My Working Day – Hazel McShane and Amber Probyn – Founders of PEEQUAL

As the leader of a company, you are there to set an example, to lead and inspire a team of individuals to achieve a series of business goals. But how do these business leaders go about their daily routine? Business Leader spoke to Hazel McShane and Amber Probyn, the Founders of PEEQUAL, about their working day.

What time do you wake up?

Amber: Alarm is set for 7:50 am, 8 am and 8:10 am because I’m guilty of a snooze!

Hazel: 7:45, make a coffee then get back into bed for a cheeky five more minutes.

What do you have for breakfast?

Amber: Varies between yogurt, granola with blueberries and buttered toast. Sometimes on a Friday, we start later, so I make a bacon butty.

Hazel: Eggs, always eggs! Poached on toast with fried, garlicky veg depending on what’s in the fridge.

What is your mantra for your working day?

Amber: One day at a time! Hazel and I also made the quote ‘Boundaries are important for sustainable growth. Successful growth requires isolated pockets of commitment.’

Hazel: It will always get done. This sounds throwaway but it was mine and my best friend May’s mantra from uni. It means look up for a second to see the vision, but to not get too overwhelmed, break up those tasks and before you know it, it will have ‘got done’.

As a business leader, is it hard to separate your business and personal life?

Amber: It can be. I think when you are so passionate about something and are giving it your all, it is hard to stop thinking about it. Quite often, I even dream about it. But with healthy boundaries, it can be managed.

Hazel: Yes, I sometimes get quite obsessive and can’t get a certain thing about the business out of my mind; I used to have one recurring dream about a bad Glastonbury! But from the support around me (Amber/friends/family/partner) and exercise (I never thought I’d say that but it really works), I have managed to start a healthier relationship with work.

What advice would you give to aspiring female entrepreneurs?

Amber: Believe in yourself! Someone has got to win/begin/ask, why can’t that be you? This is something I keep telling myself.

Hazel: That YOU are the expert on your business – you know the business more than anyone else. Take advice for sure, but know it’s ok not to listen to everyone!

Who is your business idol? Why?

Amber: Jessica Ennis has been my sporting idol for ages and is now my business idol too! When I was growing up, she was in the Olympics and was just phenomenal, it really encouraged me to keep going in sport. Now, she has founded the app Jennis, which syncs a women’s hormone cycle to help her train more effectively/plan around her hormones. Finding myself in a similar industry is pretty exciting.

Hazel: My mum, she only started her business last year. To start later in life and to change from a career to being totally on your own is bold, fearless and inspirational – go mum!

What motivates you?

Amber: The ability to make real change come about and knowing that I’m working on something that can help women see themselves and be treated as equals to men.

Hazel: I am absolutely obsessed with female toilet queues and getting rid of them! Imagine a generation of women who never experience the frustration of waiting in the queue?

How do you persevere through challenging times?

Amber: I handle it by talking everything out and sharing it with Hazel and trusted family, usually my mum! Normally, just having someone make you a cuppa and listen to you does the job.

Hazel: My personal need for this solution! I’m desperate.

What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a female entrepreneur?

Amber: Always being on the back foot and needing to ‘play their game’ to win at it and, therefore, be able to change it.

Hazel: As a solely female founding team, we have faced a lot of challenges, including scrutiny, sexism, and a lack of belief from male-dominated industries such as investment, engineering and product manufacturing. But through the support from our business and personal communities, we have gained confidence and found the right people to surround us and invest in us, and manufacture our product.

What is the best piece of advice you have received?

Amber: My dad has said to me quite a bit, “listen to other people’s advice but at the end of the day, you have to make the decision.” He is a sculptor and has always encouraged me to go after my dreams.

Hazel: I wish I could quote a woman but unfortunately, it was Steve Jobs from a video shown at university about the world and it has never left my mind: “everything around you that you call life has been made by a person…and you can change it, you can influence it.”

Are you hopeful about the future of female entrepreneurship in the UK? Why?

Amber: We are finally at a point in history when women are getting more support and acknowledgement. Papers and articles such as the Rose Review and Invisible Women shedding light on the reality women face in society. Women support women so much and we have experienced that within the business and start-up world!

Hazel: Hell yes! I know so many inspirational female founders who are making waves and investors are responding! Society is shifting (albeit more slowly than I’d like). I’m always hopeful; next year, the percentage of funding to all-female founding teams has got to increase. Hopefully in the future, Amber and myself will be able to invest in the change too!