Heledd Kendrick is the founder of Recruit for Spouses (RFS), a multi-award winning social enterprise that provides support for the spouses and partners of serving and ex-serving members of the Armed Forces in their search for employment.
Established in 2011, Recruit for Spouses has a turnover of £2.3 million and has been accredited with B Corp certification, meeting the high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability.
In this edition of The Founder’s Brew, we caught up with Heledd and learned about the skills that helped her become a founder, what motivated her to start her business and more.
Kicking off the chat, Heledd discusses the moment she knew that she’d made the right decision on her journey as a founder. Despite stating “I don't think I ever make the right decisions. I think I make a wrong decision every day”, Heledd reflects on when she first came up with the idea of starting RFS. Despite doubts of its success, the website crashed within one week of launching because there were so many people registering at once.
With so many military spouses responding positively to the site and resonating with its aims, this was when Heledd knew that she’d made the right choice.
I didn't realise the enormity of the task that I was about to take on, but that was definitely a moment when I knew I’d made the right decision.
Heledd shares which skills from her previous life helped her to build a business. “Like many entrepreneurs, I don't have any qualifications, but I do think one of the biggest skills that I've learnt is positivity, a mindset.”
She explains that when you are inevitably having a down day where nothing is going to plan, it’s important to focus on the things that are going right. As well as the fact that she really enjoys the work that she does, a positive mindset helps Heledd to gain perspective at times when things can get really tough.
The skill that I've learned is positivity and mindset. Having a really positive mindset helps you overcome many things as an entrepreneur.
This is something that being a partner of a member of the Armed Forces has taught her. “As a military spouse, you move every one or two years so building resilience and being positive is really important in military life. That’s really helped me in business as well.”
Heledd explains that there are lots of challenges that come with building a business and many sacrifices that her and her family have made along the way. “Building a business is hard anyway and I think building a business as a military family is even harder because at any given time my husband can be deployed anywhere in the world.”
She goes on to say that moving as a business was a real challenge but it gave her a better understanding of how RFS could support other military spouses into employment.
When asked what it is that motivates her, Heledd responds with “this belief that it wasn't going to change.” In 2010, the year before RFS was founded, Heledd asked fellow military spouses about employment opportunities but she was met with the same pessimistic responses. “They all said it's not going to change. You're never going to change it. It's always going to be the same.” However, this motivated Heledd even more for change.
Heledd had previously worked for the New Zealand Olympic team who had told her “If something's not right, you fix it. If something's not right, you change it”. This led her to believe that she could change it and, with this motto in mind, encouraged her further to found RFS. “That's why I called it ‘Recruit for Spouses’, because I thought if I helped force spouses into employment, then I've done my job.”