The women who walked away from the rat race to follow a dream

Annie Matthews
Annie Matthews
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Giving up a regular salary to start your own business can be daunting. Catherine Scott meets three women who have done just that.

It is never an easy decision to take the plunge and change direction in your career. Jayne May, Rebecca Boulton and Annie Matthews have all switched roles in the last few years, walking away from successful corporate lives and skipping towards the new and exciting worlds of hypnotherapy, nutrition and vintage.

Jayne May, 53, Founder of Clear Pathway Hypnotherapy

Former civil servant Jayne May rose through the ranks to a senior project leader role delivering multi-million pound nationwide projects. Whilst in the Civil Service Jayne not only gained a degree in purchasing and supply, she also studied to become a qualified trainer.

But balancing career responsibilities over the years brought challenges for Jayne, including depression, OCD and even anorexia, then more recently compounded with the demands of single parenthood.

Jayne’s response was a self-help approach, doing her own research to build a wide knowledge of psychological therapies.

Her interest grew into a passion, and she recognised she could adapt the skills she learnt in her first career with her life experiences to offer people powerful support to cope with a wide range of emotional challenges.

“I realised it was time to take the plunge,” she says. “So I left the security of a lifetime career and dived into the unknown world of starting my own business”.

She obtained full registration in hypnotherapy, neuro-linguistic programming and emotional wellbeing, before finally establishing Clear Pathway Hypnotherapy in 2014.

As soon as she started to practise, Jayne realised she’d made the right decision.

“The feedback of clients has been wonderful. To have such a directly positive effect on people’s lives has been even more rewarding than I expected.”

A surprise for Jayne has been the discovery that she has the perfect calming, gentle, encouraging voice for hypnotherapy. “I’ve learnt that you never know what talents you have until you try,” she says. “That’s a message for my clients, and for me.”

Jayne recruited her partner, Richard, as her rookie sound engineer, to produce recordings for self-hypnosis and relaxation.

“We think there’s a market for recordings, and it’s an efficient way for my client work to have a wider influence.”

She is also working with a local acting school to help new actors deal with rejection, through changing their thinking styles. Jayne is most passionate and enthusiastic, though, about her seminar work in schools, helping children, who as she was, suffer with depression, to develop emotional resilience.

“If children can be supported and learn how to recognise emotional triggers and develop coping methods in their formative years, they have a much better chance of dealing with the threat of depression in later life. It’s a much neglected area in which, as a mother myself, I’m particularly motivated to make a difference.”

For Jayne, branching out into business has been a stimulating adventure. “There is no doubt that it can be daunting at first, and it will always be hard work. But the freedom to take your own business in new directions, and the satisfaction of positive outcomes from personal involvement with clients and other areas have brought fantastic rewards. I will never regret taking that first step. “

Annie Matthews, 53, Co-founder of Statement Vintage

Annie was born and brought up in Sheffield but moved to London and Cheshire where she worked in market research forICI (later to become AstraZeneca). In both instances she had global responsibilities so enjoyed lots of travel.

After moving back to Sheffield Annie established her own market research consultancy in her 40s which she ran successfully for a number of years. However, by the time she reached her 50s, she realised she was falling out of love with the corporate world and itching to find room to explore a more creative side of her life.

Having always had a love for vintage and after a few nights of ‘shall we, shan’t we’ discussions with new partner Colin, in 2014, Statement Vintage was born. Annie’s time is now happily taken up with helping to run the vintage sales and prop hire business. She has developed a keen eye for design and thoroughly enjoys treasure hunting for items of vintage furniture and household pieces. She is regularly out at antiques fairs, and auction sales and browsing collections of private owners. Next step is then displaying the items to their customers. Every day is different and every day is fun.

“I’m still making use of the business skills I acquired in my corporate life she says, but now I’m able to incorporate my love for design and furniture, and I’m enjoying every minute.

“It’s not an easy step to take, and you do need to think things through clearly up front, particularly how you are going to support yourself in the early months, cash flow, and plans to get up and running as quickly as possible.

“However, it feels like a great achievement when you take that first giant step, and is so satisfying to know it’s a business that you’ve brought to life yourself, with your vision and hardwork.”