Wednesday, 12 May 2021

The Sicilian Way Is On The Way Up for Daniel!

 When you have the Sicilian family heritage and connections that Daniel D’Ambrogio has, then it’s no surprise that the food products he will be importing through his new company, The Sicilian Way, are of the highest quality.  But where did it all start?




As one of The Wirral Enterprise Hub’s youngest clients, 21 year-old Daniel has had an entrepreneurial flair from a young age. Taking inspiration from his dad, who runs his own law firm, Daniel acquired the taste to ‘be his own boss’ whilst working for the family firm, gaining some invaluable business skills such as website design, sourcing of products and customer service. Despite having the opportunity to continue within the family business, Daniel was determined to hone his skills and energy into something he had a passion for – and which person with Sicilian blood doesn’t have a passion for Mediterranean food?  It was a no- brainer, it had to be done ‘The Sicilian Way’.

So, what products does The Sicilian Way import?  Initially, these will be extra virgin olive oil, garlic, anchovies, salami and cheese!!  Now this is where the family connections come in, Daniel says, “A lot of our products come surrounding towns where my family come from, this means that we have local suppliers that we have known for years and have complete trust and faith they make truly incredible product”. Having the inside track on local Sicilian suppliers and an in-depth knowledge of Sicilian produce, the business will ensure that the products are not only of the highest quality, but taste fantastic too!  As the company motto states: “The Sicilian Way – All About The Taste!” Daniel continues, “We import handpicked, taste tested products to make sure they are second to none. We quality control our Olive Oil to make sure it is true authentic Extra Virgin Olive Oil. We want to make sure we are sourcing and offering only the best to ensure we give our customers the true Sicilian experience”.

Daniel has big plans for the future too.  As well as collaborating with other businesses and looking to become a regular at local farmers’ markets, he eventually wants to have his own premises.  He would also like to expand his product range to include quality wines, the perfect accompaniment to all those fine cheeses! 

So, what advice does Daniel wish to share with us?  “Focus on believing,” he says.  “I’ve always had big dreams and when I’ve been unsure, I’ve thought ‘just try it!’  If it works, great, but if not, at least I’ve given it a shot.”

And how did Enterprise Hub help?  Daniel responds by saying: “The Enterprise Hub has helped me incredibly and Heidi’s huge knowledge in business has supported me throughout.  They offered me amazing free courses and one-to-ones where I gained so much valuable information.  Also, Wirral Chamber have been very supportive through Louis in the International Trade Team helping me with my commodity codes and not to mention Independent Wirral, a great marketing platform for local businesses like myself.

If you would like to get in touch with Daniel at The Sicilian Way, you can e-mail him at info@thesicilianway.co.uk, visit the website at www.thesicilianway.co.uk  or contact via  social media at Instagram – www.instagram.com/thesicilianwayltd or Facebook (www.facebook.com/The-Sicilian-Way-104094818411225)

Monday, 19 April 2021

The Sky’s the Limit for Carl, with his new business Jetset RC

 Carl Rafferty, Owner of Jetset RC has built his business through the pandemic with the help of Enterprise Hub and St Helens Chamber.



With a website set up for sales and a shop in St Helens, Jetset RC is a one stop shop for everything drone and aviation customers need; offering a range of services that no other business in the UK can offer to customers.

Carl explained: “Jetset RC supply and build all types drones and model aircraft; we sell for two of the largest drone manufacturers in the world. If customers are looking for something which isn’t on the market yet, we will build it to their specifications too.

“Alongside selling drones and aircraft, we are one of the only businesses in the UK who can give people commercial licencing to fly drones. We take care of commercial training and licencing, repairs and more.”

After becoming one of the youngest private pilots to qualify in Europe aged seventeen, Carl worked overseas for a few years before starting a role in Ibiza for a music brand. Carl decided to return to his hometown of St Helens to continue his career, and found it difficult to find a role similar to the roles he’d held abroad.

Carl explained: “When I came back from Ibiza and I was in a rut. There was no work available which was similar to what I’d already been doing, so I found it quite hard to settle back into life in the UK. While I was looking for work I’d been building my own drones, so I thought that this could be an avenue to explore.

“I rang up St Helens Chamber and enrolled on the Business Start Up Workshop, and took it from there. I wasn’t planning to start up right away and just wanted to get the information, but once the pandemic hit I realised I couldn’t go back abroad and now was the perfect time to get started.”

Carl opened his shop in December, but was only able to open for a few weeks before the pandemic took hold. Despite this, Carl’s determination has meant that the business was still able to grow through his website.

Carl commented: “The shop opened in December, and it gave me confidence because we had we had a good turnout for our opening, the response locally was fantastic; and we got a few sales too.”

“Through St Helens Chamber, I was able to complete a digital marketing course. I wasn’t too savvy on digital marketing but this course increased my confidence. I’ve even built my own website since and have continued to sell my drones through the site. All the courses I attended were brilliant, you don’t realise how useful they are until you get into business and are able to use what you’ve learned like I did.”

St Helens Chamber is part of Enterprise Hub, the enterprise gateway for business start-up support in Merseyside.  Offering expert advice and support to anyone thinking about starting a business, including help to:

Understand the process of starting a business


• Research a business idea
• Build a comprehensive business plan
• Develop a marketing plan
• Create financial forecasts to understand the costs of running your business and potential income
• Identify sources of finance to get started


Enterprise Hub is funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

Carl received a range of support through St Helens Chamber’s start up team, and worked closely with them to get his business started.

Carl commented: “The start-up support from the Chamber was amazing. I mainly dealt with Steve who was fantastic, I couldn’t have done this without him. You can ask him anything and know he’ll get back to you with the answer. Everyone has been lovely and so supportive.

“All the courses were really useful too, like the digital marketing course and the bookkeeping course. The tutors made it really simple to understand and I noticed even when there was 20/30 people on the course it’s still really personalised, which you wouldn’t expect. Each point was directly related to everyone’s business so it was really good, rather than just giving information they helped us understand.

“I couldn’t recommend it enough, its 100% worth it.”

 

To find out more about Carl’s business, Jetset RC visit https://jetsetrc.co.uk/

To find out more about Start Up Support, visit https://www.sthelenschamber.com/startup

Wednesday, 31 March 2021

MAT Recruitment - The agency with ethics and values

Education recruiters Marie Tormey and India Kapur felt large recruitment firms were serving schools and children poorly, so they set up their own venture in Liverpool.


Marie Tormey (right) and India Kapur


Most large recruitment companies will insist they work hard to match the right person to the right job in terms of experience and qualifications.

And, for the most part, that is probably technically true. But when your job is to hire teachers for schools the bar is raised and comes with a wider social responsibility, or at least it should be. As Marie Tormey says: You are looking for teachers who will inspire, engage and enthuse children.”

Marie is co-founder of Liverpool-based MAT Recruitment along with India Kapur. Between them the pair have amassed 28 years working in the education recruitment sector, mainly for larger corporates. And they felt the way they were having to work could sometimes lead to standards being compromised.

India explained: “When you work for a large organisation you are too often driven by KPIs (key performance indicators). There was a lot of pressure to satisfy the client from the organisation by finding any teacher to fill the role. But it meant that we didn’t feel like we were always making the right ethical decisions.”

So in February 2018, they took the plunge and launched MAT Recruitment. And, despite a few early setbacks, the business has gone from strength to strength with support from Liverpool City Region Enterprise Hub via The Women’s Organisation in Liverpool. It’s a venture that is aware of its wider responsibilities to society.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, MAT has grown headcount with four people, including Marie and India, now in the business. Rather than just putting bums on seats, MAT will go the extra mile to ensure the right teacher is being placed in the right school.

“We would rather say to a school ‘I’m sorry I don’t think we can help you on this occasion’ rather than taking their money,” she said. “We don’t comprise on our standards. Our philosophy is always the same – profit with purpose. We are, and we will always strive to be, a values-led ethical business.

“You often hear of good teachers leaving the profession altogether. It doesn’t always have to be like that. Too often the problem is they are not in the right school. Most of the time, people don’t leave jobs that they are happy in.”

MAT works with individual schools and academy trust across the UK. It helps to place teachers as well as other educational staff such as HR, finance, facilities and support staff. It offers a personalised service to candidates. Time and care is taken to understand their career history and own aspirations.

India said: We take considerable time to discuss challenges they may have faced in their careers. We write a personalised profile for each candidate that highlights their key achievements and successes. Writing this profile gives confidence to the candidate that we understand who they are as a person and a professional.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a severe impact on the education system with children away from their classrooms for weeks and months at a time due to multiple lockdowns. This has led to fears of long-term effects on young people.

Both Marie and India acknowledge but add they have found the resilience and adaptability of both schools and children to be awe-inspiring. Both are active school governors in Liverpool and can offer insights on the education sector from multiple perspectives.

“Schools and children have done a fantastic job in adapting to the pandemic,” said India. “During the first lockdown there was a gap between the children who were getting access to teaching and those that weren’t.

“However, that has now changed significantly. This time around, schools are much better organised and they are offering online structured timetables. They have really upped their understanding of what the technology can do.

“At MAT we have provided a fully-staffed virtual school with tutors across a number of subject areas for a large multi academy trust. This has been specifically aimed at year 11 students and is helping to fill gaps in knowledge. It has been a really big piece of work for us.”

teacher, classroom, school, pupils
MAT Recruitment says it takes placing the right teacher in the right school very seriously

 

Although both Marie and India were experienced and accomplished professionals in their field, there is much more to starting and running a business which is where the support of Enterprise Hub proved invaluable.

India said: “Enterprise Hub helped us a lot with structure. Both Marie and I know our stuff when it comes to recruitment but there are other things you have to consider – marketing, accounts etc. It helped us to step back and look at areas we needed to focus on. There were things we probably would have got around to but with their help we got there sooner.

"We had recently grown the business in terms of headcount, but we were conscious of ensuring that we therefore increased our turnover and managed the team effectively, making use of their skill set. Also, we wanted to set a clear direction for our ambitions and goals and have them formulated into some sort of structure. 

"We found the training sessions with our team to be really useful; this is where we identified the range of services we offer and how we are different to our competitors in regard to the level of service we provide. Our employees were able to see our USPs which has helped when talking to candidates and explaining to them why they should work with us. "

And, talking about the learning curve of starting a business, Marie added: “We went into this with our eyes open. We are self-funded and we had a clear budgeting strategy to enable growth and sustainability.

“I think you have to have faith in your own abilities and be prepared to learn from your mistakes. We have certainly had our setbacks. Those situations test your resolve but we have always kept the faith in what we do, and refused to compromise on our principles and standards”.

“Both India and I bring different skill sets to the business and we have a lot of confidence in the two people we have taken on. They have really bought in to what we are trying to achieve. We are two hard working professionals who had a dream and wanted to create something unique within our industry. Our aim is to ensure that our values continue to drive the growth of MAT Recruitment.”


Originally published in LBN Daily: https://lbndaily.co.uk/ethics-values-drive-growth-recruitment-venture/ 

If you have been inspired by Marie and India's story and would like to see how Enterprise Hub can help you start or grow your own business, then get in touch with us. Email enterprisehub@thewo.org.uk 




Monday, 22 March 2021

Philippa and Neil Build their Own Careers with BC Bespoke Furniture

 Phillipa and Neil have turned their passion into a successful business with BC Bespoke Furniture. Starting out fixing and customising their own home furnishings, both Philippa and Neil recognised that they could create unique pieces for customer’s homes by setting up their family business.



Philippa explained: “The business has really evolved from where it started. BC Bespoke Furniture actually started when our puppy ruined our dining room table! I knew what type of table I wanted but I knew I wouldn’t find it in a shop, so I set about making it myself.

“I have a quirky style when it comes to furniture, and my vision was to have something unique. I made the table from scaffold boards and tubes and the finished product was exactly the look I was going for.”

From their dining room table, the couple also realised that during the pandemic they needed extra desk space as Neil was now working from home.

Philippa commented: “When COVID started, Neil ended up working from home and using my desk, so we needed extra desk space to accommodate us both.  We made a new desk ourselves, then some shelves for the living room and it grew from there.”

Philippa and Neil clearly had a passion and talent for creating bespoke and unique furniture, but after relocating from Northampton it wasn’t until their young family was settled into St Helens that the pair took the next steps towards setting up BC Bespoke Furniture.

Philippa explained: “I moved from Northampton nearly 5 years ago and I had tried to go back to work when I came to St Helens. At the same time, we were going through the diagnosis process with my son who was diagnosed with ADHD at age 14; so, trying to work for someone else and get him into school moving was too much of a juggle for us.

“Once the whole family was settled, it felt like a great time for me to get back into work. I realised that setting up our own business would give us the flexibility we needed to balance family life with our work lives. Unfortunately, Neil was made redundant too, but this ultimately helped us decide to set up on our own and we started looking into the premises and machinery we would need.” 

Once they had decided that the time was right for them, both Neil and Philippa set about researching what they would need to set up their business – enlisting the help of St Helens Chamber’s Start Up team.

Neil commented: “We had some conversations about starting up properly, and we knew we needed machinery and that our current workshop was far too small.

It took us around 8 months to get the website built, find our new premises and commission the workshop, but now we are all set up and operating safely.”

BC Bespoke Furniture now make a range of different products, all unique and bespoke. Each product is created with passion and the business has now evolved further into making bespoke Garden Rooms.

Philippa explained: “Now we have the machinery we need we are creating these amazing garden rooms. There’s a full range to suit all different sizes and matching all budgets. We actually use one of the garden rooms ourselves as an office in our workshop.

“These rooms have electricity, UPVC doors, cladding and add a really useable space to your garden. Once lockdown has been lifted we are planning to have a collection service from our workshop and we will allow people to come in and see one of our garden rooms fully set up so they can get a feel for it before they buy.”

Through Enterprise Hub, St Helens Chamber’s Start Up team supported Philippa and Neil while they created their business plan and will continue to support them as their business grows.

Neil commented: “Steve was really helpful. He put a framework together for us and showed us everything we needed to consider while setting up our business.

“Steve then helped us with our business plan, he gave us lots of helpful feedback whenever we sent him the plan and helped review our cost plans. He’d often come back with questions we’d not thought of, which was really helpful when starting out.”

St Helens Chamber is part of Enterprise Hub, the enterprise gateway for business start-up support in the Liverpool City Region.  Enterprise Hub is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

Now BC Bespoke Furniture is set up and business is growing, they have become Chamber Members. Chamber Membership helps them enjoy great links with local businesses and plenty of other benefits.

Philippa commented: “The factsheets I requested were really helpful – they helped us know what to consider when it came to health and safety, we had one on social media marketing too.

“Anything we needed like business insurance etc we were able to go through Chamber Members and felt much more secure going to someone who is associated with St Helens Chamber. All the support has been great, from the start up team to our Chamber Membership”.

To find out more about BC Bespoke Furniture visit: https://bcbespoke.co.uk/

To find out more about Start Up Support, visit https://www.sthelenschamber.com/startup

To access support to start your business contact the Enterprise Hub team on 0151 706 8113 or enterprisehub@thewo.org.uk





Monday, 15 March 2021

Redundancy gives James the Opportunity to Realises his Dream of Setting Up his own Business

After being made redundant, James Hunter decided it was time to follow his ambition of starting his own business. With the support of St Helens Chamber and Enterprise Hub, he started mobile valeting company, High Definition Mobile Valeting.

High Definition Mobile Valeting

James explained: High Definition Mobile Valeting is based in Newton Le Willows, but we cover most of the North West. I valet cars and other vehicles too; offering a range of services from full valets, to showroom valets and even a disinfecting mist service which kills 99.9% of germs.

The misting service has gone down really well at the moment as people are much more conscious of keeping their cars clean and free of bacteria. I also offer a carbon clean too which is good for the engine maintenance, so I help people take care of the inside of their car as well as the outside!”

After being made redundant, James was keen to get his business off the ground. However, after talking to St Helens Chambers Start Up team he slowed things down to make sure all of the relevant funding and business plans were in place.

James commented: I knew once I took redundancy that I wanted to start my own business with the money. I thought it was a great way to turn something which was quite stressful into something good; and its worked out really well.

I wanted to finish my job on the Friday and go straight into the new business on Monday. After speaking with my Business Adviser Steve, he advised me to take a step back and look at a business plan; which really was the best thing I could have done.”

James didnt just benefit from the support of the Start Up team, he took every opportunity to train with St Helens Chamber and boost his skills – all completely free of charge.

James explained: The support has been superb. Steve slowed things down for me and gave me a new perspective, he advised me about different funding available and then he helped me access relevant training.

I took advantage of some of the courses on offer like Getting started with LinkedIn and I did a Bookkeeping course which was really useful. With me handling money I wanted to know I was doing everything right, so this really helped.”

High Definition Mobile Valeting is going from strength to strength and business is growing even through the lockdown.

The timing of me starting in the middle of the pandemic wasnt ideal, but once we came out of the first lockdown we really hit the ground running. In particular, Facebook has been really good for us lots of bookings come through Messenger.

I wasnt sure whether the business was going to take off through the pandemic but it really had and Im so pleased. I work nearly 7 days a week and were really busy which is great. Im establishing my business so its great to have so many bookings coming through.”

Steve Mather, Business Start Up Adviser at St Helens Chamber, added: Its fantastic to see Jamesbusiness doing so well through these tough times, Im looking forward to continuing working with him and seeing how his business will grow in the coming months.”

Enterprise Hub is funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

To find out more about High Definition Mobile Valeting, visit https://highdefinitionmobilevaleting.com/

To find out more about Start Up Support via St Helens Chamber, visit https://www.sthelenschamber.com/startup

Or for general Enterprise Hub enquiries contact EnterpriseHub@TheWo.Org.Uk or 0151 706 8113.




Monday, 8 March 2021

Meet the engineer turned businesswoman who is making a name and badge for herself and others, online

 Krystina Pearson-Rampeeare is an Aerospace Engineer who turned a common observation about her day job, into a profitable business.

“You don’t look like an engineer!” It’s a comment Krystina and many other women in jobs traditionally associated with men, have heard 100 times or more. As a Flight Systems Engineer at BAE Systems, Krystina decided to mix her love of pin badge collecting with an important message about equality and possibilities. In 2020, she launched AviateHer, an Etsy shop which stocks and sells her inspired pin badges.

Krystina Pearson-Rampeearee

“I initially came across The Women’s Organisation on social media and attended a few talks at 54 St James’s Street. When I started my business during lockdown, I contacted The Women’s Organisation to see if they could offer me any support with setting up a business.

Before she contacted The Women’s Organisation, Krystina said she was looking for support to progress her idea, she said: “As someone with little business experience I was hoping to gain insight on how to run a business and what I needed to be aware of.

“I balance AviateHer with my day job where I have worked for seven years after graduating from university with a master’s degree in aerospace systems Engineering. I live in Liverpool with my husband, 2-year-old boy and our dog, and in my spare time I volunteer as a STEM Ambassador and mentor.”

AviateHer is a one-woman operation as Krystina uses her creative flair to design and sell enamel pin badges to highlight diversity in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) careers. She sells them online via Etsy and hopes to launch her own website in 2021.

“The advice that I got from The Women’s Organisation was invaluable. I was asked questions during sessions with my business advisor Huda, about my products that I hadn’t considered. She really opened my mind to possibilities and approaches to help my business succeed. I had regular sessions which helped me to remain accountable to the running of the business.”

Krystina feels proud of her new skill set as she manages the inventory, product design, photography, packing and marketing herself. Her Enterprise Hub business advisor also helped with setting monthly targets which Krystina says improved her management of inventory and to plan.

“I wish we could have met in person, but the remote meetings did enable more flexibility with balancing work and family life.”

Now a small business owner who has raised over £1000 for various charities since opening her online shop, Krystina has received more than 500 Etsy sales since going live in July 2020 and lots of positive reviews.

“The response was better than I ever expected, I started with a pin badge for Engineers and due to requests, have expanded to include further careers such as Scientists, Pilots, Coders and Mathematicians, with more to come!

“Part of the proceeds from each pin badge goes to charity which has been a great way for me to give back. I’m looking forward to the future and seeing what comes next by expanding AviateHer further and setting up a Community Interest company which aims to benefit women in STEM.”

To find out more about AviateHer you can check out the Etsy Shop link here.

If you have been inspired by Krystina’s story and are interested in starting or growing a business of your own, then Enterprise Hub could help!

Get in touch if you are thinking of starting a business in the Liverpool City Region or have a new business under three years old. You can speak to our team via enterprisehub@thewo.org.uk or 0151 706 8113.

Friday, 12 February 2021

The Fermentation Station offers 'ordered chaos' on a plate


Starting a business can be daunting. Starting a business in the middle of a global pandemic takes courage, determination and support. The Fermentation Station has done just that and following a huge surge in business at Christmas, owners Amy and Sam are now developing hands-on workshops and a bounty of Spring products.

Amy with some of their products

The process of fermentation has been around for centuries and is practised around the globe. You've probably heard of sauerkraut and kombucha, but there are so many more healthy, vegan, dairy and gluten-free products on offer. 

Liverpool-based business The Fermentation Station (TFS) was established in 2020 with support from The Women's Organisation and Enterprise Hub. Specialists in creating probiotic food and drink which are healthy, delicious, diverse and sustainable, we caught up with owners Amy and Sam to find out more. 

"Our business grew out of a passion for what had originally been a hobby at home. During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, we were presented with more time to explore and expand upon the art of fermentation. 

"As time went on and our following grew on social media, people’s interest in our ferments and the products we were producing led us to deciding to establish it as a legitimate business."

Drawing on previous experience, Amy and Sam were able to manage some of the basic aspects of setting up a business. Having registered with Companies House, they contacted The Women's Organisation which connected them with Enterprise Hub and a dedicated business advisor for additional support.

"I have had a number of different support points from the Enterprise Hub through The Women’s Organisation. I have had access to a business advisor and also virtually attended a number of support event with them including, social media strategy and business planning. 

"All of which have been helpful in establishing TFS, but I’ve found being able to ask my business advisor any queries particularly helpful."

The Fermentation Station start up process wasn't all plain sailing. Amy and Sam faced a number of barriers that affected them both professionally and personally.

"The greatest barrier for any business is the growth vs money dichotomy. My business partner is also my life partner and so we are currently running a household on limited income and the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic is very real for us all right now. We are having to adapt as the landscape dictates."

I think everyone juggles many different responsibilities. I run a home with a very energetic working dog in it who requires a lot of time, attention and exercise. In addition, prior to Christmas 2020, I was a carer and granddaughter to Nan, who was 95 and lived with a genetic eye disorder which left her blind. Unfortunately, we lost her in December 2020, so we are all currently functioning and living with our grief."

The Fermentation Station is currently run from home with additional kitchen facilities located at a family members home, where the duo manufacture their products. 

"Here at The Fermentation Station we believe in showcasing the diversity of fermented foods through traditional and sustainable methods. Educating, inspiring and connecting communities to create positive health outcomes and food waste solutions." 

"Fermentation is what we call 'Ordered Chaos' and we want our products to be fun from start to finish. From the love and creativity we put into our ferments to the delicious dishes and drinks our clients make with them."

There are many things that are unique about the business. The Fermentation Station is at the forefront of a new trend in the food and beverage industry that is set to grow. We have a number of unique aspects of our business model too, including our seasonal sustainability, subscriptions, social conscious and collaborations. 

As COVID-19 measures took hold, The Fermentation Station was unable to sell at as many venues as markets as it planned. However, positives include an increase in social media activity and 'phenomenal' sales in December. 

The business is going well. There are many positives to running your own business. The biggest one is being your own boss, having the autonomy to decide the direction of your business and what your values are. 

 I’m proud of us, our determination and our ability to do this in the middle of a pandemic. Starting a business is big and scary at any time and being able to reach the level of success we have so far and given the challenges I am immensely proud."

      Website: www.thefermentation-station.co.uk

      Email: info@thefermentation-station.co.uk

      Facebook: @TheFermentationStationUK

      Instagram: @thefermentationstationuk


Get in touch if you are thinking of starting a business in the Liverpool City Region or have a new business under three years old. You can speak to our team via enterprisehub@thewo.org.uk or 0151 706 8113.