Sam Birtwistle is a young entrepreneur from South Devon. His business, Voyage Fairtrade, sells fair trade and ethical goods, handmade by artisans from all over the world.
What is Voyage Fairtrade?
Voyage Fairtrade sells a wide range of Fairtrade and ethically handmade goods – from ornaments to practical home items. The huge selection of goods come from all four corners of the globe, not just from the stereotypical Fairtrade countries you may think of, helping as many local economies and artisans as possible. This means that if you buy from Voyage you are not just buying a beautiful, practical item for you, a loved one or your home, you are helping alleviate poverty and helping countries develop: it is a win-win situation.
What are your plans for the future of Voyage Fairtrade?
I am expanding our range of products so they will be 100% unique and buying from more countries. With the name Voyage I wish to be involved in different countries, cultures and societies.
What was your inspiration to start your own business?
I have had a number of inspirations, but my biggest was when I was 16. I was working in my first job, in a shop at a holiday park; the park wasn’t performing very well and I thought ‘I would like to buy the business off the manager and show him how to run it properly!’
What has been your biggest hurdle so far?
My biggest hurdle so far has been marketing and getting my name out there, especially social media: I know that’s important!
What is the best thing about running your own business?
You are your own boss and it is your own life, you can do pretty much anything. You can even have that extra hour of sleep if you need it!
What advantages and disadvantages do you think you have as a young entrepreneur?
I think my biggest strength is my motivation and determination; I haven’t made a success of this yet, but will force myself to make something out of it. My biggest weakness is I should be a bit more organised, as that can make a world of difference!
What advice would you give to young people considering self employment?
Anyone with a good idea, drive and a strong work ethic can start a business, you don’t even need qualifications! I have epilepsy and sometimes I have to stop work and sleep it off. I have other disabilities too, as my balance and coordination is quite bad so it takes me longer to perform tasks for example typing on a keyboard, which isn’t that great if you want to start a business! So if I can start a company then I’m sure you can too!