Sheffield business woman speaks out about the 'taboo’ around menopause and advises how women can still achieve their dreams
She is the inspirational woman behind one of Sheffield’s most well known independent businesses.
Mum of four Clare Nye, aged 50, runs the charming Marmadukes speciality coffee shop on Norfolk Row with her husband Tim – aged 56. It’s a hit with both locals and visitors, a key part of the city’s flourishing coffee scene.
Last week it was revealed the business will be expanding, with a new and exciting branch to be part of the Heart of the City development.
But it has been a long journey.
Today, for the first time, Clare has spoken of the medical battle she has faced after a hysterectomy just one year after Marmadukes’ opening in 2012 led to her going through surgical menopause, and the mental health issues she experienced as a result.
Clare, who wants to raise awareness of the “taboo” subject, describes the menopause as understated and ‘a bigger stumbling block than people like to think’.
She said: “At that age in your life you think am I over? Is my career over? Women are known to resign from work early because of it.”
Clare sought the advice of private doctors in London and tried bioidentical hormones to no avail.
She told how GPs prescribe antidepressants as an ‘easy option’ because they lack the knowledge about menopause, with many having no specific training.
Clare believes it is still a taboo subject for some but she is encouraged by the fact that more people in the public eye are raising awareness.
As an advocate for hormone replacement therapy, she said: “It helps the mental health aspect, especially brain fog. I use patches and without it, I wouldn’t function.
“Anxiety was, and still is the biggest issue for me. I decided to have cognitive behavioural therapy, and would encourage people to have it.”
Clare believes that in talking more about menopause and having an open mind, women can better support each other through what is, or will be, a tough time in their lives.
She advises women to do their own research, present that to their GP and to be strong about what they need.
She rates menopause podcasts and encourages women to look at lifestyle changes, diet and sleep habits in helping to cope with the struggles menopause brings.
Clare, who encourages staff to take care of themselves as an essential part of being a woman in business, also hopes to help others.
Clare said: “At some point, I’d like to become a mentor to help women who are thinking about setting up their own business, even with mental health struggles.”
When Clare and Tim were asked if they wanted to be part of Sheffield’s Heart of the City regeneration project and were offered a unit, this was when they agreed the time was finally right to expand Marmadukes as they had been dreaming of.
Tim said: “When the opportunity to take on Unit one in the Heart of the City development came along, we just couldn’t say no. It's such a great location, but more than that we realise that it’s a chance for us to play a part in the rejuvenation of Sheffield city centre, a place we all love.
“We, like the council, want the city’s vibrant innovative independent sector to feature in this bright new beginning recognising it is one of Sheffield’s biggest strengths.”
With three of their four children returning to work at the cafe following university, Clare added: “It gave us the momentum to push forward and expand for the children’s benefit.
“The focus of the business has always been around family.”
One of the biggest battles for the expansion has been securing the finance required but were in luck when they secured the backing of three private investors, Grace, Samantha and Louise.
Tim said he and Clare are ‘indebted and incredibly grateful to them’.
Clare also praised Sheffield’s 93 feet design agency for their part in the development.
She said: “Using them has been one of the best decisions that we made on this expanding journey.”
The couple are also keen to continue their work with the community in the future, having already worked with some Sheffield refugees and asylum seekers before.
Daughter Catherine, who also works for ASSIST -a charity that helps destitute asylum seekers- has inspired Clare and Tim to consider adding another dimension to Marmadukes by means of a social enterprise.
Clare said: “We would like to train people to be bakers who may have had a difficult start to life, to run courses.”
The couple are excited about the future of Marmadukes but have acknowledged that the battle ‘is not over’.
Tim said: “For us as a family, as a business, this is a huge leap of faith, but we are ready for the challenges that lie ahead.
“Times are tough on the High Street and many retailers are nervous about opening new sites. Regardless, we are confident and proud to be doing our bit, to be backing Sheffield and its leaders as they try to regenerate our city centre.
“It’s a bold ambitious plan that in years to come will be seen as a key turning point. Why wouldn’t we want to be part of that?”