After creating fun accessories to cheer up her friends and family during lockdown, Nicola turned her products into a business with support from The Prince’s Trust.
Nicola, 29, who lives in Perth, decided to go back to college to study graphic design after working in the arts and social care. The first COVID-19 lockdown gave her unexpected free time from her coursework – so she began to experiment with a borrowed 3D printer. Using Scottish slang and phrases, she created light-hearted badges, earrings and fridge magnets to lift the spirits of those close to her.
The feedback was so positive she felt encouraged to list her products for sale online. After selling more than she expected – and receiving enquiries for wholesale orders – Nicola decided to make PickledSquid official.
However, her lack of business knowhow and experience meant she wasn’t sure where to start. Nicola had heard about The Trust’s Enterprise programme in the past, and was attracted to opportunities to learn vital business skills, access a mentor and apply for funding.
“Although I wanted to run my own business,” said Nicola, “I felt clueless about business planning, marketing and taxes. With larger wholesale orders, I also needed another 3D printer to increase production. The Prince’s Trust felt like an accessible and welcoming organisation to seek help and advice.”
Nicola found the sessions with The Trust insightful, especially with the way they helped her boost her confidence. Breakout groups were valuable, as was the process of writing and pitching a business plan to a panel of Trust volunteers. By taking part in the panel, Nicola gained confidence to speak about her business, even under pressure. It also allowed her to focus on her priorities and sort out her finances. As a result, she was successful in securing grant funding through The Prince’s Trust, which allowed her to purchase the 3D printer she needed to increase her capacity.
“During the course it was great to speak to other young people who were in various stages of starting up their own business and bounce ideas off each other. We would often exchange contact details afterwards and support each other on social media. I looked forward to regular check-in meetings which kept me focused and were great for discussing various directions to take my business.”
Now, Nicola is taking her business to the next level. “I’m looking forward to expanding my product range and selling my products at in-person craft markets this year. The funding from The Trust has been so helpful and now I’d like to find a suitable studio space where I can create products alongside my graphic design services. My aim is to gain recognition as a small brand synonymous with quality and build a base of wholesale customers.”