This week I invited Zubee from Access My Events to guest post for us, Zubee is a fellow #SBS winner and is also a disabled business owner, so let’s find out more about her and her business.
About me, my career and my business
My name is Zubee, I was born with Cerebral Palsy, which affects my mobility. I am the founder of Access My Events, which was founded in September 2018. I have worked in the field of disability equality for many years, with a varied career, having worked and volunteered for a number of organisations doing various different roles in the public, private and voluntary sectors, but like many disabled people I found It hard to find a job in the events industry so starting my own business was the ideal way to work in a sector that I am passionate about.
Access My Events is a unique solutions-based consultancy service that advices businesses on how to make their events accessible for deaf and disabled people. I am looking to build partnerships with as many businesses as possible that host events and who are interested in making their events as accessible as possible.
The aim is to grow my network of disabled individuals keen to attend events and make connections with businesses interested in making their events more inclusive. I also want to use Access My Events to raise awareness of disability and make inclusivity a staple part of organising an event.
In June this year I got a job as an Event Manager, working for a travel company that offers accessible tours and package holidays for deaf people from the UK to Dubai. Going back to doing a 9 to 5 job after a long time felt really strange. It was the first time since 2020, that I step foot into an office. As someone who has volunteered for many years with full and part time jobs in between, I wasn’t used to the routine, even though my current role is part time.
I like the freedom and flexibility that being self-employed offers. Being employed and self-employed both have their advantages and disadvantages but you have to choose what is right for you. Holding a job while running a business is hard work and it’s even harder if you have a disability.
Business is something I have wanted to peruse for a long time, but I found it hard to get the support and guidance from organisations I had approached in the past to get my business off the ground. There were many times I felt like giving up because it had taken me so long and I was getting nowhere.
Since then, I have connected with some amazing people who have supported me on my business start-up journey. Without them I wouldn’t be where I am today. I would like to say a special, thank you to my wonderful friend, Rehan, for his ongoing support. Rehan has a wealth of experience in business and is a serial entrepreneur. Before we connected, I was on the verge of giving up. It was because of his motivation and positivity, along with his infectious energy that I didn’t look back.
One of my most memorable events that I organised was the first ground breaking fashion show, called Fashion with Passion in October 2010, which featured disabled and non-disabled designers and models. I did the show to raise awareness of disability in the fashion industry and to raise money for Action on Disability, a charity I was working for at the time.
The show was a huge success, raising over £2,000, and it received local, national and international press coverage with an article appearing in British Vogue magazine This is something I didn’t expect at all. Find out more about the Fashion for Passion show. At the time I didn’t really have a set direction of where I wanted to go career wise and it was the success of the fashion show that led me to want to peruse events.
The Disability Expo
On the 6th and 7th of July, I got the opportunity to exhibit my business for the first time at the Disability Expo. This was a two-day event dedicated to the disability community, organised and led by disabled people. They had over 200 exhibitors showcasing their products and services. It was the first time this event was being run.
As a new business, the Disability Expo, has given me a great platform to raise my brand awareness and to network with other organisations. It was great to finally meet with people in person who I had been connected with online, and to see disabled people together under one roof, as my tagline says, bringing businesses and disabled people together, the event did just that.
Small Business Sunday Winner
Small Business Sunday is one of the leading small business networks in the UK and was founded by Dragons Den star, Theo Paphitis in 2010. It’s an amazing opportunity for businesses to gain exposure and connect with other business owners through Theo’s large social media following, including all the winners getting an invite to the SBS annual networking event, which I’m really looking forward to next year.
I was delighted and honoured to find out that I was a Small Business Sunday (SBS) winner. I couldn’t believe I was chosen to be part of this amazing network.
I didn't even know this existed until I saw a post on LinkedIn from one of the previous winners. After reading the post, it sounded like a really exciting opportunity that I had to enter and I was not expecting to win. On the 24th of July, I put a post out on Twitter and tweeted Theo about my business during Small Business Sunday. It was a huge surprise when I saw that I was one of 6 lucky winners to be chosen and get retweeted by Theo, to over half a million of his Twitter followers.
During the announcement on Monday, my Twitter feed went crazy and I received lots of lovely new followers. I am also profiled on the #SBS website, which is exclusive to all Small Business Sunday winners.
As the saying goes, I was second time lucky and as Theo says, if you don't get chosen, don't give up, keep entering each week as you never know when your chance will come, and be resilient as that's what entrepreneurship is all about. It has given me such a boost and it will help to raise awareness of our brand even further and expand my network so I can continue making a difference for deaf and disabled people accessing events.
I would like to say a huge, thank you to Theo and his team for this amazing opportunity. I have had many challenges and setbacks to get my business going. To receive this recognition and have the support from Theo to help spread the word to his followers has really motivated and inspired me to keep pursuing my business goals.
If you are looking to start a business, it's helpful to have a mentor from the beginning to guide and help you through the ups and downs. Try and find someone who has a few years of experience running a business in your area and therefore knowledge of the industry. It’s also good to do your own research before taking a mentor on board.
If you are a business that hosts events and are interested in finding out how you can make your event accessible for disabled people, please get in touch with me on 07305 244993 or email Zubee@accessmyevents.co.uk
The more businesses that come on board, the bigger the difference we can make together.
Follow Zubee and Access My Events on social media:
Big thanks to Zubee for her blog post this week! If you’re a disabled business owner and would like to share your story on the Dotty About Braille Blog, please get in touch.