Characters of Cork: Sian is helping women in business

Breda Graham talks to businesswoman, mentor and founder of The Club, Sian Horn, who says she felt like she had moved home the moment she arrived in Cork. Sian explains how The Club helps women in business to empower one another
Characters of Cork: Sian is helping women in business

Business coach and mentor Sian Horn.

BUSINESSWOMAN Sian Horn, who is originally from Wales and was raised in London, has been making her mark Leeside since moving here over 10 years ago.

The business consultant and mentor, co-founder of Elite Pilates, CEO of BeBelle, and founder of The Club Women’s Network, Sian has been helping women in business for years, but took a different approach to supporting businesses when the pandemic hit.

Sian’s first experience of Ireland was in Dublin, where she moved in 2000 and spent 10 years working in various areas of the leisure and beauty industry. She bought two beauty businesses and successfully handled some serious challenges before deciding the time was right for a move to Leeside.

“I had just met my partner who was a Cork man. Cork men don’t leave Cork, so I said I’ll give Cork a try and I always say the first time I came to Cork I felt like I had moved home.

“It’s just one of the most magical cities I’ve ever had the pleasure of living in and I was welcomed with open arms.”

She became a business consultant with Groupon, which she said was great as she got the opportunity to work with all the small businesses in the city. Sian soon realised she was missing movement in her life and noticed there were no pilates classes in Cork that used the reformer machine.

She went into business with her husband, who had become a physical therapist, and Elite Pilates was born.

“Elite is my pride and joy, it keeps me fit and healthy and for me, movement heals,” she says. “In 2018, I launched BeBelle, which is an online platform that encourages movement for all women of all shapes and sizes just to move.”

Sian Horn of The Club. Pic: Larry Cummins.
Sian Horn of The Club. Pic: Larry Cummins.

When Covid hit, Sian decided to close one of her studios as it was “too small” and that closing would save her money in the long term.

Realising she wanted to help other businesses who found themselves facing long-term closure due to the lockdown, Sian began going live on Instagram each day offering advice and support to businesses.

“What happened during the lives is that you had all these people speaking to each other and I was watching the feed and they weren’t asking me questions, they were talking to each other and I thought, ‘This is amazing’.”

She said people started organising to meet up with each other and that a community of women in business was organically formed.

“When I started, originally I thought it would be 20 of my mates, but in the first year I saw that it couldn’t really be ‘Sian Horn’s club’ anymore,” she explains. “

So last year we were about 15 months old and we separated the business and The Club now is a standalone business. We run it as a non-profit, we are volunteers and we work really hard. There are 25 of us who work hard and we have over 100 members all over the country.”

She encouraged women in business who are looking for support to attend an event either in person or online.

“The Club belongs to the women that drove it and I think that’s quite magical. It’s no longer part of me, I will always be the founder, but the women run it and have done so for the last 12 months.

“We are all about paying it forward, and we have a lot of members, so when new people come into the fold, they are so looked after by everyone and you will never feel alone.

“We have women who haven’t started their business yet and just have a seed planted in their head but they need the confidence.

“The Club will give them the confidence, we have women who have just started their business and have complete imposter syndrome and The Club will help them understand that actually once you stepped into your business you are in business. Then we have women that have been 15 years in business and the people starting out are learning from them, but also the OGs are learning from the new people because things change so quickly so we are all learning from each other and there’s no hierarchy.

“There’s a difference between supporting women in business and supporting women who own their own businesses and that’s what we do,” she says.

Sharing her advice to others who are looking to take the leap in business, she said: “Two ears and one mouth, and be open and authentic and don’t be embarrassed to be yourself. You’re amazing, just not for everybody. And no one cares, we are too worried about what we look like, and what we’re doing.

“People are too busy worrying about what they’re doing so just go and do it,” she says.

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