Grace Clarke: 'StartUp UK gave me the push I needed to press forward with my wish to start my own business.'

Grace Clarke: 'StartUp UK gave me the push I needed to press forward with my wish to start my own business.'

Posted: Tue 26th Apr 2022

StartUp UK is Enterprise Nation's scheme to provide free tailored support to budding entrepreneurs.

Backed by the UK government and high-profile firm Monzo Business, the programme delivers initiatives such as e-learning, online training, national events and flagship annual conferences throughout the UK.

As the scheme continues to run, we're talking to some of the business owners who have been taking part, to hear how it's benefited them so far. Here, we talk to Grace Clarke from Birmingham, who's well under way with her planning and is set to launch her business in summer 2022.

You're yet to start your business but you're very much gearing up to do so. What's your idea?

My business idea is making handmade statement turbans and headwear for women who are experiencing hair loss for various reasons – including chemotherapy, alopecia or other medical conditions – and looking for attractive ways to cover their heads in different everyday situations.

That might be shopping, attending hospital, going to work, visiting the beach or pool, at bedtime and so on. However, the turbans can be worn by all women, whether or not they've suffered hair loss.

Making turbans is part of a broader business idea that I've nursed for over 20 years. It all stems from my love of sewing and dressmaking, which I've had since my mother taught me to sew as a child.

As well as selling turbans online, I'll be making full use of my life skills and talents by teaching what I know about sewing via courses and classes, online discussions, and blogs and articles about women's issues in general.

How did this idea come about? What's the story behind it?

It's based on my own personal experiences of hair loss following treatment for breast cancer eight years ago. I lost all of my hair, and had to deal with the practical and emotional problems that arose because of the hair loss.

Not being able to readily source attractive headwear for the various seasons of the year, to suit the different day-to-day scenarios, was especially difficult to get used to. An online shop for stylish headwear would've been ideal for me, but unfortunately it didn't exist. Everything on offer was drab or ill-fitting.

As breast cancer is the most common type of women's cancer in the UK, it's difficult to understand why larger chain stores and retailers don't cater more for the practical needs of women in this category. I hope to be able to do my bit by providing for this need.

You've taken part in Enterprise Nation's StartUp UK programme. What were you hoping to achieve from it?

I wanted to gain as much insight and knowledge about running a successful business as I can, to assist with setting up and starting my business by summer 2022. That involves, for example, understanding the various social media platforms, creating a website and so on.

After a lifetime of office work and then a brief spell of working from home during COVID-19, I formally retired from work in 2021. Taking part in the StartUp UK programme will give me the confidence and support I need to start running my own business.

I like to keep active, and I hope to draw on the various experiences I've gathered throughout my working life to make my business a success, while helping others.

I’ve seen an opportunity. Post-COVID, more people are thinking about their mental health and general wellbeing and recognising they need to look after themselves.

How have you benefited from the StartUp UK programme so far?

I attended a StartUp Saturday event in Birmingham in March 2022. It gave me the push I needed to press forward with my long-awaited wish to start up my own business. I've also joined Lunch and Learn webinars, read some of the blog posts, and taken advantage of some of the offers.

Meeting and speaking to other people who have the same passion as I do was refreshing. It was nice to hear about the variety of businesses they want to run. The topics covered at the event have given me the incentive to more deeply examine what's needed to do to set up and run a small business.


StartUp UK: Turn your good idea into a great business

Access support to start your business

Visit the StartUp UK hub for resources that give you the education and inspiration to get started on your entrepreneurial journey.

Enterprise Nation has helped thousands of people start and grow their businesses. Led by founder, Emma Jones CBE, Enterprise Nation connects you to the resources and expertise to help you succeed.

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