Hi, I’m Kiri or Beth (Kiri is my preferred name), and I’m the owner of Fae Lioness VA Services.
With a career as a PA-turned-VA spanning more than 15 years, I’m bringing a wealth of experience in administrative roles to the table.
My background includes assisting high-level government and healthcare executives and even serving as a Town Mayor's PA/EA. Running a business can be overwhelming, and I'm passionate about lightening that load for entrepreneurs, regardless of their identity or health circumstances.
My focus is to help people succeed through the lens of their unique qualities.
If you could sneak a peek at my desk/office space, you'd find it filled with stuffed toys (mainly lions and bats), a constant stream of rock/metal/punk or EDM music, a sea of notebooks, pens and post-its, and an verging-on-unhealthy dose of Disney. I bring a distinctive style and vibe to everything I do, incorporating as many of my identities (goth, pagan, queer, polyamorous, disabled etc) as possible for a truly unique perspective and workflow.
I specialise in Discord (administration and server builds) and minute taking, but I’ll take on most general admin tasks ☺
Who or what inspired you to become a VA?
I love administration, always have. Even as a child, my favourite games were ones where I could help my grandfather with “paperwork” (read: refilling the printer and doodling messily on scrap/misprinted documents) or design menus for family meals and such.
After working as a PA for several years in local government, I fell pregnant and had my little girl right before the pandemic hit. Going back to work in those circumstances was really challenging, and I realised that I had the skill set, motivation and (probably most importantly) stubbornness to go self-employed with it.
Have you had any support starting up as a VA?
My family and friends have been incredibly supportive in terms of helping with childcare whilst I work(ed) silly hours to get it off the ground, providing moral support on the days where I couldn’t face another moment dealing with the intricacies of self-employment, and generally reminding me how much I want to do this.
I’ve built an amazing network since I had the idea (shoutout to Skevi Constantinou and the ever-golden PA Way squad!) and have met so many inspiring VAs and admin professionals en-route to where I am now.
I absolutely bootstrapped my way to my current position, I had no financial support to start the business, and I’m still not quite “there” in terms of financial freedom, but I’m so much further along that path than I imagined that some days I still have to pinch myself to believe it’s real!
What has been your highlight since starting your business?
Everything? It’s so hard to choose, every day is different and every day I find a new reason to fall in love with what I do.
I think one of the things I’m proudest of is how unique my skill set is and the incredible opportunities I’ve had because of it – I build and manage Discord servers as one of my primary service offerings, and this ability has led me to working with some of my favourite music artists as well as some top names in the VA industry. It’s been a dream!
What was your biggest challenge?
Finance. As I said before, I’ve had no financial investment with the business and the feast/famine cycle when you start out is REAL. It’s scary, but it’s taught me to trust myself, my instincts and my skills, and not to shy away from the hard stuff.
What advice would you offer other new or aspiring VAs?
Walk, don’t run.
It takes time to build a business, and it’s a tough process. It’s not impossible, and it’s certainly not an oversaturated market like some would have you believe. But it takes time to build a sustainable business and reputation, and it’s not something you can fake. Build a solid foundation, and you’re set.
And for the love of all that’s good, ask for help. Don’t suffer in silence if you need support!
What tools/apps/software can’t you live without?
A good notebook and pen
Cat-ear noise-cancelling headphones that make me grin every time I see them ;)
Were there any times you wanted to give up? What kept you going?
Every day for the first 6 months. I genuinely cried most of those days because it was so hard, but what kept me going was my little girl.
Every day, she would come home from nursery and I would ask myself whether I’d done good work towards her future today, and every day it was a spotlight on my flaws and my strengths and my determination, until it just became second nature to see the challenges as hurdles, not roadblocks.
What three words would you use to describe yourself, and why?
‘Determined’, ‘Fierce’, and ‘Strange’.
I am unapologetically myself in both style and manner in the outside world and, I am working on being that within my business also (which may result in a fairly drastic rebrand relatively soon to align everything better), which to me says fierce and determined to succeed.
Strange is just a description – I don’t fit many societal standards and it’s a word I’ve decided to reclaim from the people who’ve used it as an insult my whole life.
What has surprised you about becoming a VA?
We’re such a non-competitive industry, and the sense of sharing and support is just overwhelming wherever I go in VA spaces, and that is just so unlike any other professional environment I’ve been in.
What is the biggest misconception you had about being a VA before you became one?
That VAs all do social media.
I was so worried about having to deal with social media management, but I decided not to offer it and will actively decline potential clients asking for social media work.
Turns out most of my close VA friends don’t really handle it either.
It’s such a hyped-up part of the job and the reality is that there tend to be specialists, either as a whole or even for each platform, because it’s just too big an industry now to offer as “part” of a package.
Is there anything you would change about your VA journey?
As hard as it is and has been to get this far, absolutely not. I’ve truly learned who I am and what I want by taking this journey, and I wouldn’t change a thing.
Except maybe starting sooner because I love it so much.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I sing, I play guitar, I play computer games and tabletop RPGs, and I spend an inordinate amount of time asking my child how things got in her pockets/hair/shoes *laughs*
Who would you most like to meet, and why? What would you tell them?
Freddie Mercury. No question about it.
He died when I was about 1 and a half, my parents are huge Queen fans (which definitely passed to me), and 99% of my early childhood memories are of watching videos of Queen concerts with my dad and wishing I could be that brave. I’d want to thank him for showing me how to live as my authentic self, because it’s a lesson I learned early and have carried with me my whole life from those moments spent watching him.
What business book / podcast have you read / listened to most recently? Would you recommend it?
The Chronic Entrepreneur by Lisa Porto is an incredible book that I’ve just finished again (I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read it now). It’s all about how to manage a business whilst dealing with chronic illness, but it has so many take-aways that literally anyone can use, and I find something new every time I read it.
What is next for you and your business?
I genuinely don’t know!
That’s what I really love (and simultaneously hate) about how my brain works and how I’ve designed my business…the next turn or fork in the path is always a surprise.
I am planning to write a training course on Discord server moderation and administration, and hopefully I will continue to find new ways to scare the ever-loving hell out of myself with how boldly I step into the unknown. That’s my only real plan.
What is the ultimate goal for your business?
To support the “underdogs”, specifically the LGBTQ+ and alternative communities that are looked down on for being ‘unprofessional’. There’s no such thing, and my dream is to become the person those people think of when they need a cheerleader VA.
This blog was prepared or accomplished by Beth Gillham in their personal capacity. The opinions expressed in this blog are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Kayleigh Johnstone or COZ PR.