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Be Inspired: We catch up with Lisa from Pinkspiration

Community Manager

Be Inspired: We catch up with Lisa from Pinkspiration

Construction industry pioneer @lisamariebrown is the founder of Pinkspiration, hosted our Ask a Pioneer Q&A earlier in the year, and recently joined us on the panel at Voom Tour: Cardiff. We caught up to find out how her community-minded enterprise continues to help more young people into the workforce.


Tell us about your business.

Lisa Marie Pinkspiration (1).pngPinkspiration aims to inspire young people and transform communities. Working in the construction industry re-building empty spaces and empty shops on a new TV programme Transforming Spaces: Design Factor.


There are over 380,000 empty spaces and empty shops, and nearly one million young people unemployed. Training the next generation to learn new skills and move into careers in industry is vital to growing our economy. 


Since launching our business, our team has up skilled 5,500 young people and community members. Re-building 25 empty shops, Empty homes, heritage buildings and last year won our first major contract working on Wales largest road scheme a £400 million programme. 


Had you always planned to start your own business? If so why? If not, how did it come about?

Personally I always had a dream to start up my own business. The support from VOOM Pioneers gave me the confidence to grow the business.


Did anyone, or any organisation, inspire you to become your own boss?Lisa with Richard Pinkspiration Sq.png

Personally learning from Richard Branson (find out about this pioneering entrepreneur here - Ed) and other entrepreneurs inspired me to start up my own business. 


Was there a pivotal moment you decided to really go ahead with the business? 

Pinkspiration was founded in 2011 due to a need to regenerate empty spaces whilst creating opportunities for young people and community members.


There's also an under representation of females in industry so last year a “ Women into Construction and Engineering Programme” was launched. This helped to increase diversity in the sector from 1% of women in manual trades to 3% and their are now 5% of women in engineering. In my opinion this is an area that still requires further investment for training and skills development.


What constitutes success and failure in business for you?

For Pinkspiration success is measured on social impact, how many people we reach and how we are helping to up skill the next generation of young people to move into successful careers in industry.


Our retention rate is 80% and many of the young people excel in the industry. Our success is measured on case studies, films and the numbers of young people trained. Our business monitors and tracks diversity on our construction sites which is now 50/50 gender split.


What has been the most challenging part of starting up or running your own business?

Each week there is a new challenge to overcome and personally I am constantly learning and growing operating outside my comfort zone. A business can be an exciting experience, but there are always highs and lows in any business journey.


Working on larger scale contracts has meant our business requires flexibility to meet the demands of new work. For a small business winning contracts through Sell to Wales has proved to be a challenge, because the smaller scale works are not put out to tender. There needs to be a clear platform for small businesses to bid for public sector work via a simple portal.  


How did you overcome this challenge? What would you advise others in a similar position?

Our plans are to form partnerships with larger companies to work in consortium to win new work. My advice is to work with larger companies to gain the experience and knowledge to grow your business enabling you to win those vital large scale contracts. 


Can you share an experience that really helped you take your business forward?

Working with the best in the industry to gain knowledge and skills within the construction industry has opened up many opportunities to deliver community benefits.  Personally I have always had a mentor in industry.


Pinkspiration is now a leader shaping diversity in industry increasing the numbers from 1% to 3% of women in manual trades. Our business believes, that the construction industry is ‘not just for boys’and that‘Construction is for Everyone’


What’s the advice you wish you’d been given before you started your business?

  • Stay motivated and focused.
  • Believe in yourself. 
  • Start up a business your passionate about. 


Describe the people or organisations you’d like to connect with to help get your business to the next level.

  • Senior partners to support with our growth to win our next large scale contract.
  • Meeting with ministers to help shape the debate.


What’s next for you and your business?

  • Our next Transforming Spaces: Design Factor will regenerate an empty unused building and turn into a community provision in South Wales. 
  • Exciting plans to launch the UKs first pink train to encourage diversity in industry. 
  • Writing to the Prime Minister to explore how we can invest further in female entrepreneurs and female owned businesses.
  • Acting as a Women’s Business Ambassador to champion female owned SME’s