“Taking the leap to buy my own franchise was a no brainer. Now, I can’t believe how bold it was to leave behind a well-paid career and jumpin, feetfirst, with no fear. Well, it paid off!” 

 Young Woman of the Year: Holly Stepien, Bloom Toddler Classes Ltd
One of two winners for this fiercely fought category, Holly is an inspiration of how life’s challenges don’t have to define us.

When we first started the EWIF awards back in 2010, we were immediately blown away by the quality of nominees and it was hard to imagine that the bar could be set any higher. However, year after year, we’ve seen more and more incredible, young women come forward as inspiring new business leaders. In 2023, the competition was so fierce we had to share the prestigious Young Woman in Franchising award between two winners!

Holly Stepien, of Bloom Baby Classes and Bloom Toddler Classes, is a great example of a young woman who not only achieved huge success as a franchisee, but went on to play a pivotal role in the leadership of the franchise as a whole. Since joining Bloom, she’s excelled at helping them fulfil their mission of providing enriching and interactive education to small children up to 4 years old. In fact, just last year, she was shortlisted for the Most Loved Baby Activity Leader award by What’s On 4 Kids!

Holly’s had to face a number of challenges along the way, including overcoming severe post-natal depression. While this was understandably very difficult for her, it also became a transformative experience which gave her the incentive to help improve the lives of so many other mothers, too.

“Winning this award was extremely emotional for me,” Holly told us. “Just like the theme of the whole awards event, I overcame huge barriers to make my life better for my family. To think, just three years ago, I was undergoing CBT where my homework was to brush my hair. To go from there to where I am now is quite unbelievable. I hope I’ve inspired others along the way to let hard times be a driving force.”

Holly’s success as a franchisee was just the beginning, as she expanded her Bloom Baby franchise into 3 territories, having bought her first one in 2021. Then, in May last year, aged only 28, she joined forces with her franchisor to co-found a brand new franchise initiative: Bloom Toddler Class – which was an immediate success. Within just six months, they had welcomed an incredibly impressive 16 new franchisees to the network, including their first international franchisee.

“I was proud of myself in winning this award. I felt all my hard work had paid off, and was thrilled to have been recognised for it. But, it’s not just important for me. I think this win will also have a big impact on the business, as it will add social proofing for both our franchise and my franchises.”

By achieving so much at such a young age, and against such adversity, Holly is real inspiration!


Franchising offers all women the chance to ‘be their own boss’. Organisations like Encouraging Women into Franchising (EWiF) and The British Franchise Association (bfa) provide support to women wanting to enter franchising with services like EWiF’s volunteer mentors and the bfa’s free online Prospect Franchisee Certificate.