Inaugural Female Entrepreneur Conference

Past Conferences

Date: 9 March 2017

Location: Drenagh House, Limavady

Host: Sarah Travers

Charge: £35 (Inc VAT)


Women in Business and the Causeway Enterprise Agency are delighted to be hosting the Inaugural Female Entrepreneur Conference at the beautiful Drenagh House Limavady on 9th March 2017

Featuring 3 amazing keynote speakers:

Petra Wetzel, founder and Managing Director of WEST Brewery in Glasgow. The single mum from Glasgow brewed up a £10 million fortune.

Dr Leah Totton, winner of the BBC TV series The Apprentice 2013 and subsequently opened two cosmetic skin clinics with her business partner Lord Alan Sugar.

Tina McKenzie, European Ambassador for Female Enterprise Day and Director for Staffline Group Ireland, an island-wide Employment Services and Recruitment company

For full keynote speaker biogs please see below

The Conference and Gala Lunch which will take place from 9:30am to 15:00pm will be a day of inspiration, networking and learning, with thought-provoking insights, and honest advice to help your business grow and thrive! See below for the full programme.

The conference will be hosted by the fabulous Sarah Travers, who will also facilitate a panel of 6 successful local female entrepreneurs sharing their stories. Names we will be revealed closer to the time!


Networking coaches leaving from Belfast (stopping in Ballymena), and Coleraine will allow you to start your valuable networking before you arrive. **Spaces are limited, so please book as soon as possible to avoid disappointment**

*Belfast Bus departs from outside TopShop on Chichester Street at 7:15am*

*Ballymena Collection at 8:00am outside Ballymena Cinema*

*Coleraine Collection at 8.45am at Riverside Retail Park (at the Premier Inn)*


To book your place please choose one of the following options

All prices include VAT


Conference Programme

09.30 - Registration, Tea & Coffee, Exhibition Stands & Networking

10.00 - Welcome... to the first ever Conference for YOU
10.15 – First Keynote- Tina McKenzie - Female Entrepreneurs and Northern Ireland
10.30 – Second  Keynote- Dr Leah Totton - How to get Investment
11.00 – Networking Work shop - I want to meet You

11.30– Networking Break – Tea and Coffee

12.00 - 6 Fab Local  Female entrepreneurs - 6 stories , 6 challenges ,6 successes

12.30 - Sales: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly -  Panel Discussion


13.00 - Gala International Womens Day Lunch & Networking

14.15 – Third Keynote - Petra Wetzel -My Way !
14.50 – Take aways , What next?
15.00 - Conference Close -  Conference Date 2018


Dr Leah Totton

Dr Leah Totton

Dr Leah Totton was winner of the BBC TV series The Apprentice in 2013 and subsequently opened two cosmetic skin clinics with her business partner Lord Alan Sugar.

Born in Londonderry in Northern Ireland, Dr Totton studied Medicine at the University of East Anglia, and qualified top of her year and with a distinction in medicine. She was already practicing as a doctor in a busy London hospital A&E department when she applied to be on the BBC’s The Apprentice series. With limited business experience at that point and a skill set more suited to an operating theatre than a boardroom, she didn't for one moment imagine that she would actually appear on the BBC TV show in 2013, let alone win it!

The 28 year old, is now respected cosmetic skin specialist and continues to work as an NHS doctor. She invested the £250,000 prize money from The Apprentice to establish her own cosmetic skin clinics, alongside Lord Sugar. The first of the self-titled Dr Leah Clinic's was launched in Moorgate, Central London in 2014 and she opened a second clinic in Loughton, Essex in 2016. A third is planned for 2017.

Dr Leah Clinics offer the most innovative and contemporary aesthetic skin treatments. In 2017 they will be launching the three pronged Dr Leah Lift which Dr Totton developed and which will take non-surgical anti-ageing treatments to a new level. Her expertise in the Silhouette Soft procedure has led her to win awards for her treatment; to become the youngest trainer for the procedure; and most recently invited to join the Medical Advisory Board of Sinclair Pharma. Dr Leah also recently won the best Cosmetic Clinic in London at the MyFaceMyBody Awards

Petra M Wetzel

Petra M Wetzel

Originally from Bavaria, Wetzel first fell in love with her adopted Scottish homeland on a school exchange to Balfron, near Stirling. Returning to Glasgow in 1994 to study at the University of Glasgow, Wetzel has been here ever since. The idea for WEST, a German-style brewery producing beers in strict accordance with traditional German Purity Law, was born when Wetzel’s father visited her as a student in Glasgow and was unimpressed by what was being brewed locally at the time.

After her first job with the Glasgow Tourist Board, now the Glasgow City Marketing Board, working as an ambassador for Glasgow at trade fairs and events all over Europe, Wetzel was approached by a partner at Scottish Law firm Maclay, Murray and Spens, who encouraged her to train as a lawyer.

In 2008 Wetzel opened WEST Brewery, Bar & Restaurant on Glasgow Green.  She didn’t let a lack of beer experience hold her back – despite having never even drunk a full pint of lager before opening WEST, Wetzel has quickly risen through the ranks of the industry, with WEST receiving awards for both the beer it produces and the service it delivers. The growth of WEST under her leadership is staggering, developing from a self-contained German-style beer hall and brewery on Glasgow Green into a successful distribution operation with over 1,000 venues in the UK now stocking WEST beers.

WEST recently completed an ambitious expansion project within its original premises of the Templeton Building. The construction of a brand new events space and brewery increases brewing capacity 10-fold, allowing for greater creativity from the brewing team and facilitating the addition of further bottled beers to the WEST range.

Following on from the success of WEST’s flagship venue on Glasgow Green, in 2015 Wetzel opened a second bar and restaurant, WEST On The Corner, in the west end of the city, which has already received many accolades and rave reviews.

As WEST flourishes, Wetzel continues to take on new projects that would make Amelia Earhart proud – all the while being a proud single mother to her son Noah. Wetzel recently embarked on the New Town Theatre project despite knowing little about the world of theatre, and introduced a pop-up bar to the streets of Edinburgh during the internationally renowned festival the overtakes the city for the month of August.

Wetzel has also launched the WEST Women investment fund to give both financial and personal support to other budding female entrepreneurs.

A decade since its inception, the WEST beer brand continues to grow with international shipments of St. Mungo as far afield as Hong Kong and Russia. Closer to home, Petra received an Honorary Doctorate for her contributions to the Scottish economy from the University of Glasgow in 2015, which she cites as a career highlight.

Tina McKenzie

Tina McKenzie

Tina McKenzie is an award-winning Managing Director with over 20 years’ experience in the Recruitment and Employment Services sector within Northern Ireland, GB and international markets.  Her experience spans a variety of business verticals including professional services, agri-food and logistics. Having worked internationally providing HR and recruitment consultancy for the world’s largest blue chip companies, Tina’s key expertise is in building global employment investment strategies and best people practices.


She returned to her native Northern Ireland in 2013 and today leads all Staffline Group companies in Ireland, including Northern Ireland’s largest recruitment company Diamond Recruitment and leading employment support and justice services provider PeoplePlus NI. Under Tina’s direction Staffline Group in Ireland has grown from a standing start to a turnover of over £60m in less than three years, earning the company UTV/Business Eye’s award for Fast Growth Business of the Year in 2015. This tremendous success also led to Tina securing the Outstanding Leadership & Management Award from Women in Business that same year. Her international success was recognised in 2016 when she was appointed the European Ambassador for Women’s Entrepreneurship Day.


A graduate from Ulster University in Coleraine, Tina is a member of several professional groups including the Chief Executives’ Club at Queen’s University, Women in Business NI, Confederation of British Industry, and the Institute of Directors.  She is currently the NI Director for the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, the governing body of the recruitment industry, and is on the Advisory Board of the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building. Tina is a recognised voice for building a new and prosperous Northern Ireland for all and is passionate about helping people gain skills while creating more local opportunities for economic growth.


Caroline Mc Comb

Caroline Mc Comb

Mc Combs Travel

Caroline Mc Comb, owner of Mc Combs Travel runs the business along with her husband Rodney, who founded our business 20 years ago.  McComb’s is the leading coach travel and tour company in Belfast, operating daily tours of Belfast, Giant’s Causeway, and Game of Thrones Locations.  Along with their tours, they operate a fleet of 16 luxury vehicles, and specialize in conference travel and sports events.

Caroline's career began aged of 13 when she started working in hotels, spending as many hours working as she did in school.  Her time at school wasn’t the best time of her life, and she left at 16 to do a National Diploma in Travel & Tourism.  In the early 90’s, Caroline felt this wasn’t the most popular choice of career as Belfast didn’t attract the volume of visitors that it does now.  Caroline went on to do an HND in Travel & Tourism, and joined forces with Rodney in 2003.

Caroline has always believed that if you work hard enough you can achieve just about anything, and she continued to work hard to make McComb’s the household name that we want it to be.


Catherine Cunningham

Catherine Cunningham

The Present Tree

Catherine Cunningham is founder of The Present Tree, award-winning online shop selling beautifully gift wrapped trees. She lives on a farm in the heart of Co Antrim with her husband, a conservationist, their family of free-spirited teenagers and various free-range animals. As well as farming, they have spent over 20 years growing and planting trees and have created beautiful woodlands of native Irish trees. In 2013 Catherine founded The Present Tree by combining her passion for trees and our ancient heritage with her love of beautiful design to create an organic, luxury gift.

Catherine began with a collection of trees most sacred in Celtic mythology and encloses the story of this ancient symbolism with each tree to create a magical, meaningful gift. She also established the company’s core values which are integrity, simplicity and outstanding customer service. Since launching online, The Present Tree has blossomed into a luxury, green brand with a devoted team and global community of online consumers. The vision for The Present Tree is to become the Interflora for trees.

Catherine O'Neill

Catherine O'Neill

AMELIO Utilities

Catherine founded AMELIO Utilities whilst studying at Queens University, Belfast where she graduated from in 2012 with a first class master's degree in Civil Engineering. 

AMELIO Utilities Ltd is an engineering firm with particular emphasis on Drainage and Civil Engineering. They currently have offices in Belfast, Dublin and Gloucester and employ over 40 members of staff.    

Catherine bases her success to date on being constantly innovative.  She is young, enthusiastic and ambitious. She has been pro-active in the face of the current economic downturn and is constantly looking for ways to diversify and grow her business.  Catherine has also recently joined the Board of Women in Business NI.

Karen Gardiner

Karen Gardiner

Ground Espresso Bars

Karen Gardiner is the Owner and Operations Director of Ground Espresso Bars, one of the UK's top coffee houses operating 19 sites and employing over 200 staff across Ireland including units within Waterstones, NEXT, Translink, Tesco and company owned on street sites.  Plans continue for new multiple units this year, retaining the title of the largest independent in Ireland.  

Karen is also a managing partner in LSFX Productions, a Northern Ireland based full service production company working in the UK, Europe, The Far East and the USA.  Karen is acutely aware of the challenges facing women in business in Northern Ireland and enjoys the ongoing challenge of growing the company in the coming years. 

Karen Yates

Karen Yates

Founder of Taylor Yates and managing partner at Zing.

Karen Yates is the founder of Taylor Yates and managing partner at Zing. 

Taylor Yates is a range of thoughtfully designed, beautifully made luxury leather handbags, manufactured in the UK and launched in November 2016. Karen started the business with her daughter Ellen. Taylor Yates donates funds to causes that support and give daughters around the world the ‘luxury of the freedom of choice’. Karen believes that blending business and social innovation can create incredible value. 

Formerly Karen spent 15 years working in the textile industry as a senior commercial manager supplying £37million worth of products to Marks & Spencer. Karen manages Zing with her husband and together they have launched an innovative online marketing solution and now have a diverse client base from multi-national companies to large SME’s across the UK and Ireland.


Leona Kane

Leona Kane

Broighter Gold

Leona is the Director and Founder of Broighter Gold,a high quality rapeseed oil.

Leona started the business in 2009 excited about the health benefits of rapeseed oil, and loved the fact that her husband could grow the produce on their family farm.  They grow a single variety on one type of soil, to ensure that their high quality rapeseed oil is a rich golden colour and a milder tasting rapeseed oil compared to others.

 The business has been trading for three years and currently stock independent shops, including Avoca, Brown Thomas, Sawers, Aracdi Deli in NI and ROI, and now have their first export opportunity to France and stocking the prestigious La Grande Epicierie which was the world’s first department store.  They also supply a large number of restaurants including Mourne Seafood Group, and Hastings Hotels group and have specially blended a Rosemary infused oil for their hotels.

The business has received a number of awards and accolades.  In 2014 they received 5 stars in the Great Taste Awards for their cold pressed oil and two for the basil infused.  A Bronze from the Blas na hEireann for their cold pressed rapeseed oil, and a Silver for the Lemon Infused.  They also received Overall Product of the Show in IFEX 2012, and Best Product Packaging in 2012.

Leona is part of the Causeway Coast and Heritage Group and part of the Operating Group for Food NI, and the 2nd Economusee in the UK.  Leona was a Finalist in the Belfast Telegraph 2014 Woman in Business, Highly Commended in 2014 in the Farming Life Farming Champion and Enterprise Ireland Home Business Award in 2014.

Many thanks to our sponsors

Sponsors- Causeway Coast & Glens Council, Ulster University, Causeway Chamber, Enterprise NI and The Police Service of Northern Ireland 
Conference Partner - Causeway Enterprise Agency
Venue Partner - Drenagh House, Limavady   




Drenagh House
15 Dowland Rd,
BT49 0HP