A key attraction to starting a business is the opportunity to utilise a talent or passion on a day-to-day basis, creating a career out of something that provides enjoyment and satisfaction.
It is something that fuelled 28-year-old Jen Pyrah, whose gift for fine art has since been transferred to her business Wren & Wilson, which was set up after Jen successfully applied for a business loan from The Sir Thomas White Loan Charity.
“I am a Fine Art graduate and specialised in making contemporary structure,” explains Jen.
“After leaving university, I was left without having any space to create my sculptures, so I shrank down my practice and concentrated on illustration and making small things. It was from there that I had the idea for my business. I wanted to find a way that I could turn my drawings into wearable objects. After visiting a design shop one day, I saw that people had laser-cut jewellery and ‘pop’ – I realised that was what I could do with my drawings.”
It was the need for a laser cutter that prompted Jen to get in touch with The Sir Thomas White Loan Charity – with her business loan used to purchase the vital piece of equipment to get things going.
“I had the idea of my business rolling in my head for a while before I took the plunge,” Jen revealed.
“Before doing so, I worked in a 9-5 job and saved to go travelling around the world – an amazing experience. When I got back, I knew I didn’t want to work in an office anymore. I wanted to be able to create art and earn a living from being self-employed.
“I contacted the Prince’s Trust where I completed their business course. Whilst doing my business splan, I worked out how much I was going to need to invest to start up. I looked around for funding and, through the Creative Leicestershire newsletter, found The Sir Thomas White Loan Charity. It sounded like an amazing opportunity. The interest rates and time to pay it back were really appealing – and the fact that they were based in Leicester was great.”
As with all start-ups, Jen was forced to face a number of challenges – none more so than the laser cutter required going out of production suddenly!
“This was a bit of a disappointment. I had two options; either borrow more money to buy a more expensive cutter or outsource my engraving. I chose to outsource the engraving and I’m extremely happy I did so. In many ways, I’m glad that the laser cutter I wanted didn’t exist! Buying the machine would have taken every penny of my loan, so I was now able to use the money on every other aspect of my business.”
Those aspects included the purchase of materials, equipment, stall fees, marketing material, product printing and getting the designs laser cut.
“Not to mention all of the unexpected costs that go along with running a small business,” added Jen.
“I couldn’t have started without The Sir Thomas White Loan Charity funding, as it meant I could carry on buying stock as months went on.
“One year on, things are developing nicely. One of the things I’ve enjoyed most about running my own business is meeting a number of creative people. There is a great community of likeminded individuals on Instagram, which has been the most useful marketing and networking platform, that are lovely and very supportive.
“I’m very proud of being able to make something that comes from my brain that people actually want to buy,” Jen continued.
“I get a lot of lovely reactions about my work. At craft fairs, I see people’s big smiles and people excitedly pointing to things on my stall. I have lovely customers, who are so sweet and have extremely good customer feedback with a 100% record of five-star reviews on Etsy. I don’t really like using the term customer though, because people that contact me are so personable and lovely. It’s like chatting to a friend.”
One product that has gained a huge amount of popularity features one of Leicestershire’s well-loved celebrities – Sir David Attenborough. Jen’s Sir David Attenborough pin (below) has established itself as a favourite of many – with money from each sale going to charity.
“I love Sir David Attenborough,” explained Jen.
“I love the planet too, so I felt it was only right that my Attenborough badges would help the planet in some way. So, I researched the charities that Sir David was supportive of, and I found Cool Earth. They are a charity that saves rainforests from destruction and works with indigenous villages to protect them. We have raised over £100 so far.”
With business progressing well, Jen would encourage any entrepreneur wishing to set up shop for themselves to get in touch with The Sir Thomas White Loan Charity.
“I would definitely recommend seeking help from the Charity,” she said.
“Without them I would not have been able to start my business and buy everything I needed. The interview with Trustees isn’t scary at all. In fact, it was actually quite enjoyable sharing my business idea with strangers. If you’re thinking about applying for funding, but unsure, definitely go for it! The Charity is really approachable and there is no harm in applying – just make sure you’re prepared.
“Know your business inside-out and be passionate about it. Research your business plan and attend any free business classes to help you with it and talk with others about it. Be excited about your business and once you are raring to go and have everything in place – just go for it.”
To find out more about the Charity’s business loans, please CLICK HERE.
Take a look at Wren & Wilson’s excellent range of unique designs by visiting www.wrenandwilson.com