Third year Management student, Harriett Howe, has capitalised on a raft of enterprise opportunities offered at the University to great effect, to achieve her long-held ambition of running her own lingerie business.
On her Year in Enterprise, Harriett was fully immersed in her business venture, Lunebelle, a lingerie company which will educate young women on breast health and fitting, as well as encouraging body confidence.
She explains: “Finding the right bra when I was younger was such an ordeal, I couldn’t find anything for teens with a fuller bust that was either pretty or suitable, so for as long as I can remember this is what I’ve wanted to do. With the combination of support from the Centre for Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Studies (CEES) and Spark I’m turning my dream into reality.”
The Year in Enterprise programme, run through Spark, is an alternative to the traditional industrial placement for third year students and places are highly coveted. Applicants have to pass a rigorous interview and pitch a business plan to win a place on the programme. Harriett says that with the support and advice provided by her academic advisor from CEES, the rewards - which include living expenses, a business mentor and office space - have been well worth the effort.
Winning a place on the Year in Enterprise Programme was so exciting; it’s such a competitive process so it shows the University’s belief in my business – and in me – and it really boosted my confidence and inspired me to make my business model a success.
In addition to the Year in Enterprise, Harriett secured a proof of concept award from the University’s business start-up service, Spark, which helped her create a prototype product. She was also awarded an Enterprise Scholarship, which gave her access to extensive business support and mentoring along with £3000 worth of funding. To cap things off, she went on to take first prize of a further £2,000 in the Pre-Trading category of the University’s 2018 Business Plan competition, which is open to both students and graduates.
Harriett is working with a specialist bra maker who will transform her designs into beautiful products for the 15-25yr old market. When she launches Lunebelle, her short-term ambition is to build recognition of her brand and to secure additional funding so she can further scale the business and accelerate her products into the marketplace.
She’s already preparing for this next step and through Spark, has been able to access the Grant Thornton regional Investment Readiness Programme. The University runs this in partnership with other Yorkshire universities and Harriett pitched for investment to a panel of business angels and as runner-up won £500 of investment.
“Spark and CEES offer the most incredible support for student entrepreneurs,” she says. “They and their network of professional advisers offer so much guidance and so many opportunities. They’ve put me in touch with lawyers, marketing experts and accountants, and they’ve been great at helping me build relevant professional connections.”