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Inspirational Female Founder Spotlight: Jennifer Davidson

Jennifer Davidson is the founder of Sleek Events, a full-service experience marketing agency that was placed #19 on the Sunday Times Fast Track 100. Having run for over a decade, Jennifer’s passion and commitment has shaped Sleek into a symbol of excellence in event management. As the founder, she leads a dynamic team, delivering exceptional events for global brands in a range of sectors. Beyond professional success, Jennifer is passionate about her team’s well-being and a culture of collaboration within the industry. She is also a Goldman Sachs 10KSB alumna and was included on the shortlist for NatWest’s EveryWoman Awards.

Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?

I’m the founder of full-service experience marketing agency Sleek, which I started a decade ago – I can’t believe it’s been 10 years! I have an incredible team that delivers exceptional results for global brands across a variety of sectors.

Prior to Sleek, I was a freelancer where I worked with multiple brands and agencies which helped equip me with the skills needed to launch my own company.

How did the idea come to you for the company?

Whilst I was freelancing for a variety of corporate clients, I was recommended to deliver my first big event. After a period of time working together with the client, I was asked if I could go in-house to work for them and help find them an agency. However, instead of their original offer, I suggested that I could build an agency for them to work with, which they agreed to. And as they say, the rest is history!

How did you achieve awareness?

Up until 2019, awareness of Sleek was gained only through word of mouth. I had built up my network over time whilst freelancing and being recommended after delivering successful jobs. I had no marketing team and there was barely any activity on social channels.  

More recently, we were able to start talking about client work that had been previously restricted, which helped raise awareness. There was also a halo effect of winning business awards and being named on the Sunday Times Fast Track 100.

How have you been able to gain funding and grow?

I own Sleek outright – I’ve never had any funding. Fortunately, because we are a service business, we get paid for our time, so have grown in line with demand.

What are the key successes?

Covid was a tough time for many businesses, but events were one of the industries directly impacted by the lockdowns and restrictions. It proved to be an incredibly challenging time, but we returned more established and educated than before – a success I’m very proud of.

I also learnt a huge amount during this time as I was forced to ask for help from people for business advice and to boost my morale. I will always be incredibly grateful to them for their help and for teaching me it’s ok to reach out.

What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?

The growth of Sleek has been a challenge for me. Transitioning to more than 20 employees was a steep learning curve. It meant processes needed to be improved or implemented to accommodate the larger team. To cope with the change, I listened to the team to understand the main paint points that needed addressing and focused on solving those first.

I was also fortunate enough to become a mum and a wife fairly recently. However, when it was time for me to return to Sleek, I was rebuilding a business whilst building my family which is a challenge, I know many entrepreneurial parents face. I had to work through the emotional and physical changes to fit everything in, which got easier as time went on plus the support from both my family and colleagues. I always remind people to allow themselves time and space to solve problems.

What are your plans now/for the future?

The business is going through an exciting evolution and so is my role. As we grow it’s no longer possible for me to be involved in the day-to-day. The focus is to empower the team to make decisions and lead their departments.

In the longer-term, I’m keen to give back by inspiring people to follow their dreams and help them achieve their goals. I’m not entirely sure what this looks like right now, but I’m excited to find out when the time comes!

What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?

Be brave and take a leap of faith. It’s not for everyone, but you won’t know until you try it. Life is too short to be thinking ‘what if’ so if you have that itch, it’s definitely worth scratching it.

Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success?

I know it’s cliché, but networking is so important. As a founder it can be quite lonely without people to bounce ideas off, so it’s a necessity to find people who understand your challenges. I feel lucky to have met people who helped me think strategically about how to navigate the tricky times.

I continue to regularly make an effort to meet up with entrepreneurs and founders to swap insights and help one another solve any problems.

Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most and why?

I have three people who have truly inspired me. Businesswoman, Debra Searle and blind adventurer, Miles Hilton Barber are two people who stand out. They have both overcome challenges in their lives, yet continued to persevere. They played an important role, especially at the beginning of my career when I lacked self-belief and had a negative mindset towards myself. I still struggle sometimes with these thoughts, but I’ve become better at pushing them to one side.

Another great person is Jules Hydleman. I met him through All Together, a pro bono advisory platform that provided access to successful businesspeople. He had so much wisdom and knowledge, I was in awe. He continues to inspire me to never give up hope, stay calm, and highlighted the importance of helping others.

What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?

Miles Hilton-Barber said ‘the only limits in our life are those we impose on ourselves’. His presentation hit a nerve as I saw him present at the start of my career and my Dad had just passed. This really stuck with me because it resonated back then, yet also still applies today.

What are your Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn social handles and also website links so our readers can connect with you?