Tag Archives: business

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!

Leave a comment

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

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.
chloesteven2013-10
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.
chloesteven2013-66
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.
chloesteven2013-77
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.
chloesteven2013-152
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

Leave a comment

Filed under creative, planning, self employment

One to watch

I am getting married this coming weekend and, just like every other bride ever, I want my wedding to be the biggest and best, personal and unique to us.  I have got lots of little plans for making this happen, but some of the big things that will make our wedding a true reflection of us, will come from Carmen at The Very Vintage Hire Company.  I don’t want to give too much away before the big day, but we will be hiring a whole host of weird and wonderful bits and bobs from the lovely Carmen, who at just 25 has built this business up herself in a year, and is already seeing it go from strength to strength.  She recently opened a beautiful shop on Exeter Quay – The Attic, so that customers can see the hire products, buy some antiques and decorations.  They even do makeover experiences there!  We see big things in the future of this young entrepreneur!  Follow her on Facebook and Pinterest to keep up with all her future developments.

The best thing about running my own business is the raw belief that one day I will make it big and all the hard work with pay off.  It may be hard but its the most exciting, satisfying thing I have ever done. I have met some amazing people, been involved in some great ideas and learnt so much already, and it’s only just the beginning.

You can read our full interview with Carmen here.

1 Comment

Filed under creative, Inspirational Women, lone parent, work-life balance

Direct Sales: Pampered Chef

Direct Sales is an excellent way to get into self employment with the backing of a larger brand behind you.  Many Mums choose to do Direct Sales either as their sole work, or alongside part or full time employment, as it offers such flexibility.  Pampered Chef is an example of a Direct Sales company.  Consultants come to your home (or workplace, school, youth club, day centre, etc) and do a cooking show where they showcase their products whilst creating lovely nibbles for your guests.

Caroline Cannon is Mum to Jack, 3, and became a Pampered Chef consultant in October 2011.  She also works part time in Customer Services.

Pampered chef is an American company that was founded in 1980. It offers high quality kitchenware and tools and is sold through the party plan (like Tupperware, Ann Summers).  It offers hosts amazing incentives for having a party; consultants (like myself) are incentivised and rewarded for selling the goods and people that buy the products are investing in amazing superior kitchenware that will not leave anyone disappointed.

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.

When my director (who was the consultant at the party I attended) talked about extra money and ‘how £50 was a lot of money you could earn instead of watching the TV instead of an evening’ I realised this was a real opportunity I should grab.

It instantly appealed to me and I haven’t looked back since. It’s an excellent way of meeting new people and will give you a confidence you probably never knew you had!

There are monthly meetings and these introduce to you all the other consultants in the area and there is always a cooking show. It’s a great way to see how others might do a cooking show and everyone is always very friendly.  My experience in going to these meetings is finding out about everyone else and their story about getting into Pampered chef. There are many who used it as a stepping stone to get back into work after having children. And this is massively successful. 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.

How much you want to work is entirely up to you. You can choose to pursue it as career, and indeed a very successful one at that.  Or you could do what I do and hold one or two parties a month.

I am more than happy to talk to anyone about Pampered Chef, and if you want to discuss anything please don’t hesitate to call me on 07810 501385 or you can email at carolinecannon.pamperedchef@yahoo.co.uk

Leave a comment

Filed under childcare, creative, employment, food, Inspirational Women, lone parent, online business, planning, retail, retraining, self employment, work-life balance

Rocket & Co.

Becoming a Mum seems to bring out our creativity (I think maybe after we’ve managed to make something as beautiful and perfect as a baby we feel like we can make anything!), and lots of Mums start crafting.  We meet lots of Mums who have started making their own products and want to start up a business selling them.  Rocket & Co. is one example of a Mum who has done this really successfully.

Susie Thomas is from Taunton in Somerset.  She has a degree in Illustration and had been working as a Designer before she had her first child in 2011.  Her previous job had involved long hours and a long commute, so she wasn’t able to continue with it after she became a mother.  Her sister asked her to make something to sell at a stall at an event she was hosting, and Rocket & Co. was born!  She makes beautiful, individual artworks from recycled and often vintage bits and bobs – buttons, maps, scrabble tiles, comic books.   She had intended for Rocket & Co. to be a sideline to her freelance illustration work, but it has taken off and she now finds that she spends most of her time on it!

I get a huge amount of satisfaction and pleasure from creating and developing the ideas I have and having the freedom to work on projects I feel excited by.

These are Susie’s tips for anyone wanting to start their own business:

If the business you’re starting is something you feel passionately about then I think that’s the most important thing, as you will always have the enthusiasm and drive to work your hardest on it.   If you work from home and have a child try and have a space that is behind a closed door to work in, it’s very easy to get distracted by your nearest and dearest!   Make sure you register as self employed, keep all business related receipts, record all sales and try and have a system!   Enjoy being your own boss and remember why you’re doing it!

Read the full interview with Susie here.

If you’d like to start your own business selling products that you have made yourself, get in touch on 0800 043 2440.  As well as helping you get set up, we could even arrange a focus group for you to gain feedback on your products.

1 Comment

Filed under children, creative, employment, Inspirational Women, online business, retail, self employment, work-life balance

What is a Pop-up Shop?

Pop-up Shops are a way for businesses to have a shop front for a short period of time, saving on rent costs, and giving businesses an opportunity to raise brand awareness and meet with their customers.

Pop-up shops may be open for one day, a weekend, a week, a month – it all depends on the location you choose and what you are hoping to gain from the experience.

Pop-up shops can be opened in vacant shops, and could help to bring empty high streets back to life by encouraging people back into the town centre.  Many landlords would prefer to have short term rental agreements than have their shops sitting empty.

Locally, in Exeter, before Christmas there were two fantastic examples of Pop-up Shops.  Firstly for a couple of days each month, the Natural Nursery held a Pop-up Shop in McCoy Arcade, Fore Street.  This gave customers a chance to try out products like cloth nappies and slings, before committing to buying them online.  These products are hard to find on the High Street and opportunities to see them up close to compare and try are few and far between.

John Lewis opened a new store in Exeter last year, but for the six weeks before opening the full store, they opened a Pop-up Shop to showcase a selection of what was going to be on offer in the full store.  If you are thinking about opening a shop, you might consider using this model to gain feedback on your choice of products, layout, branding and so on, before committing to a longer lease.

Have you been to any Pop-up Shops?  Would you consider doing one for your business?

1 Comment

Filed under online business, retail, self employment