I invite you to “My OutSpace”
Yuliana was born in Russia and came to the UK 12 years ago. She is a co-founder and co-director of the award-winning and quality-accredited social franchise “My OutSpace Business Centre” which provides child-friendly co-working space alongside high quality business support tailored to the needs of Female Entrepreneurs. Yuliana clearly understands the challenges small businesses face and especially those run by parents’.
We asked her how she would describe this journey?
Her answer was, ‘Challenging, but also very exciting and rewarding.’
It has been challenging, because I had to adapt very quickly to a new language, environment and culture. I also had to find a job in the first month. Coming from an entrepreneurial family I guess I had some of that in my DNA. One of my fellow students in the Language School was working for the silver service agency (something I had not even heard about) and she said, ‘Well why don’t you come and see if you can pass the interview? She taught me overnight (literally between 23:00 and 3:00) and my interview was at 7:00am next morning. Amazingly I passed and had my first assignment the next day. It was my first job in London. After that I worked in restaurants, concert venues, snooker halls, bookies and for the BBC Russian service and three different universities. But I was also always looking for new business opportunities. Being a professional swimmer I completed the swimming coach qualification and then coached young children to swim as my first small venture in London; I also had a stall at the Portobello Market selling accessories and jewelry to support myself through my first degree.
The UK offers a lot of opportunities and encourages an entrepreneurial mindset and culture, something I found very interesting from early on. I helped to set up an ‘Entrepreneurs Society’ in two different universities, attended Enterprise courses and had a great opportunity to learn from the best. Academically, I also completed a BA in Business Studies followed by an MSc in Management and Business Studies Research. Being involved in developing and leading Entrepreneurship team in universities, and setting up Accelerator programs and influencing, employability and enterprise strategies, I was always passionate about helping others to achieve their entrepreneurial potential.
What I do right now is very rewarding – helping other women – including mothers, to progress in their careers and take control of their lives from all over the world and seeing women I work with becoming financially sustainable, confident and happier. A lot of women I work with are migrants and have gone through a lot of challenges in their lives.
What motivated you to leave your country and migrate to the UK?
Actually, I did not have a choice but not because of difficulties in Russia but because my parents decided to send me to the UK to study language and gave me only two weeks’ notice. I could not argue, protest or change their mind in any way. It was quite a shocking experience but at the same time it prepared me for any challenges in life that I may come across.
Now you are working to share your experience and knowledge to empower other women – what is your aim with “My Outspace”?
My OutSpace Centre is a solution to the frustration of many parents out there who struggle with juggling work, business and family life! Centres, like My OutSpace help mothers to find a better work-life balance, explore self-employment careers and grow their own businesses without spending a fortune on the childcare. Members also access business support, training and mentoring as well as valuable networks. My OutSpace is a social franchise, which works on a local model. Our strap line is: ‘A Unique Workspace for you and Your Family!’ Every borough needs somewhere like ‘My OutSpace’ to empower and support women into business and to celebrate their successes. And, most importantly, to grow the economy.
We now help over 100 women into employment and self-employment each year and provide a safe, learning and child-friendly supportive environment.
How did you come with this initiative?
While working for a large organization in the past, I got married, got pregnant and gave a birth to my lovely daughter Jessica. However, despite the UK trying to being flexible and ‘work friendly’ it is far from an ideal situation. The company I worked for did not care about my family-life balance needs and I had to make a choice – so I left. At the same time I saw a lot of other parents struggling with expensive childcare with no access to any personal development benefits and many parents simply unable to afford to go back to work. My husband and I decided to address the problems by initially working with child support facilities and libraries and running various support programmes – but that was not enough. Very soon we realised that there is a need for a working child-friendly hub. We decided to create one. That is how the ‘My OutSpace’ Business Centre was born. We now help over 100 women into employment and self-employment each year and provide a safe, learning and child-friendly supportive environment. ‘My OutSpace’ centre is a fully-accredited and self-sustainable social enterprise, which means we can help everyone who walks through the doors. We believe that parents should be able to bring their children to work and develop their business without spending a fortune on childcare and business support.
You are also conducting PhD research for entrepreneurship – what can you share with us at this stage of your research?
I am in my final year of my PhD at the University of West London. My research analyses the impact of British Postgraduate Business Education on the entrepreneurial aspirations of returning foreign students by reference to two transition economies, Russia and Kazakhstan. Entrepreneurship is very close to my heart and being able to do research in this field is great – especially when I can link it to my home country and being able to connect to a lot of inspiring entrepreneurs form Russia and Kazakhstan.
What is your big vision for the future?
My big vision is to open more ‘My OutSpace’ franchises across the world and most importantly influence a more flexible working culture. Being a parent should not be a punishment. Parents should not be faced with a choice to continue working or have a child. Working means different things to everyone but we should all have a choice. My aim is to support 10,000 women into self-employment. In the UK only 18% of women are in business and this needs to be addressed with the right support mechanisms and most importantly flexible child-friendly facilities in place.
More about Yuliana!
Yuliana is a SFEDI-qualified Social Enterprise Trainer and Enterprise Mentor and is currently undertaking her PhD in the University of West London on Graduate entrepreneurship. She has supported over 300 businesses in the last four years and helped to raise over £3,000,000 in funding for those businesses. She has been named a ‘Purley Local StartUp Britain Champion’ and won several business awards, including ‘Croydon Business Awards’ in 2013, Best Social Enterprise, Business Advisor Award and has also been in the final for the ‘Migrant Woman of the Year’ Award.