Many people work from home, but successful business woman Hester Cox decided to take that one step further by turning her home into a business.

Credit: Jessica Lang Photography

A 57ft narrowboat called Gloria was home for Hester but with growing frustration of often being mis-managed and undervalued, and a long term desire to run her own business, she realised to set it up as a holiday hire boat was a reasonably low cost, low risk way to start-up.

‘I have always had an inkling to run my own business, often I would see how businesses were run and I thought why are they doing it like that? I would do it like this. So coupled with the want to be in control of my own work, career, day to day life, as well as realise my own ideas, I got started with my own business.’
Star Narrowboat Holidays offers excellent quality and reasonably priced canal boat hire. Now with 2 lovely boats to choose from, Gloria and Queenie, Hester and her business aim to create a memorable experience to all who stay aboard.

Bridgewater Marina at Sunset

Based at the Bridgewater Marina just outside of Manchester City Centre, near Manchester Airport, it is a perfect location for people across the UK and abroad. The marina offers a rural retreat that often feels like it is a world away from city life.

Since setting her sails in 2012, the business has been hugely successful which has allowed for the purchase of a second boat and further growth. It is now at the point that people are having to be turned away because the dates wanted are already booked and the boats are receiving excellent reviews from guests.
‘I feel proud of my efforts so far, I have the press coming to me asking if they can include my business in their latest article or review which is amazing. I have learnt so much about business, decision making and myself.’

‘I like that it has given me so much more confidence, I love that I am in control of my own life, and I love it when my hirer’s cruise into the marina on return from their holiday and I can see in their faces that they have loved their time aboard. That’s when I know I’m doing my business well.’

In the beginning, many people questioned what Hester was trying to do and didn’t believe it would work. However, now with 2 boats, her business is sailing along nicely.
Hester believes part of this success is down to surrounding herself with a network of strong business women, via The Women’s Organisation’s Business Club. This helped to balance the negativity received by the people who doubted she could achieve a successful business.
‘I was nervous to attend my first business club event, but felt quite at ease and cared for afterwards because The Women’s Organisation staff and other business women in the club are relaxed and helpful. I came away buzzing and feeling far less isolated than I did to begin with.’

She continued: ‘Their support is invaluable and has saved me hundreds of pounds. I have received on-going business support from The Women’s Organisation, it has been really useful. They have helped me decide what direction to take and allowed me to identify my strengths and weaknesses to move forward. Ruth gives me business advice sessions in my caravan, the one I bought to use as my office, it really helps to have someone connected to the organisation that has seen behind the scenes of my business. ’

If you would like to know more about what Star Narrowboatshas to offer, the website has all the details, including more lovely pictures and specifics of each boat – and if you fancy having a look in person,  Hester is happy to give a personal tour.

And if you would like to gain support to grow your own business, you can speak to The Women’s Organisation about the help available via 0151 706 8111 / or visit for more information.