Happy International Women’s Day: the day on the calendar we globally appreciate what local women do.

As great as this day is, we put events like this under the ‘bathing’ category; once in a while is enough but we recommend doing it daily. Liverpool isn’t short of risk takers and we decided to catch up with some of the most influential women in business. Ideally, we’d live in a world where we didn’t need a ‘International Women’s Day’, but we don’t, and this years theme is the notion of ‘make it happen’. We do need to make it happen – for the women earning less in offices doing the same job, for the women never promoted despite deserving it and the women who aren’t recognised or valued despite their hard work.

We sat down with Natalie Haywood, the owner of LEAF, Garden at Fact and Oh Me Oh My, Sian and Gemma Bodinetz, the Artistic Director of the Everyman & Playhouse. We want to share their stories, the secrets behind their success and hopefully inspire you to make it happen. 

Natalie Haywood – LEAF


LEAF started off as a tiny tea shop in Static Gallery and over the years has evolved into a community of like minded people who appreciate good quality food and drink in an imaginative environment.

“In school I had my very, very first business selling trolls and rubbers… until I got caught. I used to take orders for different coloured haired trolls and then go to the wholesalers and pick them out.”

This was Natalie’s answer when we asked her how all of this first started. It wasn’t an answer we were expecting, but one that makes perfect sense. We’ve all go to start somewhere – think of Richard Branson slinging vinyl out of a wheelbarrow as a teenager. To think that LEAF was built on trolls with fluorescent hair… She went on to tell us how her the success of her venues has made her feel:

“No! I can’t even think about it though. Can’t really look back and think about it because it makes me feel – woah! If I actually thought about it I’d probably freak out. You fight away behind the scenes and you work dead hard and overcome loads of stuff but it’s never about hitting the target, it’s always about the journey. You never get time to appreciate what it is that you have achieved or any of that stuff, which I think sometimes is a bit of shame. You’ve got to though because it won’t go on forever and you’ve got to enjoy yourself. Somebody said to me you’ll never do anything as good as LEAF again, but I was a bit like, “really”? But the thing that is going to be hard to replicate from LEAF is that we picked an amazing building on an amazing street in the best city ever, and it just appeals to so many different people. What’s really interesting to me is that I can talk to an old Granny and she will be like “I love it!”, and then I can go and talk to a student or a middle aged Mum and Dad and they will be like “I love it, too! We go before we go the cinema” – that’s what’s really nice, it hasn’t excluded anyone.”


For advice for anybody wanting to start their own business, Natalie had this to say:

“People starting out need to be so tenacious. There‘ve been so many times I’ve wanted to walk away, but you can’t, and you have to be dead passionate because it’s only your passion that gets you through, isn’t it? Nothing else will get you through – it’s not the money, the lack of sleep and lack of seeing your mates. There’s no point starting a business unless you’re absolutely passionate about it in my opinion. These are all clichés that you read but they’re definitely true. It’s the only thing that gets you through the dark times, and there are so many dark times.”

Gemma Bodinetz – Everyman & Playhouse


This year the Everyman theatre celebrates its 50th birthday and the newly enhanced Everyman celebrates its first. Earlier in 2014 it was given a much needed face lift; the rebuild is an architectural tour de force but still has the spirit and energy of the theatre that has become a huge part of Liverpool culture. We caught up with Gemma Bodinetz who is the Artistic Director of the Everyman and Playhouse to talk about the Everyman’s new look and her 11 year tenure at the helm of this cultural organisation.

“What do I love about The Everyman? Oh, so much! You don’t have to dress up to come to the Everyman, yet it’s not a grim or shabby place. It’s an egalitarian place that feels like something renegade and a little bit off centre could happen. We don’t want it to feel like a civic building or a glamorous West End experience – it had to sit between that. The name says it all, but putting the people of Liverpool on the front is trying to create a building that everyone feels comfortable in; it’s an Everyman for everyone”


We then asked Gemma what it is like being the Artistic Director of two amazing cultural cornerstones:

“It’s a horrible cliché when somebody says “I’ve got the best job in the world”, but as Artistic Director I often think I have. It’s a rare model to have two theatres a mile apart that are completely different. It’s like an artist being allowed to work in oils or watercolours. I describe it as a onerous joy, it’s kind of an oxymoron but other directors replied saying that’s exactly what it is. Being in a rehearsal room is a joyful thing and a privilege, but when something is great and your cast is great, there is a pressure to be as good as them in a play. It is a joy, I do think I’ve got the best job in theatre, but by the same token, I don’t want to let these theatres down, the city down or our artists down.”

These are just three examples of the incredible work women in Liverpool are doing on a daily basis. However, we would like to take this opportunity to show gratitude to all; from baristas to barristers, cleaners to bakers, graphic designers to illustrators and everything in between, we appreciate you, not just today, but especially today.