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Claire Powell, The CAN Group

Inspiring Female Founder Spotlight: Claire Powell, The CAN Group

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

I am the Director of The CAN Group, a talent management, events, and PR company for 30 years, and during this time have worked with some of the UK’s most-loved celebrities including Peter Andre and Mel B as well as popular household brands and well-respected entrepreneurs and philanthropists. 

How did the idea come to you for the company? 

I had been working in PR for a couple of years when a friend in the industry asked me to look after an unheard-of boy band called Take That. In the 18 months I undertook their PR, the band’s success rocketed.  

I was so inspired by the growth of Take That that I wanted to help more newcomers to the entertainment industry accomplish their dreams, which is when I decided I wanted a career in PR and Management. I set up The CAN Group. The name came to me because I would always tell new talent, you CAN do it, and they did! It’s a motto that is engraved on everything we do. 

How did you achieve awareness? 

We needed to establish a mechanic to get new acts in front of audiences, so they could experience and buy into their music – so I started the magazine roadshow tours. I worked with publications such as Mizz, Look in TV, and Hits magazine to get sponsorships and booked concert venues across the UK organising hotels, travel, and catering for the talent, production, and management teams of more than 50 people. 

Record labels were so excited by this new concept they were wanting larger and more prestigious venues, and ultimately more shows. It was incredible. We gave bands like Boyzone, West Life, and Ant & Dec their first gigs, which broke them at the time and I’m delighted to say that I am still in touch with them now.  

How have you been able to gain funding and grow? 

I believe in creating opportunities. At the start of my career, I would never take no for an answer and would always ask questions about the possibilities of working with different companies and it made me stand out. 

Big-time directors of worldwide companies would recognise my name because I dared to ask. Just because it wasn’t relevant to them at that time they would contact me at a later date wanting to work together. So, The CAN Group grew organically because I wasn’t afraid to ask. As the old saying goes, “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.” I never have had funding, I own the company and have ridden through some rocky times. 

What are the key successes? 

 It’s hard to say as there have been so many amazing moments over the years and I’m lucky to have worked with such inspiring people and businesses. 

Along the way we’ve helped change animal cruelty laws by lobbying policies, I’ve traveled to South America to rescue gorillas with celebrities and help educate people on protecting animals. The most vital bit to this though is knowing that our work has produced long-standing results. 

The underlying pivotal point behind all of it though is helping people achieve their dreams. My team and I sit with our clients regularly to discuss the client’s ambitions and wishes and together we create plans to make this happen. It is s thrilling to be a part of such magical moments for people. I push our clients to achieve more on all levels whilst being true to themselves. 

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

As with any business, there are always challenges, many of which you can’t control like recession or the pandemic. However, you have to be resilient to survive and adapt to the landscape. Like COVID-19 we all had to find new ways of working which in the long run have proved beneficial. For example, hours spent traveling to meetings are no longer wasted as we can meet with anyone in the world via the internet. Likewise, we can recruit the best people in the industry as part of our team as the location is no longer a barrier. You have to make the best out of a situation to not only survive but thrive. I’m very truthful with my clients good or bad I give them my opinion. I always speak my mind and yes it gets me in trouble sometimes! 

What are your plans now/for the future? 

Continue doing what we do best, and that’s building and maintaining amazing relationships with our clients, contacts, and journalists. We have opened an office in the UAE and are doing TV Production again. 

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

Be creative and think outside of the box. Look at what your competitors are doing and find that hole in the market, or go out there and just do it bigger and better. 

And always believe you CAN, and don’t let anyone tell you differently. It is your future and if you have set your mind and heart on something, go out and grab it. Be different, push, and feed off people’s knowledge. Walk in a room and get noticed No one is going to hand it to you on a plate and sometimes you have to take a risk. Hindsight will never help you get ahead. 

Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success? 

Dream big, and believe in yourself. Learn something from everyone you meet and be sure to listen before you speak. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t. You can. Everyone can. 

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

I lost my parents early in life but my mother was always wanting me to be the best. I pushed myself and always wanted to make her proud, even now. When my dad died she was amazing in bringing up me and my sister. 

Rosa Parks also inspires me, she fought for freedom, and civil rights she wouldn’t back down on her beliefs, and was extremely brave. 

What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes? 

I love quotes, my favourites are: 

Always believe you can 

Actions speak louder than words 

Life is 10% what happens but 90% is how you handle the situation 

Mindset is everything 

Your smile is your logo your personality is your business card

How you leave others feeling after an experience with you becomes you

For information visit The CAN Group

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