Discover the Leyton street where women are leading the way
A street in Leyton is gaining recognition as a thriving centre for female entrepreneurship.
Thought to have one of the highest concentrations of women-owned businesses in London, Francis Road boasts 14 independent, female-run shops. Together they have helped revive the street’s fortunes.
Elisabeth Lennard owns Ella Pop Shop, which sells vintage ladies clothes, hosiery and jewellery. She said: “Being able to share my love of fashion has always been a little dream. I started selling vintage in different outdoor markets in and around Waltham Forest six years ago.
“My new shop in Francis Road opened in September. I was just starting to look at availability in Leytonstone, where I live, but all the shops I saw were very expensive. One day, I saw an affordable rent on Francis Road, went on a Sunday morning for a coffee at Phlox Books with my family, and fell in love with the street.
“There is such a good relationship between other businesses and the locals. With the street pedestrianised, the people walking around are very relaxed, there’s lots of families with children and it creates a lovely atmosphere.”
Ethical chef Henrietta Inman runs a café at Yardarm, an off-licence and grocery shop. She says: “I had been looking for a location in the Walthamstow/Leyton area and Francis Road provided the right audience for my food.
“Fulfilling my ambition of having a café which displays my talents, caters to the local community, and uses UK producers, has been fantastic. We are full most days which is totally wonderful!”
Other female-run businesses in Francis Road include Time Out Love London Award winner Marmelo Kitchen, which both serves and sells seasonal food; Phlox Books, an independent bookshop run by Aimée Madill; art shop Venner, run by illustrator Tiff Howick and jewellery designer Lucie Ellen; tattoo parlour Last Call Ink; and Edie Rose Designs run by florist Helen Clarke.
Jo Sealy, who runs Waltham Forest Business Network (WFBN), said: “It’s brilliant to have so many female entrepreneurs in one street.
“Women face a number of difficulties running a successful business in comparison to men. Women often start businesses because of limitations in the workplace, personal responsibilities, or the challenges that come from a market that fails to meet their needs. They are more likely to experience a lack of financial support, the need to balance family responsibilities, and issues around confidence.
“Yet, approximately 60% of the members of WFBN are female-run businesses. It originally began as Waltham Forest Women in Business.”