How this woman is changing the face of business in St Pauls
“You have to cut the cord somewhere because otherwise you’re always kind of dithering
Born and bred in St Pauls has shared how she turned her entrepreneurial vision into a reality and made herself the successful award winner she is today.
Charmaine Lawrence’s business journey began when she decided to develop her own skin care brand.
After she was introduced to shea butter by a family member, she started creating her own pots of cream and handed those out to friends and family, as well as selling it in mini markets and stalls. They loved her new business venture and this gave her the courage to launch her brand, N9NE.
Whilst continuing with her skin care brand, she also felt that there wasn’t much support for black entrepreneurs across the city.
This didn’t sit well with Charmaine, she wanted to break those barriers and bridge the gap, whilst creating a platform for a diverse range of women to collaborate and inspire one another.
Founder of Mogul Minded Group, Charmaine Lawrence (Image: James Beck/Freelance)
“During that time period in 2014 I wanted to go to a range of networking events with other successful women and a lot of the networking events I was seeing online were about £250-£500 a year membership and I just couldn’t afford it,” she said.
“At the same time I knew about these ten other females from St Pauls who were all starting up their own businesses.
“I thought, ‘Why don’t I start my on my own networking event? I want to get into skin care, she does fashion, she does fitness, she does music, she’s got her own catering business. If we all come together we can all network with each other and generate some business amongst ourselves’.”
Not only does she have a background in skin care, but she’s also musically gifted – previously performing as a rapper under the name Skrilla UGQ and taking on the role of music director for St Pauls Carnival this year. And she’s also passionate about providing opportunities for women in business across the city.
This all began with her launch of The Queen’s Power Lunch. A networking event for all types of women, whether they were just beginning their business or whether they’ve been in the game for 20 years.
Charmaine explains: “It was an all female networking event. I had about 50 women there all ranging from the ages of 18 to about 65 and it was a real success.
“The ladies were demanding that I put on more events and they were like ‘When are you going to do the next one?’ and then I thought ‘Well Char, clearly there’s a demand from you to do networking events. You can’t really do both. Put your skin care dreams on hold and focus on the networking events because it’s clearly working’.”
After she decided to put her skin care business on pause, she began to develop ideas of launching an official brand named Mogul Minded Group, dedicated towards providing entrepreneurs and small businesses with advice and support in order to grow successfully.
“We have the largest platform in the south west. In the past four years we have physically engaged with over 1500 entrepreneurs and creatives from disadvantaged communities through our events.
“Our website has had almost 400k visitors in the last three years,” Charmaine said.
Mogul Minded also has its own magazine and regional awards, which have been running since 2016 and the brand itself has been running since 2015. They have successfully organised a range of events.
“I thought of the company name based on the fact that I love Richard Branson and he is an idol of mine. He is a mogul.
“So, that’s when I thought of the Mogul Minded Group and I thought why not make it a legit business and create networking events under that umbrella instead of it being flakey.
“I knew if I wanted it to be a real brand, I had to take it seriously so I just really put some thought into it.
“’Mogul’ really resonated with me and I aspire to be a mogul, so I thought ‘that’s definitely the perfect name’, so I started doing networking events – after a few years of doing networking events, I created a big network of entrepreneurs and I thought there isn’t really anything that celebrates us in Bristol, “ Charmaine said.
She felt as though there weren’t regional awards which successfully covered a range of categories, so she decided to launch her own.
Charmaine moved to London several years ago and returned after 8 years determined to try and make a change in Bristol (Image: @JonCraig_Photos 07778606070)
“Back in 2015 when I was planning the first MMG regional awards, there was no awards ceremony apart from the MTM awards which were very Asian orientated.
“But, I thought ‘There’s nothing that is diverse across the board’ and with my networking events, I’m not one of those black people who bangs on about diversity and then will put on an event exclusively for black people.
“I have no problem with that, but for me I believe I can learn from the white community, I can learn from the Asian community and I can learn from the black community when it comes to business.
“To me, business has no colour. That’s my honest belief and I felt that I’m not gonna be just another platform that’s only for black people when I believe that we can all benefit from hearing from everyone’s perspectives and views and experiences.”
For her, deciding whether she was going to stick to the 9-5 way of life or go down the entrepreneurial path was a hard decision.
“My actual job years ago was as a youth worker down at Full Circle in St Pauls,” she said.
“I was their Project Leader for six years. It was a real good time down there, but basically you have to grow and what happens is it comes to a point where you’re like ‘Do you want to be a youth worker or do you want to be an entrepreneur?’.
“You have to cut the cord somewhere because otherwise you’re always kind of dithering. You need to make the decision to say: ‘Right, I’m going all in with this. I have to limit my energy output on certain other things and just focus on what’s important to me and my family and it is my own business’.”
Well done Charmaine. You are an inspiration to us here in the South West and beyond. Looking forward to hearing much mire about your ventures in the future