Category Archives: self employment

Have you ever thought about a career in Early Years?

The Early Years Sector is a rewarding and vitally important sector which needs high quality staff at all levels. There are many exciting career options available, whether you are looking to work full-time, part-time or on a voluntary basis, with plenty of opportunities for training and progression.

If you have enthusiasm and enjoy working with young children and want to play a key role in supporting children’s learning and development, this could be the career for you.

The Early Years and Childcare Service can provide you with information about the different roles within early years, qualifications and training pathways and where to look for the latest jobs.

Contact us for a copy of our ‘Working in early years and childcare’ booklet  which has been designed to help you to make a more informed choice about your career options so that you feel confident about what steps to take next.

For Information on jobs, qualifications and training routes visit: www.devon.gov.uk/eycs, email: natalie.elston@devon.gov.uk or phone: 01392 385398.

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Filed under childcare, children, employment, self employment

Direct Sales

Happy New Year!!  New Year is traditionally a time when we think about making a new start.  Many Mums start doing some Direct Sales as a way of earning a bit of extra money in a sociable role that they really love.  Direct Sales means getting a group of people together and showing and selling them your products.  It’s a way for a group of friends to have a nice evening in and do a bit of shopping from the comfort of their own home, but with the opportunity to try before they buy.  It’s perfect for Mums as it’s so flexible, you set your own hours and targets.  It’s also great for Mums as becoming a Mum has likely introduced them to a whole new social circle who are likely to be in their target market.

There are so many companies now offering these positions (Pampered Chef, Neal’s Yard Organics, Craft Superstore, Avon, Kleeneze, Usborne Books, Body Shop to name a few), you are bound to find one that sells products that you are passionate about and can enjoy selling.  You can choose to sell at evening parties at a host’s home, daytime groups (playgroups etc), a party in your own home, at events like school fetes, or door-to-door.  With most of these companies you now also get a personal website so you can do some online sales as well, and customers can buy your products again and again without coming to more parties.

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Anita started working as an Usborne organiser in Exeter in 2012. She is a mum of two and already worked part time, but needed to find a way to boost her income. Direct Sales was a good option for her, as it had such flexible hours to fit around her part time work and children. You can even take your kids along with you when you are hosting book parties so this saves on childcare.

“I love their children’s books and also meeting other people so the work is enjoyable. It doesn’t always feel like work because parties can take the form of coffee mornings, playdates or even an evening with wine and nibbles! I think it’s a fantastic opportunity for people trying to get back into employment, especially parents with young children.”

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Caroline is Mum to Jack, 4, and works part time in Customer Services. She became a Pampered Chef consultant in October 2011. Pampered Chef sell high quality kitchenware, and during their parties consultants use the products to cook some goodies for all the guests!

“I was recruited at a Pampered Chef party hosted by a friend. It’s not something I would ever have dreamed of doing but I love it. I love the flexibility, meeting new people, my new cooking skills and newly acquired confidence.”

As well as the social aspect of hosting parties, most of these companies bring their consultants together on a monthly basis, so there are additional networking opportunities. Caroline has met many other Mums at these meetings who have also used Direct Sales as a stepping stone into work after having children:

“Having children seems to lower women’s confidence and it can take a while to build this back up. I can honestly say that the women I meet now are so confident and love what they do.”

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Nicole has two young daughters and works as a Supply Teacher.  She attended a Neal’s Yard Organics Party at a friend’s house and was so impressed with the products that she decided to become a consultant herself.

“I’d thought about different ways of supplementing my income and maybe trying out running my own business, and after investigating yoga for children franchises I decided that the cost of these was completely out of my league and the risk was too great. A friend mentioned that Neal’s Yard did something and it wasn’t expensive so I had a look. There was a special offer on for that month and signing up was half price … only £50, so a bit of a no-brainer! I knew that the company upheld what I believed in and were ethically sound. So I had nothing to lose! And I hadn’t even been to a party! It has been a great way of adding to my income … you get out what you put in. And I have a house full of products for myself and family! I consider myself to be the local ‘tester’ so when people ask me about certain products I can speak with confidence! The training is great; loads of opportunities for face to face and phone training, as well as two conferences per year and endless incentives. It can be hard work but I know that I can boost my income at certain times of year if I need to save for something.”

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Direct Sales could give you the skills and experience you need to improve your employment potential too.

Naomi trained as a Beauty Therapist at college.  She became pregnant when she was 18 so did not have the chance to gain much work experience.  After having her son, she started doing Direct Sales for The Body Shop At Home.  Through this experience she gained lots of new skills and confidence, and when a job opportunity came up with Benefit – one of her favourite cosmetics brands, she leapt at the chance.

“I love my job.  I’d never have had the confidence or experience needed to do it if I hadn’t worked for The Body Shop At Home first.”

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Have you considered Direct Sales? Have you been to any parties like those described above? If you’d like to discuss some of the options for getting started, give us a call on 0800 043 2440.

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Filed under childcare, food, hair and beauty, Inspirational Women, lone parent, retail, self employment, work-life balance

Voyage Fairtrade

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!

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Filed under creative, online business, retail, self employment, sleep

Magazine News!

This year, we have been awarded funding from Awards for All to create three magazines for Mums, all about improving your confidence and motivation, inspiring you to make choices that will improve your work-life balance.  We are very excited to have got the first copy printed – it looks great!  It’s packed with inspirational stories from Mums who have started their own business or dealt with the worry of returning to work or training, as well as loads of information that will help you to progress.  We’ll be posting some of those stories on this blog, so don’t forget to keep checking back!

If you’d like a FREE copy of the magazine, please give us a call on 0800 043 2440.  If you have a story you’d like to share, please email cmathers@opsw.co.uk or get in touch through our Facebook group.

If you’ve got your hands on a magazine already, please let us know what you thought!  Comment below, or on Facebook – we’d love your feedback!

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Filed under creative, employment, Inspirational Women, retraining, self employment, work-life balance, writing

Interview with a Photographer

Last week, I told you about a photoshoot that I had been a part of, and how much it made me appreciate the incredibly difficult job that wedding photographers have in trying to get hundreds of beautiful photos without impacting too much on the couple’s day.  When planning my own wedding, we came across an advert for a photographer looking for experience of wedding photography.  Lionel agreed to photograph our wedding for us for free to add to his portfolio, and I think we were really lucky to catch him at this point in his career.  Here he tells us about how he got into wedding photography.

How did you get into photography, and when and how did your turn your hobby into a business?

I used to be in a band and we used to tour a lot round the UK and Europe, I only had a point and shoot camera then but tried to document my trips as much as possible. It wasn’t until a few years after the band finished, when I started shooting a few local gigs that I realised I wanted to take it more seriously. I started shooting for local venues and local publications and started to photograph more and more bands. I have been to many festivals and photographed some amazing musicians over my time.
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What made you decide to start doing wedding photography?
I never considered doing weddings as I didn’t think I would enjoy it or be any good at it, so it wasn’t until a friend asked me to help out assisting on a wedding, and experiencing it first hand that I realised it wasn’t too dissimilar to photographing bands. Shooting bands live I tried to translate the intensity into each photo, and it’s the same with weddings, the intensity is capturing the crucial moments and documenting the energy emotions of the day.
How did you get started photographing weddings?
I tried to contact a few professional wedding photographers regarding assisting wedding with little success. Before I could take my wedding business off the ground I needed to build a strong portfolio. I couldn’t justify charging with my lack of experience so I decided to put an advert out offering my services for free in exchange for photos for my portfolio. Due to offering something for free, I in return wanted some special unique weddings that would look great in my portfolio.
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Congratulations on your recent wedding!  Do you think that having had a wedding will affect your wedding photography at all?
Having a wedding definitely gives you first hand experience (and stresses) of the business. The moment you mention the word ‘weddings’ prices seem to inflate substantially. Some things more justified than others. We were lucky enough to source out the things for our wedding within our budget, it’s so easy to go overboard though.
I do more than ever think that wedding photos are really important not only from photographer’s view but from a groom’s point of view too, as they are probably one of the few things after the wedding you will still hold on to. Another thing I learnt from my own wedding is to make sure you make a list of shots you want such as family portraits. You don’t want to look back and think you have missed anyone from your photos.
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How do you market your business?
The world of wedding photography is a huge minefield and getting your name out there is probably the hardest part of the job. Social media is a major marketing tool nowadays and I usually spend a lot of my time networking on Facebook, twitter, wedding sites, forums and anywhere else I think a bride will be looking. In the age we live in to succeed you have to embrace things like twitter and Facebook.
My initial price structure also dictated my marketing, I first started to offer my services for free to build up my portfolio, I now start from a reasonably low price. We all have to start from somewhere and at this point in time I can’t justify charging huge amounts as I have only been in the wedding business for under a year. The one thing starting in the budget end is sometimes potential clients pick you solely on price and not on your work which can demoralising. I don’t think it will be very long though as my experience in the wedding business is quickly growing and soon enough I will have to raise my prices to what I’m actually worth.
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What has been the hardest thing so far about working for yourself?
Learning how to run a business, I would say 70% of my time now is now devoted to the business side, such as marketing, networking, bookkeeping and most importantly disciplining myself to actually sit down and work. Also being self employed you have to factor in the long hours without getting anything like sick or holiday pay.
What is the best thing about your job?
Getting to go to travel to different places (I recently went to Italy to shoot a wedding), meeting new people, photographing weddings which in themselves are amazing events, and doing something that I love.
What are your plans for the future?
More weddings! Carry on expanding and exploring through my wedding business. Hopefully meet some awesome people on the way.
Check out Lionel’s work on his website: www.stealthestagephotography.com

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Filed under creative, planning, self employment

Photoshoot

A while ago, I was given the opportunity to go on a photoshoot for Pip’s Garden.  Pip’s Garden sell high quality, personalised gifts – bedding, towels, dressing gowns, and children’s clothing.  The photoshoot was held at the Fisherton Farm in North Devon.  Fisherton Farm has three beautifully restored caravans, and you can hire out the whole beautiful secluded meadow for a Glamping weekend with up to twelve people.  It was the perfect setting for a photoshoot with a difference.  Photographer Simon Gilbert, from Gilbert and Evans, was able to turn what was in fact a drizzly, dark, cold evening into a beautiful set of sunny photographs.  This was amazing to see first hand, looking at the photos you would have no idea that it was so cold!!  Pip actually commented on the day, “this is why the models always look cold in their sunny bikini shots”.  Carmen Croxall from The Very Vintage Hire Company provided some props for the shoot, and modelled in it too.  It was really interesting to see just how much work goes into getting one perfect photograph, and it highlighted for me just how hard wedding photography must be!

 

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Filed under online business, retail, self employment

Push2Fitness

A totally new concept in fitness class, Push2fitness has arrived in West Devon & Cornwall.

Fully qualified local fitness instructor and personal trainer Kerry Jo Gardiner from Funky Fit is introducing her new classes to the beautiful surroundings of Roadford lake and St Giles on the Heath.

For any mums that want to join a fitness class but don’t want to leave baby at home this is definitely the one for you. The sessions will include cardiovascular exercises including walking during an outdoor workout and everyone is encouraged to work at their own pace.

Held weekly at Roadford lake and St Giles on the Heath, the classes are aimed primarily at anyone with a baby from a minimum of 6 weeks after a normal birth and from 10-12 weeks after a C section, although parents of older babies and toddlers who are still happy to sit in their pushchairs are also welcome. Partners and grandparents are welcome too free of charge to join in the fun.

Classes will be based on an initial 6 week course and registration by email is necessary.

Kerry Jo commented – the classes have been initially very well received by lots of new mums in the area wanting to get fit and also make new friends in the process. We are particularly pleased to have been supported in our new venture by the lottery funded Active Villages project & Torridge District Council who are keen to encourage people becoming active in the local villages & rural communities and so have given us a grant to assist with advertising etc in the early stages. Holsworthy Childrens centre have also been out to meet with mums coming to Push2Fitness and have shown their keen support to this unique post natal fitness group.

For more information about Push2fitness or any of Kerry’s other classes see her website www.funkyfit.webs.com or call 01566780401

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Filed under fitness, Inspirational Women, self employment