Women in Business Doing it Their Own Way: An Interview with The Night Shift

by | Mar 8, 2021

To mark International Women’s Day, we caught up with IB members Rachael Palmer, Lorraine Natalie Love and Selina Charmaine, founders of The Night Shift.

Rachael is a Business Consultant, Selina a Brand, Business & Web Architect and Lorraine Natalie a Self Love Advocate & Photographer. All three met via our Impact Xchange programme, and they soon noticed that they had something in common – they were regularly working into the evenings, in order to progress their businesses while juggling other demands. “I couldn’t do everything in the day time that I needed to do to get my business off the ground” says Rachael, who was building her company around childcare and other commitments. The others were facing similar challenges and found that the chance to work together helped them feel focused and motivated, as well as allowing them to share skills for mutual benefit. Rachael had the idea of creating a business startup course that would serve others in the same situation. “Based on my own experience, I wanted to carve out time that is dedicated to developing your business, that works for people like me.”

And so, The Night Shift was born. What is it? A seven week course of masterclasses and workshops – all of them in the evenings – with mentoring and support to help individuals progress their business to the next stage. The classes, which have been supported by Impact Brixton, cover everything from business models to finance, marketing, and entrepreneurial mindset, and finish with an opportunity to pitch for prizes to further boost your business.

But The Night Shift is more than just a series of workshops. “A really important part”, says Selina, “is that after each masterclass the participants spend time together working, to apply what they’ve learned.” For example, following on the from the funding and finance masterclass, group members use the co-working time to create a cashflow forecast and personal budget. “We don’t want people to just hear some information and then leave for the night, which can make it hard to know where to start with actually putting it into practice.”  

The Night Shift is open to anyone, but it’s been popular with female entrepreneurs in particular – something the founders feel relates to their leadership style and the shared experiences of women in business. “Some of the spaces I’ve worked and learned in that have been very male dominated were off-putting because I felt I was being told to work in a way that I didn’t want to”, says Selina, “the experience of having to seek out support has helped me to direct my own services more towards women. With The Night Shift, I think it’s a relief for people to be led by us because we understand the challenges they are going through, for example we don’t make them feel bad if there is something outside of work that needs some of their attention that day.”

While The Night Shift is designed to accommodate the difficulties that real life can pose when you’re trying to start a business, it would be wrong to suggest that these women are not 100% dedicated to their work. “My mind is always on my work unless I’m actively doing something else” says Lorraine “this can be quite hard for other people to understand, which is why it’s so important to have a community of other entrepreneurs who just get it.” Rachael agrees, and points out that women can face criticism whatever they choose to focus on. “We’re expected to be nurturing as well as successful”, she says, “but sometimes we have to let ourselves be flat out with work and not apologise for being busy and needing to get on with something.”

This year’s International Women’s Day theme is Choose to Challenge – encouraging us all to speak out about gender bias and inequality. It’s clear from our conversation that The Night Shift team are all about challenging the status quo by making their own bold choices, and passionate about providing an alternative to inflexible corporate structures. “My way of choosing to challenge is to do everything for myself” says Lorraine, “I ask what I can do to live authentically; just by doing it and saying ‘I am capable’, I’m challenging. I encourage other women to do the same.”

Since its launch in 2020, The Night Shift has been helping people progress their business, whether that means developing an idea to begin test trading, or reaching a new sales target. Lorraine tells me about Celeste, a fitness trainer who arrived on the course lacking the confidence to charge an amount that would make the business viable. “Celeste had a great business idea but she didn’t believe in her own worth and wasn’t actioning things. She arrived on the course with an expensive hobby, but since finishing she’s started a subscription plan for her services – Soul Fiit 246 – and got dozens of customers, as well as finding a space to use and building relationships with partner organisations.”  

What advice would they all have for women who are wondering how to get started on their entrepreneurial journey? All three have different approaches – “just do it” says Rachael, “it doesn’t matter where you start, get stuck in and learn by doing.” Selina, on the other hand, likes to thrash out a detailed step-by-step plan, while Lorraine is a bit of both. It’s obvious why they work well together – their different styles complement each other and reflect The Night Shift’s philosophy of finding and embracing an approach that feels right for you as an entrepreneur and carving out your own path.

One thing they’re all agreed on is that access to a community is essential. “Get support from a mentor, a group, a co-work space” says Selina, “Find people on a similar journey so you can vent, and not sound crazy!”. Your best supporters will challenge you, adds Rachael, and help you to refine what you’re doing. “You need cheerleaders, and you need to be passionate about what you are doing. That’s what will sustain you.” Lorraine emphasises the importance of celebrating every milestone as you develop your idea into a business, “so you can look back and see where you’ve come from. The joy of celebrating gives you the motivation to go to the next step. There’s always a next step.”

For more information about The Night Shift, visit https://thenightshift.network/