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Ashley Ross: My Year in Enterprise


identiTee is a gender-neutral clothing company offering a variety of t-shirts to "anyone and everyone" whilst raising awareness of anti-bullying. identiTee provides charitable donations to victims of bullying with a focus on LGBTQ+, BAME and other minority groups.

My aim is to run a profitable business which positively raises awareness of social challenges and ways in which we can come together to support minority communities.

1. Application Process for a Year in Enterprise

Firstly, I submitted a business plan (which took me a lot longer than I thought it would so definitely start this in advance). It’s crucial to do a lot of research to ensure you know the market and your competitors; especially as this is how you’ll persuade the judging panel. Once I got through this round, I had a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style interview where I pitched everything about identiTee: the product, market route, target customers, finance, management and how I’ll spend the year, all in the space of 10 minutes! This was then followed by questions from the panel which is quite daunting but they’re already interested just genuinely want you to share a little more information about your business. Having a clear USP is a great way to compete with others applying for the YiE and really stands out to the judges when it comes to answering their questions. Explicitly sell the reason why you should be picked over others and how your business could survive in quite a crowded market place.”

Just stay calm, give it your all and be yourself!

2. What made you want to do a Year in Enterprise?

From a young age, I’ve always wanted to have my own business. To say you’ve grown a successful business from nothing is a phenomenal achievement and the YiE gave me the opportunity to do that. You have a mass of support from the University so there’s nothing to be afraid of and people to fall back on with support from the get-go!

I also thought it was quite a unique experience to that of Study Abroad and a Placement Year; it gives you an advantage for careers after graduation and stands out to employers even more as there are a limited number of universities that offer this form of qualification.

It also meant that I could meet lots of new people and practice some of the theoretical knowledge I’ve obtained from my course and part-time work. Everyone I’ve spoken to about my business so far has been really engaged with it and it’s great to see so much support from communities surrounding you; you really don’t expect it to be that positive!

3. Has everything gone according to plan? If not, why and how?

Originally, I thought running a business would be a little easier than it has been... You can have an incredibly detailed plan and know exactly what it is you want to be doing for your company and customers but there will be slight hiccups which you can never predict. For example, I planned to have another product range out in the market around February but there was a restricted number of stock from my suppliers who had an ethical background meaning my expansion slowed down slightly as I only like to work with businesses who have good morals. It has taken a little reshuffling to put me back on track and challenges like this can be difficult to handle if you don’t have the right support networks but thankfully, my mentor, Tom, helped me to overcome this problem and gave me the motivation to persevere through the slight setbacks.

4. Do you think it will be difficult to manage final year while running your business?

There will certainly be hardships in my final year but nothing that I don’t think I can overcome with the help of the Spark team. Brian and Kairen have helped me in so many ways this year whether it be organising networking events with successful entrepreneurs, creating a social media plan or working out how I can progress in the future.

Honestly couldn’t have done it all without Spark; they’re incredibly supportive!

If you want any help with your application or advice on your business idea feel free to email Ashley Ross at

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