It was disenchantment with corporate life in a male dominated environment which prompted Suzy Orr to build a welcome platform for women in business.
Co-running a family company, Suzy recognised a gap in the market to create a positive space for innovative and inspired women to come together and share their wealth of expertise.
Three years ago she founded Unique Ladies Networking and come the end of 2018 the enterprise will be expanding across the north west after launching its franchise model earlier this year.
Unique Ladies Networking will have groups in Chorley, Preston, Blackpool, Manchester city centre, Stockport, Bolton, Wigan, Hyndburn and Liverpool.
Suzy plans to more than double that amount across the region by the end of 2019.
She says: “I wanted a group which didn’t involve expensive membership fees and which provided inspirational speakers as well as genuine networking opportunities,
“A networking group for women in, what still is, a man’s world.
“In three years the groups have shown constant growth, and now with four regular monthly groups running I am now franchising and sharing this great opportunity.
“I was delighted to welcome Melanie Tonge to my team to run our Preston group and equally delighted when Sarah Hulme joined to run Manchester.
“Both ladies have continued to grow their groups and work with women in those areas to empower, support and network, and it is great to see.”
The Chorley businesswoman started Unique Ladies in 2015 after becoming disillusioned with existing women’s networking groups.
After launching her initial monthly meeting near Wigan, she opened in Bolton and then Manchester and then worked with Forbes Solicitors to create a working franchise model.
“I’ve been delighted with the interest shown in the franchise
“As a result, and because I have been approached by so many women to open new groups in different towns, I’m expanding the business further next year.
“This proves, not only that women appreciate the value that networking brings to their business, but that there is a great appetite for the groups and for this particular business opportunity”.
Suzy is also co-owner of family business Windoworld in Chorley town centre.
Last year she was voted “Networker of the Year” at the Liverpool Lifestyle Awards, and has also been nominated for 2018.
Suzy also actively helps fundraise and supports local charities.
As soon as she launched her franchise, there were inquiries from all over the region to establish new Unique Ladies’ groups elsewhere.
There are events taking place across the region up to twice a week and each session lasts around two and half hours.
Typically after an informal networking session there is a chance to joini n with a round table discussions and then hear from a guest speaker.
Business owner Melanie Tongue runs the monthly Preston group on a Thursday from the Broughton Inn off the A6, Broughton.
She says: “I am inspired by strong women who have overcome adversity and challenges to continue to achieve and grow.
“Networking for business after becoming self-employed, I stumbled across Unique Ladies and was blown away by the ‘unique’ way in which this powerful group of networking ladies collaborate.
“Building long lasting friendships along the way and making things happen.
“I am proud to now be a part of this and am looking forward to building the Preston group and the surrounding area to build more collaborations and friendships and to help motivate and empower women to achieve their ambitions.”