When you’ve worked at a desk for nearly a decade then taking the creative plunge can be a daunting prospect but it’s one that Kay Brenton has done with gusto.
Kay, from Castleford, joined the New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) scheme in 2013 after being made redundant from her job at the NHS. “I knew I wanted to run my own business,” she says, “but I didn’t know where to start.” She’d worked in various roles within the organisation for nine years but felt it was time to do something other than office work so she took a floristry course. “I’d always loved flowers (and being bought them!),” she says, “so I thought I would learn more about them.”
Her shop, Kitty and Rose, in Pontefract, is named after her late grandmothers. It’s a bespoke florist and gift shop selling hand-tied bouquets for all occasions, as well as doing wedding and funeral flowers.
In addition to most aspects of floristry, Kay also stocks her own label candles, hand creams and lip balms, as well as exclusive ranges from East Of India, Gisella Graham and Heaven Sends. She also offers free delivery locally. “It’s a one-stop shop for present buying,” Kay says. The florist has also supplied flowers to a local makeup artist for a photoshoot and embraced the power of social media with an active and very colourful Facebook page, which is regularly updated with offers and news.
Kay says the NEA scheme enabled her to attend mentoring meetings and meet others in the same boat. “It really wasn’t easy setting up my own business,” says Kay, “and it was a very steep learning curve (I’m still learning!) but I was given good, solid advice and the weekly payments really softened the blow of not having a wage.”
“It was great to be able to share worries and ideas with others starting their own business,” Kay adds, “My mentor was lovely and was always on hand via email or text.”
In five years’ time Kay wants to be a successful florist with a growing business. “I just want to be known for good-quality flowers and gifts,” she says.
Setting up your own business can be a very challenging process, as Kay has discovered, but she is glad she’s made the leap: “If it’s something you’re passionate about and aren’t afraid of a little hard work then you have to go for it,” she says, “Life’s too short for ‘what if’s.”
For more information on the New Enterprise Allowance scheme, including how you can help by becoming a mentor please contact firstname.lastname@example.org / 01924 786500.