Posted: Fri 16th Sep 2011
"I'm going to spend the money on absolutely loads of things," declares Michelle Dady brightly. "It's all promotional items - I need some new packaging designed and made to put my jewellery in, some new leaflets done and a new website. The Â£500 will cover the packaging and leaflets and make a nice little dent in the website." Michelle, the third recipient of funding from Fund101, started Jelly Button Jewellery a year ago while studying for a psychology degree. "I'd always made jewellery when I was younger," she recalls. "But I started teaching myself to make proper jewellery and began selling it on eBay. It's very kitsch, but it's colourful and fun, and when it took off, I decided to get an online store." The popularity of her designs took the 25-year-old student by surprise and persuaded her to make two big decisions: she gave up her part-time job as a shop manager and switched her degree course to jewellery and applied arts. She starts hew new degree at Manchester Metropolitan University next week. "I looked at my friends who have graduated and struggling to use their degree and I thought I should do a course that relates to my jewellery that I can carry on," Michelle explains. "This is my career now and I want to learn how to really make proper jewellery, so I can bring that into what I do now." The money you voted to give to Michelle is particularly welcome as she's having to fund her education entirely from her own pocket, too. "Unfortunately, I'm classed as a mature student, so I don't qualify for a student loan and I have to pay my full tuition fees myself. So it's no new clothes for me - but at least I don't have to pay money for jewellery!"
"I started off with my Facebook page because I've got over 2,000 fans on there. Then I put it on Twitter and on my blog as well," Michelle reveals. "Every one voted at first and then it slowed down. "But I had loads of bits of stock left over which I couldn't really sell, so every time somebody voted I sent them a free piece of jewellery in a nice pink envelope with a thank you note. I've got lots of new customers now, because people have ordered on the back of that."
"The main thing I'm thinking about is Christmas. Last year was crazy so I'm thinking about new items and I've got to make my website more Christmassy, too. I've got four craft fairs to go to and that's what the packaging's for - it's got my brand on it, so people will remember who they bought it from. "I also want to learn laser cutting," Michelle continues. "There's a software programme that I don't know how to use at the moment, so I have to pay someone to do it for me." There are lots of great small businesses seeking funding from Fund101 - and you can help them get it. Browse the list of applications and cast your votes!