Stevenage mum who used to be homeless needs your votes to become Britain’s most inspirational business owner

Clare Glenister is a finalist for Britain's Most Inspirational Small Business Owner Award.

Clare Glenister is a finalist for Britain's Most Inspirational Small Business Owner Award. - Credit: Archant

A mum-of-two who has experienced homelessness and only had £60 left in the bank when she decided to start her own business is a finalist for Britain’s Most Inspirational Small Business Owner Award.

Clare Glenister, who runs Lingerie Heaven in Aston and The Fitting Room in Stevenage, is one of 10 finalists for the award, having been shortlisted by a panel of judges.

The competition was launched by online print retailer instantprint to find and recognise a small business owner who has overcome challenges on the path to success.

Clare, 44, started her lingerie business in 2002 after the birth of her first child. With just £60 left in the bank for the month, she persuaded her husband, Clive, to let her buy bras from outlet shops that she regularly visited and sell them on to make money.

Clare sold the bras on eBay for four times what she paid and turned it into a business.

From there she opened a market stall, offered a bra fitting service from home and set up a part-time shop in a local gym.

In May this year Clare opened The Fitting Room in The Oval.

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However, Clare’s journey hasn’t been easy. In 2008, she and her family became homeless. This meant putting her business on hold for six months, with stock getting damaged in the process, and she had to start all over again.

Opening a shop wasn’t an easy task, as it was particularly hard to get funding for a lease without owning her own home.

Clare said: “I feel so excited to be shortlisted. I’ve worked very hard to try and build my business around my family, working late nights and every hour god sends.

“It’s been tough, especially having a child with additional needs, as my son has autism.

“I hope my story inspires others to continue, even when times get tough and life throws blocks in the way. It’s an honour to think people find my story inspiring.”

James Kinsella, co-founder of instantprint, said: “Clare’s story really inspired us. No matter what life has dealt her, she’s continued to push on and work hard to achieve her dream, for her family. We hope her story makes people realise they can achieve their dreams no matter how hard it might be.”

You can vote for Clare to win the award at Voting ends on Sunday, with the winner getting £1,500.