In Celebration of International Women's Day: The Agency Group's Inspiring Story

In Celebration of International Women's Day: The Agency Group's Inspiring Story

International Women's Day, celebrated annually on March 8th, honours the achievements of women and calls for continued progress towards equality. This year's theme, #InvestInWomen, highlights the power of supporting women-led businesses, like The Agency Group, to drive positive change and build a more inclusive future.

Cassie Mallon and Shona Bell, founders of The Agency Group, an East Midlands-based recruitment firm, exemplify the spirit of International Women's Day. Their journey, from colleagues at another firm to co-owners of their own successful business, is an inspiring story of female leadership and entrepreneurship. Driven by a shared desire for autonomy and meaningful client relationships, Cassie and Shona, friends for over a decade, launched The Agency Group in 2021. They recognised the limitations of working in a large corporation and yearned to build a company that fostered genuine connections and empowered them to be their own "bosses." We sat down with Cassie and Shona to learn about their motivations and experiences as female entrepreneurs building their own business and their advice for aspiring female business owners.


Q: What initially drew you both to the world of business and ultimately led you to start The Agency Group?

Cassie & Shona: We've known each other for over 13 years, working in recruitment for various inspiring female leaders, who shaped our vision for our own leadership style. We craved more freedom and the ability to build meaningful client relationships, something we felt limited in doing at a larger company. In 2021, we decided to take the leap and establish The Agency Group, where we could truly be our own bosses and prioritise fostering genuine connections with our clients.


Q: As female leaders in the recruitment industry, what are some of the challenges you've faced?

Cassie: While not a frequent occurrence, there have been instances where I've felt I wasn't taken entirely seriously as a female director, particularly by some male counterparts. This highlights the challenges faced by solo female entrepreneurs who lack the immediate support system we have in each other. Fortunately, the landscape is evolving with the emergence of more networking and support groups, which is encouraging.

Shona: Balancing childcare and business ownership can be another hurdle. I recently had a daughter and while I was eager to get back to work, having Cassie as a partner ensured things ran smoothly during my leave. This experience shows just one of the difficulties faced by solo female business owners in such situations.


Q: How has the landscape changed for women pursuing careers in business?

Cassie & Shona: Societal acceptance has grown significantly, making women more open to starting their own businesses. The rise of female-led businesses encourages a sense of community and provides resources like mentorship opportunities. While challenges remain and the business world is still male-dominated to an extent, women now have more confidence to pursue their entrepreneurial aspirations. This is also true within the recruitment industry, which can be perceived as male-dominated but has a larger female presence than many realise.


Q: Who are your female role models, and why do you admire them?

Cassie & Shona: We draw inspiration from several female leaders. Karen Brady, who built her success from the ground up while staying true to herself, shows remarkable resilience and determination. Noor Hibbert, a life and business coach, inspires us with her dedication to empowering others to achieve their goals. Her entrepreneurial journey, from taking the leap to starting her own business to achieving significant success, is truly motivating.


Q: What advice would you give to women considering a career in business?

Cassie & Shona: Go for it! The support system for aspiring female entrepreneurs is stronger than ever, with increased access to online resources, funding options, and educational courses. Young women are now exposed to business concepts earlier through school curriculums, which is a positive development and something we would have benefited from at that age. Cassie: As someone with a 14-year-old daughter who aspires to own her own business and is already learning valuable skills like budgeting and business financing in school, I can confidently say the future is bright for women in business. We encourage anyone with entrepreneurial dreams to take that step and pursue their goals.

The Agency Group embodies the essence of International Women's Day. Their story is a testament to the achievements of female leaders and a reminder that with support and determination, women can thrive in the world of business. At Skipton Business Finance, we are proud to support this brilliant business on their exciting journey.