amanda marshall 3 donkeys

How Amanda Marshall Started Her Company In A Male Dominated Industry

We bring you the founding story of Amanda Marshall who is founder, director & designer of 3 Donkeys ®. Amanda is an award winning founder including, Theo Paphitis SBS winner 2021, Small Biz Saturday 100 in 2022 and her latest award is winning Product of the Year at BETA International 2023.

So armed with more ideas than time, I carried out market research and had numerous conversations with other females I knew in similar working environments – farming, equestrian, dog walking, gardening – even painters & decorators. It soon became clear there was a gap in the market – and demand was high.

-Amanda Marshall


Amanda Marshall, 3 Donkeys,
Photo by Walls.io on Pexels.com

How did your journey as a female health founder begin? What inspired you to venture into this specific niche within the women’s health and safety industry?

3 Donkeys ® began when I had a need for more female friendly coveralls (overalls, boiler-suits, jumpsuits, whatever you know them as). With a day old baby and back lambing, it soon became apparent that the normal all-in-one wasn’t a suitable option. There was nothing available which suited my needs, so I imagined the 2to1® Coverall concept and set about registering and manufacturing my design.

As a woman in the health and safety sector, what obstacles did you face when establishing your company? Could you share some key challenges and how you overcame them?

It became apparent very early on that I was trying to enter a male dominated industry (I was coming from a non-business background with little to no knowledge of what I was doing) which at the time didn’t seem to like change, let alone something specifically for women.

The general question to me was ‘why would you do it?’ to which my reply was always ‘why not?’

-Amanda Marshall

Women have just as much right to proper fitting workwear as their male colleagues and being passionate about my design made it easier to over come this. It can also be difficult to find manufacturers to help with development, especially as it can be a very costly process. Luckily I found some fabulous ones who have been on board with my vision from the early days of 3 Donkeys and mutual trust was there from the beginning, but I did lay the foundations of our relationships early on.

What advice do you have for other women looking to start their own ventures in the health space? Any particular lessons or insights you would like to share from your experience? 

If it is something that you believe wholeheartedly in and know what value it has, then run with it and don’t be afraid to be rather bullish and pig headed when needed. Ultimately you are the one who knows what you want to do and why! Don’t take no for an answer, it is better to give it a go than regret not trying.

How do you see the landscape of female health evolving, and how has your company adapted to stay ahead in this dynamic industry?

Women seem to be getting louder voices in regards to what we need and why we need them. As a company, we have only ever been for women, so it has been easy to stay focussed on that.

In what ways do you believe being a female founder has influenced your approach to addressing women’s health and safety needs? Are there aspects that set your perspective apart?

Because I had a personal need which highlighted a lack of female focussed  workwear at that time (luckily more manufacturers are making a change and considering females in their clothing lines).

Amanda Marshall, 3 Donkeys,
Photo by cottonbro studio on Pexels.com

Can you pinpoint a few strategies or decisions that have been pivotal to the success of your business?

Adapting and changing when needed. Since I began 3 Donkeys ® in 2018 there have been so many challenges both nationally and globally, which made thinking ‘outside of the box’ and having an open mind has been key to us surviving and growing.

In the fast-paced world of female health entrepreneurship, technology often plays a crucial role. Could you share some of the key technologies or tools that have been instrumental in the success of your business, and why you swear by them?

Personally I am a complete technophobe and struggle with how things work and as a rule I couldn’t live without my iphone  (as I find it pretty idiot proof!).

Reflecting on your journey, what has been the most gratifying or rewarding moment in building and growing your female health-focused company?

Winning product of the year (clothing and footwear) with our Exmoor 2to1® Coverall at BETA International 2023.

Looking ahead, what are your aspirations for the future of your business and the impact you hope to make on women’s health and safety? Any exciting developments or projects on the horizon?

I am always looking at ways to expand my design into areas where they are needed. It is surprising how much difference it can make to women who wear / need all-in-ones .

Top 3 tips for female health entrepreneurs 

  1. Believe in yourself and your concept
  2. Listening to the doubters, you know what needs to be achieved.
  3. Use everything that is on offer, there is so much available to help and its ok to ask!

In 1 sentence how do you define success? 

For me, its showing my children what can be achieved if you give it a try.

If I could start from zero knowledge in my forties and end up being an award winning designer and entrepreneur, then I’ll take that as success.

-Amanda Marshall

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