This week we’re highlighting some of the incredible female entrepreneurs that make up the X-Forces Enterprise community. Today’s spotlight is on our very own XFE Associate, Anna Oliver, Navy Spouse and owner of Fresca Marketing. We asked her about her background, her experience as a woman in business, and what she believes should be highlighted this week for #IWD2021.
Hi Anna – could you give us a quick insight into your military background?
I’m the lucky girl that married a sailor! We’ve been together since our teens so the Navy has been a huge factor in both of our lives for the past 20 years. Jon is a Warrant Officer currently serving on HMS Prince of Wales.
Could you tell us the name of your business, and what you do?
I provide communications advice and marketing and design services to meet brand goals, working on a freelance basis with small and large organisations, trading as ‘Fresca Marketing‘. I started in the business in 2005, only 4 years after I’d graduated in European Studies, so the name harks from this period of my life when I spoke fluent Spanish; fresca means fresh. Shamefully, I can barely converse these days! In the early years I specialised in outdoor and country sports and worked with international clothing and equipment brands to grow their market share in the UK. More recently, my focus has switched to the Forces sector, where my knowledge and experience adds value to my skillset, to help charities and non-profit organisations. Day to day, I’m working on brand identities, digital assets, web development, press releases and email campaigns.
How do you think your military background has impacted your entrepreneurial journey?
It was a drafting move that nudged me to become self-employed after I’d left an employed role I loved and couldn’t find anything similar in the new area. I’m glad it did as the flexibility of being my own boss proved to be invaluable when our children came along and I’ve had to shoulder all the family responsibilities during Jon’s numerous deployments since. I’ve had to be agile enough to adapt my work and life around The Royal Navy’s demands; a common theme in Forces families like ours and a commitment we’re extremely proud to make.
What kind of challenges have you faced as a female entrepreneur (if any)?
The path of anyone newly self-employed is full of challenges. The biggest struggle has been in self-marketing; it doesn’t come naturally to me to sell myself, but it has been unavoidable to deliver pitch presentations, write tenders and make speculative approaches about the difference I can make. When you’re working alone, that can be daunting and self-doubt creeps in. Luckily, I’ve enjoyed positive and long-standing relationships with many clients. Juggling parenthood with business has proved tricky. In the days when we enjoyed real-life events and face-to-face meetings, it was difficult to travel without the other parent at home; Covid has at least levelled the playing field with online meetings and virtual events.
What areas do you think are important to highlight on International Women’s Day?
This year more than ever, there is rightful concern that the pandemic has set back the IWD mission for a gender equal world, the impact having fallen harder on women, who have for the most part picked up the home-schooling responsibility and suffered furlough and job losses in greater proportion than men. I have certainly felt the strain this year but am thankful that, when becoming self-employed and stepping away from the meritocratic and competitive employee structures that can let down working mothers, I have been able to set my own benchmarks for success. While the unique circumstances of the military family are rarely conducive to equality at home, regardless of the genders in the partnership, I think there is a lot to celebrate in our community. I’m encouraged by the boundary-pushing initiatives emerging for spouses and the digital networks that have thrived during lockdown, in which women build each other up. Celebrating each other is a good place to start repairing the progress we’d made.
Find out more about Fresca Marketing here.
Are you considering self-employment? Join our brand new training programme exclusively for military spouses, partners and family members here. Read about last year’s cohort here.
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