THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Innovation and enterprise blog

137 posts categorized "Start-ups"

12 November 2019

Meet our delivery partners: Anis Qizilbash

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Anis Qizilbash runs workshops on sales and mindfulness at the BIPC, to help entrepreneurs manage their mindset, a critical ingredient for successful selling and business growth.

Anis Qizilbash, BIPC delivery partner

What’s covered in the How to Sell Without Being Salesy (even if you’re scared of selling) session?

The workshop covers how to engage and sell to people in face-to-face sales situations, selling your products or services to big or small companies, selling to individuals on a one-to-one basis, or selling to people at a market-stand, all without being pushy or salesy. And most of importantly, by being yourself. So you’ll learn how to talk about you in a powerfully persuasive way, how to overcome self-doubt or fear of selling, all the way to how to get that magic YES.

Who is this workshop for?

The session is aimed at people who’ve left a job to start their own self-employed business or start their own company or people who’ve been running their own business but never had to sell, before and don’t know how to. This session is also for people who are scared of selling, they hate selling and perhaps don’t believe they have the right persona to sell. It’s definitely not for experienced salespeople.

What to expect

The session is fun and interactive, where you’re given exercises to craft your own messaging, so your potential customers understand why they really need you and want to pay you. You’ll learn and practice sales conversations, in safe role-play scenarios - this is hugely confidence boosting - where previous participants have lightbulb moments about where they’ve gone wrong in the past and how to win moving forward.

Anis Qizilbash on stage

Who runs it?

I’m using my 20 years of sales experience, across 20 countries, in corporates and start-ups, multiple industries, selling a variety of products, generated multi-million in sales, to create Mindful Sales Training helping startups and self-employed, non-sales people, learn how to get people to buy from them over and over again. I’m passionate about helping people grow their sales so they can do what they love. Through my books (Grow Your Sales, Do What You Love), courses, coaching and keynotes, I’ve helped 1000s of people sell for the first time, when they didn’t believe it was in them.

You can subscribe to Anis' Coffee & Wisdom Show serving weekly wellbeing snacks to help you win your week.

Visit the BIPC's workshops and events page to view all upcoming workshops, webinars and events.

25 October 2019

Start-up Day 2019 – How to use your networks to build your business

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Start-up Day promo banner

Do you use networks in your business life? Do you struggle to see how they can help you? Or do you dread the prospect of networking? Or you might be a seasoned pro at working the room at any event and love meeting new people. Regardless of your outlook, effective networking is one of the keys to building a successful business. At our Start-up Day talk, How to use your networks to build your business, we heard from some of the businesses who have perfected their technique.

Panel on the stage at Start-up Day

Alison Cork, founder of Make it Your Business and Alison at Home, thought her business journey had been quite slow as when she first started her career, “there were no networks [30 years ago]. When I started out there were less than a handful of female role models” Alison thinks if she had had networks sooner, she wouldn’t have felt so lonely, “my business journey has been very slow, full of ups and downs. It was very lonely at times. Networks can help in that respect.”

Alison also highlighted that 1 in 5 businesses are owned or run by women, reasons for the low number included lack of networking, role models and confidence. By finding a network you are comfortable in, you can overcome these barriers.

An important thing to remember with networks, which Ken Davey, founder and managing director of the Smarter Group of Companies™, emphasised, was that “networks are not static, they are real people and relationships. The better the relationships, the more you get out of it.”

If you are looking for something specific from your network, think about your goals and how networking can help with those. For Naudia, founder of We Drifters, she made connections with founders one step ahead of her to get specific advice, ready for her next steps. After attending a session at the Business & IP Centre, she was able to meet people from all different sectors, who she could gain knowledge from and learn about their experiences.

To see the full talk and find about more about how networks can benefit your business, watch our video below:

23 October 2019

Meet our delivery partners: Alison Lewy, Fashion Angel

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Fashion Angel is a fashion business support service offering mentoring, training and access to funding to both start-up and established fashion industry entrepreneurs. Their mission is to bridge the gap between creativity and entrepreneurship by offering industry-specific guidance for fashion businesses.

Alison Lewy founder of Fashion Angel

We run monthly workshops from the British Library’s Business & IP Centre (BIPC) based on the popular book, Design Create Sell, a guide to starting and running a successful fashion business, written by Fashion Angel founder Alison Lewy MBE.

These practical and informative workshops cover the key aspects of starting and growing a fashion business. The workshops are aimed at pre-start and early stage fashion businesses, as well as for those that have been trading a while but need assistance on how to take the business to the next level.

Fashion Angel workshop

The workshop programme includes the following topics:

  • Fashion Business Planning Made Easy - advice on how to build a business plan and understand the necessary financial forecasts
  • Getting It Made – guidance on sourcing and production management and working effectively with manufacturers
  • Routes to Market – a review of both B2B and B2C sales channels and how to develop a successful sales strategy
  • Selling Fashion Online – focuses on how to build an online brand and increase brand awareness and sales
  • Range Planning and Retail Merchandising – covers the principals of effective range planning & merchandising, to ensure you have the product your customer wants, when they want it
  • Plan, Pitch, Sell - how to approach and pitch to buyers and be stocked in retail stores
  • Pitching For Fashion funding – how to create a compelling Pitch Deck. This session is for businesses already trading that are looking to reach out to investors or lenders 

The workshops can be taken individually to fill in specific knowledge gaps, but collectively form a comprehensive programme covering everything an entrepreneur needs to know to start and scale a successful fashion business.

Most of the sessions are facilitated by Alison Lewy, a fashion industry expert, speaker, author and Fashion Angel Founder. Alison has extensive experience having run her brand for over 15 years, being a consultant for numerous luxury brands such as Preen and Matthew Williamson, before she went on to be Commercial Director for the Fashion and Textile Museum.

For more information, you can contact Alison on:

Alison@fashion-angel.co.uk
www.fashion-angel.co.uk
@FashionAngel1

Visit the BIPC's workshops and events page to view all upcoming workshops, webinars and events.

21 October 2019

Start-up Day 2019 – How to spot the key UK market trends right now with Mintel

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Start-up Day promo banner

Did you know you can access Mintel reports at the BIPC for free? If you need to do some market research, but aren’t sure where to start, Jack Duckett, Associate Director at Mintel, gave Start-up Day attendees some great pointers…

Jack Duckett from Mintel on the stage at Start-up Day

The importance of market research

Ask yourself, who is our core customer and how can we engage with them? How can I contextualise my offering? Market research can reinforce your offering. Place emphasis on what products you offer. Market research helps businesses to understand what is happening right now, and what might happen tomorrow.

You can use market research to show the importance of your product and its sector’s growth to potential funders.

Innovative ideas

Start-ups are in a great position to get ahead of the market as they are responding to problems in an innovative way.

What’s happening elsewhere, other than your immediate sector? You can contextualise your product. Start-ups are often in a bit of a cocoon and you can become blinded by what is going on around you. You have to understand the market around you.

Customer experience

You know your customer, you understand your customer in a way so many big businesses struggle to. You understand them as you created your product with a need, you created your service around that need. Understanding that you have an affinity with your customer. Nourish that connection. It’s the most important part of your start-up.

Nourish the experience

Don’t just focus on a low price, offer something else, offer an experience.

Ethics in business

You need to be bold about highlighting the ethical parts of your business.

Continue reading "Start-up Day 2019 – How to spot the key UK market trends right now with Mintel" »

16 October 2019

What are the key takeaways from Start-up Day 2019?

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Start-up Day promo banner

If you missed our event, or want a concise recap, here are the main pieces of advice we took away from Start-up Day 2019. You can watch the full videos below, or on our YouTube Start-up Day playlist:

✅ To be the best business leader, don't think you know everything. Be willing to learn and collaborate (Steph McGovern)

✅ Market research can help you make sense of what is happening now and what is going to happen tomorrow (Mintel)

✅ Make connections with your peers and those who are one step ahead of you (How to use networks to build your business)

✅ To get your idea off the ground, you need to find someone who champions it as much as you (How to start-up on a shoestring)

 

✅ Visibilty and efficiency are key (How to combine profit with purpose)

✅ Don't let your mental health get to breaking point, look after yourself before that (How to build your business without burning yourself out) 

You can find more detailed takeaway round-ups from each of the talks below: 

04 October 2019

Start-up Day: What’s going on at the British Library

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Start-up Day promo banner

With Start-up Day 2019 drawing closer, we take a look at what’s going on in London and introduce you to some of our speakers…

Whether you’re looking for motivation, practical advice or some tailored advice, Start-up Day is for you. Our full day of free talks in the Knowledge Centre cover a range of business topics, from UK trends, advertising, mental health and more, you’ll be able to apply what you learn directly to you and your business practices.

If you want to know more about the UK market trends, Mintel’s Jack Duckett will be looking at the ‘experience economy’ and how businesses can stay relevant in today’s competitive market.

Jack Duckett
Jack specialises in reports exploring, the attitudes and behaviours of different demographic groups.

How do you combine profit with purpose? 24% of last year’s Start-up Day attendees said their motivation to start a business was the opportunity to make a difference. With our partners at Expert Impact, we’ve brought today a panel of case studies to discuss how they built a thriving business that helps makes the world a better place and how you might be able to maximise the positive difference you make as you turn your business idea into a reality. Moderated by Lee Mannion, Head of Communications and Community at Expert Impact

Lee Mannion
Lee Mannion is the communications manager for Expert Impact. He previously worked as a journalist for four years, writing stories about social enterprises for the Thomson Reuters Foundation and Pioneers Post.

If advertising is causing you confusion, Arjun from the Facebook Family of Apps will be talking you through how to define your advertising goals, reaching your target audience and how to measure a successful advertising campaign and more. This talk will not be webcast.

Arjun Paliwal Facebook
Arjun Paliwal, Strategic Partner for the Facebook Family of Apps.

Mental health impacts both business and personal lives and at last year’s Start-up Day, 16% of people said they wanted to start a business to improve their work/life balance. At our talk on how to build a business without burning out, Mind’s Mental Health at Work Campaign, presented by Dane Krambergar, and Julie Deane OBE, founder of Cambridge Satchel Company will arm you with strategies to keep on-track when it all gets a bit too much.

Dane Krambergar - Mind
Dane Krambergar, Head of Workplace Wellbeing Services.

Whether the idea of networking can fill you with dread or confidence, to build a sustainable business, networking is key. Our panel will talk you through how they mastered the art of building their networks to allow their businesses to grow.

Ken Davey
Ken is an experienced business to business corporate sales specialist and SME business owner, mentor, author and international business advisor, with a strong business development, marketing, commercial and financial management background.

20% of 2018’s Start-up Day attendees said that lack of finance held them back from starting a business, but can you start-up on a shoestring? Our panel, founders of We Built This City, BathrommsByDesign and Pip & Nut, share their hints and tips for keeping costs low as you scale your business.

Sam Colwil
Sam, founder of BathroomsByDesign, a multi-channel retailer who invest heavily in proprietary technology to help service customers more effectively with our 3D design software, customer VR app, online shop, customer portal and ERP system.

Holding the day together will be Lisa Bent, a presenter, writer and qualified Counsellor, best known for her radio show Self-Central on Colourful Radio and host for the Precious Lifestyle Awards and Precious Nights.

Lisa Bent
Lisa Bent

Our keynote speaker will be Steph McGovern, journalist and broadcaster.

Steph has progressed from Black & Decker engineer to BBC Breakfast business reporter and co-presenter as well as fronting Watchdog, Pocket Money Pitch, Made in Great Britain, and Shop Well For Less. In the process, she’s been trained in lean production, explained monetary and economic policy, danced an impromptu Irish jig live on-air – and been subject of an awkward mistaken identity in Grimsby Fish Market.

Steph McGovern
Steph McGovern

It isn’t just our free talks taking place on the day, we have a workshop on how to use the Business & IP Centre, plus a tour; free headshots and advice on how business photography and speed mentoring.

Experts will be on hand throughout the day to give advice on a range of topics including:

  • Protecting your business idea
  • Creating a marketing strategy
  • What you need to know about standards and regulations
  • Managing cash-flow
  • Getting your business online
  • Funding your start-up
  • Building your business brand

To book your place or to find the closest Start-up Day to you, visit our event page.

01 October 2019

Start-up Day 2019 - What's going on in the Start-ups in London Libraries boroughs

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SUD-Promo-banner-944x90px

Start-up Day takes place on 11 October and the libraries involved in our brand new Start-ups in London Libraries programme did not want to miss out on being a part of the BIPC's biggest day of the year. For the first time ever, events will not only be taking place across the country in our BIPCs but also in the SiLL London boroughs - Bexley, Croydon, Greenwich, Haringey, Lambeth, Lewisham, Newham, Southwark, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest. The London boroughs have drawn on their local resources and localised knowledge to bring specific start-up advice to each of their business communities.

There are activities going on from morning to evening across our partner boroughs. For more details, have a look below and click on any of the links to register our place in your local borough:

Morning

Some of our boroughs are taking part in our co-ordinated coffee morning which is a great chance for networking and to meet your local Champion. If you are close to Walthamstow Library, Brixton Library, the Woolwich Centre or Bexley’s Central Library, register your place at these links and pop along for a coffee and a chat.

If you’re looking for advice on digital marketing, stay on at Woolwich Library for a workshop on the topic, which will aim to help you identify the right channels for your business and give you advice on building your digital community through them. This is followed by a workshop on personal branding between 13.30 and 14.30.

From 10.30-13.00, Croydon will be having a mammoth Start-up Roadshow, with local exhibitors, such as Croydon Enterprise Loan Fund and Croydon Business Hub, and organisations like Santander who will be on-hand to offer guidance and advice. It’s also a great opportunity to network so make sure to book your spot if you are near South London and head to Croydon Central Library for that.

Between 11.00-12.00 and 14.00-15.00, Tower Hamlets will be running introductory sessions to the library business resources at Idea Store Whitechapel. These workshops will take you through key information sources accessible in your library that can help enhance your business performance. Attendees can also use their own smartphones to access the Council website and be guided by staff to some of the services that have moved online. To request more information on Tower Hamlets’ Start-up Day offering, please email the local Champion.

People networking at Start-ups in London Libraries workshop

Afternoon

If you aren’t able to make it to the British Library for our jam packed afternoon of talks, some of the borough libraries are live streaming the panels and speeches direct to their libraries. You can find these at:

If you need help researching your market and protecting your idea, some of the boroughs are focusing on COBRA – the Complete Business Reference Advisor – Southwark is running a whole day training session on the system which you can book for here, while Newham is running a session on the system as well which is bookable here.

Lambeth’s afternoon session will be between 12.00 and 13.45 and will be led by Drew London, a Lambeth-based branding and digital communications agency. The masterclass will be on branding and digital communications so head to Brixton Library if this is an area you are looking to focus on and are looking for tried and tested advice.

Lewisham will be hosting Santander who will give a talk on several topics such as cybersecurity (14.00 – 14.45), funding and finance (15.00 – 15.45) and starting a business on a shoestring (16.00 – 16.45) at Lewisham Library. With time for questions, it is sure to be a comprehensive afternoon with expert advice on starting up.

Participant talking during workshop

Evening

We are not 9-5 people in the boroughs so we also have some events taking place in the evening. If you are based near Haringey, there will be a talk on how to grow your Business and Client Base using Digital Media with local partners from Visual Marvelry, 4U2 and Frame Perfect

SEO is a term that can be thrown around yet still remain a bit of a mystery, yet it's integral to getting your business' name out there. Newham aim to help debunk it by running an evening talk by SEO expert, Mike Loomey, on making the most of Google for your business.

Lewisham will be hosting evening networking drinks between 17.00-18.00, while Lambeth’s drinks event is in collaboration with Brixton Bid until 18.30.

Two participants talking and networking

So whether you decide to hop around different boroughs on the day or choose one and soak up everything that borough has to offer, Start-up Day is sure to have something that will set you on the road to making your idea a reality.

You can find a round up each of the borough’s booking links (where applicable) below:

25 September 2019

Start-up Day: What’s going on around the Network

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Start-up Day 2019

It’s not only the British Library hosting Start-up Day 2019, this year we have over 40 public libraries around the country holding their own Start-up Days. The day aims to support start-ups and small business owners with talks, workshops and interactive sessions designed to take the first steps towards turning a business idea into a successful enterprise.

On average, our National Network helps create an average of 15 new businesses every working day[1]. Most of these were started at home, with 40% of them beginning in a home office and almost a third from the kitchen table. These new businesses are far exceeding national averages for success rates – 90% of them are still trading after three years, compared to UK-wide rates of 60%.

Here you can find a snapshot of the highlights going on around the country and discover what your local Business & IP Centre will be doing for the day…

Start-up Day Birmingham

If you’re in or near Birmingham, they will be running activities including:

  • Market research using IBISWorld
  • Brexit & business with Enterprise Europe Network
  • Why your IP is valuable with Forresters

Start-up Day Brighton & Hove

Our new pilot centre will be live streaming some of the British Library talks and panels and introducing the new BIPC.

Start-up Day Cambridgeshire & Peterborough

A wide variety of drop in sessions throughout the day at Cambridge Central Library with organisations and businesses including:

  • Chamber of Commerce
  • Prince’s Trust
  • Santander
  • Growth Hub

They also have free headshots with Elton Cilliers, a start-up photographer himself, as well as talks on decluttering for business, fraud and cyber-crime as well as live streaming some of the talks from the British Library.

In Peterborough, they will be holding one-to-ones on accountancy, legal advice and intellectual property, amongst other workshops.

Start-up Day Devon

Taking place in both Exeter and Barnstaple, there will be a full programme with workshops and talks on:

Exeter

  • IBISWorld
  • Introduction to intellectual property
  • FabLab tours
  • Marketing videos on a budget with BitPod
  • How to avoid legal mistakes with Cartridges Law

Barnstaple

  • Branding with South West Growth Hub
  • Bookkeeping with Mark Ponsonby Blue Ink Bookkeeping
  • Panel on the challenges of starting up
  • IBISWorld

Start-up Day Glasgow

BIPC Glasgow is our only Centre in Scotland and will be running a day of workshops and talks, such as:

  • Finance with Santander
  • Lifecycles of a company
  • Trade mark starter pack

Throughout the day there will be option to watch the live stream from the British Library as well as talk to relevant businesses and organisations at their trade stands, including:

  • NLS
  • Prince’s Trust
  • Santander
  • Codeworks
  • Gilson Gray
  • People Plus
  • Business Gateway
  • Jobs & Business Glasgow
  • Trading Standards

Start-up Day Hull

For those thinking of starting a business in Hull, you can attend workshops and talks on:

  • What you need to do in the first 90 days to increase your chance of business success
  • IBISWorld
  • Developing a social enterprise
  • Market research with Mintel
Hull Start-up Day 2018
Hull Start-up Day 2018

Start-up Day Leeds

As well as some of the talks being streamed from the British Library, BIPC Leeds will be running talks and workshops on:

  • Getting inside customers’ heads with Ad:Venture
  • Global trends with Mintel
  • Personal branding with Stepp Digital
  • How to combine profit with purpose with Agency for Good

There will also be a Start-up Stars panel, with local entrepreneurs about how they started their business.

Start-up Day Liverpool

For those in and around Liverpool you can get tips on marketing your small business and accounting, as well as hearing from local entrepreneurs, such as Owen Drew Luxury Candles.

Start-up Stars Liverpool Start-up Day 2018
Liverpool Start-up Day 2018

Start-up Day Manchester

Start-up Day is not only taking place in Manchester Central Library, but throughout the region in Ashton-Under-Lyme Library, Blackpool Central Library, Bolton Central Library, Eccles Library, Oldham Library & Lifelong Learning Centre, Preston Library and Stockport Library. You can find networking and coffee mornings, speed mentoring as well as talks on:

  • Preparing your business plan with Santander
  • Marketing with Tidal Wave Consulting
  • How to be a healthy and confident entrepreneur with Amina Waldron
  • How to tell your story with Steve Rawling
  • 10 mistakes I made in year one with a local panel of entrepreneurs

For a detailed programme in your local library, please contact the library directly for their full schedule of events.

Manchester Three Rivers Gin - Machester
Manchester Start-up Day 2018 with Three Rivers Gin

Start-up Day Newcastle

Join BIPC Newcastle for workshops on setting targets and goals, branding and IP, as well as a coffee morning with their experts in residence.

Start-up Day Norfolk

Whether you’re in Norwich, Kings Lynn, Thetford or Great Yarmouth, there will be talks for you. Each Library will have a networking coffee morning and streaming of British Library events. There will be more talks in Norwich, including topics such as getting your product to market, creative product development and start-up funding.

Start-up Day Northamptonshire

A full day of talks and networking will be taking place which includes how to manage your Portfolio Career and maximising the benefits of networking amongst others.

Start-up Day Nottingham

BIPC Nottingham will be hosting two presentations as well as speed mentoring and a networking coffee morning during the day.

Start-up Day Sheffield

A variety of business-related talks, which include:

  • Tips when starting a business with Business Sheffield
  • Researching your business with IBISWorld
  • A start-up journey with local entrepreneur Katie Bain
  • Using social media to boost your business
  • Social enterprise and investment
  • The Sheffield tech scene with Digital Llama

Start-up Day Worcestershire

Our new pilot centre will be running business support clinics all day with Enterprising Worcestershire as well as hosting talks on:

  • Digital marketing and social media with Quick by Design
  • Crowdfunding with Be The Change Café
  • Business plans with Blue Orchid
  • How to assess your big idea with Blue Orchid

For more information on Start-up Day or to book your place in any of our Business & IP Centres, click here to visit our event page.

 

[1] Economic Impact Survey 2019. Analysis from January 2016 – December 2018.

16 September 2019

Inside an ethical fashion business

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Our Project Manager for the Business & IP Centre's scale-up programme, Innovating for Growth, Vanesa, not only manages the programme by day, but also runs her own sustainable fashion business by night, weekend and everything in between. Here she discusses why she started her side hustle and what values are important to her business.

Vanesa Vinhas jumpsuit

Vanesa Vinhas is a sustainable fashion brand for women, the idea starting when Vanesa couldn’t find ethical clothing in her style below the £500 price mark. “My designs are aimed at women who are looking for elegant and chic sustainable clothes at reasonable prices. Our style takes classic cuts and gives them a contemporary twist, using good quality organic or recycled fabrics. Most of our outfits are the sort of thing you could wear for work or pleasure.” After launching in July 2018 her products have been selling online through her Vanesa Vinhas website, online sustainable fashion marketplaces like MAMOQ and pop-up shops around London.

Starting a business seemed inevitable as Vanesa explains, “It’s definitely something in the blood. I took the name ‘Vinhas’ from my grandma - it means ‘vineyard’ in Spanish. She built two highly successful food shops after becoming widowed in post-Civil War Spain and had to provide for her children. Back then Spain was very much a ‘man’s world’ and life was very hard. But she was a really brave lady and a strong character. She also helped a lot of people in her local area who were in need. My dad followed in her footsteps, starting his own factory and helping a lot of people to start their own businesses. So ‘business talk’ has always been familiar to me from early childhood - but rooted as well in a very strong set of values.”

Seeing first-hand the amount of determination and energy it takes to start and run a business didn’t deter her. “I always had doubts about starting a business myself. My career choice at the start was to support other entrepreneurs. And for over a decade, here in London and also New York, I have done that, helping people at all stages of growing small businesses. But several years’ back I took an evening course in fashion design at St Martins’ and the idea of starting my own line of clothes took root.”

Vanesa Vinhas kaftan

If it wasn’t making dresses for her dolls as a child, or getting hooked on clothes through her three sisters (and the hand-me-downs), which sparked her love of clothes, her career starting in the fashion industry, working for the fashion designer Antonio Miró did. “I can spend hours looking at clothes and never get bored! Last year I finally decided to go part-time at the British Library’s Business & IP Centre so I could set up my clothing brand. In the end the ‘bug’ got me!”

Vanesa started with a simple principle, “our customers shouldn’t have to make a choice between looking good and wearing clothes that have been made responsibly. Sadly most of the clothes on sale today are made in a way that creates so much waste and damage, often in the poorest parts of the world”. From there the creative part begins, “I usually start with a mood board where I play around with ideas, before I start to draw concept designs. The history of the garment itself and the people who’ve made it iconic is a big part of my inspiration. Like Elizabeth Taylor wearing a kaftan in the Palm Springs desert. What interests me is how garments can be identified with a certain place. The jumpsuit collection is inspired by London. The jumpsuit is an outfit with a lot of history, but also very 21st Century. It's something you can wear for work or play. A bit like Londoners, it’s very versatile and constantly reinventing itself.” She then works with a freelance seamstress who works from her home in East London with hourly rates well over the London Living Wage. The outfits are made from GOTS certified organic cotton and TENCEL and are delivered to the customer in recycled packaging by Royal Mail. 10% of the profits go to charities that empower women facing injustice, violence and poverty. 

Vanesa Vinhas collection

Waste is something Vanesa is very cautious of, “I don’t want to make clothes that end up in landfill, so we make small batches and repeat orders in response to demand. Most importantly, I design my clothes for customers who want to feel stylish wearing something day in and day out until it is literally beyond repair”.

Other social causes impact the way Vanesa Vinhas is run, making sure those who make the clothes get a fair salary and work in safe conditions, all values Vanesa grew up with. “My family always took being an employer as an important responsibility. I come from a small town and as a child it was easy to see the role that our businesses had in the community. Buying organic isn’t just about the environment, it also means workers, often in developing countries, aren’t exposed to dangerous chemicals and have basic workplace rights. I couldn’t imagine having a partner in my business who isn’t treated fairly - it’s out of the equation.”

The customer is also an important consideration, “the end product has got to be an essential component of someone’s wardrobe. For me that’s something you can wear day in day out, and feel comfortable in, at work or with friends. The process of making this takes time and a lot of team work, but it’s where the magic happens. It involves sourcing the right fabric, getting the design right with my pattern maker and then figuring out how to construct the clothing with the seamstress or manufacturer. Everything needs to come together - the style, the quality of the fabric, the sustainability of the product and at an affordable price.”

Looking ahead, Vanesa’s looking at future growth and where she sees the business in the future,the brand is very new and I am still learning. What I’m working towards is that by the end of 2020 I can be profitable enough to take a part-time salary. It seems small, but the reality is that businesses take time to be profitable. It would be a big achievement as a micro-entrepreneur!”

Vanesa is currently investing everything she gets back from sales into the business. “I have chosen to grow organically instead of looking for external funding. I would like to continue designing a few new pieces each year and bringing back my most popular garments. My key focus is to increase direct sales through my website and be listed on more online platforms, pop-up shops and boutiques. I am very excited that I am soon going to be joining Gather & See an online sustainable fashion marketplace.”

Working at the British Library’s Business & IP Centre has also been beneficial, “It’s a fantastic place to work and I get to help some amazing entrepreneurs who come through the Innovating for Growth programme, so the business needs to fit around this.” Vanesa has also taken advantage of the market research reports, such as Mintel to access consumer trends, specialist sector-specific workshops which take place at the Business & IP Centre with Fashion Angel, as well as other workshops such as PR with Jessica Huie.

As with any business, there are highs, lows and lightbulb moments, “one of my most memorable moments was doing the first ever shoot for Vanesa Vinhas. The collection was inspired by a trip to the California desert earlier that year when I had my lightbulb moment and realised I wanted to start a ‘slow fashion’ brand, but I didn’t have the budget to go back so soon, so I had to find a creative solution.

“One evening I’d been joking with my husband about using the Tabernas desert in South Spain where the Sergio Leone ‘spaghetti westerns’ and Lawrence of Arabia were filmed. Then we realised it wasn’t such a bad idea after all. And could be combined with our summer holiday!

Vanesa Vinhas
Vanesa, founder of Vanesa Vinhas

“On the day, everything started to go very badly - the model cancelled, some of the samples were delayed and I fell down a marble staircase at the hotel and hurt my arm. But then it all started to go back on track. The photographer Michael knew the desert and the light by the back of his hand, and he found our model Cristina. Together they really captured the mood I wanted the clothes to evoke. It’s moments like this, putting yourself out of your comfort zone, that are the most rewarding!”

 

For more information on the Innovating for Growth: Scale-ups programme, visit our website. To see more of Vanesa's collection, visit Vanesa Vinhas' website.

09 September 2019

Meet our delivery partners: Alasdair Inglis, Grow

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Alasdair Inglis has been running marketing masterclasses at The British Library Business & IP Centre for a decade and is our Marketer In Residence.

Grow pic

He runs two marketing masterclasses at the British Library Business & IP Centre.

About the Digital Marketing Masterclass

The digital marketing masterclass helps entrepreneurs gain clarity about their digital marketing strategy, so they can focus their spending and efforts on gaining new customers.

The masterclass covers inbound marketing, email marketing best practice, the basics of SEO and keyword research, using Google Ads, content marketing, blogging and paid Facebook marketing.

The masterclass demystifies digital marketing so every attendee understands the key areas of digital marketing. Everyone gets a 25-page workbook with plenty of step-by-step instructions. There are opportunities to meet and work with other entrepreneurs during the workshop and questions are encouraged throughout. Every attendee will leave with a step-by-step action plan to improve their digital marketing.

Grow

About the Marketing Masterclass

The marketing masterclass helps entrepreneurs focus on their marketing strategy and business model. The masterclass covers understanding customers' key problems, how to focus on ideal customers, learning how to increase revenues from every customer, mapping out and improving customer journeys, creating a system to gather testimonials, how to create offers for new customers and where to hire part-time marketing people.

There is lots of partner work during the workshop and all attendees get a 26-page bound workbook. Questions are encouraged throughout. Every attendee will leave with a step-by-step action plan to improve their marketing strategy.

Grow workshop

Who should attend the Marketing Masterclasses?

Alasdair’s masterclasses are aimed at start-ups, aspiring entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs with established businesses. His practical no-nonsense style of teaching and the in-depth workbooks enable people with differing levels of knowledge too all benefit.

What can attendees expect in the Masterclasses?

Attendees can expect a fast paced, practical approach to learning marketing with minimal theory and jargon. Expect to meet with and work with other entrepreneurs during the sessions. Alasdair understands that a lot of learning comes from group discussion and questions so expect some lively interactions.

In every workbook there’s an exercise at the end to create your own personalised marketing action plan.

About Alasdair Inglis

Alasdair has taught his marketing masterclasses to thousands of entrepreneurs, and is the BIPC’s marketer in residence where he offers pro bono sessions every month to established business owners. He has taught marketing on the prestigious Goldman Sachs 10,000 small business programme, and teaches and mentors at The School for Social Entrepreneurs in London and at Idea London, a tech incubator.

Though his company Grow Alasdair has mentored hundreds of Scale-up entrepreneurs from the London area and he lives and breathes marketing. He comes from an entrepreneurial family in the highlands of Scotland where his father and uncle ran restaurants for over 50 years.

 

Visit the BIPC's workshops and events page to view all upcoming workshops, webinars and events.