Innovation and enterprise blog

177 posts categorized "Start-ups"

12 September 2023

BIPC Local Lewisham's one year anniversary

This month we are celebrating the one year anniversary of the Business & IP Centre Local in Lewisham. Building on the legacy of Start-ups in London Libraries (SiLL), our previous programme in partnership with local boroughs that helped many start-ups throughout the capital, our BIPC London Locals makes this support a permanent offering. Over the past year Lewisham Libraries have played a major role in supporting over 100 aspiring entrepreneurs and businesses in the borough through expert led workshops, one-to-ones and networking events. We are proud that since opening, they have welcomed people from all walks of life, including 67% women, 73% from a Black, Asian and ethnic minority background and 13% who are disabled, demonstrating the BIPC's commitment to diversity and inclusion.

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'I thoroughly enjoyed supporting businesses on a local level through SiLL, and I am proud that Lewisham Libraries continue to build on the positive working partnership with the British Library to deliver business support, developing exciting and dynamic ways to engage and provide the community with information as proud members of the BIPC network. Through BIPC Local Lewisham's business forums, one-to-one support sessions and digital market research tools it has increased access to resources for local businesses and residents. This success will continue to grow the local business support offer and expand reach for an inclusive economy. As we celebrate BIPC Local Lewisham's first anniversary I’m proud of everything that’s been achieved in the past year and I'm looking forward to what’s coming next.' - Mark Berbeck, Principal Business Officer at Lewisham Council

Meet our BIPC Local Lewisham ambassadors

These are business owners based in the borough. Some of them benefited from business support during SiLL, as well as BIPC services in Lewisham and the British Library, and we are now passing on their experience to local entrepreneurs. 

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'When I first came across the SiLL offer in Lewisham and attended one of their workshops for aspiring entrepreneurs I was lucky to meet with other aspiring business owners, engage with them and find out more about their businesses. It was a great opportunity to network, expand and build relationships with each other. Fast-forward and I am now a Business Ambassador for BIPC Local Lewisham and my business Authentic Worth Publishing continues to increase in legacy, awards, influence and inspiration for creatives, authors and business owners to authentically share their stories and turn them into published books.' - Esther Jacob, founder of Authentic Worth

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'The workshops we attended through SiLL helped us take the right steps to position ourselves for success. Ongoing access to business support and networking opportunities through BIPC Local Lewisham has expanded our coaching business's reach, allowing us to connect with a diverse client base and share our expertise more effectively.' - Jennifer McLean and Fiona Wedderburn-Graham, founders of Amaze Associates

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'BIPC Local Lewisham has provided such valuable support for my business over the last year. Through my work as one of their Business Ambassadors I've been able to connect with a wide range of other local small business owners, who I wouldn't otherwise have had the opportunity to meet and it's great to know that thanks to their network of libraries across the borough, access to meeting rooms and other business resources is always available to me in a convenient location, whenever I need them.' - Hannah Drakeford, founder of Hannah Drakeford Design

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'BIPC Local Lewisham has helped me build awareness for my business, Buddies for All, throughout the Borough. I have been able to access the various services they offer such as the Cobra database and GrantFinder, which has definitely been beneficial for my business journey. Buddies for All has also benefitted from being promoted on the BIPC website as well as being featured on their bookmarks, posters and flyers.' - David Bourroughs, founder of Buddies for All

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'BIPC Local Lewisham has me helped connect with other inspiring business owners and community project founders pan-London, and has also provided vast business resources such as financial planning tools as well as finance to do various activities with the book club. The funding we received from the BIPC also helped 4 of the boys complete an aviation short course, followed by flying lessons.' - Mel Nichols, founder of CHAYSES BOYS BOOK CLUB

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Part of our National Network, now in over 100 regional city or local libraries around the UK, our BIPC London Locals are based in Bromley, Greenwich, Lewisham, Waltham Forest and Wandsworth, and we aim to have 10 boroughs offering BIPC services through their high-street libraries by 2025. Whether you’re just starting out or looking to develop your business, they offer tailored support, free resources, training and events, both online and in-person to help you on your journey. In addition to that, you can take advantage of two days of free workshops that will give you the insight and skills to kick-start your business, supported by JP Morgan.

You can find the BIPC Local in Lewisham in their hub libraries in Catford, Deptford, Downham and Lewisham. They're free to join and open to everyone, so come by and say hello!

24 August 2023

BIPC Oxfordshire – helping young people to succeed in business

It’s been a whirlwind year for our Business & IP Centre (BIPC) Oxfordshire. Although it’s still relatively new, we’ve already supported over 1,500 people with their start-ups and ideas, and all of our hard work was recently recognised in the form of an award from Libraries Connected.

We’re delighted that our work helping young people in enterprising activities and supporting them into business has been recognised by Libraries Connected - a membership organisation representing the public library services in England, Wales and Northern Ireland - in the form of the Children's Promise Award. 

BIPC Oxfordshire receiving the Children's Promise Award from Libraries Connected
BIPC Oxfordshire receiving the Children's Promise Award from Libraries Connected

Of course, the BIPC doesn’t only support young people, but we’ve been particularly focused on younger generations here in Oxfordshire, partnering with local and national organisations to nurture their ambitions, and give them the skills to build their enterprise.

For the past two years we’ve been partnering with Oxfordshire Young Enterprise to host the end of year showcase. Last year alone, we had 75 students from 14 schools all over the county attend a special learning event where they pitched, exhibited and were interviewed on their projects.

We’ve additionally hosted individual school visits, including those for children special educational needs. This includes introductions to resources including our free market research databases including COBRA, which provides how-to guides on starting hundreds of different types of businesses.

For people making the first steps into business, we appreciate there can be barriers to accessing the knowledge that is mostly gained from experience. Having the tools to navigate the market is critical in so many sectors, and being able to offer access to some of these is something that makes us unique here in Oxfordshire. This is also why we’re also looking at cross-organisational approaches to link up with colleagues in Target Youth Support services to help young people who may not ordinarily have this access to get involved and gain skills they need, while also signing them up to benefit from a library membership more widely.

Beyond this, we’ve also been looking at how we can support companies or help people to create companies that support young people in education, wellbeing and other related activities.

Among the organisations to benefit from our services is GetFED. GetFED provide barista and business training for young people at risk of exclusion and exploitation. Through bespoke training sessions, the organisation supports young entrepreneurs with the basics of running a small business, developing barista skills and even project managing their own events.

Tim, founder of GetFED
Tim, founder of GetFED

The Drone Rules is another organisation that has been working closely with the BIPC. This unique organisation provides education for individuals and educational providers on all things drone-related – a technology that will be no doubt of interest to a lot of people.

William, founder of The Drone Rules
William, founder of The Drone Rules

BIPC Oxfordshire is certainly opening the doors for many young people and we hope we can continue to tap into the undiscovered skills of many more.

If you want to find out more about the work of BIPC Oxfordshire visit their website or head to the Centre, you can find them on the second floor of the Oxfordshire County Library in Oxford, with Locals in Bicester and Blackbird Leys Libraries.

Ryan Johnson – BIPC Engagement and Marketing Manager at Oxfordshire County Council

12 July 2023

50 Books for 50 Years of the British Library

As we celebrate 50 years of the British Library, home to over 13 million books, we’ve put together a reading list with recommendations from entrepreneurs we’ve supported from around the UK.

1. “My favourite books are slow-paced and reflective. Michael Cunningham's A Home At The End Of The World is the first book I remember reading as an adult that gave me that comforting, peaceful feeling I now associate with reading, which I do a lot." - Sam Hutchinson, co-director of b small publishing

2. "A book that impacted me is Small Change by Nabeel Hamdi." -  Jan Kattein, director of Jan Kattein Architects

3. "I would recommend Profit First by Mike Michalowicz – ever since I read it and made the changes mentioned, my business has been in profit and I can see it!” - Keri Jamieson, founder of KeriKit

4. "A book that has significantly impacted me is Games for Actors and Non-Actors by Augusto Boal, a revolutionary collection of exercises and approaches to using theatre to rehearse for challenging situations in real life." - Jon Dixon, director of Dramatic Theatre

5. "One of my favourite books is Henri Charrière's Papillion. It is a story about grit, determination and the ability to stick to stuff you feel strongly about. Something I believe is so important about being an entrepreneur." - Doug Marshall, CEO of Altaura

6. "A book that has impacted me is A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf.” - Jessica Mello, co-founder of London Sculpture Workshop

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7. "It may be old school, but Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was a huge influence. When reading this as children it offered so much hope. Quentin Blake (who created the illustrations) inspired us to pursue a creative career from a young age." Chloe and Abigail Baldwin, founders of Buttercrumble

8. "Frankenstein by Mary Shelley impacted me because I have such a vivid memory of being in primary school and finding out that the author had to publish the book anonymously because she would have been unable to do so otherwise, as she was a woman. I remember being so shocked by this revelation and discovering that women, people of colour and basically anyone that wasn't a white male, often wrote under pseudonyms due to them not being granted the same privileges. Mary Shelley is now infamous world-wide for being one of the first science-fiction writers. I just think it inspired me because it goes to show that in life, there will be obstacles in the way and people may tell you that you aren't capable; but if you are passionate enough and persevere, you can achieve anything.’ - Rachel Sampara, founder and director of Wings & Radicles

9. "A book that has impacted me is the Mechanical and Metal Trades Handbook. This is the English translation of a German engineering bible. Engineering textbooks are often impenetrably dense, but this book is accessible to all." - Nick F, founder of PipSqueak 3D 

10. “I've been inspired by Leading an Inspired Life by Jim Rohn" - Constantin Cornel Paunoiu, co-founder of Wine Chateau

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11. "Aziza's Secret Fairy Door by Lola Morayo - it was the first book I sold from my production company and thus my proof of concept that this business idea had legs!" - Jasmine Richards, founder of Storymix

12. "A book that impacted me is The Source by Dr Tara Swart. The book talks about the power of mind and visualisation backed by neuroscience. I find the concept of neuroplasticity inspiring. Our brains have an amazing ability to change and adapt at any age. It’s never too late to reach our potential!" - June Mineyama-Smithson, founder of MAMIMU 

13. "One of the best books I found for anyone starting a creative business is The Practice by Seth Godin. It’s made up of lots of small ‘blog’ type posts which are ideal to just pick up for an instant shot of motivation and focus."- Helen Cross, founder of Helen Cross Jewelry 

14. "The E-Myth by Michael E. Gerber was the first ever business book I read, the month I started out. It’s about understanding starting a small business, why most don’t work and what to do about it. It really impacted me and made me want to succeed all the more." - Victoria Eggs, founder of Victoria Eggs Ltd

15. "I enjoyed reading Suitcase by the Russian writer Sergei Dovlatov. The novel, published in the 1980s, is a collection of stories, each one inspired by an item he took in his suitcase when he left the USSR for exile in the USA in 1978." - Laura Sheeter, co-founder of Chalk + Blade

16. "A book that impacted me is Eat that Frog by Brian Tracy. It’ll help you stop procrastinating and focus on your biggest frog (tasks) first. Being a Virtual Assistant I am constantly juggling a million and one tasks, how do you identify what your most important task is when everything is important!?” - Keira Simpson, founder of Daisy Days Virtual Assistant

17. "A book that's impacted me is The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg." - Adam Chandler, founder of Reel Film

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18. "The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson impacted me because it shows that small, consistent activity is the key to forming habits that make people successful." - Danielle, owner of Wise Owl Tuition 

19. "While many books have influenced me, none compare to the Bible. Growing up Catholic, I find solace and wisdom in its stories, even during the busiest of times." Brian Danclair, founder of Fish, Wings & Tings

20. "The book that has had the biggest impact on my life is The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by the late Stephen R Covey. In 1994, I was fortunate enough to attend a management course which was entirely based on Covey’s principles of the book. Two of the key symbols for Covey were the clock and the compass. Covey explained; the clock represents what we do with and how we manage our time. The compass represents what we feel is important and how we lead our lives. I was so inspired by Covey’s philosophy, it was the reason why I named my business Clock and Compass Coaching." - Daniel O’Connor, founder of Clock and Compass Coaching

21. "I've been inspired by a wide variety of books - reading James Joyce’s works like Ulysses while studying him at University in Ireland had a huge influence on me in understanding European connectivity. Also anything by Roald Dahl, who I’ve always loved!" - James Seager, company director of Les Enfants Terribles

22. "I’d have to say Brian Johnson’s Optimize. What’s fantastic about this series is that each episode condenses multiple business books on areas such as leadership, productivity and habits, taking the best bits and presenting them in 1h podcasts." - Zachary Pulman, founder of Zachary Pulman Design Studio

23. "A book that has had a great impact on me is Drinking from the Fire Hose by Christopher J Frank and Paul Magnone. Nowadays, we are constantly bombarded by information and data. This book helped me focus on the data I need and leave the rest aside." - Mario Spiridonov, co-founder of Santa Sofia

24. "I've been impacted by S.U.M.O by Paul McGee. I don’t usually read self-help, however, I found S.U.M.O. very relatable, easy to read and thought provoking, with plenty of humour thrown in for good measure. The book helped me learn some self-awareness, to look at myself honestly and understand how to make positive changes. I would recommend it to anyone who’d like to improve their confidence or find some motivation to change their path." -  Tracey Purcell, founder of Beautiful Ethical

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25. "My favourite book is The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. It taught me that life can change at any moment, and if it does to keep going and do it with a sense of humour." - Laura, founder of Higham Refill

26. "I have been inspired by Natives by Akala." - Danson Njoka, CEO of Kugali Media

27. "I love to read motivational books and books on improving myself in all areas, and I spend a little time each night with a book. One of my favourites is Success Through A Positive Mental Attitude by Napoleon Hill and W Clement Stone. It is a brilliant reminder that mindset is key, so this is one I turn to often to pull me back on track." - Maria Grachvogel, founder of Maria Grachvogel London

28. “My recent favourite books have been Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo and Homecoming by Yaa Gyasi." - Sadia Ahmed, founder of Oliver's Cupboard

29. "A book that has inspired me is Zero Limits by Joe Vitale." - Mary Otumahana, founder of The RecordShop

30. "A book which has impacted me has to be The Art Of Effortless Living by Ingrid Bacci. I read this book in 2010 and it started me on the most amazing journey with myself! This led me to start my business in 2013." - Rose Hill, founder of Co-Creative Connection

31. "The books that has impacted me the most is Dream Big Journal by Bob Goff." - Adeola Adelakun, co-founder of Cultureville

32. "A book which has inspired me recently is Sitopia by Carolyn Steel. It felt almost prescient reading it just before lockdown, discussing how we all need to reconnect with growing and making our own food in order to live healthier lives and save the environment.” - Frankie Fox, co-founder of The Foraging Fox.

33. "A book that I find inspiring and fits with my philosophy is Paul Jarvis’ Company of One: Why staying small is the next big thing for business.” - founder of Becky Griffiths, founder of Mother's Ruin

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34. "We've been impacted by The Vinegar Cupboard by Angela Clutton." - Andrew and Sarah du Feu, founders of The Slow Vinegar Company

35. "Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman has been a huge influence. Not only is it an incredible story, it’s also one of the simplest ways of illustrating how unfair racism is in our society." - Eleanore Richardson, founder of Fulham Scalp and Hair Clinic

36. "Ancient Wisdom Modern World by the Dalai Lama has made a huge impact. My mum’s had this book since she was in her 20s and gave it to me when I was 19. It started my path to Buddhism, which led to me adopting the vegan lifestyle, which led to Heart Street.” Evie-May Ellis, founder of Heart Street

37. "A couple of years ago a good friend of mine bought me In The Company of Women by Grace Bonney which has inspiration and advice from over 100 female makers, artists and entrepreneurs. On those difficult days in business it shows what you can achieve when you pursue your passion, giving you the courage to follow your dreams.” Kate Underdown and Rachel Walker, co-founders of The Fold Line

38. "I am passionate about cities. One of the most important books for me captures all the intensity, excitement and ambition inherent in building one of the great cities in the world. It's Delirious New York: A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan by Rem Koolhaas." - Jan Kattein, founder of Jan Kattetin Architects 

39. "I recently read The E Myth by Michael Gerber again. I think all entrepreneurs should read this to help plan their way forward. Working ON the business, rather than IN the business.” - Bhavin Shah, founder of Central Vision Opticians

40. "The book that has impacted us the most is Jen Sincero’s You Are a Badass." - Savvy and Stevo, founders of Savvykraut 

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41. "I've been inspired by Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes" - Ronke Jane Adelakun, co-founder of Cultureville

42. "A book which has impacted us is Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential. Great insight into the underbelly that is the commercial kitchen." - Sam and Sarah, founders of Marla's Sandwich Shop

43. "I read to escape and switch off, so crime fiction is my favourite. I love Mary Portas' How to Shop with Mary, Queen of Shops. I have a signed copy after I met her at a book event and she told me she loved my boots while I waited in line - it was a true fangirl moment when I told her they were from our shop Finale and we chatted about it.” - Faye, founder of Finale Shoes and Accessories

44. "I enjoy books about food, local recipes, and the history and social stories that accompany food. One of my favourites is Taste Ye Back: Great Scots and the Food that Made Them by Sue Lawrence. Here a number of well-known Scots reminisce about their younger days and the food they enjoyed as a child. Everyone’s favourite dish comes with a special story, recipe or family tradition and always a huge dollop of nostalgia. When I read this book, it gave me reassurance that a Clootie Dumpling website was not a completely mad idea."  Kirsteen Oliver, founder of Granny Beaton's

45. "Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard, founder of international brand Patagonia. This book changed my outlook on corporations as it challenges the culture of consumption that we find ourselves in. It looks at the crisis we’re facing in western society and how to deal with it as forward thinking leaders and change makers. It’s had a hugely positive effect on not only the way I run my business, but equally how I live." - Hellen Stirling-Baker, founder of We Are Small Stuff

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46. "All books impact me, regardless of their genre - for example, Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens." - Tas Jennings, founder of Very Craftea

47. "A book that's impacted has impacted me is Creativity, Inc. - Overcoming the unseen forces that stand in the way of true inspiration by Amy Wallace and Ed Catmull. It's a book about running a creative business from the founder of Pixar. It's entertaining but also packed with really useful insights into how to run a business well for and with creatives." - Julia Alcamo and Dan Hodgson, founders of Happenstance Films

48. "One of the first books I remember reading is Fluke by James Herbert. It was totally captivating. I’m not sure I understood everything at the time but it’s the story of a dog who remembers being a human in a past life. I love reading fiction as it takes you away from the everyday. If I’m not reading fiction then I am looking at cookery books – another great passion of mine.” - Alli Briaris founder of Drinks Kitchen

49. "A book that has impacted me is The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, as I truly feel that if you are living in the moment then there can be no stress and you can be inspired effortlessly to what you need to be doing." - Julie Silver, founder of The Vitality Fairy

50. "A book that has inspired me is The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. It can be likened to a new business starting out, slowly and steadily working your way through your business plan and the process of what you need to do, getting everything in place bit by bit, before the final launch of your new business and spreading your wings." - Tracey Sharman, founder of Crescent Research

12 January 2023

2022: Our Year In Business

As we enter a new and exciting year at the Business & IP Centre, we cannot wait to help even more entrepreneurs from all walks of life to start, protect and scale their businesses across the country. Before we jump in, we want to take a moment to reflect on all of the amazing things we got up to in 2022. This was a year that saw the 10th anniversary of the BIPC National Network and the return of in-person events. let’s recap all our achievements from last year.

The London Network keeps on growing

photo from greenwich launch, Warren King Photography

2022 was a busy year for our London network, with three more London boroughs joining our rapidly expanding National network. We welcomed Lewisham and Greenwich in September, and Bromley a month later. Through our existing partnership with Waltham Forest, that now brings our business support services to the heart of five London boroughs.

Reset. Restart returns

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In May we welcomed the return of Reset. Restart, a series of free webinars and in-person events around our National Network aimed at supporting businesses in recovering from Covid and in navigating a post-pandemic world. This year we've had over 1,140 people attend these events and benefit from the free expert advice and support on offer.

Creative entrepreneurs got ready for growth

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After our previous scale-up programme came to an end in January of last year, a new, national programme for creative businesses launched in August to fill the hole. Funded by Arts Council England, our Get Ready for Business Growth programme is only in it's second delivery round & we are already supporting 50 entrepreneurs across the UK in various creative fields. From artisan homeware to theatre and dance companies, we're here to help those in the creative sector who may have pivoted during the pandemic, or are looking for new ways to to grow sustainably. 

Libraries mean business

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Did you know, there's more going on in libraries than you think? After filming our trailer in July, we premiered in December across social media, our newsletter and Sky video on demand. We loved having Cultureville, Paradise Cycles and Okan London, as well as our own British Library reference team member, Seema, be involved. What might you find in between the shelves of your local library?

 

We welcomed you back in person

photo from Inspiring Entrepreneurs: Building the Black Economy event

October saw the return of in-person events in the form of Inspiring Entrepreneurs: Building the Black Economy. We heard from a panel of Black entrepreneurs who are building empires online and discussed the power of the Black economy with Swiss, founder of Black Pound Day.

 

Celebrating 10 years of national business support

 

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This year we also celebrated our National Network's 10th anniversary and welcomed two new Centres, BIPC Cumbria and BIPC Southampton. Since launching, we’ve attracted 185,000+ attendees through events, workshops and webinars, helped create 19,000+ businesses and 12,000+ jobs, supported 10,000+ existing businesses and helped safeguard 4,000+ existing businesses.

 

In 2023 we've got even more in store for entrepreneurs from all walks of life to start, protect and scale successful businesses both in London and around the UK.

 

09 November 2022

Celebrating small businesses this festive season

Small businesses in the UK have had a lot to contend with in the last few years, however, the UK’s brilliant independent retailers are among the most hardy in their sector. Figures from the Local Data Company have revealed that the independent retail and leisure sector was more resilient to the impact of Covid-19 compared to national chains with five or more outlets.* In this blog we are celebrating their incredible achievements and contributions, both economic and creative. We have curated a selection of some fantastic products from small businesses around the UK who have used the BIPC services, to help you narrow down the search for that perfect gift.

For those with a sweet tooth

Klara's Gingerbread products with a festive theme

One business who received support from BIPC Leeds City Region, Klara’s Gingerbread, makes and hand decorates gingerbread biscuits; each piece made using a traditional Hungarian recipe and carefully decorated by hand making a perfect edible Christmas decoration. Lactose free and vegan versions are available. Klara also runs workshops, both in Leeds and remotely for all ages to relax, have fun and learn how to decorate their own gingerbreads.

Cost: Between £2 – £50

Where to buy? Klara’s Gingerbread

Raise a glass

Selfish Spirits bottle held by a man

Selfish Spirits is an ethically conscious spirit brand based in Skipton, aiming to make the world a little bit better through supporting charitable causes and being as sustainable as possible wherever they can. Their signature product is a dark spiced rum made from molasses from Guyana and fermented and distilled in the UK. It has all-natural flavourings of vanilla, caramel, Mexican lime and a touch of blood orange.

Cost: £34.95

Where to buy? Selfish Sprits

Make your mark

Personalised engraving on a wine bottle

Martina Rocha Luz is a Leeds-based calligrapher and engraver offering a personalised engraving service to make your gifts extra special! Engraving is the perfect way to elevate a present and Martina personalises anything, from wine to perfumes. In addition to her engraving service, Martina also offers unique wedding signage and personalised stationery.

Cost: Prices start at £19.95

Where to buy? Martina Rocha Luz

Don’t get in a pickle

Northumbrian Pantry Pickled Pear chutney with a glass of port and stilton cheese

Northumbrian Pantry makes sweet and spiced pickled pears preserved in a special blend of star anise, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice. The perfect pairing for a Christmas Stilton and a glass of port and equally delicious with whipped or ice cream or as a classic pear salad with walnuts and Roquefort cheese. Handmade in small batches using seasonal pears in the North Tyne Valley village of Simonburn.

Cost: £5.40

Where to buy? Northumbrian Pantry

Super superfood

Boxes of muesli - photo by Julija Baburina

Harper and Willow, who used BIPC Northamptonshire, was created with the intention of bringing healthy, wholesome, delicious organic food to the market with their own personal twist. They use great flavor combinations with premium ingredients, resulting in an amazing taste experience. The muesli and granola doesn’t use refined sugar, processed oils, preservatives, additives and flavourings. All products are vegan and gluten free!

Cost: Various

Where to buy? Harper and Willow

Look the part

Bag modelled on woman

April’s designs are inspired by the geology surrounding her in the North East of Scotland, she has continued to use nature as inspiration, despite moving to Glasgow where she used our BIPC in the Mitchell Library. Inspired by her photography of stones and geological sites around Scotland, she set out to create a collection of luxury textile accessories whilst upholding her personal values: buying less by buying better; supporting local businesses and sustainability first.

Cost: Various

Where to buy? Agate and Ayre

Give the gift of giving

Photo of the Santaceptor with Father Christmas

For those who are looking to give back this festive season, BIPC Greater Manchester’s Action Media Hire deck out a Police Interceptor Action Vehicle, which usually stars in TV and films, for their fundraising. The Santaceptor distributes sweet treats to children and collects donations to assist with the project operations and other local charities.

Cost: Up to you

Where to donate? Santaceptor

For those who love self-care

Founder Natalee holding Skin Solace products

Natalee Onyeche’s Skin Solace is a sophisticated, luxury brand to reflect the high-quality ingredients used, which makes her customers feel pampered. Your skin absorbs 60 - 70% of everything you put on it within 26 seconds! With this fact in mind choosing the right products becomes more important. BIPC Nottinghamshire’s Skin Solace products are formulated to offer the very best nourishment and moisture naturally. Skin Solace aims to turn everyday occurrences into opportunities for self-care with the products it provides.

Cost: Various

Where to buy? Skin Solace

Bold accessories

Helen Cross Jewellery necklace

Contemporary jewellery designs inspired by the beautiful English countryside and made by hand in the heart of Norfolk using recycled sterling silver. Good jewellery is something that makes your heart sing whenever you wear it - the necklace given with love, the cufflinks bringing individuality to workwear, or the tiny horse shaped stud earrings showing a love of riding. Wherever we see it, jewellery always embodies the essence of the wearer in choices that are as individual as fingerprints. Making jewellery by hand allows Helen, who used BIPC Norfolk, to make one-off pieces on commission for clients.

Cost: Various

Where to buy? Helen Cross Jewellery

Dress to impress

Cultureville founders holding fan

Where African culture meets contemporary fashion. Manchester-based Cultureville offers statement looks and hand-crafted accessories, ethically sourced from West Africa. Their goal is to showcase the beauty and talent of Africa through bold and beautiful African inspired clothing and accessories.

Cost: Various

Where to buy? Cultureville

For the crafters

Very Craftea founder holding a crafting kit product

The 'why' of Tas’ business is to make all people create moments to feel comforted and included. It does this through uniquely flavoured, consciously sourced loose-leaf tea and modern embroidery kits, designed and created locally in Cambridgeshire.

Cost: Various

Where to buy? Very Craftea

For the K-pop stans

SOKOLLAB CD compilation

Get Ready for Business Growth business, SOKOLLAB, is an independent Korean music and lifestyle store bringing you the best in KPop, KBeauty, stationery and books.  Visit their London and Birmingham stores or go online for authentic Korean gifts this Christmas!

Cost: BTS Proof Standard Edition £54.00

Where to buy? SOKOLLAB

Eco-friendly Skincare

Eucalyptus Bath Soak 560g standing on a bath tub

Another of our scale-up businesses, BATCH #001 creates award-winning, sustainable, organic skincare products and beauty gift sets for dry, sensitive skin, powered by the bees, the land and the seas, using only natural ingredients, eco-friendly packaging, and everything is handmade, at their small female founded business. They offer a range of luxury and bespoke gift sets at all prices points, which are gift ready, wrapped, with a personalised note and free UK shipping. Choose from Bath Soaks, Body Scrubs, Bath & Body Oils, Beeswax Balms and Candles. Perfect for Christmas gifting!

Cost: Various

Where to buy? BATCH #001

Bring the world home

multiple soapstone Hippo Dishes on shelves

Meaning 'friend of the people', AARVEN is an ethical homeware and jewellery brand founded by two adventurers, inspired by their artisans around the globe. From wood block printed textiles, recycled brass jewellery, to hand woven baskets, they design their joyful collections in collaboration with the world's best artisans. Working in close collaboration with over 30 artisan groups across Africa and in India, AARVEN uses ancient craft techniques to create contemporary heirlooms for the modern home.  

Cost: Various - save 10% on purchases over £10 with code BL10 (expires on Christmas day).

Where to buy? AARVEN

The perfect accessory 

Pom pom bag

Pom Pom London was born in 2015 with the aim of delivering affordable, stylish and contemporary products. All their products are designed from the UK, they are passionate about creating fashion pieces that are unique and fun for all ages and the expanding range is a reflection of this. Whether you are looking for a warm hat or a useful bag, there's something for everyone.

Cost: Various 

Where to buy? Pom Pom London

 

If the shoe doesn't fit

I Can Make Shoes Kit

I Can Make Shoes teaches people how to make their own shoes from home using their beginner-friendly online tutorials, shoemaking kits and books. Whether you have difficulty finding shoes that fit or you're just a shoe lover who loves to craft, I Can Make Shoes is the best place to start! Our previous scale-up programme helped I Can Make Shoes founder, Amanda Overs, triple her team size and launch an online community. She's now taking part in our new business support programme, Get Ready for Business Growth, tailored to arts and culture businesses and fully funded by Arts Council England.

Cost: Various - save 10% on books, kits & supplies with the code: BritishLibrary10

Where to buy? I Can Make Shoes

Does what it says on the tin

Body wash being poured from a KANKAN can into a bottle dispenser

Introducing KANKAN, natural body care in a can. A simple at-home refill solution. Nourishing botanical soap supportive for your skin health and wellness. Made from all natural ingredients, plastic free and infinitely recyclable. Oh and one tree is planted for every can sold ensuring your daily wash is giving even more! Delivered gift ready in reusable packaging. 

Cost: Starter set prices start at £24 - use the code BRITISH LIBRARY KAN to enjoy 20% off your first purchase.

Where to buy? KANKAN

Design your own wardrobe

Sew Me Sunshine founder with rolls of fabric in the haberdashery

Sew Me Sunshine is an independent dressmaking fabric & haberdashery shop shipping worldwide. We have a curated selection of dressmaking fabrics, including a large range of sustainable eco fabrics & deadstock (ex-designer) garment fabrics, dressmaking patterns and high quality sewing supplies. Our one stop shop will help you make a handmade wardrobe that will make you smile.

Cost: Various - save 15% on all orders with code BRITISHLIBRARY15

Where to buy? Sew Me Sunshine

Cards for every Christmas

Jelly Armchair christmas card and envelope on wood

Jelly Armchair is a small family business specialising in big silly puns. Run by two sisters, Jelly Armchair has a collection of colourful illustrated cards, gifts and homewares designed to bring some silliness to everyday life and make you giggle (or grimace) at the pun based 'dad joke' humour. Cat, the illustrator creates beautiful, detailed artworks that you'll want to look at time and time again, and you’ll notice something new each time. Our collection of 'multipun' Christmas cards is suitable for all ages and even comes with a fully illustrated Christmas envelope.

Cost: Various - save 10% on all orders with code BLXmas22

Where to buy? Jelly Armchair

*According to COBRA reports (which you can access for free in many BIPCs around the UK)

26 October 2022

A week in the life of Amarachi Clarke, founder of Lucocoa Chocolate

Come with us as we take you behind the scenes of London's first bean to bar chocolate factory, Lucocoa Chocolate, founded by our previous scale-up programme alumni Amarachi Clarke.

Amarachi founded Lucocoa in 2015, after teaching herself to make chocolate in her home she learned that the bean-to-bar quality chocolate could be much better than that available in the mass market, even than perceived luxury brands. Since taking part in our previous scale-up programme last year, she has had some incredible opportunities come her way.

"Some new stockists approached us that we could only have dreamed of, as well as some high-profile media. Our team has grown a lot so we are now a team of 7 covering production, comms, sales and creative. Previously we only really dipped our toe in seasonal but we now have the capacity to really engage with Halloween, Bonfire night, Black Friday, Christmas, Easter etc. It’s also fun for us to think creatively about how we sell our chocolate.

We’re also looking at a new, larger factory to move to so if all goes well we will have a new Lucocoa home soon!"

Read on to get a taste of what it's like to run your own chocolate factory...

Monday

Today will be the most chill day of the week! Looking at the calendar we have a lot to get through so planning is key. I start  the day by mapping out what success looks like at the end of the week and then work back from there plotting every key task for me and my team members, that we will discuss at the Tuesday morning team meeting when everyone is in.

We also start by roasting the cocoa beans of the chocolate that we’ll be making in the week, going through stockist orders and planning when we will get them out by.

Amarachi putting trays of cocoa beans in the oven

Tuesday

We have our weekly team meeting, this is a good chance to get the team up to speed with a lot of things that have happened in the last week, catch up on projects and have a chat about how we felt the previous week went.

The weekly stocktake happens and gives us a snap shot of how much product we have. We have a baseline of product we are comfortable with. After the stocktake, we then prioritise the making of products to get to the baseline or just above that.

I had a meeting with Mercury Spirits a fellow British Library scale-up programme alumni. We discussed the possibility of working together on a Christmas product – chocolate and negroni, a combination that never fails!

All the cocoa beans are crushed and winnowed and the machines are switched on. They won’t stop until Thursday when the chocolate is ready. We’re making Natural Blonde and 60% Haiti this week.

Lots of tempering of chocolate today as we have to keep the stocks up!

Amarachi filling trays of chocolate

Wednesday

We were invited to a Black History Month fair in the Aldgate Tower, it was a nice little lunch market for staff in the building. It was great to meet a lot of other Black founders.

I got back to the factory and hopped straight on a call with ITV as I will be baking our signature brownies on This Morning with Alison Hammond and Dermot O’Leary, there are a few things logistic wise that needed to be sorted so I hopped on a call with the guys at ITV to iron those out.

The coconut sugar, lucuma and cocoa butter are all weighed out and loaded into the machines slowly throughout the day.

In the evening a few of us went to a screening of Chocolate War a documentary by Miki Mistrati, highlighting the issues with child and slave labour in the chocolate supply chain. With the amount of money big chocolate companies make, we know they can fix the problem, but haven’t been required to, which is a great shame. We have been working on how we fix this problem and raising awareness on the issue through a campaign and podcast.

Amarachi boxing up the set chocolate

Thursday

Today we were invited to speak at a conference in Brussels by Meta in November which is flattering, we hopped on a call and got some more details.

I caught up with our sales lead on where we are sales wise and putting a strategy together on meeting our targets

We had a request from the BBC show Dreaming whilst Black to have our products placed in the background of the show. I finally got around to signing the contract and sending that off. Now to get the stock ready to go out next Monday.

Lucocoa's products laid out

Friday

This is bake day and always a little stressful as Friday which is supposed to be a bit of a winding down day, always seems to be one of the busiest. All the bakery orders that come through online throughout the week are baked and dispatched on Friday for delivery on Saturday.

We had a brainstorm session with a new partner – Glebe Farm, the only oat milk company in the UK using British oat. We have been using their oat milk for our hot chocolate and their gluten free flour for our brownies for a few years now. We got some great ideas down and now to get them rolled out.

Lucocoa chocolate being packaged up

Saturday

We form part of the Spa Terminus market on Saturday so we have the shop fully stocked with chocolate, chocolate gifts, hot chocolate and our signature Bourbon biscuits.

I left the shop early to head over to my Spanish lessons.

Lucoca_Portraits_456

 

Are you a creative business looking to grow and open doors to new, exciting possibilities? Join our Get Ready for Business Growth scale-up programme now! 

25 April 2022

Ten Things I wish I knew about Intellectual Property when I was younger

Every generation of young people wants to change the world. And they do, in some way.

Right now in someone’s studio flat, or halls of residence or on a gap year adventure is the next founder of a tech giant, a publishing phenomenon or an inventing genius. Of that, there is no doubt. But some may not get the success or recognition they deserve for their originality, creativity or inventiveness. The one thing that can often make or break an entrepreneur or business venture is getting their intellectual property right, first time.

This year’s theme for World Intellectual Property Day is IP and youth: innovating for a better future.

Here is a list of the most common mistakes that I’ve come across in helping thousands of entrepreneurs, creatives and inventors. I’m a little older now having helped so many but I hope what you read here will make all of us that much wiser not matter how young we are.

  1. Knowing how important Intellectual Property actually is.

You don’t know what you don’t know and that’s the point of our first tip. For any new business (or established) not understanding how IP can protect your creations and innovations is a fundamental mistake. There are two sides to IP; one is preventing unauthorised use of what you create and the other is maximising your existing IP as an asset that can acquire value. And if you come to sell your business, a lot of its value potentially resides in your IP. Understanding this and building it into your business strategy will maximise your IP, and therefore, your business impact. But how? That’s the next point.

  1. Getting to know the IP family

Want to patent your idea? Re brand your design? Copyright your invention? Mixing metaphors is one thing but not understanding the different forms of IP and what they do is like being stuck in a maze without an exit. What’s more, knowing a thing you create in your business or a creative pursuit can often be protected by more than one form of Intellectual Property is a great help. I like to call them the IP family. Knowing the difference between them and the job they do will provide clarity, and help you formulate your IP strategy clearly. So, for the record, you patent your invention, register your design and copyright your artistic expression. You trade mark your brand, keep quiet your trade secret and everything else is know-how known only to you. And as we’ll see, timing for all of this is key.

  1. Don’t be late to register or protect your Intellectual Property.

I’ve been an agony Uncle to many downhearted, once enthusiastic, start-ups. What has been the most common problem? ‘I started trading with this amazing brand only to find someone else was using it’. It’s a fundamental mistake. What you think is an amazing name for a product or business is probably so amazing that someone else has got there first. So do your research online but also for the register of existing trade marks in the UK here. Our team in the Business & IP Centre’s around the country can assist you with how to do a basic search. This of course as relevant to all the other forms of IP, so it’s always good to register or protect as soon as you can establish originality.

  1. Don’t overshare and the importance of confidentiality

We’ve all done it. It’s irresistible. We’re so excited and captured by our new business proposition or new gizmo that will change the world that we ‘overshare’. Pub environments are particularly risky. If you do have something of real potential, why tell the world, or just anyone else you know? The other thing I hear often is that ‘so and so stole my idea’. Unfortunately, the idea shouldn’t have been shared in the first place. Knowing what a non-disclosure agreement is and when to use them, is a good first step to securing your idea if you need to share it with interested parties. In fact, when it comes to inventions, anything already known in the world invalidates your application. So, as a rule of thumb, share nothing with no one, unless necessary, and with the right protection in place.

  1. Assuming a good idea is a commercial idea is the easiest mistake.

This is a big one but I have to say it. Lots of people have amazing ideas for inventions or services and create incredible things, but not all of these will be commercially successful. Why? Because there’s no market value to them. The thing you create doesn’t satisfy a big enough demand where people are prepared to pay for it. So a good exercise early on is to ask yourself three questions; what problem am I trying to solve? How big a problem is it really? And does my invention or business provide a good enough solution? Inventors very often fall into this trap. They discover a solution to something without considering the size, and therefore commercial value of the problem. History proves this, as there are piles and piles of granted patents which never made it to market. Anybody care for spray on hair? Electric shoe polishers? But at least we can be reassured that even the biggest and boldest companies can fall into the same trap. Anyone own a Betamax?

  1. Not market testing your new product or service.

With this in mind, it’s just good practice to do prepare a robust business plan that includes some evidence of potential demand for your innovative product or service. Market research and testing are fundamental steps to get right early before properly launching. This helps to safeguard any future investment, both time and resource and IP, that you subsequently put into the business. At the British Library’s Business & IP Centre you can do market research with some of the best researchers and publishers in any given industry. That will help to demonstrate that you’re on the right track (or not).

  1. Not setting an IP budget.

There is a cost to registering some forms of IP, those that are known as registered rights. Specifically, these are patents, trademarks and design. The most costly are patents but you should do all your IP research early and work out what the most cost effective options are balanced with maximum protection (supported by a sound business case). That way you’re on track to make judicious IP decisions that pay off. It’s also very helpful to list IP as a necessary cost alongside other costs such as marketing spend, operational and staffing. Ultimately, if your IP is effective, the asset should pay for itself.

  1. Not factoring in infringement costs

First, some bad news. There are no IP police. You will need to be alert to anyone else copying your invention, using your brand or selling a different version of the same product you created. And it’s up to you then to act. Sadly, as your brand grows with your product or service, you should expect copycats. Imitation, they say, is the sincerest form of flattery, except when it takes out your bottom line or ruins your hard earned reputation. Early and tough action on infringement is the best way to shut down any threats and that will almost always involve some legal expertise. So set aside a war chest in your IP defence but be reassured that there is professional help out there. And that’s when IP lawyers are there to fight for your interests. IP lawyers should be members of professional bodies such as CIPA or CITMA. Also be aware of trading standards for some circumstances of infringement.

  1. Not knowing what to ask an IP attorney

Ignorance is never a good thing, especially when trying to solve a complex problem like IP infringement or a new application for protection. That doesn’t mean you have to be an expert, by any stretch. But at least by having a good solid grounding and understanding of how IP works for you and your business means you can maximise the time and effort of any professional advice you seek. Knowing enough about something to ask really good questions and to evaluate the reply is more power to you and encouragement that your IP budget is paying back. Time is money (especially legal time) so cut out the IP small talk and get to the crux of the IP issue and its possible resolution.

  1. Not starting with your Business & IP Centre or Patlib!

How could I not conclude by inviting anyone with an IP issue or question to get in touch with their local Business & IP Centre or Patlib (patent library) network? You’ll be able to talk with staff who have experience and are able to be a sounding board for you to make informed decisions that support your business. No matter what your age (but especially if you’re young), you deserve to be rewarded for your new and innovative creations! And intellectual property is there to ensure you do just that.  

Meet Nick Hart, founder of Storm Skin

Like many budding entrepreneurs, Nick, the London-based founder of Storm Skin has never been short of ideas, but as a first time entrepreneur, he had always hesitated when it came to launching. We are happy to say that with our help, Nick was able to gain the confidence and tools needed to take the plunge and launch his bicycle cover business. We spoke to him to find out more about his start-up journey.

Head shot of Nick Hart

“Storm Skin was born out of personal frustration. As an urban cyclist with limited space, I have no choice but to store my bike outside. A bike cover is an essential item to prevent your bike rusting and seizing up. However, the only bike covers available to buy were cheap, flimsy and prone to ripping. What’s more, they were poorly fitting and tended to spend more time on my next-door neighbour’s hedge than covering my bike. So, we built a bike cover that worked. 100% waterproof, easy to fit, durable, unrivalled protection from wind, rain and UV. Simple. 

Green Storm Skin bike cover over a bike

My first interaction with the BIPC was at Start-Up Day in 2018 and since then they have played a pivotal role in the development of Storm Skin. The Start-Up Day event inspired me to move beyond daydreaming about running my own business to taking steps to make it happen. Once I had taken the decision to proceed, I booked a one-to-one session with an expert from the BIPC. We discussed the lean start-up methodology, and I was able to learn more about the electronic resources available at the BIPC in the British Library. Over the following months, I regularly visited the library, using Mintel databases to research my consumer and market. 

They also supported me with exploring opportunities to export my product into the EU. This included providing links to resources as well as workshops run by their partner organisation (Enterprise Europe Network). The information the BIPC provided demystified the complex process of exporting, particularly the new rules and regulations post-Brexit. 

Another key area that the BIPC supported with was constructing my IP strategy. I attended a workshop with expert IP lawyers, which provided me with more information on trade mark protection, design registration and patents. Armed with this info I was able to decide the level of protection I needed, whilst remaining within my budget.

Finally, I was also helped with the sourcing of my product. Through their monthly Inventor’s Club I was able to meet Bob and Richard, two product experts and serial entrepreneurs, they explained the basics of sourcing products from target pricing to prototyping. Through Richard, I was also able to meet Katy, who helped me to approach factories with my idea.

The best business advice I was given was that innovation comes in many forms. Incremental innovation is as valid as revolutionary innovation. It is not always necessary to create something completely new. Many great business ideas are improvements on existing products. In my spare time, I like to spend time with my family. I have two children under five, who keep me busy and help give me perspective when I’m having a tough day. 

The book that most influenced me was the FT Business Start-Up guide. This book has a step-by-step checklist for setting up a new business. I found it invaluable, allowing me to break down the process into bite-size tasks. The book also ensured I didn’t miss anything (product protection liability anyone?).”

Is your business idea still a daydream instead of a reality? Visit our workshops and events page to see how we can inspire you to take the next step. 

16 March 2022

The Women Breaking Barriers in Business

Female founded start-ups represent a growing share of investment activity – in the UK in 2011, only 11% of start-ups were women founded and by 2020, this number had risen to 32%. In the male dominated space of entrepreneurship, women founders are often underestimated and overlooked; while we have made progress, there’s still more to be done. To mark Women’s History Month, we’re delving into the experiences of two entrepreneurs we’ve supported to learn how they overcame discrimination in business.

First up is Innovating for Growth alumna Eleanore Richardson, who alongside her mother, Teresa, owns Fulham Scalp and Hair Clinic.

Eleanore on the left with mum, Teresa on right in their clinic in Fulham

“My mum certainly has some stories of working as a black female entrepreneur and as I have entered the business with her in the last five years there are a few things that have brought me back down to reality in terms of the challenges that women face in business.

My mum has worked in the hair industry for the past 45 years. She moved from working in a salon to working from home as a hairdresser when she started her family; part-time availability for hair stylists wasn't a realistic career and banks wouldn't lend her the capital to open her own salon. She worked out of our utility room and bathroom for 30 years and with that income, sustained two children (and our many after school activities), a mortgage and bought a flat in Portugal.

Over those years, the banks slowly offered my mum an overdraft for her sole trader account but she never used it because she had always associated debt with poor financial management.”

When Eleanore was studying for her A-Levels, Teresa also stepped back into her own studies and re-qualified as a Trichologist. Soon after qualifying, she found a retail space that she could run her clinical practice from. However, even though she was a successful business owner for the past 35 years, she was asked for a guarantor to support her retail lease application. Financially independent and in her fifties, she didn't find this appropriate, but was forced to compromise by signing an eight-year lease with no break clause instead.

Upon realising that their business was making enough money to register as a limited company instead of a sole trader, Eleanore and Teresa went to several banks and opened a business bank account. Whilst one bank was happy to offer them a sole trader account with a £12,000 overdraft, the only business account they were keen to offer was with a £2,000 overdraft. They eventually went with another bank that offered a measly £6,000 overdraft and meant that their cash flow was still too tight to invest in growth.

Several years later, Teresa was ready to move clinics and they were in a position to develop their clinic hair care range into a product range ready to be sold to retailers. Despite presenting a business plan in an effort to increase their £6,000 overdraft, the bank turned them down. This made no sense to Eleanore, “I had been offered bigger overdrafts as a student earning nothing, yet here was a successful business that made money every year and had never had to dip into an overdraft, had grown organically year after year, and yet credit options were non-existent.” They postponed development of their range for three years out of fear that the investment would deplete their cash flow, and there were no obvious alternatives to financing that weren't fraught with high interest rates.

Fulham Scalp and Hair has also been operating in Luanda, Angola, which is Teresa’s birthplace. There she has a loyal customer base who have grown with her over the years but many customers and onlookers still don't understand how a business like theirs can generate enough interest and enough revenue to fund a satellite clinic in Luanda. “Rumours of my mother having a wealthy benefactor are always amusing, but depressingly remind me that the expectation for women to run a successful, international business is still questioned.

Last year an investor in Angola who was keen to buy a stake in our Angolan business propositioned us. When negotiations began, it emerged that he was only going to accept a majority stake in all of our business holdings internationally and was going to establish his own solicitor as a business consultant with a 5% stake. The mind boggles at how foolish they must have assumed an older black woman and her younger daughter must be.

This I find is the most common theme being a woman in business, and it hasn't really changed from the time of my mum starting her own business through to me joining and leading it. Women continue to be underestimated in their own businesses, and this seems to be particularly brutal for women of colour or for very young (looking) women. For mum she had been underestimated by so many of the services and employees previously hired, that it was a relief to work with her daughter who she could completely trust and not be on her guard with. Personally, I have had to correct solicitors, landlords and accountants on their own work and have even had one rep from an organisation ask if I need to chat with my "mummy" before signing off on membership.”

Our next business is The Fermentation Station, founded by Amy and Sam who received support from BIPC Liverpool in relation to their trademarking. We spoke to Amy to learn how her experience as an entrepreneur has been different to that of her partners’.

Amy (on left) and Sam on blue backdrop

“Being a female business owner has its advantages and disadvantages. In Liverpool, having access to support through The Women's Organisation provides many advantages to being a female business owner in the city, but I believe this is a privilege that many don't receive.

Whilst it wasn't impossible to be a female business owner 30 or 50 years ago, the challenge was much greater than what we see in 2022. Things have certainly come a long way but we still have a lot of progress to make in how we view women in business.  I often think my Nan would have achieved even more remarkable things during her working years had gender roles been different back then. She was an outstanding woman with a genetic eye condition that she never let stand in her way.”

It is also important to encourage young girls into entrepreneurship, when Amy was in high school the only future presented to her was one of academia. “We were told that it was a safe route into employment that meant that we didn't need to rely on a man - can you guess I went to a single sex school! Whilst I am eternally grateful for the solid upbringing they gave me, the option of becoming an entrepreneur was not one that I was encouraged to explore. I think often this causes 'impostor syndrome' as we feel we aren't skilled for the role, whilst men are more likely to take the leap without second guessing whether they’re qualified to do so."

Having been a Company Director for six years between The Fermentation Station & H2A, Amy has built up confidence to present herself as a business leader and leave the impostor syndrome at the door. When asked about whether she has noticed a difference in the way she is treated by investors, suppliers or clients in comparison to Sam she pointed out that unconscious bias is always at play.

“I believe that many think that Sam is the driving force behind our business – that's until I open my mouth, and he is often granted commendations for behaviours that I perform regularly. When we have been challenged with difficult customers or stockists, who are unprepared to acknowledge or accept my response, I have now resorted to responding to them by pretending to be Sam; you would be surprised how quickly their tone & response changes when they believe it's a man they’re speaking to.”

Overall though, the advantages of being a female founder outweigh the disadvantages, Amy has been the company director of a mother-daughter team and a male-female team which have both been incredible experiences for her. “I think it's completely dependent upon the personalities of your fellow directors or founders, and with both businesses I held close personal relationships. Sam and I work well together not because we are different genders or sexes but because our working styles complement each other.”

18 February 2022

BIPC Style Guide

As London Fashion Week A/W 2022 comes to a close today, we’re feeling like it's about time to update our wardrobe! Stuck in a rut with your wardrobe too? Maybe you're feeling inspired to create runway pieces at home? From shoe making classes to vintage inspired clothing, we have BIPC businesses that are transforming the fashion industry to help pull you out of your rut. Find out how below

 

The Fold Line

Kate and Rachel sewing on a machine in their home/studio

The Fold Line is an award-winning online sewing pattern shop. Founded in 2015 and based in the UK, they are the home for people who love sewing and making their own clothes, offering an extensive range of paper and digital PDF sewing patterns plus copy shop printing services. They are on a sewing mission to help makers find the perfect project and create a handmade wardrobe they love. If the designs from London Fashion Week has inspired you to try your hand at sewing, why not try making one of The Fold Line's best selling sewing patterns for beginners.

Co-founders Rachel Walker and Kate Underdown took part in the Innovating for Growth Free Scale-Up programme and with the help of experts' advice, marketed their new online shop to an established community following. 

 

I Can Make Shoes

Amanda with a shoe prototype

If shoes are more your style, why not try I Can Make Shoes, a London-based shoe-making school for beginners. Amanda founded the business back in 2010 to teach total beginners how to make their own shoes from home. Since we last spoke to the Innovating for Growth alumna, a lot has changed - she spent the first lockdown filming the same course content she had been teaching in-person for over 10 years and released it as an Online Course, this turned out to be great timing as people from all over the world had been wanting to take one of their courses but weren't able to travel the distance.

The past two years have been a very rocky road, as is the case many small businesses, but I Can Make Shoes has come out of it in a great position having had a chance reset the business and find their feet in the world of online training.

 

Revival Retro

Woman crossing the sreet dressed in retro clothing

Inspired by beautiful bygone eras Revival Retro’s garments have classic style, feminine tailoring and flattering cuts. They are the perfect antidote to the fast fashion and throwaway culture of the chain brands on the high street and are committed to enabling individual style with inclusive sizing (8-28). For the discerning woman who wants a better shopping experience, their thoughtful design and considered approach puts people, planet and provenance first. Clothing that women will choose to wear again and again, that are easy to care for, enabling this desire and therefor lowering impact on the environment.

Since completing Innovating for Growth in 2017 where they learned to create a solid foundation for their business plans, their small business has built upon lessons learned and stayed true to their values whilst navigating the challenges of the last few years.

 

Sabina Motasem

Sabina drawing designs in front of a rack of hanging patterns

Sabina Motasem is a multi award-winning bridal boutique featured on vogue.com and in Elle. The entrepreneur and designer behind it is Sabina Ali whose dresses are proudly made right here in London with beautiful craftsmanship by an extraordinarily talented team. Having started in 2007, with a single wedding dress made as a present for a friend, Sabina's presence has steadily grown and she took part in our Innovating for Growth programme in 2012; it's an experience she calls "life changing" as it taught her the value of detaching herself and gaining perspective.

Like so many small businesses Sabina had to close her bridal shop in Islington but she believes it was the right thing to do. Her boutique is now online, becoming one of the first bridal brands in the country to pivot in this direction, and in 2022 she has started offering in-person appointments at bridal pop-up shops in Kings Cross, London.

 

Maria Grachvogel London

380_Maria_G_1731b

The Maria Grachvogel brand of Fashion and Luxury is about fit architecture – making clothes exist for the wearer, rather than the other way around. She engineers beautiful clothes, in fabrics that make every shape and size of woman look and feel her most confident, beautiful, and feminine. With a deep belief that cut and fit is transformative to the body and soul, each piece is carefully considered with seams that sculpt the body and fabric that drapes perfectly to move and flow as you do with thoughtful design details to enhance and flatter or allow for many ways to wear and style. The finest craftsmanship goes into every, considered piece so it can be loved and worn for many years. 

Watch the latest fashion film by Maria Grachvogel, Genesis - A New Dawn, which premiered during London Fashion Week on 21 February.   

 

B_Boheme

Woman with red trousers and colourful trainers by B_Boheme

B_Boheme’s showcases how vegan, sustainable and ethical shoes can be desirable. The collection is 100% animal-free using the latest innovations in sustainable, plant-based materials, as well as natural and recycled materials. With their latest collection, they’ve upped the ante to create a collection with the lowest possible carbon footprint. It features three key styles that are designed to be bolder and brighter as well as durable and timelessly chic. They’ve focused on styles that women can wear to be comfortable while still elevating any outfit, the elegant flat shoe, the designer sneaker and the utility Chelsea boot.

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