A woman from Brighouse who set up her own clothing company after months of trying to find work has described the moment she signed-off jobseekers allowance as “awesome”.
Joel Dickinson, 32, lost her job when the pub she was managing closed and she spent the next eight months searching for work until her dad suggested that she set-up on her own.
She said: "I was really struggling to find a job and it was my dad who said that I was always building up other people’s businesses and I should try doing something for myself.
Joel approached her personal adviser at Brighouse Jobcentre who put her in touch with the West Yorkshire Enterprise Agency for help setting-up her own business.
The Agency is responsible for running a national enterprise scheme in West Yorkshire aimed at long-term jobseekers who have a business idea but need help to get it off the ground.
As part of her place on the scheme, Joel was able to access financial support as well as professional advice through a business mentor and free start-up workshops.
"I had always dreamed of setting up my own plus size boutique but funding was an issue and I didn’t know if it was feasible until I joined this enterprise scheme," Joel said.
At the end of July, Joel took the plunge and signed off jobseekers allowance to start her new business selling women’s clothing in sizes 8 - 32+ under the name "Be-You-tiful Clothes".
She continued: "It felt awesome when I went in to sign-off jobseekers allowance and my jobcentre adviser, who has been very supportive, was almost as excited as I was."
On the scheme Joel will receive a weekly payment for her first 26 weeks of trading, known as "New Enterprise Allowance", to help take the financial pressure off as the business grows.
She also secured a £1000 loan through the scheme which helped cover the cost of her stock but after just one successful clothes party she’s almost sold out and needs to buy more.
Joel said: "The first party was really good fun and I’ve got eight more parties in the pipeline plus two local pubs who want me to run ladies’ nights for them.
"There is a shortage of good quality plus size clothing and most of what’s out there is only available in catalogues so if it doesn’t fit you have to worry about sending it back in the post."
She’s also added accessories to the list of items that she can sell at parties by teaming up with a well known accessories retailer in Brighouse called Baggy 2 Shoes.
As well as the support of her dad and jobcentre adviser, Joel will continue to receive support from the business mentor assigned to her by West Yorkshire Enterprise Agency.
All the mentors are volunteers from the business community who have offered to give up an hour every fortnight to support a participant as they prepare to start trading and beyond.
Mark Slater, Business Development Manager at Bull Information Systems in Barnsley, volunteered to be a business mentor and he is thrilled to be working with Joel (pictured above together).
He said: "I thought Joel’s business plan was top notch and you could really see the effort and time that had gone into it so I knew there was no way it was going to fail."
Anyone interested in finding out more about becoming a mentor or joining the scheme should contact Melissa Healy on 01924 786500 or firstname.lastname@example.org