Female Founders - Andrea Edwards, Tusk
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#FemaleFounders: Andrea Edwards, Tusk

It’s time for another #FemaleFounder! This week, we spoke to Andrea Edwards, founder of Tusk – a bar and eatery (inclusively catered for vegans, veggies and meat eaters-alike) situated in the Baltic Triangle in Liverpool. As a #FemaleFounder of multiple businesses, Andrea has a lot of interesting insights. In her interview she shares how she has used her confidence and positive attitude to excel in her career, giving valuable advice on how you can do the same.

Feature image is from Get into this, with thanks.

1. Why did you start your business? What spurred you on?

The first business that I founded was The Interesting Eating Company (a coffee shop and eatery on Allerton Road) in 2012 after meeting my business partner. The idea for the business originally came about after living in America. Whilst there, I noticed that pancakes and waffles were everywhere. It was evident to me that there was definitely a gap in the market here in the UK.

In 2014, I ended up going into business with JD Sports. Branching off from The Interesting Eating Company, we set up the Ultimate Cafe – situated in multiple Ultimate Outdoors stores in Nottingham, MerryHill, Kingston, Preston and Birmingham. After the success of the two businesses, I gained a lot of confidence in myself which is a pivotal part of the journey that lead me to found Tusk.

When the opportunity in Northern Lights came up, I knew it would be the perfect setting. The idea for Tusk came from my love of animals. As you can probably guess from the name, elephants are my favourite. I wanted to create not only a great restaurant but somewhere that makes a difference. With every bottle of table water comes a suggestion of a £1 donation to the Elephant Hills Charity that we will match.

2. What are the unique challenges you have faced as a female founder?

I must admit that I have been very fortunate as a woman in business and did not face too many challenges based solely on my gender. However, I believe the reason for this is down to my attitude and the confidence I have gained through experience.

Without knowing, I became bolder due to never allowing myself to show fear or be intimidated in male-dominated environments. I never thought to myself that I should expect to not be successful due to being a woman, which is how I got to where I am today. My advice to anyone who is being overlooked is to be bold, be confident and do not sell yourself short.

Having a positive perspective is important. For example, I noticed when attending large networking events that, due to them being male-dominated, there was never a queue for the ladies room!

3. What were the 3 steepest learning curves during your first year in business?

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The steepest learning curves for me were the complicated financial factors that you need to get to grips with – legal, leases and getting help from banks. A less serious learning curve would be understanding the bar world. I hadn’t been behind a bar since I was 20. I wanted to bring back the love for vodka after the gin craze!

4. What is your favourite thing about founding your own company?

My favourite thing about being a company founder actually stems from a  separate business of mine called Andrea. From being a business development coach, I have seen new team members grow, develop and get promoted. It is incredibly inspiring and rewarding seeing them flourish as people and becoming confident in themselves and their abilities in the workplace. In regards to Tusk in particular, seeing it grow from a thought into a business was extremely exciting.

5. What is the best business advice you have been given by someone else?

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To employ people who are better than you!

6. Do you ever suffer from Imposters Syndrome? If so, what do you do to tackle it and move forward?

I remember when I was talking through the contract with JD Spots, I was the most terrified I have ever been in my life. Trying to sell a micro-business to a big corporation like them was nerve-wracking and I definitely sensed Imposters Syndrome looming over my head.  There were 3 of us, along with 10 to 15 businessmen in the room and I felt overwhelmed as a woman in business.

However, that was the first and last time I have properly experienced Imposters Syndrome. From being confident and the lessons learnt throughout my life, I can say that the more you face your fears, the less you will have.

My advice to anyone is simple – if you have common sense, you will be okay. Take whatever problem or obstacle you have and split it into bite-size chunks, tackling it step by step. 

7. What’s the best book on business you’ve read?

Fish: A remarkable way to boost morale and improve results (Stephen C.Lunden, Harry Paul, and John Christensen).

It’s an easy read, low on jargon and I have used its core principles to help my business. I have integrated what it has taught me into every member of staff.  

8. Tell us about another brilliant business woman you think our readers should know about

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Just one? I have four!

9. What piece of advice would you give yourself if you were starting your business now?

Be bold, take risks and expand quicker as over-thinking will hold you back – do your best to overcome it.

10. If you were working with a marketing budget of £1,000 what would you spend the money on?

Find somebody smarter than me and get them working on it. I am not an expert in marketing, I  may have some great ideas but would much rather have an expert doing it!

Thanks for reading!

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If you’re after more inspo and would like to read about other empowering #FemaleFounders, check out our previous posts in the series.  Follow us on Twitter and Instagram to make sure you catch the next instalment!