An award winning entrepreneur took centre stage at a women’s networking event last week.
Business mentor and founder of Patchwork Foods Margaret Carter gave an ‘inspiring’ and ‘amusing’ talk about her life to local businesswomen at the Holiday Inn South, Chester on September 14.
Margaret spoke of the challenges she faced in the world of business and the importance of saying yes to every opportunity including her early business years in London when she agreed to knit woollen jumpers when she had no idea how to knit.
Established in 1982 The Patchwork Traditional Food Company began when Margaret needed to feed her family, with £9 from the housekeeping Margaret began making pate.
Fast forward 35 years and Patchwork now has its own 10,000 square foot factory in Ruthin with 25 employees, has won over 80 taste awards and classes Castell Howell and British Airways amongst its army of loyal customers.
Margaret has been recognised for her business skills as Welsh Woman Small Business Owner of the year, Welsh Employer of the year and was given a lifetime achievement award by the Guild of Fine Food Retailers
“When I moved to North Wales, I was divorced with three young children, I found I was £5 short for food and I knew I needed a business idea,” said 75 year-old Margaret.
“My children were working at the Ponderosa Café on the Horseshoe Pass at the time and I asked the chef there for some ideas about what I could do to bring in some money.
“She asked if I could make pate, I of course said yes, but I walked out of there thinking what is pate?
“I found a recipe in my mother’s cookery book and I used the last £9 from the housekeeping.”
Margaret began to sell her pate at The Ponderosa but it was short lived and she found herself venturing into Llangollen with her samples.
“I made five samples and drove into Llangollen for three days in a row but I couldn’t’ get out of my car, I was paralysed with fear,” said Margaret.
“Eventually I asked my partner Jenny to take me down – she would drive so I had no excuse not to get out.
“I dropped off the samples and all five said yes.”
Despite the commercial scale today, everything is still hand-made in small batches, without artificial colouring, additives or preservatives, to Margaret’s original recipes.
“Business is a concentric circle work nearest to you and work your way out to wherever it takes you,” said Margaret.
“Life is sometimes hard, our sales aren’t where they should be we graft and roll our sleeves up and get back out there.
“I’ve retired four or five times already, but at 75 I’m back in the business.”
Founded in 2013, the West Cheshire Womens Business Network provides an opportunity for businesswomen to come together, network and meet like-minded people from across the region.
Co-hosted by Natwest PLC, Ellis & Co Chartered Accountants and Business Advisers, West Cheshire & North Wales Chamber of Commerce and Cheshire West and Chester Council; the group meet four times a year with a different guest speaker at every event.
“This was yet again another well attended event,” said Carol Vella, Senior Economic Development Officer at Cheshire West and Chester Council.
“Huge thanks to Margaret who gave a thoroughly entertaining talk and is proof that hard work and determination certainly pays off.”
The next West Cheshire Womens Network event will be Christmas with a twist - on Thursday, December 1 (9.30am – 11.30am) at The Holiday Inn Chester South.
Events are free but attendance must be registered, for further details visit www.wcnwchamber.org.uk