Celebrating International Women's Day with Amy Yarker from The Fermentation Station
My name is Amy Yarker and alongside my business partner Sam, we run The Fermentation Station. Before we launched TFS I ran a separate business with my Mum called H2A Partnership, which supported public sector organisations (mainly the NHS) through their transformation programmes…I know very wordy and complex.
Outside of work, we live with our beautiful German Wirehired Pointer rescue pooch who brings the most joy into our lives. I’m an absolutely avid reader and traveller (when things were ‘normal). I look to cook and spend the majority of my time in the kitchen which is what really lead us to establishing TFS.
TFS was most certainly established out of a passion project. It was a hobby that we lovingly crafted and became involved in at home and during lockdown 1 we just had the time to nurture it more until it became a business.
TFS are purveyors of fermented foods and drinks, using traditional and sustainable methods to create diverse fermented produce. We focus our ferments on the British seasons, showcasing the very best that each season has to offer from its fruit and vegetables.
Everything that we produce is hand-made, small-batch and gut-loving, packed with live active cultures which are great for supporting your gut and immune health. Our objective is to educate and inspire people through our food and drinks to get creative with what they consume and reduce their food waste through fermentation.
I suppose I already had a bit of a head start when it came to establishing TFS, because I had been running H2A Partnership since 2016 I knew the challenges that came with being a Company Director although in a completely different sector of business.
When I was younger running a business certainly wasn’t on the agenda or aspirations for my life. Having attended an all-girls grammar school we were directed down an academic avenue and that didn’t include running a business. I left school to attend The University of Manchester where I undertook a degree in Anatomical Sciences and a master’s degree in Medical Humanities with the objective of proceeding on to study Medicine. I didn’t proceed to on to Medical School purely because I became so invested in my master’s thesis that it led me to establish H2A.
Although this was never my vision to be under 30 and running two businesses, I am extremely proud of what I have accomplished and wish that at an earlier age I had been given more encouragement from academia to go into business and not just my parents spurring me on.
My greatest challenge was a combination of being a woman and being young realistically. I think many people have a misconception that female businesses owners aren’t as savvy or driven as males, which is a great way to underestimate us.
I remember I went to organise company cars for us at H2A and the male sales advisor at the showroom consistently referred to the Managing Director of the business needing to sign off paperwork and the used male ‘he’ pronouns. I remember thinking you’ve got no idea that I’m the actual decision maker here and you aren’t going to be getting a sale. It was extremely disappointing.
I think unfortunately there have also been some challenges in how you’re viewed as a woman in business. I’ve had to face some difficult comments from people I had considered long-time friends when establishing both businesses, which highlighted what was perceived as jealousy, naivety and downright lack of girl power. That was hard.
Be Kind. Be Patient. Have Faith.
Be Kind to yourself, you’re only one person. I think as women we play many different roles in our lives from Mothers, to Daughters, to Carers and being a Business Owner is just one of the many hats we wear. So be kind to yourself, make sure you take a break and do activities that nourish and nurture you personally. Because if you fall down everyone else falls with you.
Be Patient, Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your business. It takes time to truly develop what your business is going to be and the legacy you wish for it to establish. No one will ever just come knocking at your door, you have to go out there and bring them in. So, get comfortable being uncomfortable.
Have faith, know what your objectives are, what your vision is, and believe that you can achieve them.