“I was seven months pregnant when I quit my job,” says Jenn McGarrigle, co-founder of sustainability consultancy Cyd Connects (pictured above with her family). “It was the scariest thing I had ever done, but also the most freeing feeling in the world.”

When she quit the start-up she previously worked at, she never imagined she would go on to start her own business.

“After I quit, I called up a friend of mine, Aisling, who was also my mentor.” Aisling’s response? “What?! Are you crazy?! You don’t quit your job when you’re seven months pregnant.”

Of course, it was exactly the response Jenn, 38, had expected and prepared for. “I told her that I felt I had reached a ceiling and wanted to do something with more purpose, and that before handing in my notice, I’d gone away and looked through my family finances to work out what I needed to do to be able to quit.

“We’d reduced childcare for our first child while I was going to be on maternity leave, we’d stopped having a car, which we felt we didn’t need in London, and then we’d set the target of saving eight to 12 months of our mortgage payment so that when my maternity pay ended, we’d have a safety net.”

Aisling, feeling calmer after Jenn’s explanation, went on to share her plans for her own career. “Aisling was finishing her sustainability Masters and doing consulting for businesses that wanted to become more sustainable.”

By the end of the call, the seed of a business had been sown. Within two months, and before Jenn gave birth, the two women had brought on a third co-founder and delivered their first project to their first client.

They have since supported countless clients with one-off projects and ongoing sustainability tracking and communication in all sorts of industries - construction, technology, fashion, food, travel - and many in beauty. Jenn previously worked as the Head of Marketing for the well-known beauty and wellness brand Liz Earle.

Jenn, co-founder of Cyd Connects, talking at London Design Festival on sustainability

Cyd Connects, which began in 2020, is run by Jenn, Aisling Connaughton and Aisling’s cousin Mica Janiv. The business was named after Mica’s mother, Cyd. “She was a trailblazer when not many women could be and so for us, she represents all the women who came before us and paved the way.”

The all-women team deliberately prioritises working with other businesses founded by women, both clients and suppliers. “That’s why Starling appealed to us - it’s founded by a woman. Its part of the change we want to see more broadly in society and it feels like the right bank for our business,” she says.

Aisling Connaughton, Mica Janiv and Jenn McGarrigle, co-founders of Cyd Connects (left to right)

“We have three founders and we all have the app. We can track and categorise everything properly and I really like knowing when money is coming in and going out.”

Cyd Connects became a Starling business customer in 2022. In line with its ambition to support women and create equal opportunities, the team at Cyd Connects works a four-day week to relieve childcare costs and improve wellbeing, and donates 10% of profits to charities or causes tackling gender equality, or in kind through pro bono work or volunteering.

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