I bit the bullet and applied for the Ignition programme with FEO!

Having set up High Maintenance Jewellery Limited back in 2009, a few years later I then lightly pressed the pause button to become a Mummy and also to continue to work within the Faculty of Business, Law, and Politics at the University of Hull.

Being a Jewellery Designer, my artistic nature and passion continued to burn brightly. I knew that I wanted High Maintenance Jewellery to develop in a large way. I had clients, customers, a brand, but I knew I needed more.

And so in October 2019 was when I bit the bullet and applied for the Ignition programme with FEO!

After many positive and encouraging chats (and hot drinks), with Kerry Mountain-Hewett, Manager of FEO, I knew that to move forward with my business, this course would be the key element in doing so.

I was nervous, very nervous. What if I was questioned “why hadn’t I fully focussed on my business for all of those years?”. What if the FEO Members didn’t think my business was of any value?…. I needn’t had worried at all though.

After completing the FEO Ignition application form, I then received a call from FEO Member, Milly Rose, who was so likeable and reassuring - it boosted me and I couldn’t wait to start the course.

The first Ignition session commenced in February 2020, and I felt a warm and welcoming atmosphere within the room.

The FEO Members had the energy, enthusiasm, and down to earth attitude that I had. My fellow course colleagues had the excitement, spirit, and curiousness I had too. I instantly knew Kerry had been right, this was the place and programme for me.

We were introduced to local Entrepreneurs and heard their stories. How they had started, overcame issues, and learnt lessons toward their businesses. It was extremely engaging and also inspiring. Not only did we get to listen and learn from their experiences, we also had really interesting activities based around our own business plans.

There were plenty of breaks to be able to network, plus seek advice and ask questions too.

I was excited to see the other people on this Ignition course each week. We would chat and encourage each, as a positive tribe. Everyone was at different levels of their business, which made the room even more engaging and exciting.

I would arrive eager and ready - and then leave with a real buzz and a feeling of confidence within my business. I was on a role, on a train I didn’t want to get off…..

Then COVID-19 struck.

Although we could no longer continue to attend the four remaining sessions at that time, Kerry kept us completely in the loop, encouraging us to use the online BaseCamp group (which we could freely chat to each other on and keep in touch, etc).

Plus the FEO online toolkits were really useful.

We also received weekly emails from FEO filled with positivity. I felt reassured that FEO were determined for the Ignition sessions and course to continue when it would be safe to do so.

Throughout this time, each of us were asked if we would want to complete the course, but we were also given options as to how the course could be completed (i.e. online, or in person in a safe environment following the new government guidelines towards COVID-19). The emails from FEO were very reassuring and I knew that I wanted to continue in person when it would be safe to do so.

And in September 2020 that evening arrived!

The structure was the same as it previously had been each week - we would have one/two/three FEO Members share their business stories and advice, and we would also be given activities that offered us the opportunity to plan, develop, explore and create new ideas and techniques for our own business and mindset.

Following the government guidelines, we proceeded to meet each week with social distancing, track and trace, and the correct PPE in place.

Although the group had had to decrease in size due to the current ongoing situation, it was an easy and welcoming environment. Still as encouraging, and with the same warm atmosphere.

I experienced so much, from so many of the FEO Members and their businesses. Jonathan Leafe, Kiran Johnson, Martin Lauer, Sally Wray, Peter Aarosin, Christine Colmer McHugh, Kevin Marling, Jonathan Elvidge, David Atkinson, Nic Johnson, and many more Entrepreneurs completely inspired and ignited me.

I also learnt more about myself as a person and as a woman in business. High Maintenance Jewellery deserved this progression, time, and value.

So much so, that I have now taken my business full-time. I left my role at the University of Hull after eighteen years of employment there.

The decision came easy.

I finished the programme feeling so confident and invigorated. I’d opened a new door, and I am eagerly enjoying this new path.

I’ve made business connections, gained stockist and clients, and have become an entrepreneur. But mostly, I’ve gained passion, drive, and friendships for life.

Thanks for reading,

Kate

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