An entrepreneur who lost everything in the 2008 financial crash and became a mum as a teenager is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the launch of her businsess which is now worth more than £1 million.

After giving birth at the age of 16, Charisse Smith worked at a scuba-diving magazine selling advertising – and rollerbladed to work every day. She later broke into automotive advertising, working for Wave 105.

She said: “A decade ago, I faced some of the toughest personal challenges and struggled from the impact of the 2008 financial crisis when I lost everything I had worked for.

“By then I had a second child so the level of responsibility increased and survival mode kicked in. I needed to provide financial security for my two children forever.

“It was then I launched CMe Media from my dining room table and regularly worked through the night to get things off the ground.

Daily Echo: Charisse, centre, with mum Belinda and eldest son JackCharisse, centre, with mum Belinda and eldest son Jack (Image: Deep South Media)

The company specialises in media consultancy, digital and content marketing, and creative services.

In 2019, after nearly five years of running CMe, the premature birth of Charisse’s third child on the way back from a business meeting would mean the start of what she describes as “one of the biggest tests of my mental health and strength”.

“It led to a month of juggling business and being a mum from the neonatal intensive care unit at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth," she said.

"I watched the lines on my daughter’s life support machine move up and down for a painful touch-and-go 41 days.”

Soon after, Charisse faced yet another blow, when the arrival of the Covid pandemic meant CMe lost “£500,000 in billings in five days”, as businesses withheld payments due to the uncertainty.

She labelled this "one of the biggest tests of my mental health and strength in my life".

Charisse puts her journey from a 16-year-old mum to a successful business owner down to "a need to survive".

CMe now employs 18 staff, and, working out of Fareham Innovation Centre, services a range of clients at a local, regional and national level.

Charisse now employs her mother Belinda as Financial Director and her eldest child Jack as Business Development Manager.

Charisse said: “We have had a decade of success despite Covid and my aim is to continue to grow the company and the team.”