To mark International Women’s Day today, John Mason International is celebrating the success of its founder, Mary Mason.
In 1884 it was highly unusual for a woman to run a company, let alone start one – making Mary Mason one of the world’s first female entrepreneurs! Although named after her husband, John Mason, it was Mary who founded the business in Wavertree, on the outskirts of Liverpool.
“Female employment in Britain was growing and many Victorian women took on wage-paying jobs,” said John Mason International director, Simon Hood. “It was also common for women to carry on family businesses after the death of a husband. But it wasn’t the norm for women to start businesses, especially within the transport sector. Women were usually doing work deemed suitable – like inn-keeping, millinery or working as a governess. Mary Mason clearly showed strong entrepreneurial spirit which is particularly impressive considering the circumstances and societal pressures on her during this time.”
Mary had previously helped her husband John with his carting business – experience which proved very useful for her new venture. She had noticed a need for a coal merchant and removal contractor in the area and so established the business from her home, 85 High Street, Wavertree.
“She would have had a very busy life, looking after all aspects of the new business including managing the logistics of the new operation, bookkeeping, correspondence, arranging deals and handling clients, and, as the mode of transport was horse and cart, caring for the horse would have been part of Mary’s role. All the accounting books have been well preserved and are stored within our company archives – each one completed with meticulous attention to detail, demonstrating Mary’s organisation and management skills right from the start.” Added Simon.
Mary’s son, Leslie Mason, joined her in 1887 – helping to expand the business to include general carrying, offering to ‘carry anything, anywhere’.
“The fact that Mary ran her own business meant that she had a degree of independence that many other Victorian women did not,” said Simon. “Her foresight also meant she provided an opportunity for her son John to be fully employed from the age of 17 and for him to grow the company.”
In her personal life, Mary Mason was a religious lady and studied the Bible in her spare time. After she stopped working within the business, the company of course carried on, with Mary’s stable foundations at its core.
“More than 130 years later, our company is still thriving – expanding and providing quality moving services,” said Simon. “Mary probably didn’t imagine the company would ultimately progress from undertaking local coal deliveries and removals to relocating families all around the world.”