What challenges have you encountered on your journey and how have you overcome them? Is this a common challenge in your industry? How can we tackle it?
Now working in well-being my biggest challenge is helping companies to see that if they don't look after their people, their business will directly suffer. As it's not an easily measurable ROI, well-being is not well understood or misunderstood and seen as fluffy.
The more people who talk about their well-being challenges and the more employees who demand better well-being cultural practices from their employers, the more we will see a change from within.
Product packaging is a key area for the gift industry, and it's important to find your USP and make sure your packaging stands out from the crowd.
I found that the people that are still here truly believe in the positive impact, (the children that can navigate the internet more safely because of something we have taught them, for example.)
The biggest challenge for me has been to find the motivation to get up every day, be with people and head a company on its travel while never seeing myself represented. Not in boardrooms, not in IT, not in trying to find capital and not in the Games industry. No young women in positions of power, no women of colour, no young mothers, no women at all.
Over the last decade, I've seen small changes, especially in-house. I see more diversity, more inclusiveness, more representation. But when I venture out into the real world, the change comes too slow.
There is also the challenge of juggling all the different tasks that need to be done; finding, booking and preparing for events; social media content; marketing, promoting and selling; admin and accounts; recruiting, supporting and mentoring team members. One thing I haven’t tried yet, which should make things easier, is email marketing and sending out regular newsletters.
In regard to doing events, initially the challenge was getting people to try the products, as it was an unknown brand. However, now that the brand is bigger, the challenge is for people to buy from me and not from another distributor or from Head Office.
Since I started the business, a lot of people thought that it’s a pyramid scheme, and it’s been a challenge to convince them to try the products because of that reason. It is a common challenge in the industry. However, most companies are pyramid shaped in that there is a CEO at the top, then a few directors underneath, then a number of managers under them, and lastly mostly employees on the first rung of the ladder. The way that it can be tackled in the industry I am in is to have a fairer system, where it’s not just the executives that get given leads by Head Office. It would also be better if rewards were given in terms of longevity and other achievements, not just on sales and recruitment.
I continued working for a total of 6 years but I started to lose interest; so left to change my career. From that moment on I never really stuck to a job, I bounced around every 6 months to a new job.
I eventually became a mobile carer for the elderly, which I did kind of enjoy because I was always on the move and not stuck in the same place. I then lost my grandad and felt I needed to live my life, so I quit my job, packed my things and I moved up here to Cardiff in 2013.
I met one of my friends soon after moving here and we did talk about my business ideas but I didn’t know where or how to go about it, we had completely different businesses so he could only help me so far. So I carried on with my day job, until one day I woke up and really wanted to pursue my dream. I bit the bullet and quit my job, I thought if I wont do it now I wont ever do it, so googled how to start a business, and one of the first results that popped up was The Princes Trust, so I called in and explained I wanted to start a business and asked if they could help me.
They explained they had a course called the Enterprise programme that I could go on and that’ll get me started. So I accepted, what did I have to lose?
I wasn’t expecting much from the course, but was pleasantly taken a back and surprised at how much information I didn’t know I needed to know to run a business; and the depth of the course was amazing. I came out with a new lease of life and excitement for my new journey. I worked with Gemma to do my business plan and had weekly meet ups to go through all my information to make sure I had everything I needed before I went to launch group – I passed which is like dragons den and so scary. My adventure began and Anaphase Clothing was born.
I was given a mentor for 2 years to help me all the way with any problems and advice and I have networked a lot doing their courses. For the few years, The Princes Trust Cymru have held a pop up shop in St David’s 2 on Mothers Day weekend, which I have attended for 3 years and speaking to people that have been through the same journey really helped me.
My business was slow to start off with which did dishearten me a little, especially as I thought I’d be a millionaire by the first month. But I wasn’t ready to give up so I got a full time job to help with the costs and kept my business going on the side; it has picked up a lot and has been a bumpy ride but I still see potential in myself.
The trust were always there for me for what ever I needed willing to put me in contact with other mentors who would help me if mine couldn’t.
Last year I changed the business name to Anaphase Store as I wasn’t just selling clothing now so it made sense to have store to cover the ranges I have. I have developed an online following on my social media accounts, I have my website that gets a lot of attention, I am verified on Facebook, The Tomorrow store that is run by The Prince’s Trust also stocks my items on their online platform.
I have also collaborated with 4 other businesses that went through the enterprise programme and currently have a fully funded office in Caerphilly thanks to the welsh government. I have been growing my brand to attract all different types of customers so I can create a bigger collection.
I was a young ambassador for The Princes Trust, so I would attend events and do speeches on how the trust has helped me; I am now a volunteer and business mentor.
Along the way I have met Paul Mercer, he used to play for Portsmouth Football team, which my dad is a huge fan of, I asked him for an autograph which he was okay about until the whole room saw, rushed over and formed a line. He was stuck there for about 30 minutes, not sure if I left as his friend, also Dan Bigger and Kelly Hoppen. Kelly loved my ˜Don’t touch my hair sweatshirts and posted it on her Instagram along with Giovanna Fletcher who posted one of my candles on her Instagram story, which in turn sent a lot of people my way.
I have done an interview on BBC radio wales along with Radio Cardiff, Heat, Kiss, Kerrang, Planet Rock and Magic. I met prince Charles who laughed at my don’t touch my hair jumper and told me he loves eBay, at the same event I met Luke Evans, who was really nice and was tweeting about some ambassadors during the morning. My business has also been shortlisted for 5 different business awards, we’ve won 3 of them in one day and one of the awards being the enterprise award with the Princes trust awards, we became a multi award winning business all in one day. I was also invited by Buckingham Palace to attend Prince Charles 70th Birthday Celebrations, I was listed as one of the 35 under 35 top business woman in wales 2018, I have been mentioned in 63 new papers and magazines articles through my journey and its lovely to hear that people still find me just as inspiring, I now also have 2 paid staff members, 3 interns and 8 reps around the country working for Anaphase Store – I feel extremely lucky to have achieved what I have in such a small time.
With the actual purpose of the forum, I think in the beginning there was some naivety to the extent of how uniform the industry is and many companies are still questioning the value of diversity. It’s not necessarily a challenge to overcome but it’s important for companies and individuals to come on this journey with us and be open to asking questions and understanding the benefits of a more diverse workforce.