AFTER losing her job and months of fruitless job applications, Joel Dickinson decided to turn her passion for fashion into a new business.
Joel was made redundant from her job as manager when the Phoenix Club, Rastrick, closed.
The depressing experience of sending off countless job applications is not one she will readily forget.
“I was really struggling to find a job, it was awful. Either I was over-qualified or I did not have enough experience. Often I didn’t even get a reply, it was very frustrating.”
In the end the 32-year-old Brighouse woman decided to act on the advice of her dad and think about setting up her own business.
“He said I was always building up other people’s businesses and suggested I should try doing something for myself,” she said.
At the end of July, Joel took the plunge and signed off jobseekers allowance to start a new business selling women’s clothing under the name Be-You-tiful Clothes.
She has been helped to establish the business by the West Yorkshire Enterprise Agency which runs a national enterprise scheme aimed at assisting long-term jobseekers.
Through the scheme, Joel was able to get access to financial support and professional advice from a business mentor and free start-up workshops.
Initially clothes-mad Joel wanted to open a boutique but now she has modified her ideas to selling clothes through party plan and on the internet. Her busines will concentrate on selling clothes for plus-size women.
“There is a real lack of good quality, stylish, fashionable clothing for younger larger women. We don’t want to wear tents or dress in black.
“A lot of clothes manufactuers think all they have do is make up the designs suitable for a size 8 in plus sizes and they will look alright. But often the clothes don’t fit properly and the proportions are all wrong.”
Joel has already held two clothes parties and has booking for eight more.
“It’s been really good fun. I’ve got eight more parties in the pipeline plus interest from two pubs who want me to run ladies’ nights for them.”
Joel, a former pupil at Hipperholme and Lightcliffe High School, was helped to set up the business by a £1,000 loan through the national enterprise scheme which helped her cover the cost of her stock.
But, after just two successful parties, she almost sold out and is now busy restocking the business.
“The whole thing has been brilliant. I have received so much advice and support. My mentor Mark Slater is always on hand with advice and I’ve received so much support from my friends and family.”
Joel is a huge fan of Facebook and uses the social networking site to spread the word about her business. She has added accessories to the list of items she sells at her parties and has teamed up with Brighouse retailer Baggy 2 Shoes. She is also hoping to add a make-up service to the party packages she offers.
Volunteer mentor Mark Slater said: “I thought Joel’s business plan was top notch and it was easy to see the amount of time and effort that had gone into it. I knew there was no way it was going to fail.”
For Joel the main benefit has been the boost in confidence being part of the scheme has given her.
“A year ago I was not feeling very positive about my future but now things are much brighter,” said Joel.
Anyone interested in becoming a mentor or joining the scheme should contact Melissa Healy on 01924 786500.