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Amanda Armstrong

Inspiring Female Founder Spotlight: Amanda Armstrong

Amanda Armstrong, co-Founder of Yomira, a boutique superyacht agency focussing on the charter and lifestyle requirements of international superyacht clientele.  

With a BA Hons from Cardiff University, extensive worldwide travel experience and sporting achievements including England Netball trials, Amanda has over 22 years in the superyacht industry, with roles spanning from personal assistant to managing superyacht owners and crew through to arranging ultra-luxurious lifestyle experiences on substantial yachts ranging from 30m to 100m.  Actively engaged with the industry’s governing body, The Worldwide Yachting Association, (known as MYBA), Amanda is married with a daughter, enjoys skiing, tennis and plays regular field hockey. 

Background & Company

Born in Devon with a father in the Navy and working mother (as a nurse), I have always had a drive to work hard yet play hard; to lead, rather than be a follower was a natural trait for me.  Growing up in Portsmouth, always on or around the sea,  gave an innate love and respect of the ocean.  Having worked for over 17 years at a leading superyacht firm, it became clear that in order to gain respect and success in a very male centric industry, I was going to have to approach my professional life a little differently.  

How did the idea come to you for the company

Having spent nearly 20 years experiencing the huge growth of the yachting sector, it had become clear that as the established companies consolidated, so it created the perfect opportunity for a smaller, more agile company to offer a more focussed, truly personalised client service – to be the ‘Saville Row’ of yachting as it were to deliver the true tailor-made luxury experience that our clientele expects.  Additionally, the appetite for travel hasevolved and I felt it was time to take a much closer look at the fundamental approach to yachting and how clients perceived their experience when they take to the ocean.  There is also a certain opaqueness to the superyacht industry, bolstered to a degree by the stereotypical images of yachting portrayed often in the media, or programmes like ‘Below Decks’ which are often wide of the mark.   I was keen to soften the fringes and make the yachting arena far more accessible, particularly to new clients.

How did you achieve awareness

By identifying the ideal brand that we wanted to be, through properly evaluating and defining our core pillars, portraying these through an appealingwebsite and embarking on a PR campaign both internally to the yachting industry as a whole as well as to the consumer.  Also by choosing ‘Yomira’ a very deliberate choice of the company name, which was a conscious decision to be ‘softer’ and less aggressive to offset the very masculine arena that is superyachting.  The name Yomira means ‘Your Ocean’, which we felt was a more encompassing angle on many levels. The superyacht industry is very niche and therefore the approach had to be well considered, not a brash, ‘look at me’ style, particularly when bearing in mind that we started a new travel business just before covid struck.  Although this gave us ample time opportunities to ensure that our business strategy was completely solid, people were nervous and sensitive to getting back to traveling again, so it was very important to have an initial light touch approach to our marketing campaign.  

The desire to enjoy yachting and travel again has however bounced back quickly with clients keen to enjoy time with their friends and family – more of an attitude to enjoy life to the fullest as far as possible – and our marketing approach has adapted accordingly focussing on PR, advertising and SEO.

How have you been able to gain funding & growth      

We are very keen to ensure that the company remains privately owned, to maintain complete autonomy and agility within with a very competitive luxury travel industry.  We have grown by 33% already, despite 2 years of covid during which obviously travel was severely restricted, so have our eyes set on expansion, albeit organically, to help retain the extremely personalised service levels that we are very proud to maintain. We are always on the look-out for young talent we can bring on board into the Yomira family and by being a smaller operation ensures that the personnel all have the same approach and ethos; it may sound trite, but excellent people skills and social etiquette are not always a given at this level and it is paramount that we instil these characteristics at every level of Yomira.

What are the key successes

First and foremost having a woman running a superyacht company which is highly unusual in the very male dominated yachting environment. 

Successfully launching a business (and keeping afloat!) during covid and more recently, having gained brand identity and market share in a very crowded and competitive market – of this I am extremely proud.

Establishing our first office in the City of London

Challenges and how have you overcome these

I have always wanted to run a business but just having the gumption to ‘just get on with it’ was a big personal challenge for me.  And once you have made the decision the rest is fun – a step learning curve of that there is no doubt, but running your own business, doing exactly what you love with people you enjoy being with is extremely fulfilling!

Plans now and for the future

Ensure that we deliver what we are excellent at doing and grow organically from the inside up.  And although we are a small company, we operate in a large international arena, so if we can inspire and ensure that the Yomira mantra is clear, honest and highly professional then there is no limit to what we can achieve.  Appealing to and expanding the client base to include more women who might not have considered yachting – indeed there are still very few female owners and captains – so it would be fantastic to encourage more of a balance in these areas.

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

Challenge your own mindset.  Perhaps readjust the mental ‘rules’ that you have been used to and explore what could be possible.  It is very empowering and exciting to step out of your comfort zone and when you do, all kinds of different doors and surprising opportunities present themselves.

Top tips for entrepreneurial success

Work out core pillars which form the basis of how your company is set up, from grass roots upwards and ensure that you maintain these mantras throughout all areas of your business, whether that be marketing or HR or simply how you present yourselves in public.

Ensure you have correctly identified your position within your marketplace as this will affect how you present your sales.

Keep a Positive Mental Attitude at all times!  Ensuring a business runs efficiently as well being able to make money is a skill that you have to learn.  Go on courses, listen and learn as much as you can from others who have already done it.  

Keep a close eye on cashflow and budget well.

Stay fit, both physically and metaphorically.  Make sure you get outside in the fresh air, but also take a look from the outside in at what you are doing – we love to ask professionals outside the yachting industry what they think as it gives a very clear, often refreshing answer that you might not have considered.

5 people who inspire you and why

Without wishing to be too predictable, both my parents always had a very strong ‘mind over matter’ attitude which was infectious; and which also lends itself very well to an optimistic outlook on life – absolutely vital to ensuring a strong mental approach to anything that is put on your plate, particularly relevant in today’s world where mental health is at the top of everyone’s ‘To Watch’ list.

Yomira wouldn’t have the character, vibe or be where it is today without my business partner Neil, whom I have known for 23 years.  He has always encouraged me to consider my potential and is excellent at making me consider what I hadn’t previously. Our decision to start Yomira was an extremely exciting one and there is no doubt that his vision and extraordinary business acumen has helped propel us to where we are today.  Neil is also one of my best friends; not necessarily imperative to running a business partnership, but it definitely helps!   We have different yet complementing skillsets which I believe is key to a successful business.

It would be remiss not to mention Dame Ellen MacArthur who encompasses not only the yachting spirit that I love, but also her sheer determination yet quiet resilience that I admire hugely.

Favourite inspirational quotes

Carpe diem.  

Do more of what makes you happy.