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In Kent we are fortunate to have dozens of small food businesses set up by women in their own kitchens. I find this raft of entrepreneurial women an inspiring and fascinating phenomenon so I’m going to visit and talk to some of them to find out how they got started. The first of the businesses I went to see is Nip from the Hip based in Maidstone.

I expect most of you are familiar with the notion of adding sloes to gin to produce a delicious fruity confection, even if you didn’t grow up in the country. Joy studied horticulture and grew up in a family where fruit was used to flavour all sorts of drinks. When her daughter Alison got married some of the guests were given hip flasks filled with her fruit flavoured liqueurs and it was on that special occasion the idea for the business was born.

When I met Alison I was interested to find out how the new business fitted with her previous work experience and found that it was completely different. If you want to spend time with your children while they are young then you may have to find a different way of making a living. But Alison did study business so that must have been a help. She also finds that dealing with people is one of those valuable skills that transfers from other occupations along with the ability to prioritise and organise. But getting started is always difficult:

‘You can’t know everything and it sometimes feels as though every week someone tells you something you didn’t know.’ As Alison said: ‘When you work from home you need to be structured in the way you approach each day so you can fit in time with the family and time for the business and time to relax.’ It is sometimes difficult to fit everything in between 9 and 2.30 and Alison uses a timer to remind her about collecting her daughter from school. Good tip!

Nip from the Hip (http://www.nipfromthehip.co.uk/) currently produces a range of fruit flavours in vodka, gin and rum. But they have plans to expand and I’m sure they are going places. They thoroughly deserve to do well - it's a brilliant idea.

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