


3. What keeps you awake at night?

I’m a calculated risk-taker. I love to seize opportunities when they arise and look for new, exciting ways to push Dotty about Paper forward. This was a trait I had to develop as my business grew, though; I was more cautious when I launched the business. As such, I sometimes wonder what opportunities I might have missed in the past.

4. What’s your signature meal and who would you cook it for?

I love cooking a traditional roast dinner and sharing it with my family. It’s the perfect way to bring everyone together, giving us a chance to relax and talk with each other without any distractions.


5. How do you manage your time?

As a mother of two, I’ve learnt how to multi-task and keep to an effective schedule. Planning how to use your time is key to staying productive. I plan well in advance, keeping my main goals as the priority and figuring out how to fit the smaller jobs in between these goalposts. Staying flexible is also useful, as you never know what might happen. Don’t let unexpected events throw your schedule off; instead, aim to seamlessly incorporate it into your plans. Find a system that works for you, be it a paper journal or a digital calendar – whatever you find easiest to keep in sight.


6. Best bits (s) of advice ever received?

After my wedding stationery company, Tree of Hearts, won Small Business Sunday, I was given some great advice by Theo Paphitis. There’s no silver bullet to rely on when you’re an entrepreneur; the harder you work, the more luck you’ll have.

7. What is the best and worst purchases you’ve ever made?

The best purchase was our lovely Grade II Listed building by the River Severn in Bridgnorth. It’s been the perfect studio for us, with plenty of room for the team and quirky photo-friendly corners that added lots of personality to our social media pages. It’s really helped us expand our business.

The worst purchase I’ve made was an expensive toy for my sons, as they preferred to play with the cardboard box it arrived in!


8. What is the closest thing to magic?

Seeing a plan you’ve been working on finally coming together. There’s nothing like watching your hard work and dedication result in a great achievement you can take pride in. As a business leader, I try to share our company’s victories with the whole team, so we can all enjoy the boost of motivation it provides.


9. Do you have a mentor? What value do you think a mentor brings to a business?

Yes, my business coach is my mentor. They’ve added so much to the way I approach running the company. By bringing an outside perspective to major decisions and asking challenging questions, I’ve been helped to make choices that are sometimes uncomfortable but ultimately beneficial. A mentor also inspires you to action and prompts you to work faster once you’ve set your course.

10. What unusual food combinations do you enjoy?

Banana sandwiches – delicious, and a great source of energy on a busy day!


11. How can female entrepreneurs further support each other?

Share your experiences and knowledge. The best way to grow as an entrepreneur is to grow as a person. Develop your knowledge of your industry with the insights others can give you. And, if you want to work on a skill, find an inspiring female entrepreneur that can teach you how to improve.


12. What’s something that will always be in fashion, no matter how much time passes?

A watch will never go out of style. It’s the essential entrepreneur accessory when you’re tackling your busy schedule and arranging meetings. Even in the digital age, having the time to hand in an instant is invaluable.

13. What was the last thing you did that made you really proud?

Dotty about Paper has diversified into the wholesale market, which is a huge step for the company. We’ve been working on so many exciting new products, like our beautiful desk stationery collections. Seeing the orders coming in for our trade products makes me proud of how far my business has come.


14. If you were to give advice to a fellow female entrepreneur, what would it be?

The most important thing is to work hard. Achievements only come about through determination and a great work ethic. You will face challenges, so you need self-belief to carry on fighting when things get tough. Staying motivated and positive, even in the face of problems, helps you to succeed – and it also inspires those around you.


15. What does success look like to you?

A balanced life where home and work are in equilibrium. To me, success is about knowing you’ve done your best for both your family and your colleagues.



Website - https://www.dottyaboutpaper.co.uk/

Social - Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

Ctrl Alt Del - Beauty Standards

By Jemma Heathfield

I love Instagram. I love curating content, sharing photographs and connecting with people all over the world. Yes, I use editing apps such as VSCO and KUNI, exploring new filters and effects. I’m all for discovering new apps, but this one? It crosses the line.


It upsets and disappoints me that there are adverts, so easily accessible, that encourage people to edit themselves. Making their breasts larger; reducing the size of their nose; drawing in a six pack.

The backlash about retouching or as it is commonly known; ‘photoshoppin,’ photos, has been in the news for since the advent of social media and in particular Instagram, and with so much talk on body positivity at the moment, it baffles me how an advert like this has been amplified - and made in the first place!


It’s scary how much of an influence what we see online can have on our self-esteem. Everyone can be affected by ‘standards of beauty’, especially young people who are most vulnerable to accepting this unrealistic version of ‘beautiful.’.


I have struggled with my self-esteem in the past year; I have been unhappy with my appearance, weight and have a daily battle with my mental wellbeing / health. So, you could say I’m vulnerable to this type of advert too. Thankfully, my instant reaction was, ‘how on earth has this advert been published?!’ and not an instant desire to download and edit photographs of myself.


Taking part in Cosmopolitan’s Self-Made Summit event last month, the whole weekend demonstrated strong themes of empowerment, self-belief and self-confidence. It proved that to be happy, you didn’t have to look a certain way, act a certain way or be a certain way. It was brilliant to be part of such a forward thinking and inspiring event.


“Plus size supermodel”, Tess Holliday was one of the many influential speakers over the weekend, and she spoke of her personal struggles when trying to make a name for herself in the modelling industry. She shared how she struggled with her self-confidence; she was trying her hardest to be herself and have confidence, but the model industry continually knocking her down time and time again.


Journalist Bryony Gordon ran the London Marathon 2018 with friend and model Jada Sezer in their underwear to show that there is not just one way to look. They ran to raise money for Heads Together, a mental health campaign set up by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry with the goal of ending the stigma around mental health. They did it to prove that you don’t have to be an athlete to run a marathon; to prove that a runner’s body comes in all shapes and sizes; to prove that exercise is for everyone, small, big, tall, short, size 8, size 18.


I hope that when I have children of my own, these kind of apps will not exist.


This is the start of a bigger conversation which we will be commenting talking more about in the very near future.