International Women’s Day: Who run the world? Girls!

Su PaverFeb 25, '21

Celebrating Women at The Original Factory Shop!

The 8th of March is recognised across the world as International Women’s Day, a day where the achievements of women are celebrated, and is an important day to raise awareness about women’s equality. It is not country, group or organisation specific, the day belongs to all groups collectively everywhere. 

To make International Women’s Day a time to truly celebrate women, what better way to do this than celebrate inspiring women at The Original Factory Shop - There is no place like home, right! 

By recognising the contributions (big or small) they make to the business, their colleagues, to our loyal customers, our communities and to the people around them in their everyday lives.

We are pleased to introduce six of our home-grown heroes, inspirational women from around the business. Their stories are more than meet the eye and are rooted in positivity, strength, compassion for others and most of all girl power!

Not forgetting all our other fabulous females at The Original Factory Shop, who all play an integral part in helping the business and the local communities we operate in. We simply could not list them all. A huge thank you to you all for everything you do to help our world keep turning and help us to be awarded the 13th happiness place to work. 

Here is to building your fellow females up and never tearing them down….

Carole English

International Women's Day Image 1Carole’s Story….

Carole’s story starts with a recommendation about a role at The Original Factory Shop from her good friend Sharon who at the time was the purchase ledger supervisor. Carole applied for the role and 12 years later we are very proud to say she is still here with us.

Carole's role consists of invoicing, supplier statement reconciliation and queries, making supplier payments as well as supporting the process of booking in stock deliveries to the stores, queries, and raising any necessary debits; which gives Carole the wonderful opportunity to speak to the stores directly.

However, there is more than meets the eye where Carole is concerned. She is not only our trusted purchase ledger, in fact Carole plays a hugely important role in fund-raising within the business to support local charities and give back to the community.  A truly selfless person, who loves to help others and make a difference to people lives and we think this is worth celebrating! ❤️

What Carole loves most about her job?

“The thing I love most is job satisfaction, knowing at the end of each month you have worked to the best of your ability. Working with all my fellow colleagues and supporting the Buyers and Suppliers as and when they need me”.

What Carole would love to do if not working at The Original Factory Shop?

“If I wasn’t doing my current role which I really enjoy, I would love to work with Caring In The Community or charity work (something very worthwhile and rewarding)”.

Get to know Carole a little bit more…

Carole is a proud mum and has a daughter named Bekki.  A family-oriented person, she loves her monthly family get-togethers with her 6 siblings and is looking forward to doing this again soon post lockdown.

Carole is a keen walker, racking up 5 miles per day, she use to teach aerobics and loves spending time in here garden (roll on summer!)!

But most of all Carole loves to raise money for McMillian Cancer Support. She often organises sample sales at Head Office and the Distribution Centre in support of this. No stone unturned, Carole occasionally does a car boot sale at the weekends (getting up at 3AM) to try her very best to raise extra funds for this worthy cause.

Carole truly is an unsung hero worth celebrating!

Maisie Selway

International Women's Day - Woman 2Maisie’s Story….

Maisie truly has an inspirational story as seen in the national newspaper The Sun, proving age really doesn’t matter. Maisie started her journey in our Cainscross store as a temporary sales colleague (on an 8 hour contract) whilst studying fashion at college. Maisie soon progressed to become a senior store colleague responsible for opening and closing the store. Only just turned 18, Maisie applied for a supervisor position and her hard work and dedication was rewarded and she was awarded the role.

Maisie was soon after relocated to the Bishops Cleeve store in her new supervisor position. Maisie’s commitment to succeed continued and she was soon awarded the Assistant Manager position at the age of 19. Maisie has been in the Assistant Manager role for 5 months now and continues to work with Head Office, the Area Manager and store colleagues to make the store environment the best it can be and strives to bring positive change a daily basis all aimed at serving our local community.

Maisie’s story proves how The Original Factory Shop loves to recognise young talent and to reward and promote from within the business.

What Maisie loves most about her job?

“The colleagues, everyone looks out for one another, it's like a little family in store”.

What Maisie would love to do if not working at The Original Factory Shop?

“If I wasn't at The Original Factory Shop I would love to be an estate agent, the idea of being nosey around people’s homes and seeing how people have things decorated intrigues me”.

Get to know Maisie a little bit more…

In her spare time Maisie spends time with her partner and family, and much time is spent walking (new pandemic pass-time). Maisie loves to shop (a girl after my own heart), and also has a creative flair; she recently started cross-stitch a new “lock-down hobby” to help her relax.

Janeeta Chauhan

International Women's Day - Woman 3Janeeta’s Story….

Janeeta joined the business about 12 months ago and is slowly but surely making a name for herself managing the business accounts and books. Just as Janeeta started to find her feet the pandemic struck and has been working from home since.

The business recognises the strain and struggles of working from home in a fast retail environment especially as a newer member of the team and values the hard work and effort employees like Janeeta are putting in to ensure we can serve our loyal customers in our local communities with minimal disruption.

What Janeeta loves most about her job?

“Numbers isn’t that exciting to most people, but I love it, I love working with the team and the banter we have. I miss working in the office and seeing everyone on a daily basis”.

What Janeeta would love to do if not working at The Original Factory Shop?

“If I wasn’t in finance, I would have liked to have been a primary school teacher or have my own bakery/coffee shop – very different from being an accountant, but a dream of mine”.

Get to know Janeeta a little bit more…

In her spare time Janeeta enjoys baking and has taken to cooking and reading more in lockdown. She is a fan of the Harry Potter books but enjoys most genres (apart from sci-fi).

Janeeta is currently watching Marcella and Power on Netflix, and believes she is possible one of the only people in the world that still watches Home and Away (everyone has a guilty pleasure, right?). Check out our What to Watch: Top 20 Recommendations blog post.

Janeeta cherishes her loved ones and enjoys nothing more than spending time with her family and friends and is greatly missing them during lockdown.

Michelle Cunningham

International Women's Day - Woman 4

Michelle’s Story….

Michelle’s journey is one of humble beginnings, she joined The Original Factory Shop in the Stewarton store as a part-time sales colleague, but quickly progressed to Supervisor, then to Assistant Manager and again to Store Manager.

Shortly after the opportunity arose for Michelle to become a Dual-site Manager, delighted she jumped at the chance and relished the thought of a new challenge. Michelle is now in her third year as Dual Site Manager and is efficiently running both stores to high standards. Michelle also works very closely with the Area Sales Manager, as a close go to and second in command.

Over the years Michelle has grabbed (with both hands) some amazing opportunities to continue to showcase her skills. She is one of our important Health and Safety Champions and has gained an accredited IOSH qualification by successfully completing the IOSH training course to help improve health, safety and well-being of co-workers at all levels.

Michelle was also chosen to project manage the complete re-fit of our Campletown store, a huge task entrusted to her by the business and it is fair to say Michelle once again rose to the challenge, giving her the opportunity to work with new teams across the business.

Michelle’s story is a true demonstration of how hard work and commitment can take you to the very top and is hugely appreciated and rewarded at The Original Factory Shop.

What Michelle loves most about her job?

“What I love most about my job are the teams that I work with. The support and loyalty they have shown me over the years has been out of this world. They keep me grounded, level-headed, supported and encourage me with any opportunities that arise”.

What Michelle would love to do if not working at The Original Factory Shop?

“If I was not in my current role, I would have liked to have pursued a career in addictions and mental health. I believe I am an advocate for this in both my stores and would like to help further destigmatise mental health in the workplace”.

Get to know Michelle a little bit more…

Away from The Original Factory Shop, Michelle is a proud mum to daughter Emma, and together love to go out shopping, to dinner and the cinema. Michelle is a self-confessed homebody and enjoys spending time with her mum but enjoys weekend away with her two best friends Ashleigh and Aileen. They are all counting down the days until the pubs re-open and “normal” life resumes post lock-down.   

Joanne Robinson

International Women's Day - Woman 5

Jo’s Story….

Jo joined The Original Factory Shop in January 2015 as the Retail HR Manager and worked alongside the North, South People Partners and the Area Managers – looking after all our loyal employees. In November 2017, Jo progressed to Head of People, responsible for the People Function for Retail, Warehouse and Head Office, and finally in November 2019 became People Director. 

Jo’s story demonstrates how we love to promote from within the business and both encourage and support women in senior positions of power.

In 2018, Jo launched The Original Factory Shop “Business Values”, a huge business wide initiative. This entailed holding focus groups up and down and asking all our colleagues for their opinion on what our Values should be.

At the same time Jo and her team launched our Internal Communication Channel “Be in the Loop” – where every colleague has a voice.  Followed by the launch of our Core Competences and our Management Training Academy in 2019.

What Jo loves most about her job?

“The variety, every day is different, and above all working with AMAZING, fantastic people.  Together there really is nothing we cannot achieve – which makes me feel incredibly proud”.

What Jo would love to do if not working at The Original Factory Shop?

“I spent 11 years working for a children’s charity (in HR) – it was brutal and hard but incredibly rewarding so maybe something like that again”.

Get to know Jo a little bit more…

Jo is married and has two children –Theo nearly 18 and Tilly 11. Jo loves to watch thrillers and still watches Coronation Street! (uh…No comment! Each to their own).

Caroline Maynard

International Women's Day - Woman 6Caroline’s Story….

Caroline joined The Original Factory Shop within our Saxmundham store back in October 2011 as a weekend sales assistant while studying health and social care at college. Caroline demonstrated star quality from the very beginning and become supervisor in 2015 and was then quickly promoted to Assistant Store Manager in 2018. Caroline was also chosen to be part of the team which helped set-up the clearance store in our Norwich store a few years ago, no mean feat.

Over the years Caroline has and continues to be a great team player and has played an integral role in supporting across our store portfolio. Including covering across other stores, when the country came out of the first national COVID-19 lockdown in March 2020, allowing other more vulnerable store colleagues time to shield – and we believe this is worth celebrating.

What Caroline Loves most about her job?

“I really enjoy working within a fun team as well as getting to know many of the locals and regular visitors to the store over the years - has been a pleasure. Since moving to Bungay I am now in a Party Store which I have really enjoyed learning about and being creative with. I struggled to even tie a balloon before I went for training but love it now!” 

What Caroline would love to do if not working at The Original Factory Shop?

“If I weren’t in my current role then I would like to work in the NHS in some way. They have been incredible throughout this pandemic, like they always are, and I would love to be able to play my part in helping out”. 

Get to know Caroline a little bit more…

Outside of work Caroline enjoys a good Netflix binge (don't we all!), especially a good crime or mystery show and most recently has been watching The Vanishing at The Cecil Hotel. She is also a sports fan and enjoys watching most sports, but if she had to pick a favourite then it would be Tennis (mainly because of Roger Federer) and is hoping to watch him play at Wimbledon soon. Caroline is currently in the progress of saving up to buy her very first home.

Over the summer Caroline (like many of us) started enjoying long walks around the countryside with her family and even longer bike rides along the Suffolk coast.

For the last couple of years, Caroline has been helping in her local community as a Guide Leader at her local Guides Club, as well as on the occasional trip out during the weekend. She can’t wait to return to this soon.


Empowering girls and young women in their local communities…

WAGGGs Charity Logo

World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts is the largest voluntary movement dedicated to girls and young women, they believe that each of them deserves to be the best they can be. The movement represents 10 million girls and young women in 150 countries, developing their confidence, leadership skills and empowering them to make positive changes in their local communities; and make them a better place to succeed by speaking out about issues that are important to them. Their vision is that all girls and young women are valued and take action to change the world. Their mission is to enable girls and young women to develop their fullest potential as responsible citizens of the world.

Visit WAGGGS to volunteer or donate to support your fellow females and positively impact and empower the women of tomorrow!

Your donation could help fund educational programmes, advocacy campaigns training events and much more. Even just £5 could cover a local travel fare so a young girl can access guidance and girl scouting. A £10 donation could provide a set of stop the violence handbooks. Visit WAGGGS donate page to find out more.