We help young people aged 18 and 30 to start and grow successful businesses. 

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Zara Afflick

Box of Prints 

Tell us a bit about yourself and your business

I grew up in a financially deprived family.  Being a family of 5 in a 2 bed flat, having corn beef and rice for dinner, not being able to have the same things as my peers, meant I lacked confidence.  So it was only natural that I had a lot of fears relating to starting a business, mostly fear of failure!  It was only in 2015 that I pushed myself to put all my talk into action and set up Box of Prints, which specialises in creating unique printed fabric. 

How did you get involved with Launch It?

I found out  about Launch It after a simple Google search.  I’d been working from home and really needed to move to a more professional location. I got a lot of help and encouragement from Launch It, especially my Enterprise Manager, Cliff, who really inspired me to push ahead and start my business. If I needed anything, I’d always feel comfortable to just go to Cliff and say, “you know what, I’m struggling here, can you help me?” 

How does having a Launch It studio help your business?

When I moved in to my unit and I realised I’m paying rent for this space, it was a motivator – what happens is you know you can’t let your business fail.  Another thing is, it’s helped with networking, connecting with other businesses and opening up opportunities for collaborations.  I’d never had those opportunities before.  

Tell us one thing you’re proud of achieving.

Launch It played a big role in my becoming Entrepreneur In Residence at StartUp Kitchen - they introduced me to them in the first place.  I then became the project leader for their mentoring sessions, which is a HUGE benefit for me and has really helped me to build my confidence. So now, as well as helping people design and print their own textiles, I run print making workshops too. 

What advice would you give to other young entrepreneurs? 

Change your perspective to  ‘I can’ and ‘I will’, instead of focusing on the things that seem impossible!  

 

Mary Otumahana

_ The Record Shop

_ Prodigies of Nature

_ WonRWomN

 

Tell us a bit about yourself

I’ve been making music from home – writing, rapping and producing – since I was 14. I got my first job when I was 17 with a record label, but I was also doing a lot of general part-time retail work.  I studied film studies at university and afterwards I did a bit of filming for a youth charity. Through that I got some training and got more into youth work – I worked part-time as a teaching assistant and also at a youth club where I was supporting young people to organise music events, advising them on music and media. 

What motivated you to start a business?

As a teenager, I found that there weren’t enough opportunities for young people to take part in music activities. In my early  20s,  I got involved with organisations like Roundhouse (performing arts and concert venue in London) that provided free workshops. It gave me a chance to learn and meet other musicians. It got me thinking about starting my own music business. .  

Tell us how you got involved with Launch It

I’d been running a free recording studio for once a week with an organisation called somewhereto… that offered access to free community space for 16-25 year olds. They eventually stopped running that space and Launch It took it over. I started to think about how I could turn my recording studio into a proper full-time business. 

I got so much help from Launch It to develop my business plan, do a cash flow.  They were instrumental. Subsidised rent meant I could afford to rent space for my studio, which just wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.  Launch It helped me promote my business, linked me up with a mentor – and just being in a Launch It centre meant I had access to lots of training and networking opportunities. . 

Your business has expanded since then! 

Yes! I started Prodigies of Nature (for profit sister company to The Record Shop) in July 2017 so that I could generate funds to be able to continue running The Record Shop as a free studio. 

What are the biggest challenges facing young entrepreneurs?  

Finding the balance between earning a living and pursuing a career that you are really passionate about! It‘s a struggle at the start; but things do get better. It’s so hard to know how to prepare for running a business before you’ve started! You have to be forward thinking, plan ahead, be detailed in thinking about what you want to achieve and the steps you’re going to take.

What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs like yourself?

Firstly, it’s good to be driven by your passion and enthusiasm, rather than immediately thinking about earning money. Passion motivates you to keep going and move forward with what you’re doing. At first you have to invest a lot  - your time, money - and it’s difficult, but it will pay off in the long-term! Creating a business plan and having a cash flow really helps with funding applications – and it helps you to understand the ins and out of your business, to know where you’re going. 

Tell us a bit about yourself

I’m a young mum of 2, originally from Nigeria. I lived in Holland for a while and then came to London in 2010 to study Enterprise Management, Tourism and Hospitality. I worked for a while as a wedding planner, then in a luxury Afro-Carribean restaurant for about 3 years after university

 

What motivated you to start a business?

When my kids were born, I decided I didn’t want to be a stay-at-home mum, but it was too difficult to juggle motherhood with a conventional career in the hospitality industry, so I had to start something for myself. I started my business from home in 2014 

Tell us how you got involved with Launch It

I got into contact with Launch It after seeing an advert in Peckham when I was looking for space. Really, my success is all thanks to them! When I met Addy (Enterprise Manger), I was working from home, and it was a real struggle to manage with the kids, it was so easy to get distracted. I needed a space so I could come and work in peace! I already had a business plan, but Launch It talked through every stage with me and helped me to refine it. The most important thing was learning about managing the financial and legal aspects – tax, registering as a business, all that stuff.

How does having a studio help your business?

Having somewhere to go every morning focuses you. And it’s great that the space is affordable – it meant I didn’t have to raise as much capital at the beginning.  I knew I had the business skills – but Launch It really supported me to make sure I was doing everything legally.  Being involved with them has been inspirational. I’ve learned so much and they’ve really supported and motivated me. Being in the Enterprise Centre I also have the opportunity to collaborate with other businesses on events – it’s fantastic.

What are the biggest challenges facing young entrepreneurs?

Accessing advice – they might not have enough knowledge about what they’re getting themselves into! And the financial aspect, especially accessing capital. It’s  one thing to say you want to start a business, and another to actually feel inspired to do it! Another thing is networking! It’s so important to build links and find inspiration from others. Having access to a shared premises through Launch It is so helpful for this. And if I needed help or advice I could speak to Addy and other staff.  

What is your biggest achievement

The fact that I’ve become an inspiration to other young people that I meet or who’ve seen my work online. That’s the biggest achievement for me. 

What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs like yourself?

Be yourself, believe in yourself and be original, be creative! And don’t be afraid to ask for help

Rita Madu-West

Desosa Catering

 

Evelyn Okwabi

Kux Kouture

Tell us a bit about yourself

I grew up in Ghana, surrounded by creative women! My mum makes cakes, Grandma bakes bread, my aunt makes food too. I used to get into trouble a lot for stealing fabric to make clothes for my dolls!

 

What motivated you to start a business?

In high school, I realised I had a passion for design and making clothes and studied fashion at university, but to be honest, by the time I finished my course, I wanted to give up! I was working in retail – New Look, Avon Cosmetics, that sort of thing. It wasn’t until I went home to Ghana for the holidays and had the opportunity to style some celebrities that I started getting excited again. When I came back home, I decided I was going to take this up full-time - and here we are!  

Tell us about your experience with Launch It

I found out about Launch It, through a family friend and arranged a meeting with the centre manager. He looked at my business idea with me and suggested how I could improve on it. He showed me how to write a cash flow projection – I’d been running the business from my home and I’d never done anything like that before!   I’ve had so much help – being a Launch It client brings so many opportunities. My mentor helped me to enter a competition and successfully pitch for funding. It was my first time and I learned a lot from it, pitching for my business was a really great experience!  

How does having a studio help your business?

It’s really helped my business grow. Apart from benefitting from all the support available through Launch It, having a studio makes me look more professional.  I do everything here – I design and make the clothes, do all my business admin. Clients come here for my made-to-measure service. 

When I was working from home, people thought this was just a hobby. Having a studio space helps people to understand that you’re a serious business.

What are the biggest challenges facing young entrepreneurs

Expanding! Because I didn’t have start-up funding I had to use my own capital. I'd just moved back to London and was working from home, so getting new customers was really hard! 

What are you most proud of achieving

Bringing my business into this space, and being shortlisted for 2 awards with BBI Enterprise UK  in such a short time!

What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs like yourself

Take the first step – once you’ve taken the first step you’ll get to the other side. Make the most of the opportunities available, there are so many people out there willing to help – you just need to connect to the right people!