Hi! I’m Toni and I am the Chief Operating Officer of Ostique. I officially joined Ostique at the beginning of 2019 and have loved every minute of it! Running a start-up certainly comes with a lot of responsibilities (and at times is stressful) but the rewards of what we are trying to achieve far outweighs the pressure.
Before I joined Ostique, I trained and qualified as a solicitor. When I was younger, I had actually wanted to be an actress but my mum and grandmother convinced me that I should act in a courtroom. They had clearly been watching far too many TV dramas! I am dyslexic and I have always been a little slower at reading and at first, I thought this might prevent me from achieving my ambitions. But, as it turns out this has never held me back.
I studied law at university, did my LPC course and then got a training contract at a firm called Charles Russell (now Charles Russell Speechlys). I had an amazing experience there, learning a variety of skills (that I continue to rely on today) and even spent some time in their office in Bahrain which was a fantastic opportunity!
I eventually (6 years later) qualified as a Family lawyer as I much preferred being around people and felt that I could make a difference in clients' time of need. However, I soon discovered that working in a law firm has its drawbacks. So I ventured into the ‘in-house’ world, where I worked for a television production company for 3 years.
This was a really exciting chapter where I was handed a lot of responsibility straight out of the gate. I did however have an incredibly supportive managing director who showed me the ropes and gave me the confidence to believe in myself. A piece of advice that he gave me early on that has stuck with me is: ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’ and to never be afraid to ask questions and seek help. (Thank you Conor Baily.) This really resonated with me and empowered me at the same time!
I worked on some really exciting TV shows, including Masterchef, The Island with Bear Grylls, Hunted, Sunday Brunch, Got To Dance and some other really cool stuff, but alas, I knew I wanted more.
It was around this time that my long time school friend - Stephanie - was doing something magical that could really positively change people’s lives. We had mused about running a business together as we are quite yin and yang and when she called me up to say she had won an Innovate UK grant and secured some initial investment, I handed in my notice the next day and here I am almost four years later!
My friendship with Stephanie dates back to secondary school. I always have very fond memories of her as it was Stephanie who stood up for me against a group of school bullies. I knew for sure she was a good person to her core and that I could trust her. Trust is the foundation of a good friendship but also a good business partnership.
Aside from the solid friendship that we have built over 20+ years, I absolutely believe in Ostique. I knew Stephanie’s brothers and their battle with Crohn's disease and had experienced some of this firsthand, as my mum also suffers from Crohn's. I had heard and seen the emails and messages from ostomates who had reached out to Stephanie, highlighting that there was a real need to change the face of ostomy devices and I wanted to be part of that.
It is my honour to be an integral part of Ostique, champion ostomates and deliver better products that will positively impact their lives. It was a no-brainer for me to leave my legal career and become an entrepreneur and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I have not looked back since. The start-up journey is never easy, to say the least, but knowing why I am doing what I am doing is a constant source of inspiration and motivation.