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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

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.

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