Since I was small, I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit about me, I would set up shops on my front wall and sell my old toys to the other kids in the street, I used to play with an old phone and set up my own little ‘office’ in the garden, making up appointments with my dolls, and bugging family members asking them to take part in my games! Growing up on a council estate in a working class household gave me the drive and ambition I needed, no-one in my family had been to Uni, So I was going. No-one in my family had moved outside of the village they grew up in, so I moved 200 miles away.
I always knew I wanted to work for myself. I love the Diane Von Furstenberg quote “I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I always knew the woman I wanted to be.” I never really knew what I wanted to do when I grew up, but I knew I wanted to do something creative and be a successful business woman, free to work whenever or wherever I wanted. I saw my Mom spend years of her life in jobs she disliked, never having enough money to go on holidays or take time for herself — I wanted something different. I didn’t want work to just be work. I wanted to be able to call the shots and enjoy what I did for a living.
In my early teens, after months of begging, my mom bought us a computer & a few months later, we got dial up and I discovered the internet. I would design websites for my favourite boybands on MSN Groups, blocking up the phone line all evening after school. I taught myself how to make banners and buttons on Paint Shop Pro, and learnt how to understand & manipulate HTML (thanks MySpace!) I researched how to spread the word about my site via forums. My website soon clocked up a few thousand hits per month.
“This internet thing is cool” I thought…
At Uni, I decided to study Music Business. I always wanted to do a business degree, but I wanted a creative edge to it. At the time, Music played a big part in my life, so it made sense. Doing the degree gave me the business accumen I needed, so whilst still at uni, I set up my own online jewellery boutique. It started as a hobby, making jewellery for friends and family, but when I realised there was a gap in the market for affordable and unique handmade costume jewellery, I knew I couldn’t keep up with the demand of making jewellery whilst writing a dissertation, so I looked to import from Asia. I would buy in pieces for 99p and sold them for £10-£15 a pop!
Whilst still running the jewellery business, I found out about the Princes Trust and their enterprise programme. Around this time, Social Media was taking off in a big way. I had always found myself to be an early adopter of these new web 2.0 sites, I created a Facebook account in 2006, while Myspace still ruled the market, I had no friends on there for about 2 years though! Because of this, I just knew how these websites worked and figured out how to best utilise them for promoting a business, at the time, I had a couple of internships and was known as ‘The Social Media Girl’ which led me to my first paid job as a Social Media ‘expert’. The Princes Trust set me up with a mentor who helped me write a business plan, so I sold my jewellery business & stock for a nice lump sum, which I invested into my next venture.