Elaine Hughes: Her story with cerebral palsy, business and family

In our series of video interviews CP Talks we invite inspiring people from all over the world to share their story with cerebral palsy. This time, we interviewed the lovely Elaine Hughes, who’s a successful black business owner woman and one of the most positive and high energy I have ever met.

Being diagnosed with spastic quadriplegic cp 

Elaine was born in 1966 with spastic quadriplegic cp. She is radiant as she talks to us, and she emanates such positive vibes… even when talking about harder times.

Childhood for me was a lot of time spent having surgery and in hospitals, as they were trying back then to correct it with surgery, but yeah, this was a large part of my childhood. But I also immersed myself in reading, and at 16 I came out of school and found a job. I was lucky enough to have great parents, who allowed me to try everything. I tried ice skating and horse riding, and all of that and they wanted me to see what I could do.  After that, I started working and in 2009 I retired from work due to surgery and I found myself sitting in my bed, thinking of giving up. And that’s it, that’s when I started my business.

That’s absolutely fantastic to hear from her that her parents let her try lots of different things, but at the same time, I told her that I understand how they might be afraid something might happen, and I think that by experimenting so many wonderful things when you are a kid, you get more inspired and you get more joy. 

Watch our interview with Elaine on Youtube.

Growing up

Elaine goes on to tell us that her parents came from rural towns in the Carribean, they didn’t have a lot of education but they were passionate about letting her discover things. They had a love for trying new things. Her mom had a friend who had horses, and so every Wednesday they’d go horse riding. They tried theme parks, roller skating, and if she fell over, at least she could say that she tried.

Olivia: Exactly, that’s fantastic. I absolutely love horses, I think they’re the best creatures on earth. So were you born in the Carribean?

Elaine tells us she was born in the UK, her parents were from the Carribean. She has been there a few times and hoping to be back there soon, as she loves being in the heat.

I go on to ask her how did she get into doing business, and how did she start it on her own.

I had a massive operation in 2008 and it threw me off work. I couldn’t get around, I sat in bed, and I was looking around my room to see what I can sell. That’s when I started my online account and that’s where it started, having the motivation to start. I didn’t want to sit there anymore and feel sorry for myself.  I have two ecommerce businesses and we’ve just designed an app around cake baking, that will be launched soon. Now I’m also launching my coaching career.

Starting multiple businesses

I am amazed at Elaine at how much she’s got on her plate and how much she’s managed to achieve till now.

She goes and adds on the fact that she gets energy from helping people, and the disabled business network that she has founded is going to be amazing,as everyone is going to connect and skill share and they’re going to get that motivation of ‘’we can do it’’, that’s what she’s passionate about.

I add on that I think it’s going to be such a successful network, I think it’s something we really needed, and when it’s launching, let us know. It doesn’t seem like it’s easy, it can’t be easy, spreading yourself between different businesses.

I think any business that you do, you have to love it. You have to love what you do. I love helping people in any way I can. And my daughter will take over some of my business, she’s in her last year of school in graphic design.

Olivia: Could you tell us once again where we can find the apps?

Elaine: They’re called the cookies cakes and crafts studio and the bakery app is bakeasweet.

Being an entrepreneur

It’s just fantastic to me how a person can start one business, let alone 3 businesses, you must need quite a lot of bravery for it.

I think that’s the role of an entrepreneur, we create. I love creating and meeting new people, and I think that’s the way this community needs to go. There’s a lot of businesses and people that you don’t hear about so I hope to be able to make their voice heard and get to meet them. 

So it seems to me that one of Elaine’s biggest drive is helping others. But besides that, I do wonder what else motivates her.

I think for me, I really dislike inequality. I am very passionate about that. I am happy to be the one who says ‘’let’s move forward’’, and creating more buzz around disabled entrepreneurs. If we change, the others will as well, and if we make a difference, others will. I put things out there and people have seen people change, they want to be more inclusive. 

Having cerebral palsy made me unique, it made me stronger. Because I had cp, I had to adapt differently and think more creatively, and I think if I didn’t have cp, I wouldn’t be as successful as I am.

It was a pleasure sitting down virtually of course with Elaine, she is such an inspiring person and we hope we will delve more into her businesses and her journey with cerebral palsy in some of our next talks. 

For more interviews and useful information on cerebral palsy, you can read Our Blog.

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Olivia Dejeu
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