By Kaila H. Johnson
Those who hear of Luminary eventually hear of its founder, Alice Williams. With a serene, yet fierce, persona and a passionate drive for second chances, her dream of empowering women from disadvantaged backgrounds to reach their potential has become a reality — an award winning and globally known reality!
Alice’s dream was not something that formulated over night, or even months, but years of gathering information and understanding into the world of second chances. It was only when she volunteered in Thailand with a Non-Governmental Organisation that offered employment to women trying to exit the sex-trade in Bangkok, that her passions of hope, second chances, and empowerment began to align.
Upon returning to London, she began volunteering her time with local charities working with women. Through this invested time she saw an opportunity to help—to offer a safe and professional environment where women can feel empowered to reach their potential. Surrounded by bakers, Alice began to see the therapeutic nature of baking and the opportunities it offered for sustainability. Thus, Luminary was born!
Hope is the evidential backbone of Alice and the team at Luminary as they overflow with the ability to help others flourish through creative expressions of artisan baking. Hence the tagline: Rising Hope.
“We chose to use baking because… it can be a therapeutic activity for the women to engage with, and there are so many people willing to ‘purchase with purpose’ — to buy delicious baked goods that support our cause!”
There have been and still are moments of doubt, tears, and discouragement when external systems prevent growth for our women (i.e.barriers of housing/childcare / Home Office restrictions), but then there are moments when women we work with feel a sense of security and take courageous steps forward in their own lives after overcoming so much. Those are the moments that rise hope in it all and keep moving the dream forward to become a reality. The reality it is today!
Alice’s dream continues to expand as Luminary looks forward to opening our second location in Camden come Autumn 2019. The reality of this initial dream surpasses itself again as we search for additional staff and prepare to triple the number of women trained per year (thanks to a grant from the National Lottery)!?
“Luminary’s training programmes are always oversubscribed, and there is such a need for the support we offer. We are over the moon to have the opportunity to work with many more women, and we’re looking forward to welcoming them into the Luminary family!”
At the end of the day, the women we work with move the dream forward! For them to feel safe and empowered, having been invested in and grown in confidence, skills, experience, employability & independence, that IS Alice’s dream.
From a dream to a reality, this has been a Behind-The-Scenes Moment with Luminary’s fearless founder and leader, Alice!
10 QUESTIONS WITH ALICE:
Favourite Luminary baked good?: “That is a very hard question! Can I have 4?! The cinnamon swirls (obviously!), our vegan chocolate & almond celebration cake, a salted caramel brownie, or, if I’m in a savoury mood, a warm cheese scone.”
A surprising fact?: “I’m currently learning the play drums and am in a little band (called Mockingbird Band), we play Folky/Americana.”
Guilty pleasure?: “RuPaul’s Drag Race!”
Favourite place you’ve traveled?: “I felt very lucky to go to Halong Bay in Vietnam, we went kayaking around the tiny islands and it was ridiculously beautiful.”
What makes you laugh the most?: “Cat videos!”
Favourite book?: “‘Life of Pi’ by Yan Martel.”
Go-to Karaoke song?: “Anything Whitney!”
Puppy or kitten?: “Kittens every day. I have 2 of my own & they are my world”
Skydive or bungie jump?: “Skydive… I’d be really up for that!”
Beach or City?: “Beach. I live in a city – it’s nice to escape to the seaside!”
Kaila does Press & Communications for Luminary, as well as has the honour of helping put words to the amazing stories taking place throughout this inspiring social enterprise. When she’s not writing, you can find her exploring the world of art, trying out new nutritional recipes, or savouring a locally roasted cup of coffee. Stay connected through her blog www.freshpagenewchapter.blogspot.com or Instagram @kailahjohnson.