This Art Of Mine – Create something to be proud of!

gemma-blacker-this-art-of-mine-rectangle-549Client: Gemma Blacker

Business: This Art Of Mine

Description: A friendly arts and craft studio set in the Kent countryside. All ages and abilities welcome.

Telephone: 01622 735 312


How was This Art of Mine launched?

This Art of Mine was launched in 2010. The start up costs were funded by personal loans from myself and my other business owner Kate. We put in a lot of hard work to get it up and running, visiting many suppliers, designing a website, numerous trips to Ikea and buying our first lot of stock. After two months of planning the doors were open for business.

What is This Art of Mine?this-art-of-mine-studio-rectangle-609

This Art of Mine is an arts and crafts studio where customers can attend craft workshops, art lessons and courses. Teaching all the workshops and courses is an expert team of staff and for that extra sparkle the occasional guest tutor. The main crafts on offer are ceramic painting, jewellery making, sewing, knitting, t-shirt, bag designing and watercolour. The studio is inspiration in itself residing in a beautiful converted barn in the heart of the Kent countryside. The fantastic scenery and relaxing atmosphere come at no extra cost.

Are you creative yourself?

Yes I’ve always loved doing arty crafty things and I’m so lucky that I can now do a job I love full time.

this-art-of-mine-child-class-rectangle-611Where do you see your business in the future?

I would like the studio to be one of the top tourist destinations in Kent with the studio to be renowned for it’s teaching. Anyone then wishing to improve their art and craft skills would immediately think of This Art Of Mine.

Pigs with Personality? Find out more…

What support have you received?

Gemma is linked with a Business Mentor and said “My Mentor has been really great. Although we are very busy, we catch up on a regular basis to evaluate how things are going and to set some future actions.”  Developing a marketing strategy involved Gemma spending time in her Mentor’s own company, shadowing the sales team helped her to understand different elements of business.


The NETFORCE 2 mentoring project was selected as part of the France (Channel)-England cross border European cooperation programme INTERREG IVA co-financed by ERDF. This project was launched in January 2011 and ran until September 2013 in Kent and the Upper Normandy region. It gave the opportunity to test new tools to support the entrepreneur in their journey to create a new or take over an existing business.

Business Tipthis-art-of-mine-craft-class-rectangle-610

Keep on top of your admin and remember to take a break from the business once in a while so that you can reflect on where it’s going and come back with loads of exciting ideas to take it forward.

Stepping Stones Success!

kent-foundation-emma-whittal-kei-winner-2012-rectangle-563Client: Emma Whittall

Business: Stepping Stones Studio

Description: A community arts centre to showcase emerging local talent

Telephone: 07787 470495


Emma Whitall Founder and Managing Director at Stepping Stone Studios, graduated from Cambridge University and the University for the Creative Arts.

Emma was introduced to the Kent Foundation via contact with one of our Trustees & Chairman of Kent County Council. In order to help develop her ideas, she accessed the Mentoring Service to help her develop a business plan for Stepping Stones Studio. Emma subsequently entered the Kent Entrepreneurs Initiative (KEI) and went on to win. In return she received a package of free support from a range of business experts from across Kent.

Why did you decide to launch your own business?

I wanted to create an artistic studio in Maidstone which aims to reflect the ethos of the community I am working with in new and interesting ways.  I want to realise and develop innovative ideas with profitable and original results.    I just love collaborating with people from diverse backgrounds, utilising my own skills but also honing the interests of others to achieve maximum success.

Stepping Stones Studio is a community interest company and I am passionate about promoting aspiring and established artists in Kent. 

What support have you received?

Stepping Stones Studio is a self-designed arts initiative and received initial sponsorship and funding by Kent County Council.

Emma entered Kent Foundation’s 2012 KEI-Business Challenge and as the winner received a package of support from Kent Foundation’s business partners, including accountancy support from Wilkins Kennedy

Emma is linked with a Business Mentor and said “The Kent Foundation has been a great help and my mentor, Rob Bird, has been brilliant”

“For a young entrepreneur making your idea a reality is the first big step. Writing a business model that works is one thing- putting it into action is another. Kent Foundation helped me put my business idea into a real-life context, helping me make it a reality by giving me a business mentor with real experience, real connections, and real encouragement.”

What do you hope to achieve in business? 

I want to encourage and enable visual artists by providing, affordable studio space, cafe, gallery and shop.  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.


The NETFORCE 2 project was selected as part of the France (Channel)-England cross border European cooperation programme INTERREG IVA co-financed by ERDF. This project was launched in January 2011 and ran until September 2013 in Kent and the Upper Normandy region. It gave the opportunity to test new tools to support the entrepreneur in his journey to create a new or take over an existing business.

Beebies Baby Store – Business venture from college student Ami Holt

beebies-baby-store-at-kent-foundation-blast-event-rectangle-524Client: Ami HoltBusiness: Beebies Baby Store

Description: A new baby gift business supplying affordable, pretty and practical gifts tailored to suit your needs.

Telephone: 07850858212


Why did you decide to start Beebies Baby Store?

I was inspired to set up Beebies Baby Store when a number of my family and friends fell pregnant around the same time and I struggled to find gifts which were affordable, pretty and useful, so I put hampers together myself. I spotted the gap in the market and so here I am!

What does Beebies Baby Store provide?boys-gifts-rectangle-525

Beebies provides a variety of gifts from Beebies Baby Baskets containing 10 items from well known brands, to personalised cushions and soft furnishings. A baby shower hosting service is also on offer.

You are a college student who has opted for business rather than University. Why do you feel this is the right choice for you?

I have chosen to take the “fourth option” and make my mark on the world of business rather than go to university, as I have always been independent and its my dream to run a successful company.

girls-gifts-8-rectangle-534Imagine yourself in 5 years time. What do you hope to have achieved?

I can’t say too much about my plans for the future, however I do see Beebies Baby Store having a lot of potential to become a national success.

Business Tip

“Believe in your ideas, only tell certain things to certain people and don’t be shy to ask for help!”

Mint Fresh Services – Cleaner than clean!

mint-fresh-services-kent-foundation-rectangle-585Client: Daniel Warren

Business: Mint Fresh Services

Description: An honest, reliable and value for money cleaning service – no job too big or small!

Telephone: 07999744788


Daniel has recently graduated from Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU) with a BA in Business Studies. Daniel was introduced to the Kent Foundation by him entering Kent Entrepreneurs Initiative (KEI), he went on to win the Peer Award on the evening for his professionalism and then to further develop his business he accessed the Mentor Service. He has now had Test Trading and is about to launch his business, Mint Fresh Services.

Why did you decide to launch your own business?mint-fresh-services-professional-kent-cleaning-rectangle-588

I decided to start my own business because I didn’t want to settle for a job I didn’t particularly enjoy, which is likely what would have happened in today’s economic climate. I’d always wanted to build a successful business and be self employed, so together with 7 years academic business experience and 5 years experience in the cleaning industry with my part time job, I decided to start ‘Mint Fresh Services’.

What support have you received?

I have a Business Mentor, Keita, from Kent Foundation. Having a mentor during the process of starting a business was hugely beneficial to me. Having someone with knowledge and experience in business as well as an unbiased opinion helped me make the right decisions, the first time. He also helped me create a business plan that I could use as a tool and a guide during different growth stages of my business.

What do you hope to achieve in business? 

I hope to achieve many things from starting my own business; I want to disprove certain people from thinking young people can’t be successful in business, I want to put all my academic experience into practice and be successful and one day like to become a volunteer mentor to help someone in the same way Keita helped me.


The NETFORCE 2 project was selected as part of the France (Channel)-England cross border European cooperation programme INTERREG IVA co-financed by ERDF. This project was launched in January 2011 and ran until September 2013 in Kent and the Upper Normandy region. It gave the opportunity to test new tools to support the entrepreneur in his journey to create a new or take over an existing business.

Business Tip

The quote I always try to remember is:

 “Business either goes forwards or it goes backwards, it never stands still.”

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.