Driving a good business with women at the wheel

Wink Cars, a female-run car dealership in Birmingham, has won a national competition beating over 1,000 other female business owners to receive a one-to-one mentoring session with Baroness Karren Brady CBE. The competition was part of The Empowering Women in Business initiative launched by Simply Business to help women entrepreneurs overcome the challenges they are facing in business. Here, owners and best friends Jo Smith and Jodie Barber talk us through the business.

1) Tell us about your company. And how did you two meet?

We are Wink Cars! The UK’s only female run car dealership. We are based in Wednesbury and have been trading for just over two years. We met eight years ago through playing football together for Stourbridge Ladies FC, our friendship began from there.

2) When did you set the company up an what was the thinking behind it?

Two and a half years ago, with years of experience in the motor trade, Joanna saw a gap in the market for a female run car dealership. Jo approached Jodie with the idea which came at an ideal time for Jodie who had her own beauty business. Like many, Jodie had been struggling to operate her business through two years of the Covid pandemic. The timing (along with Joanna’s  great persuasion skills), convinced Jodie to take a gamble and Wink Cars came to fruition.

3) You recently won a mentoring session with Karren Brady. What are you hoping to learn from Karren? What will this do for your business?

We’re looking to seek advice from Baroness Brady on how to catapult our business to the next level. Being from a male-dominated field herself, we have always found her so relatable; any guidance she can offer will be invaluable to us. As well as this, we’ve already had such a huge response and a lot of media attention just from winning the competition. So we’re already feeling the benefit of this opportunity before we’ve even met Karren Brady. It’s given us the chance to expand our branding to a larger scale.

SME Publications/ SME XPO 2024

4) Can you explain a bit more about the competition and how you won?

We have always looked up to Karren Brady as she is a pioneer for women in business. Jo saw a social media post by Simply Business, promoting a competition to win a mentorship session with the baroness and thought “why not?”. At the time, Wink Cars was experiencing an exceptionally busy period, so Jo had forgotten to mention to Jodie that she had applied. A few weeks later, Jo flew to Bali for a holiday and Jodie received a call from Simply Business congratulating Wink Cars that they had been shortlisted for the competition. This was followed by a zoom call from Simply Business to announce that Wink Cars had not just been shortlisted- they had won! Unfortunately, Jo being on holiday missed the call but Jodie followed up with her after FaceTiming her with the news. We knew something was brewing because we work hard and have the ambition and natural entrepreneurship- but this really took us by surprise!

5) What advice would you give other people thinking about setting up their own business?

Be prepared to work hard and make sacrifices. Do something you enjoy. Confidence is key- you can learn it! 

6) Sum up your business in three words. 

Unique, Positive, Resilient

Wink Cars

SME Publications/ SME XPO 2024