KEI 2012 – A big step on the way to glittering business success

kent-foundation-emma-whittal-kei-winner-2012-rectangle-563peer-award-winner-daniel-warren-kent-foundation-rectangle-516kent-foundation-kei-2012-rectangle-562Client: Business Challenge 2012 Participants

Business: A range of business ideas

Description: Kent Entrepreneurs’ Initiative

Telephone: 01622 694341


Now firmly in our annual calendar and for the third year running, budding entrepreneurs have had the opportunity to develop business skills and practice presentations before heading off to the Kent Entrepreneurs’ Initiative – Business Challenge 2012.

Talking about new business ideas always creates a buzz!! Networking and chatting with other young business people, kick-started the first of our seminars.  With mentor support, mock-presentations to the group helped to build up confidence in presenting the dream of growing a successful business.

Biggest and best    On the 7th March 2012, guests gathered at Canterbury Cathedral Lodge for an evening of “there be dragons!”     After some informal networking, we sampled a delightful hot buffet.  Then ten young entrepreneur finalists gathered in the wings to pitch their business ideas to our panel of Business Partners.

This is just the beginning ……  we think it’s a great opportunity to bring businesses to life, but don’t take our word for it ….

Emma wanted to create and fund an artistic studio in Maidstone   “The Kent Foundation has been a great help and my mentor, Rob Bird, has been brilliant.   In five years I hope the studio will have become a real artist hub, with tourists coming in, lots of events, open mic nights and art at its core”.   Winner, Emma Whittall (age 23) who opened Stepping Stone Studio in April

“Thank you very much; it was a genuine surprise as I honestly didn’t think my presentation was as good as I envisioned it to be!

Clearly I presented myself and my ideas in a far better way than I considered, so I was hugely chuffed to win the Peer Award – it’s given me a massive boost of confidence as well as the motivation to move forward with my business – after all “Businesses don’t stand still, they either go forwards, or they go backwards”

I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to pitch, as well as the useful workshops, it was an absolutely fantastic experience!     I’m still buzzing about it now!”   Peer Award Winner, Daniel Warren

Introducing our 2012 Guest Speaker

KEI – Business Challenge Success Session is known for the calibre of our guest speakers and we always aim to invite a successful Kent business person to come along and pass on their tips for success in business.   This year Declan Treanor from the Kent Investors’ Network told of how he achieved his enterprising successes and happily answered questions.

There is a wealth of talent and enthusiasm throughout Kent.  Together we can help young people realise their dreams.

We say a very special thank you to all our Business Partners who kindly offer a package of in-kind expert advice and help FREE to the Business Challenge finalists.  This year our panel line up included:

  • Warners Solicitors
  • WSQsolutions
  • Cfa-Group (Marketing)
  • Wilkins Kennedy Accountants
  • Kent Association of Young Entrepreneurs (IoD) (Members’ Networking)
  • Enterprise Experience – invitation to attend the 2012 summer residential

Business Tip

It’s impossible to have skills in every aspect that a business requires.  Networking with other entrepreneurs gives the chance to seek out solutions.

The KEI – Business Challenge ia the perfect opportunity to promote your business idea, expand your contacts, and WIN some expert help.

The KEI – Business Challenge 2013 will be formally launched in November.

See our KEI page for more information.

Handcrafted jewellery inspired by Kent

Client: Sian Bostwick

Business: Sian Bostwick JewellerySian_Bostwick_Jewellery_Logo-rectangle-372

Description: Handcrafted Jewellery with intricate detail, contrasting colours and fairytale style.



Sian Bostwick produces jewellery with a feminine style and a hint of wonderland inspired by the Kentish countryside and a suggestion of fairytales. Combining deep blue/rich purple anodised titanium, satin finished silver and delicate hand crafted detail to create everlasting jewellery.

The aim of the jewellery is to create unique pieces that create a lasting impact and will be loved forever. To achieve this delicate details, deep contrasting colours and fairytale styles are incorporated in to all the pieces produced. The inspiration for these pieces comes from her love of the Kent countryside along with a passion for books, stories and the illustrations that accompany them.

What gave you the idea for the business?

Sian_Bostwick_Jewellery-rectangle-374Once I had graduated and had completed various work experience placements I found it extremely difficult and in the end impossible to get a full time job that met my needs, the jobs were not there. The jobs that were available and I had an interest in asked for a lot of qualifications, some of which I did not have. Throughout this process of applying for jobs and attending interviews I did receive positive feedback on my porfolio which gave me some hope. The jobs were not there for me and I can’t sit around doing nothing. So one day I decided to do it my self. I gathered my savings, bought some tools and a workbench and began creating. I applied for every exhibition, sent out press releases and entered design and jewellery competitions to build the awareness of the brand. This meant in my first year I was a finalist for young accessory designer of the year, short listed for a Medway Design Award and selected to exhibit at IJL (International Jeweller London) as part of the kickstart stand for up and coming designers. This has led me to attend many exhibitions and gaining permanent stockists thoughout the country leading to coverage through some national and international press.

What are your plans for the future?

I plan to expand my stockists in to more brick and mortar shops/galleries, improving the ecommerce side of my business whilst developing new ranges and collections to strengthen the brand image. I anticipate to do this by attending various shows and exhibitions such as Treasure which is happening during London jewellery week and setting up my pop up shop on the South Bank this September. Although I work from Kent I have managed to gain international press coverage in Japan and Australia. I feel press releases are important to my business and will implement more of them to increase the recognition of Sian Bostwick Jewellery not only in Kent and the U.K but giving me the chance to branch out and reach international stockists.

Business TipSian_Bostwick_Jewellery-rectangle-370

I have ridiculous amounts of focus and drive. I know what I want and I will work extremely hard to get it. I will grow my businesses in all the areas above to reach my final goal/endpoint. I think this focus can freak people out sometimes but I feel it is the only way to achieve what you want.

A Flexible Approach To Working

Veronica_-_Flexolution_-_Smart_Opportunities-rectangle-336Client: Veronica Akinyemi

Business: Smart Opportunities

Description: A specialist and relationship based consultancy service that promotes flexible working. A major strand of the service is the ‘flexolution’ an online job resource for linking local business employers to skilled and flexible candidates in Kent. ‘Flexolution – flexible working solutions for employers and skilled candidates

Telephone: 0844 3579 177


A Mumpreneur, who decided to give up her job to offer support to help people find flexible and part-time jobs in Kent.

A bit about Veronica?
Is a mum of two toddlers and as a working mum she felt that there was no option but to either go to work or stay at home, there was no medium in between, it was a case of one or the other. Being a working mum in a team that supported flexible working was both supporting and motivating and gave her and other people in the team a greater morale and improved productivity. When this was not the case and being in an environment that did not support the benefits of flexible working it proved to be more stressful and de-motivating.

A highly educated individual having attained a Postgraduate Diploma and Masters Degree in Human Resources Management along with membership of the professional body the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development means she has a fountain of knowledge on the subject area of Human Resources and people development. This knowledge has been put in to practice by working with both public and private sector organisations helping to develop, implement and deliver suitable solutions to aid their people development strategies. Training has been developed and delivered to a wide range of professionals including senior managers, frontline staff and business support functions and they have always been well received by the participants.

“I am grateful to Paul Barron and everyone at Kent Foundation for young entrepreneurs for their immeasurable support and belief in my business idea. The financial support from Kent foundation came at the right time and has helped to make my dreams a reality”

What is The Business?

The Flexolution a word derived from flexible and solution to form a flexible solution. A website that is dedicated to providing part-time and flexible jobs to Kent. A part of this is also to include a range of services which have been designed to support the professional development of women in Kent. A flexible approach has worked in London and is now being developed in Kent where job seekers can find flexible and part time careers with the additional support of various workshops that can aid career development.

What gave you the idea for your business?

Having met many women in Kent who do not work because of the simple fact that they can’t find roles that fit around their other commitments. Many of them have given up good jobs to avoid the long commute. Veronica gave up her well paid job to do something about this. The business launched now as she feels that the world of work is changing and the current economic climate gives organisations the perfect opportunity to tap into the skills of talented women who are willing to work on a part-time/flexible basis. The idea is to find local jobs for local people and being keen to partner with local schools, community agencies, business clubs to name but a few to promote this to local people and local organisations.

Quotes that motivate Veronica:

“You can do it mum” ~ Veronica’s two toddlers

“Between you and every goal that you wish to achieve, there is a series of obstacles, and the bigger the goal the bigger the obstacles. Your decision to be, have and do something out of the ordinary entails facing difficulties and challenges that are out of the ordinary aswell. Sometimes your greatest asset is simply your ability to stay with it longer than anyone else” ~ Brian Tracy

“Never give up on what you really want to do. The person with big dreams is more powerful than the one with all the facts” ~ Unknown source

For more information on how to post a job or become a job seeker visit:
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Business Tip

1. Never stop learning and exploring ways to make your business better. Kent Foundation for young entrepreneurs matched me to my current business mentor, and I have learnt so much from him.

2. I have observed that the world is full of reasonable people who follow conventional wisdom, doing the same thing again and again. In business, one has to be unreasonable but with good reasons. One must be passionate, determined and think creatively (out of the box..)

3. Get out there and network!!!