Illustration student uses lockdown as chance to develop business
During the UK lockdown, University of Wolverhampton student Charlotte Webb, 37, developed her business, CBW Fine Art & Illustration, utilising advice and learnings from the SPEED Project, a programme providing support for business start-ups for the University’s students and graduates.
One of the BA (Hons) Illustration with Foundation Year student’s recent projects has been creating a collection of electronic cards for the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust Charity. Previously, Wolverhampton Council commissioned Charlotte to design greetings cards with a Wolverhampton theme for the Civic Centre canteen.
On her experiencing on the business support project, Charlotte said: “I enrolled on the SPEED Project in January and had attended my induction, as well as a couple of the monthly workshops which were being held at Wolverhampton Science Park. I had also spent some time with my chosen mentor, Hannah Price.
“When the e-mail came through during lockdown saying 'online' workshops were starting up, I was as happy as a pig in mud! I signed-up for all of the workshops that were available at the time.
“I attended workshops on business model innovation, intellectual property, content marketing, marketing essentials, sales, branding and strategic options. Workshops were delivered in various styles by different entrepreneurs, all of whom are working with the SPEED Project team. The information contained within these workshops is so valuable; especially for someone like me, who just wants to be creative.
“I also arranged a meeting with Hannah to get myself into 'business from home' mode. We addressed all the actions we'd agreed in our previous meeting, eliminating those that had been quashed due to the pandemic, and replacing them with more relevant and realistic actions for this new world.
“My biggest achievement in those first two weeks was setting up my website. I had never done anything like it before, but it needed to be done and reflect the look and feel of my business and its core values.
“The cogs had started turning. I started scouting the internet for commissions and opportunities, but nothing was really jumping out at me. I remembered something that both Hannah, and one of the other mentors had mentioned to me previously; use the work you have already done to make an impression on potential clients.
“So that's what I did. I approached several organisations, mainly charity based, to offer freelance illustrations. I have since created five charity greetings card designs for The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust.
“The one thing that remained consistent throughout my lockdown journey, was the amount of contact I have had with my SPEED Project Consultant, Jo Wright, and my mentor, Hannah. They were there for me whenever I needed anything, with an immense amount of support, despite the challenges that they might have been facing with their own projects, as well as other beneficiaries who need support.
“By attending the workshops, and working with Hannah and Jo, I have built an incredible resource bank of information, as well as produce a series of plans and models to assist with my business development. The workshops have given me structure and helped me to shape and define how I want my business to do business. I've always been an advocate of the 'horizonal scan', and so my plans are not just for the immediate future in lockdown, but also support life after lockdown and beyond.”
SPEED Project Manager Michael Taylor said: “The SPEED project has been running for over 13 years and is a flagship project, providing students and graduates of the University of Wolverhampton with business start-up support.
“It’s proven model of delivery has ensured successful creation of sustainable businesses and jobs, positively impacting economic growth for the region. We are pleased that the latest iteration (2019-2021) is supporting up to 200 new businesses in Shropshire and the Black Country.
“I’m thrilled we are able to offer those wishing to explore self-employment the opportunity to receive start-up support and would like to congratulate Charlotte on her ongoing commitment to becoming an entrepreneur during this challenging time."
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