HYPATIA WOMEN: Cornwall
Celebrating women in Cornwall and their achievements, past and present. Know someone you would like to nominate? Get in touch with your suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org
Victoria Amran Founder Of The Cornish Food Box Company
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Personally: My children and my husband. Yan is from Singapore, and moving to Cornwall is a world away in terms of culture. It’s been tough making it work but I think we’ve managed to pull it off. Professionally: Getting the Cornish Food Box to where it is today. It’s one of the toughest markets to try and make a business in, and I do feel like 6 years in we are finally getting somewhere. I used to own a business in Indonesia with another Cornish girl. We had an Indonesian business partner who tried to get us deported and steal the business from us. We were followed, had threats of drugs being planted in our houses and had to have secret meetings with judges to make sure we weren’t thrown out of the country and that we were able to keep our business. We took one of the regional government departments to court for corruption and won. It was 3 days before I got married – I was 28!
What motivates you to do what you do?
This will sound very cheesy, but I am genuinely motivated by a love of the place that I come from. We were born and brought up in West Cornwall and to be able to run a business that is a commercial operation but which has obvious benefits for the county is something that Lucy and I are both very proud of. I am motivated by the fact that we have created a business that works for everyone involved. Customers get easy access to fresh Cornish food and drink by ordering online and having it delivered to their door, producers get paid a fair price and a year round market for their produce, and in the middle we have created a business that employs local people and has become a community hub. I obviously want/need to earn a living, but I want to do it in a way that does make a difference – that leads the way with a different concept. I deal with all our customers so to know that we are making lots of people happy is a real buzz.
What do you owe your mother?
My mother is a pretty impressive woman. She has unbelievable amounts of drive and energy, and has always supported us in whatever scheme we are planning. Mum has shown us that in order to succeed you must work hard but work smart. Learn to delegate and if someone is putting something in your way get involved and make sure your voice is heard. Mum is endlessly supportive and fair. She runs her own very successful business which she has built from scratch, so she has been able to help mentor us with Cornish Food Box.
Which women inspire you and why?
My mum for her determination, drive and attitude. I will always support my boys in the same way she has supported us. Delphine Robbe is a French woman who used to work for us in Indonesia. Today she runs a group called the Gili Eco Trust which is working to protect the local people, animals and environment on The Gili Islands which are situation between Bali and Lombok. The islands have undergone a boom in tourism which has been great for the economy, but devastating for the environment. Delphine has earned the respect of the island people, island government, state and national government in Indonesia through leadership, determination and passion, and she is having a real impact on the future of the islands. I hope her work will be rolled out in other areas as a flagship for sustainable tourism.
What are you reading?
A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
What gender barriers have you had to hurdle?
Growing up I really didn’t think that gender barriers existed. My mum had achieved massively in business and in politics, and I truly didn’t think this was something that affected me. I had a business in Indonesia for 10 years with another Cornish girl, and we faced real difficulties because we were white, western women running a business in a very male dominated environment. Today here in Cornwall it’s come as a bit of a shock to discover a more subtle version of the same thing. My mum has always said that you have to get involved in order to change things so that’s exactly what we have done. Lucy is now the chair of Truro Chamber of Commerce, and I run a committee of the chamber called Truro Retail Group. We hope that by creating a positive, inclusive and forward thinking voice for the city we can make some real changes and have our voices heard.
How can the world be a better place for women?
Women’s problems in the UK are very different to issues in other parts of the world so I am not sure there is one answer to this question. In the UK the way the school system works in relation to mum’s working is completely wrong. Children start 10 minutes before the normal working day starts and school finishes 2 hours earlier than the standard working day ends. If you are working full time, then you either have to pay for childcare or clubs. Once you get home the pressure to make sure homework, projects, dress up days etc are done to the best possible standard is huge, and that’s before cooking a well-balanced family meal. There is a huge amount of unrealistic pressure applied to working mums which ultimately leaves you with a feeling of guilt if you aren’t able to do it all!
Describe your perfect day...
Kids, Husband, Beach, BBQ, Sun, Good Friends, Long Summer Evening
We've noticed their aren't many statues of women in Cornwall, who would you see remembered?
Rowena Cade – Minack Theatre and Emily Hobhouse – Human Rights Campaigner
Give us a tip?
If you want to make changes get involved and say what you think. Only positivity gets things done at the end of the day, and there isn’t anything you can do about yesterday apart from learn from it!
The Cornish Food Box Company was started 6 years ago with the very simple aim of making it as easy as possible for people to buy Cornish food and drink as part of their food shop. CFBC works with more than 200 Cornish farmers, fishermen, bakers and food producers and has put more than £3 million back into the rural economy. Today the company has a central Truro shop and café, as well as a thriving online delivery service