Three wise women: female founders that inspired us in 2021

Kris Hallenga and Josephine Philips stood out among the women featured on Positive News magazine this past year. They turned three very different ideas into reality by turning them into reality.

We looked through the four positive issues published by Positive News magazine in 2018 and selected three of our favorite women. We have gathered their stories here to inspire you for 2022.


1) Lessons from 12 Years Living with Terminal Cancer: Kris Hallenga

Kris Hallenga was in a reflective mood when we spoke with her for the first issue, 2021, of Positive News magazine. It was 12 years ago that she was diagnosed with terminal breast carcinoma at 23 years old and was given two and a quarter years to live.

Hallenga explained to us that she attributes her long life to excellent medical treatment, a mixture of new and old drugs, the love of family and friends, and a passion for living.

She has invested a lot of her passion over the past decade and more. CoppaFeel!Hallenga started a charity to raise awareness about cancer, called, just three months after she was diagnosed. Its mission is to talk boobs. Or, better yet, boobs with lumps. CoppaFeel can be found in schools, music festivals and on social media platforms. CoppaFeel reaches young people wherever they are.

The CoppaFeel team of 17 is serious, but there’s more to it than that! team, there’s a refreshing irreverence to much of what they do. “Spreading the boob love,” is how Hallenga sums up their strategy. CoppaFeel’s upbeat tone is a refreshing contrast to the often sober world of medical charities. apart. It resonates with their target audience, which, like many staff, is primarily young adults.

CoppaFeel is made fun of Hallenga’s irreverent personality. reach young people. Image: James Bowden

This summer, Hallenga released her first book, which has a characteristically tongue-in-cheek title – Glittering a Turd. (Her Instagram handle: @howtoglitteraturd). One revelation Hallenga has arrived at is coming to see that it isn’t the metaphorical turd that made her great. Her ‘greatness’, for want of a better term, was always within her.

“What I mean is that I hope that there was something within me that would have powered me to create something special and do something extraordinary with my life even without cancer. It shouldn’t take cancer to do cool shit, I guess,” she said.

I want us to find our superpowers, our strengths, our ‘big-ness’ without a terminal illness

Hallenga reflected that cancer has helped her to be “cheered from the sidelines”, “to be allowed to be me”, and she urged everyone to seize the chance to do the same.

“We’re more proud of people who’ve achieved through pain and suffering than those who are just being unapologetically loud and proud and brilliant and wise and happy,” she said.

“So, I want us to find our superpowers, our strengths, our ‘big-ness’ without a terminal illness. I am giving everyone permission for them to be fully healthy without the threat of cancer. Without turds. Just glitter.”

The following is an excerpt of an interview with Kris Hallenga that Oliver Balch has written. The full article can be found here. It was originally published as a Positive News magazine cover story. Give a Positive magazine subscription as a Christmas gift. 

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2) Josephine Philips, a woman who is on a mission to make clothes last forever

Like many innovations it was a personal desire that led to the creation. Sojo app. Founder Josephine Philips a 23-year-old graduate, wanted some of her clothes repaired and tailored, but her sewing skills weren’t up to it.

“I found that going to a seamster was too much time and effort, which meant I never got round to doing it,” she told Positive News. “Sojo was created to solve this.”

Users can enter their postcode and choose a local tailor to help them. They will then be collected by a bike courier. The clothes will be returned to you in five days. Sojo currently operates in and around London zones 1 and 2. Plans are to expand to Bristol and Brighton.


The Deliveroo of clothing repairs’: Josephine Philips launched the Sojo app. Image: Daphne Milner

Philips made a conscious decision two and a-half years ago to avoid fast fashion. Before becoming aware of its often-unethical supply chains and its environmental impact, Philips admits she was an “avid” consumer.

“But once I realised that shopping from these big brands didn’t align with my feminist values – their business success was built off the back of the exploitation of majority women of colour garment workers – there was no going back.”

Once I realised that shopping from these big brands didn’t align with my feminist values, there was no going back

Philips is making his professional debut. Prior experience includes waitressing and interning with Depop.

She is positive that the app will be attractive to the Gen-Z as well as the millennial generations.

“From food to taxis, we’re used to everything at our fingertips,” she said. “Given this, and the fact that most of us don’t know how to sew, Sojo is the perfect connector. It links talented seamsters who have a craft that has been developed over decades, and a younger generation that is full of potential because of their interest in sustainability.”

This is an excerpt of a Lucy Purdy interview that Josephine Philips gave. You can read the entire article here. It was first published in Positive News magazine. Give a subscription to Positive News magazine as a Christmas gift. 

3) The brains behind the UK’s first ever all-female tradespersons register: Hattie Hasan

Hattie Hasan launched a national register for tradeswomen in March, featuring a digger operator in Yorkshire, a tree doctor in the Midlands, and a stonemason from Scotland.

Stopcocks Women Plumbers was founded by Hasan to ensure that vulnerable households feel more secure with tradeswomen. The project is a non-profit. National Register of Tradeswomen is the brainchild of Stopcocks Women Plumbers founder Hattie Hasan MBE, who says the aim is to ensure that vulnerable householders who feel safer with tradeswomen are able to find them. Hasan grew-up in a violent family and so knows firsthand what women living in similar circumstances go through.

“Women are scared to allow tradesmen into their home, not only out of fear of the men themselves, but because of the reaction of their abusive partner if they talk to the tradesman or offer him a cup of tea,” she told Positive News. “Being able to access a register of certified, fully qualified tradeswomen is one way they can take back some control.”


The UK’s first register of tradeswomen launched this spring

The UK’s first register of tradeswomen launched this spring

WaterSafe, a plumbing accreditation body, says that almost a third of women would prefer a male plumber to work on their homes. Some of the reasons given were feeling safer, less likely to be victimized, and trusting another woman to not rip them off.

One way they can access a list of fully qualified, certified tradeswomen. [women experiencing abuse]You can regain control

Hasan and her team already have 300 verified tradeswomen on their books with many hundreds still to authenticate – and they are keen to add more. Most are electricians and plumbers. Painters and decorators are close behind, followed by carpenters and joiners. There are also a few general builders and roofers.

For safeguarding reasons, the National Register of Tradeswomen is not a searchable database – instead staff at the organisation personally assign verified tradeswomen to each job.

The register expands on the work that is already being done. StopcocksIn training women in new skills to advance their careers or start their own business. There are also plans to launch a tradeswomen’s college and to train women to work specifically within the homes of vulnerable people who are experiencing domestic abuse.

This is an excerpt from the article that was published in Positive News magazine. Give a Christmas subscription to Positive News magazine.

Main image: Josephine Philips. Credit: Daphne Milner