Friends with Leafage: Fiona Grayson
She Can. She Did. was founded by Fiona Greyson in 2017 as a place to shine the light on the highs, and the lows, of female entrepreneurship. In September 2020, during a global pandemic, Fiona launched She Can. She Did. 2.0, the online benefits platform helping womxn in business thrive. We recently caught up with Fiona to have a sneak peek into her entrepreneurial journey so we hope you'll love our chat!
Who is Fiona Greyson Grayson* and how did your entrepreneurial journey begin?
So I'm Fi, I'm 28 years old and I'm the Founder of She can. She did. - the UK's first Benefits Programme for self-employed womnx!
I left the corporate world aged 25 to start She can. She did. back in the summer of 2017 and have spent the past three years travelling around the UK interviewing female founders that I admire about absolutely everything they've pushed through - warts and all - to not just launch, but run, grow and sustain a business to date. The overarching aim being to provide the honest realities of entrepreneurship to counteract the #girlboss stereotypes and misleading 'overnight success' stories that were (and still are) gaining momentum on social media, and inspire both current and aspiring female founders that launching a business is possible, no matter what age you are, but only if they're willing to grit their teeth and work seriously hard.
It essentially started with me driving around the UK and interviewing female founders over coffee on my old brick of a phone! I'd then type them up each week (which took hours... we'd usually chat for anywhere between an hour - hour and a half!) and I'd share them on the She can. She did. blog. In April 2018, I launched The Midweek Mingles in London (a series of down-to-earth networking events to bring all these amazing women together) which feature a whole lot of amazing female founders sharing their (honest) stories, G&Ts on tap and some seriously stuffed goody bags. The first one sold out in 48 hours and we've gone on to do 20 in 7 cities around the UK to date. Then in January 2019, I finally stopped typing up the written weekly interviews (my wrists hated me from all the typing!) and switched over to the She can. She did. podcast which entered the UK Business charts at no.5 and has had over 110,000 downloads to date.
On a personal level, I'm so passionate about being honest in business. In a world where anyone can claim to be an expert in anything online nowadays and market themselves and their business in such a way that lets others assume it's doing a whole lot better than it is, I am committed to making sure She can. She did. always cuts through that noise and provides the reality. Even if it's not always glamorous, it is real and in my opinion that is a much more ethical and sustainable way to run a business.
You’ve just launched She Can. She Did. 2.0, which is a benefits platform for womxn in biz. We'd love to know what a typical day looks like for you as a founder of a new platform! Any routines, or rituals, you like to practice to stay focused?
To be honest, the past 6 months have been so full on gearing up for the launch that a lot of the usual routine has gone out of the window! Having said that, 4-5 times a week I get up at 6.30am and exercise straight away (more on that in the answers below!) If I'm not recording podcast episodes, I drive to my parents' house to escape the flat so that I can see the family dogs and then set up at the dining room table with my laptop for the day! Coffee is consumed in vast quantities (!) and I split my time between brand partnership outreach, organising the weekly events, hosting the weekly events, finalising the weekly podcast, long-term strategy with the team, more brand outreach, boring business admin (!), endless Zoom calls etc etc... It's pretty full on at the moment but I'm a big believer in baby steps and chipping away each and every day. Sooner or later those baby steps add up... that's what I tell myself anyway!
This year has been a bit of a roller coaster for all of us. We see that you have a really strong support network of other female founders. How important has this been to you since starting up?
Hugely - I feel very lucky that I'm interviewing and chatting with female founders on a daily basis and have been since day one of She can. She did. so have never felt alone in this. Don't get me wrong, I think I still have days where I feel lonely in the sense that no one ever truly understands your vision as much as you do nor bears that responsibility because it falls on your shoulders and yours alone BUT I do feel very lucky that I have over 200+ interviews to fall back, plus the wider She can. She did. community who are constantly inspiring me to keep going each day. Because She can. She did. has focused on sharing the honest realities of running a business since day one, everyone that I've interviewed has opened up to me about the biggest challenges that they've had to face en route so whenever I have my own setbacks with She can. She did. - and trust me, I've had and still have a whole lot - I draw upon their stories that help to put whatever challenge I'm facing into perspective and it always inspires me to roll my sleeves up and crack on!
At Leafage we are all about spreading joy so tell us about something that’s brought joy to your life through starting your business?
Obviously the people that it's introduced me to have been the biggest joy first and foremost but that's an obvious answer right!? I've met some amazing people and have made so many (genuine) friends through this and for that I'm so grateful. Going beyond that though, on a personal level, She can. She did. has forced me to step out of my comfort zone on so many occasions and say "yes" to such random, amazing opportunities that three years ago, would have seemed unrealistic (eg. being invited to host events for brands like Swarovski and speaking about women in business at Dior's flagship London store) so reminding myself of how much I've pushed through when She can. She did. literally started with me at my laptop at the kitchen table in my flat always makes me proud too.
Lastly, please share with our audience what you’re currently up to. Any new things you’ll be launching soon, or something exciting happening in your business right now? We’d love to know!
We're about to release an option to gift an annual She can. She did. membership to a self-employed womxn you might know for Christmas! It's been such a testing year for so many business owners so even though I'm bias (!), gifting them the security of a year's worth of health, financial and lifestyle benefits and rewards plus weekly online events to support both their business and life is a pretty meaningful pressie if you ask me and is such a thoughtful way of recognising their resilience!
That being said, we launched the UK's first Benefits Programme for self-employed womnx last month so that is very much my focus right now! It's an idea that was born out of noticing recurring challenges crop up in all 200+ in-depth interviews over the past three years (that echoed my own experiences as a female founder that walked away from a corporate job to set up She can. She did.) so I feel like now more than ever do I need to dig deep and try and build it into the business that I know it has the potential to be. In many ways, the past three years have simply been laying the groundwork for the Benefits Programme. I feel so passionately about the fact that all self-employed womxn deserve to be rewarded for their resilience and benefit from She can. She did., as do the 60+ leading brands that have partnered with the platform over the past few months, so now it's a case of rolling up my sleeves and just trying to get the word out there as much as possible.
Describe your business in one word?
On a mission! (I know that's three but I couldn't help myself!)
Name a book you’ve read that’s positively shaped you?
Becoming by Michelle Obama
If you could have any superpower, which would it be?
The ability to end climate change and protect wildlife across the globe!
It's not on anymore but Love Stories by Dolly Alderton ticked all the boxes! I'm a hopeless romantic so couldn't get enough of it! I genuinely am sad that it was a one off series! #bringbacklovestories
Favourite self-care tip?
Listening to your body and adapting your exercise regime accordingly! On a day-to-day basis, exercise is my go-to to keep my head in check, set me up for the day and just generally feel good about myself but I've learnt to really listen to my body and adapt my workouts in recent months, depending on how much I've got on my plate at any given time. For instance, pre-Covid, I ran or did HIIT workouts most mornings but as soon as we went into lockdown and I started building the She can. She did. Benefits Programme, I'd be out on a run and genuinely couldn't muster up the mental energy to push through it because I had so much on my mind. Instead of beating myself up and forcing myself to keep going though, I started doing more yoga and pilates on the full-on days instead. I know I'll go back to running soon because I genuinely love it but as soon as you put excess pressure on yourself to exercise in a certain way, it becomes the opposite of self-care.
A destination you'd love to visit?
Climbing Kili's on my bucket list so Tanzania for that (followed by a safari of course). I'd love to go to Canada and see the bears and whales too.
If you weren’t an entrepreneur what would you be doing instead?
If qualifications weren't needed though, I could definitely see myself in wildlife conservation out in the Masai Mara... a girl can dream eh?!