Home to The Successful Founder Print & Digital Magazine 
Advice Articles, Interviews, Founder & Brand Spotlights 
Home of The Most Advice-Feature-Rich Entrepreneurship Magazine Around

Inspirational Female Founder Spotlight: Polly Shute

Polly Shute founded the Out & Wild Festival. It is the UK’s first wellness festival designed specifically for queer, questioning, and curious women and non-binary individuals. 

Launched in 2022, the event takes place in June, during Pride Month, and offers a diverse range of experiences and activities, including music and comedy, wellness, spoken word, sports, and workshops. Evening events include live acts, silent disco, and campfire talks. The team behind Out & Wild has a wealth of experience in running festivals and creating LGBTQIA events. 

The festival focuses on creating a welcoming, safe, and supportive space for all LGBTQIA women and non-binary individuals and strives to reflect diversity in its acts and artists. Additionally, Out & Wild is committed to making the festival as accessible as possible for those with disabilities or accessibility needs.

Polly’s mission is to connect people through shared experiences and to celebrate the community. The festival works with local charities and organisations to offer bursary tickets and chooses a charity partner each year. 

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

I came out at 41, and some of the reasons for not being open about my sexual orientation were linked to a lack of visibility and space. I joined Pride in London’s board in 2013 to address this, and whilst I loved the experience, it made me realise how gay male-centred the LGBTQ+ word was. 

During lockdown, I came up with the idea for Out & Wild as a new space for LGBTQ+ women and those who are non-binary.

How did the idea come to you for the company?

When I researched what our audience wanted, they were keen to have a space and experiences that really helped connect them with like-minded others. The focus on well-being was also strong.

How did you achieve awareness?

Initially, this was mainly through word of mouth and organic social media. But over time, we have invested in paid social, PR and media partnerships. We also now have regional leads across the UK.

How have you been able to gain funding and grow?

We were very fortunate to get a 3 year grant from the Welsh Government. This was all based on economic impact, as over 85% of our audience come from outside Wales. We have also been fortunate to get sponsors like OVO Energy, Haleon and Swim Wales.

What are the key successes?

The audience reaction! We get amazing feedback, and many people come back every year. And we are helping to connect a community, queer women, that have few large spaces focused on them.

We doubled in size last year and are set to grow by another 50% in 2024.

The opportunity to create more experiences off the back of Out & Wild, this includes rolling out a Pride Swim, wellness retreats and soon to come writing retreats. Supporting female acts, in a festival world where less than 13% of headliners are women.

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

Festival costs have risen massively over the last few years, and it’s been really hard to manage these without huge price hikes in tickets.

The remoteness of the location makes the festival, as our audience love it, and feel very safe. But it is a challenge regarding transport and getting acts and vendors sometimes. But we have been blessed with people who are keen to support us.

What are your plans now/for the future?

To keep going! Last year 1 in 6 festivals stopped due to rising costs. We are more than just a festival. Out & Wild brings the community together and, for many, is life-changing.

We are also exploring spin-off events to cater to existing and new audiences.

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

As women, we often lack confidence and are faced a lot with imposter syndrome. What helped me was to speak to others (especially other women entrepreneurs I admired). I have learnt so much from others, not just business skills, but how to be resilient, how to ask for help, and how to get moving on projects.

Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success?

Seek advice and help. I have connected with so many people who have supported and helped me on the journey. Be resilient. It’s not easy being an entrepreneur (don’t believe all you read). Be prepared to take the knocks. Have a good support network around you. I also use manifesting a lot.

It takes time – it’s very rare to have an idea that just flies straight away. You need to keep the faith and keep building. Be prepared to pivot if needed, but keep focused on your vision.

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

I was really inspired by Phil Knight, founder of Nike, after reading Shoe Dog. The number of times his business almost failed, but he just kept his faith and worked really hard. I read this book in 2019, and it made me think I could be an entrepreneur.

My mum, who sadly died in 1995, but always told me I could be and do whatever I wanted to. She was both my biggest cheerleader and fiercest critic.

Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, CEO of UK Black Pride. I have seen how hard she has worked to grow a movement and force around the black LGBTQ community. She stands by her principles and is not afraid to challenge others.

Bobbi Pickard, CEO of Trans in the City. Her sheer determination to make the world a better place for those who are gender diverse. She is so hard working and so focused on her end vision.

Jay Shetty, who wrote Think Like a Monk. I read this book during lockdown, and it really connected me with the idea of Dharma and combining your passion with your skills and compassion. This helped me focus my career on what was important AND fulfilling to me.

What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?

Be the change you want to see

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Champions keep playing until they get it right

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

LI: https://www.linkedin.com/company/be-out-and-about/

LI: https://www.linkedin.com/in/polly-shute-9853051b/

IG: https://www.instagram.com/outandwildlgbtq/

FB: https://www.facebook.com/outandwildlgbtq