Barnet Business Expo
"Bringing back community spirit and helping people thrive so that local businesses and entrepreneurs can get local support has been a really rewarding accomplishment."
Where it all started
Growing up, I was surrounded by people who had their own companies, so I’ve always been keen to work for myself and create my own business. Throughout my working life, I have had the opportunity to gain a vast amount of experience in a range of different fields, from beauty to food to cars. I began to realise that my passion, no matter what field I was involved with, was to help other people and offer my experience to them.
This awareness led to the creation of my current work, organising a range of exhibitions, including the Barnet Business Expo and Hendon Health and Wellness Expo. These exhibitions provide a day for entrepreneurs, business start-ups and the resident community to network and explore the future of local business.
In addition, I also help set-up business workshops for a range of bigger companies, such as Google Digital Garage and NatWest Bank and I organise multiple business support groups, including Barnet Repair Cafe and Christmas Gift Bank. By marketing and promoting these groups, I am able to increase the awareness and attendance numbers, furthermore, I can encourage further networking among attendees and grow support for future local events.
Organising expos and workshops in my local community and abroad.
Building a platform for start-ups, small businesses and established businesses to help them support each other.
I’ve found a range of benefits that have arisen from running my own business. Being my own boss means that I have a much better work and home life balance. I am able to have a greater degree of flexibility and ensure I can spend quality time with my family.
Working with local businesses means I am playing a part in promoting the local economy and this, in turn, leads to the creation of more jobs.
Meeting new people is where I thrive, so I love knowing that my job allows me to help other people.
Covid halted many plans that I had for the business, so going forwards, I will be continuing to organise the exhibitions which were postponed. I am keen to expand the number of exhibitions that I run each year.
I would also like to create a Barnet Business Expo YouTube channel to showcase various businesses within the community to present their stories and journey to a wider audience.
"I love helping people to find their English ‘identities’ and to discover ways of speaking that add to their message rather than distract from it."
Where it all started
Two years ago, I would never have imagined that I would be running my own business today. With an undergraduate degree in languages, I began my career working for the Japanese government as an English language trainer,television presenter and columnist
I was well-qualified and spoke five languages, but I had to give up my job as principal when I became a mother because it wasn’t possible to adapt my role to part-time hours. From that point on, my career took a back seat and finding a stable part-time job that was gratifying or stimulating was a constant challenge. Gradually, I lost confidence in myself and my abilities. I lost my sense of self and I struggled to feel anything other than negativity. After eight years, I came to the realisation that I needed to make a change, although I wasn’t sure how.
I clearly remember despondently picking up an issue of ‘Barnet First’ from the doormat and seeing the advert for the Rebel Business School. I’d had ideas in the past but never had any real intention of starting my own business because I felt like I didn’t have the knowledge, energy or confidence. That day I realised I needed to focus on the future and do something, anything, so I signed up!
One year on and I have a company called Chat Naturally and I am an online Neurolanguage® Accent Reduction Coach. I provide British pronunciation and accent reduction programmes to corporate and individual clients, which enable non-native English-speaking professionals to develop a more neutral accent, gain confidence and authenticity in their communication and increase their professional impact. Every programme of sessions I create is a bespoke roadmap, unique to each client which means I can deliver brain-friendly coaching built around their motivation and pronunciation goals.
I founded Chat Naturally and qualified as an ICF accredited language coach in the middle of the pandemic. I am also excited to be the first person in the world to combine Neurolanguage Coaching® with accent reduction and my client list is growing rapidly thanks to referrals alone.
By taking one small step and signing up for a course, I discovered the self that I had lost, including my positivity and ambition, which in turn has re-kindled my passion for linguistics and pronunciation
I have managed to create the right balance for me of being a mum and having a job I love and can control, (although keeping that balance isn’t always easy!)
Setting up a business is not just something other people do. It is far less complicated than I had imagined, so my experience has been eye-opening and a complete game-changer.
Even in these unprecedented and challenging times so many things are possible, and I feel incredibly thankful to have discovered a new perspective on life and to be able to give something back.
I’d love to support more Japanese and Spanish / Latin corporations and their employees, as my knowledge of both languages means that I understand the pronunciation and communication difficulties that can exist.
I have several exciting plans up my sleeve for 2022, so do follow or message me on LinkedIn to stay updated.
Manic Rave Vintage
"Mainstream fashion follows certain palettes and trends every season, so as a creative, I find this restrictive. I believe in creating our own individual looks to express ourselves freely."
Where it all started
I studied fashion at university, but I wasn’t sure the industry would be for me as it appeared to be fake and pretentious. I enjoyed the creation process, but I realised my gothic-style designs didn’t have much of an audience.
During this time, I became more aware of the vintage market. I was drawn to the history and quality of the clothing and I loved the ability to adapt pieces or modify them to take them to a new level. The sustainability also provided better value than items found on the high street.
Five years ago, I met Rina, my partner’s Grandma, who was an Italian dressmaker from the 50’s. I used to take vintage pieces with me when I visited her and we would sit together and hand embroider over any holes or customise the items to make them a bit more personal. I learnt so much from her, especially sewing buttonholes by hand, which have now become a signature of mine.
During the Rebel Business School, I set up Manic Rave Vintage. Rina (who passed to Covid in March 2020) inspired me to build a brand using traditional techniques of hand sewing and embroidery.
I set up my Etsy shop in November, selling vintage and re-worked pieces and I have already made a few sales. I have also taken part in Virtual Vintage Fairs.
Manic Rave Vintage was something I wanted to push because, having a disability, not all employers are understanding. I also believe the pandemic spurred me on. I came to a point of working at a job I was so unhappy in and I just wanted to do something I love and am passionate about.
I have created a more relaxed, funny side to Manic Rave Vintage by introducing my Dad with his own online character, Papa Rave. This is to show that even at 80 years old, you can still rock vintage and prove that clothing can be gender neutral.
I would rather try and fail, than not try at all. I have more drive and passion to push my own business and ideas. Being able to create this business has given me confidence in myself and in my choices. I might not be making bucket-loads of money, but I am happy. It’s not easy but I’m determined to make it work.
I believe it is nice to have a story behind each item so instead of choosing wholesale stock, I like to source my fabrics internationally so that I can personally select each piece. The pandemic has meant I’ve slightly struggled to get new stock in but I don’t like throwing fabrics away so I can always re-work pieces to be more ethical and eco-friendlier.
I really want to build up my brand by developing my website and creating more audience engagement on social media. I can’t wait to get out there and interact with potential customers. I’m hoping once restrictions lift, I can keep pushing my dream ahead and get my own market stall.
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/manicravevintage/
Hair Care Revolution
"Being self-employed is about doing work that makes a difference, that I care about and am happy to do even when it’s hard or challenging, which of course does happen sometimes."
Where it all started
For over ten years, my background in marketing and branding gave me the opportunity to work with
some of the biggest brands in the world, but in 2016, I decided that I wanted to explore options that would allow me to become a dominant force within a sector, rather than be a participant within one.
This thought led me into looking for new opportunities I could apply my skills and interests to. It became apparent that the cosmetics industry was, and still is, in dire need of both innovation and application of emerging technologies. I began to organise hair and beauty events in the summer of 2017 to learn about the sector and build up my network.
Our dynamic Hair Care Revolution pop-up experiences are held across London in unique locations several times a year. The events offer visitors the opportunity to learn about hair and beauty from the best professionals in the industry via bespoke workshops and seminars. The pop-ups have evolved into a platform which enables the best brands in the market to engage directly with the public in a fun and vibrant atmosphere. Women and families have been the main audience at the events which have grown in size and scale since the initial inception. Each event has a theme which adds to the entertaining and educational experience.
We proudly won an award in 2019 for the best community event. The community has now grown into an international network of over 6,000 people with thousands of inspired people now better educated about their hair and skin through our events and initiatives.
We have worked with some of the biggest brand names such as L’Oreal and Andre Walker and some of the most talented hair and skin professionals across the world. I have also been asked to speak at dozens of events up and down the country regarding the future of cosmetics, including at the Houses of Parliament.
Running my own business provides two main things; the first is the satisfaction of creating my own destiny and following a calling I am passionate about, the second is the feeling of knowing the work I do has a positive impact on the lives of others. As an example, individuals who have met through the platform have gone into business together and/or directly bought products and services from one another as a result of the existence of Hair Care Revolution.
Self-employment means you only have yourself to congratulate or to blame for successes and failures; it’s not for the faint-hearted or the work-shy.
The team is committed to community development. Our ambition is to create jobs in local communities and give people the opportunity to learn, grow and excel as the platform expands its capacity to create such opportunities.
Development is almost complete on a ground-breaking cosmetic technology we have innovated. We are very excited to share this with the world in 2021.
LGBO Language Teacher
"I started teaching out of passion. I am also passionate about not allowing my language to go into extinction as predicted by UNESCO."
Where it all started
In wanting to pass on my rich heritage to my daughter, I recognised that it would be beneficial to have more Igbo language speakers in her age group. I started teaching Igbo language face-to-face with my daughter and a couple of family members / non-Igbo spouses for free. I was encouraged to begin running summer classes, which were well received. However, I was slowed down due to limited resources so I attended the Rebel Business School to learn how to scale-up the business.
It was refreshing to learn tips on how to start with few resources and I immediately put them into practice. Following up on leads from this exercise enabled me to register on an online language platform. This immediately connected me with ready buyers and I could access students from all over the world.
I am so grateful for how far I’ve come but a lot more needs to be done. I have relied on keeping costs down at the moment, but my next project is to scale-up and ensure the business is not dependent on me in the way that it is at the moment. I also seek to gain more engagement with local authorities to support families and business projects.
I started off with very few students, but they have now become significant ambassadors of my business. Consequently, I’ve had more referred business come my way.
Before lockdown, I had 7 face-to-face students and had taught fewer than 50 lessons online. I have now taught over 600 lessons online and am registered to teach on other language platforms too. I have been able to create and develop more language and culture packages to meet client needs.
I was invited to speak at the 2020 Polyglot Conference to share insights into the Igbo world. https://www.facebook.com/realtalkwithmillie/videos/161830482353320
I was also invited to speak to a group of progressive Nigerian people to promote the Igbo language. https://www.facebook.com/realtalkwithmillie/videos/901690530293267
I am so grateful that I started this business before the pandemic hit. With lockdown adding home-schooling to my plate, I was unable to go back to paid employment, so it has helped my mental wellbeing to be fully engaged in building the business. Lockdown also meant I had to move all my face-to-face students to online teaching. It was a struggle to adjust to the changes initially, but I’m fully adapted now.
I am now confident to set prices and offer more packages to new and old clients alike. This has reduced the wasted time spent chasing clients who appear to be interested but can't afford or commit to lessons for various reasons.
Website/Teaching Platform: https://thelanguageandculturehub.weebly.com/igbo-classes.html
I also partner with a Language and Culture hub in Nigeria:
"I think the Rebel course should be taught at universities, colleges or even in schools. It really teaches whether you have enough incentive for your business idea and whether it is the right option for you."
Where it all started
Seven years ago, I received my five years refugee status in the UK. I really wanted to get my Health and Care Professions Council registration to work as an Orthotist or Prosthetist in the UK, but I needed to pass my English language exams and get access to my undergraduate and masters degree documentation from my Iranian universities. For three years, I worked as a receptionist in a hotel to pay the bills while persevering to pass my exams. I eventually managed to get an orthotist job at Guy’s and St. Thomas’ Hospital, but unfortunately my contract was not renewed, and I became jobless.
With free time on my hands, I thought about what else I could do with my life. I’d always loved the thought of having my own business and I came up with the idea of making natural hair gel as I’d been making it for myself for years. I did lots of research into the industry and the ins and outs of business before being introduced to the Rebel Business School. The course taught me so many new things and ideas about how to start a business from scratch.
I realised that I would need £600 to test my product and although I had money in savings, I didn’t want to spend it without knowing all aspects of my business and whether I would be successful or not. So, with Covid and the lockdown scenario, I started to think that the beauty industry might not be the best fit for me at this time. Given that I still needed to pay my rent and bills, I decided to go back to my alternative options and apply for jobs related to my field of study.
I learnt not to lose any opportunity, even if it is not appealing to begin with. When one recruitment agency called me to arrange an interview with a very well-known company in my field, I said yes straight away even though I was pessimistic about them. I went for the interview and ended up getting the job within a week. Every day I feel myself loving my job more and more.
Self-development parts of the course really helped me to pay attention to my attitude towards alternative options and other jobs in general. I learnt not to be disappointed if I wasn’t successful in something and instead to think about the reasons behind my success or failure and what the outcome could teach me.
Before I started the course, I was rejected from three interviews as an orthotist and one for a job selling orthotic devices. I thought about all the reasons for the rejections; it could have been that I wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t compatible with the team or my English needed improvement. I realised the key was actually to study the art of how to interview well. I watched YouTube interview tip videos every day and started to memorise some of the answers.
I still make hair gel for myself and I enjoy my job knowing that I’m helping people with all my knowledge and experience. I went so far exploring my business idea, so who knows, maybe one day when all the beauty salons re-open again, I will start to think about my little business again.
"Diversifying into digital online training has opened many previously under-appreciated niches in the global digital space. During the pandemic, we’ve worked with clients from the US, Mexico, Jamaica, Uganda, Ghana, Dubai and throughout the UK and Europe."
Where it all started
We started the company in August 2018 with the intention of bringing blockchain and digital technologies to the masses. With new innovations in technology, we wanted to enable less established organisations e.g. small businesses and SMEs, to compete in a wider marketplace and on a global scale.
Omegachain’s ‘Inclusive!’ Academy was created as a training consultancy that specialises in corporate and community training via bespoke digital platforms. The academy was established by a team of professional trainers with over 30 years of combined experience, who are renowned for their success in facilitating a vast portfolio of work-based skills training.
Our expansion of services include: Leading Blockchain, Digital Management Transformation, CX, Onboarding, OSINT, Online Digital Training and Digital Forensics.
We have worked on various contracts from the largest global banking corporation to an SME UK hair training academy. Our services have also diversified to include upstart global cryptocurrency with trading taking place on the cryptocurrency markets, business modelling, website design and social media and digitation management for several personal trainers.
Our ‘Employability’ and ‘Back to Work’ Inclusive! Academy programs have an 88% success rate.
Since lockdown, we have had to reposition our services to concentrate on ‘Digitisation in the COVID Era’. Through business analysis, project development and design work, we’ve found a strong need for online training for corporations, SMEs and entrepreneurs so have developed digital training material for Covid19 certification, GDPR, health and safety, cyber security awareness, working from home, work/life balance and wellbeing. We have also been involved with a social media marketing campaign for Covid19 Defogging Sanitation Servicing for nurseries, schools and gymnasiums.
The first two years were difficult. Uncertainty over Brexit caused organisations to cut their financial budgets allocated to new or innovation technologies. At the end of 2018, we went into a partnership agreement with Amazon web services and Ideasoft (a software development team in Lithuania) to prepare us for an uncertain Brexit. It took a while to learn how to differentiate suitable clients from the time wasters and tricksters who wanted free services, so we ended up chasing more leads than we secured in paying jobs.
At the end of 2019, we landed a contract to design, build and develop an onboarding and document process for Deutche Boerse Group in Frankfurt (the largest stock exchange company in the world!). We were flown to Germany every week, all expenses paid and thought we had finally made it, until the pandemic hit. We were forced to work remotely from home in the UK but successfully fulfilled our deliverables even under such a sudden work transformation.
Whilst we are in challenging times, we are still optimistic about Omegachain’s future because the pandemic has forced us to be more agile and customer experience driven. We are providing quality and value whilst guiding our clients to the most efficient digital transformations and training through our online workshop delivery platform.
Festival in a Bag
"Festival in a Bag is a unique festival product which provides convenience with a sustainability message. If you believe in a concept, I think you should do everything you can to bring it to life."
‘Festival in a Bag is a unique festival product which provides convenience with a sustainability message. If you believe in a concept, I think you should do everything you can to bring it to life.’
Where it all started
Sitting at my kitchen table New Year 2019, I wondered what I could do business-wise for the foreseeable future, based around something my children would like. As ‘festival-goers’, I thought of the hours I had spent running around buying camping items over the years, only for it to be destroyed, left behind, loaned out never to be seen again.
I designed Festival in a Bag and made a few cosmetic changes until I was happy with it and the logo came out of a doodling session. I showed the concept to a few friends, listened to their pros and cons and tweaked where necessary.
The vision was to create a product and its contents that would be sustainable and reusable. By having a product that can be reused countless times, with a message of ‘re-use or re-cycle me’ running throughout our website and on the bags, it’s something which the ‘festival-goer’ is now identifying with. We certainly don’t want to preach, but the festival demographic is certainly more environmentally aware than it was several years ago.
Festival in a Bag is a rucksack which contains a sleeping bag, two-person double-skin tent, camping mat, water bottle and personal hygiene kit. All you need to do is add your clothes, wellies and other bits and pieces and off you go to a festival. It’s a one-stop-shop solution in a bag. All bags have an individual number on them, which can be registered and if found, relocated to its owner. It’s all part of the accountability of attending a festival.
My initial order was for 1,000 bags and contents and before I knew it, I was ready to trade in May 2019 with routes to market via Instagram, a homemade website, word of mouth, influencers, and a festival ticket agency. Creating an online presence was important because I didn’t want to sell direct at festivals as it would mean attendees would still have to bring bags full of clothes and camping equipment with them.
By the end of August 2019, I had sold out and had also taken some orders from Europe and the USA. In November 2019, I was asked to make a presentation to a panel of investors who were interested in investing. I was successful in getting funding which allowed me to go direct to festival promoters and companies via their contacts. To top off 2019, I won an award in the UK Festivals Shortlisted Innovation Category.
Throughout my life, I have worked in advertising, architecture and education so I’ve gained a breadth of busines acumen. My knowledge of the festival market was slightly limited, and it has certainly been a big learning curve. Trying to get access to the right person in big corporate companies can be soul destroying!
The orange bag has moulded my brand and given me a strong following on social media platforms. Being self-employed has given me the ability to create a unique business opportunity and to explore my capabilities as an entrepreneur. My work-life balance is good as it still allows me time to play golf, develop the business and explore other avenues.
As the festival market evolves, so will we. Sponsorship and partnership opportunities are now arising, and our plan is to grow sales in Europe. As a society, there is a demand for products at the click of a button and with next-day delivery, so developing a more visible online presence is in the pipeline.
Make money doing what you love.
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