Today is International Women’s Day (March 8), and while it’s always important to champion women-led businesses, today it feels particularly apt to tell you about some of our favourites around London.
Featuring places that will leave you feeling stuffed, drunk, whole, elated, or, quite frankly, all of the above, here’s some of the most brilliant women-led businesses in London.
Dedicated to supporting women who face social and economic disadvantage while serving up a variety of cakes—minis, birthdays, weddings!— and pastries, A longtime favourite of our little website; it’s helpful that they’re virtually on the doorstep of our London office, but we’d sure be hopping on any train that took us there if they weren’t.
Luminary Bakery can be found in both Camden and Stoke Newington, and they offer courses, work experience and paid employment. “Luminary is more than a bakery”, says founder Alice Williams in an official statement on their website. “It is a community and a sign of hope for so many.” Read more about Luminary Bakery here.
Head down Finsbury Park way and make a beeline down the Blackstock Road. Amidst the Arsenal pubs you’ll happen upon BookBar, a lovely little hangout that melds two rather enjoyable worlds together. If you like reading (and indeed, shouting about the books you love) and a glass of wine, this is the spot for you.
For founder Chrissy Ryan, “books are social”, and BookBar is a perfect destination for this to be realised. On a normal day, you’ll find book lovers joining in conversation about their latest read, and you’ll also be treated to regular events with authors and even live music nights.
Oh, and there’s even Shelf-Medicate bundles of books you can buy, each with their own type of prescription–Sophisticated Reader, Commuter Buster, and more!—because for many of us, that self-care session with a book can work like a magic tonic. Read more about BookBar here.
3. Where The Pancakes Are
Where The Pancakes Are have been going strong for eight years, after it was founded by Patricia Trijbits in 2015 with a pop-up on the Regents Canal in Hackney. Now, they have three restaurants (Battersea Power Station, London Bridge, Fitzrovia) in London where you can gorge on stacks of the things, proving the point that the love of pancakes goes way beyond one day.
Whether you’re hankering for bananas and marshmallow, or fancy going to town on an asparagus, goats and cheddar cheese pancake, these lot will sort your cravings in no time. Find out more about Where The Pancakes Are on their website.
4. Fair Shot Café
Fair Shot Café made the move from Mayfair over to Covent Garden earlier this year. Everything about this place should make you want to stop off for a coffee and a sandwich, but nothing more so than their mission. Fair Shot helps people with learning disabilities train in the hospitality sector, with the café taking on 12 trainee workers at a time.
By fighting damning employment bias, it leads to those who might not otherwise have been given a chance now finding work after their time at Fair Shot. Bianca Tavella founded Fair Shot in 2019, and their site at The Yards in Covent Garden embodies their mission to fight this bias on a daily basis. Read more about the story of Fair Shot here.
5. Phlox Books
When your done with your coffee, you must now head out to find your next paperback. Where? Well, much like BookBar, Phlox Books is another treasure trove of literature for you to go and gaze at the spines of some classic novels or the covers of your latest dose of contemporary inspiration. Incidentally, they also serve up hot java in their shop, so you can double up on the caffeine and skim the blurbs at breakneck speed.
Phlox Books has been serving titles hot from the printers and equally steaming drinks to east Londoners since 2017. It’s owned by founder Aimée, and the store’s name takes after that of the one that was owned by her parents in Belfast during the 1980s. That original shop may no longer exists, but Phlox Books in London is a dream for anyone with a passion for words, coffee, and wine; or better still, a high-brow cocktail of all three. Read more about Phlox Books here.
6. Art On A Postcard
Founded in 2014 by Gemma Peppé, Art On A Postcard was only intended to be a one off secret postcard auction, but look at them now, nearly 10 years on! Working with countless artists and running auctions, AOAP work with numerous charities to give back through art. Their fourth International Women’s Day auction raised money for the charity they initially started working to gather funds for, Hepatitis C Trust, in their bid to completely eradicate the virus. Art On A Postcard has also worked with War Child UK and Choose Love’s Ukraine campaign, and have raised three-quarter of a million pounds to date with their auctions. Read more about Art On A Postcard here.
7. Lady Of The Grapes
By walking into Lady Of The Grapes, you’ll notice that the food on the small plates really pop out at you, much like the corks on their wine. Talking of which, the mission of this Covent Garden bar is to ensure that “each and every customer has a delightful epicurean experience while supporting female winemakers”. Lady Of The Grapes was set up by Caroline Bryon, and have always championed organic, biodynamic, natural wines made by women.
Their executive chef, Elliot also has Michelin-star background so you’ll be bounding in for delightful small plates at a bar that’s a must for anyone that’s partial to a glass or three in the evening. Read more about Lady Of The Grapes here.
8. Flowerhouse Pub
Take an old English pub in the heart of Marylebone, give it a floral-kissed revamp, and you’ll have something like Flowerhouse: the pub aiming to support women in hospitality. Opened by Jo Jackson in 2021, The Flowerhouse Pub works with female-led building contractors, designers and gardeners, and the pub aims to help women of all ages and backgrounds get up the ladder in hospitality work. As you’ve gathered the interiors are quite the home run – just look at that bar. It would be the utmost pleasure for anyone to serve or be served at; a picture with a cocktail in front of that is surely a-calling.
Flowerhouse are temporarily closed for refurbishment right now, but be sure to catch them for a beer when they’re opened up again! Read more about Flowerhouse here.
9. Lick Events
Lick is the first womxn-only club in the UK, and has grown significantly since it was founded in 2016 by Teddy Edwards. After beginning in Soho, Lick now runs nights all across the country and welcomes 2,000 women every night, offering a safe space for all women and members of the trans community to dance the night away. Read about one of their outings in London here and find out more on their website.
Soho’s female-owned restaurant places you by an open fire and puts glasses of natural wine in front of you. If that doesn’t sound like your kind of evening, then you must just hate warmth. Each to their own, but I’ll be opting for a cosy evening here. Their bottles may change around frequently but you’ll always be in for a taste of pleasure at Firebird. That applies to their plates of food too: Monkfish, fregola pasta, nduja sauce, clams and salsa verde? Sold. Read more about Firebird here.