Imen Ayari is a business coach and a marketing expert, as well as a mentor for AWE. Originally from Tunisia, Imen decided to enter the beauty industry back in 1997 where she opened two salons prior to moving to the UK with her husband. Here, she opened a successful hair and beauty salon, once her daughter had started school.
An avid learner, Imen continued her studies both in Psychology & Sociology and later a degree in Business Studies with Marketing at Bournemouth University alongside working in her salon and raising her now teenage daughter. Imen gained further diplomas e.g., Life Coaching, Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), Body Language, Managing Emotions at the Workplace, Time Management, Conflict Resolutions, Leadership and more.
“Many of my clients have come from recommendations – from other mums at school, members of the Arabic community as well as others who have heard of my business,” said Imen.
“The stories of the people I met fascinated me, and I started to research coaching online and then took a Life Coaching Diploma,” stated Imen. “It was when I discovered Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) that a lightbulb went off in my head.”
NLP is described as “a pseudoscientific approach to communication, personal development, and psychotherapy created by Richard Bandler and John Grinder in the US in the 1970’s.” Imen explains that she thinks of it more as “a way of changing someone’s thoughts, behaviours and mindset to help achieved desired outcomes for them.”
Imen felt that conflicts happen as a result of misinterpretation of events, words, stories, and other people’s reactions. ‘People often struggle with how to filter words and messages and the NLP Communication Model could be a key to helping them at receiving messages, events and words in a positive way through changing their mindset and as a result, they will have a better, healthier and more successful relationships, personal and professional’.
It was through her hair and beauty business that she began to realise that she had a skill in coaching people, helping them to unpick some of the difficult issues they were facing in their life as well as starting business. However, at this point, her life was very busy, and the country was in the grip of the national lockdowns which made face to face contact with people difficult.
“At times like this, I find that meditation and mindfulness practices help me to focus on what is important and find the answers to the questions I have about what to do in my life,” said Imen. “I decided to set up a Facebook group for female entrepreneurs (Show Off Your Work) and teamed up with a Marketing Lecturer at Bournemouth University and another who lectures Finances in Spain.” The ethos behind the group was simple: they would choose one woman at a time who was struggling with her business and help her to achieve her ambitions.
“I had recently stepped out of my comfort zone so had some experience of how uncomfortable it can be for some women in business,” stated Imen. “I had been asked to deliver 8 workshops for undergraduate and master’s students at Bournemouth University and although I said yes without hesitation, I really don’t enjoy giving public presentations, so the thought of it was scary!”
Again, practising meditation and using the power of imagination helped, as Imen imagined herself giving the presentations and despite feeling self -conscious, she kept doing it and soon, she felt more comfortable with the idea and knew that she could do it. “The feedback that I received after the workshops was fantastic and I am now planning to do more,” said Imen.
Imen is offering her experience as a mentor for AWE programme so that she can help fellow female entrepreneurs with their business start-up journey. “I am a different person now to the one that I was seven years ago and want to share my experiences and learning with others to help them.” She mentions that she never had a mentor herself and instead relied upon a lot of self-help books and online courses, as well as Live courses and workshops presented by international speakers and experts in coaching and business coaching, such as Andy Harrington.
“I want to help women, as many can find themselves stuck in the decision-making process. I can help to guide them through the process to realise that many of the challenges they imagine to be restrictive are actually very easily resolved,” said Imen. This coaching process can be particularly effective in how to build a growth mindset which is a key to a successful career and personal life.
“Through my work, I meet some really interesting people and I am really excited to offer my service as a mentor on the AWE programme,” Imen commented. She advises everyone to “believe in themselves as we are all born with millions of opportunities –it’s your mission to discover who you really are and to find out your message in life!”