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Relatively Speaking: We chat to sisters, Angela and Katie

By Karen Ireland

Angela Hunter owns and runs award-winning Birdsong Communications in Holywood as well as being a busy mum-of-two, while sister Katie Stevenson has recently launched her own beauty business La Bella Vita in Belfast. The two sisters say they rely on each other's support in their business ventures.

Name: Angela Hunter

Age: 34

Occupation: Owner of Birdsong Communications, Holywood

Relationship to Katie: Sister

I set up Birdsong Communications in September 2011, providing PR for clients sector-wide. These include Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce and Belfast City Centre Management, John Minnis Estate Agents, Andras Hotels, ASM Chartered Accountants and Betterhomes.

I love my job as no two days are ever the same and you need to know a little about a whole range of topics, from business to beauty and accountancy to estate agency.

It is also an extremely rewarding job, especially when you open the paper and see that several clients have been mentioned.

I have been married to Simon, a news reporter, for five years and we have two children Matthew (4) and Heidi (20 months). So between motherhood, family life and the business, I am busy.

When I'm at work, the children go to nursery a couple of days a week, with my mum and mother-in-law helping out for the rest of the week.

I wouldn't be able to run the business without the support of my family, it's as simple as that.

My sister Katie is also a tremendous support. She is never too busy to help me out and Matthew and Heidi love her, as she is a fabulous auntie. As well as babysitting, she also tidies my house which is an added bonus. I think my untidiness drives her nuts.

Katie and I have always been close, even though there are 10 years between us. I remember not being very enamoured when my mum was expecting Katie, but as soon as she was born she became my little buddy.

Katie is amazing, and she has recently set up a beauty business, La Bella Vita, in Dundonald. Now she has a staff of 15. I really admire her desire to succeed. She, along with her business partner Sarah Graham, has been nominated for a Young Business Personality of the Year Award which is testimony to their hard work. Katie knows what she wants out of life and goes for it. Despite the success of the business, she is still a really down to earth person.

She is extremely funny and has the loudest laugh. We have so much fun together, and love an afternoon of lunch and shopping. When she takes the children out, they go to places like W5, a farm or maybe just an afternoon on the beach.

We even go on holidays together, and Katie is a constant help with the kids.

She can be a victim of her own success, though, and long hours in the salon mean that I don't get to see her as much as I'd like.

Name: Katie Stevenson

Age: 24

Occupation: Joint owner of La Belle Vita

Relationship to Angela: Sister

Last June, I opened my beauty business with my best friend Sarah after building up a client base on Facebook, and working from home for three years.

Previously, I studied Film and Photography at Queen's University, Belfast, but I have always been interested in beauty. My sister Angela loaned me the money to do a hair extensions course in London, which then really took off.

My business partner and I built up our client base while working from home, before opening a salon in Belfast.

We have been short-listed for a Young Business Personality of the Year Award in the Belfast Business Awards which is very exciting. Angela has always been extremely supportive of anything I have ever done. Without her financial support and encouragement, I may not have been able to do the course in London, and might not be running my business now.

She has always been my big sister and my hero. I know growing up I was the younger annoying sister, who was always hanging around her room trying to see what her and her friends were up to.

As we have grown older, though we have become great friends. I know she is always there for me and I can talk to her about anything.

We are very different - like chalk and cheese. She is calm and level-headed while I am over the top and enthusiastic. She is a calming influence on me and a positive person.

Our salon was broken into recently and thousands of pounds worth of stock stolen and Angela was really supportive and helped me sort everything out.

I think she is a brilliant mum and love spending time with her and the children. I love being an aunt, and I will look after the children which allows Angela to have an evening out.

Angela is very hard working and great at her job. She recently won an Outstanding PR Agency Award at the CIPR (Chartered Institute of Public Relations) awards.

She is a real inspiration, having achieved her goals and encourages me to do the same.

Angela is very caring and would do anything for anyone.

We go on holidays quite a lot together and we all have great fun with the kids.

The one thing that winds me up about Angela is she is very messy and when I go around to babysit I end up tidying the house - so I am the nanny/cleaner.

In tune with their clientele

  • Birdsong Communications was set up in September 2011 by PR practitioner and CIPR Outstanding Young Communicator finalist 2009, Angela Hunter, who has brought together some of the most experienced marketing talent in Northern Ireland
  • The collaborative approach keeps overheads to a minimum, offering value for money
  • After 10 months of trading, Birdsong Communications achieved Gold in the Outstanding Small Consultancy CIPR Awards.

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