It all began with a bunting idea – and has led to a thriving Barmy business!
Barnsley lass Eve Lodge was only 14 and a hard-working Year 10 student at Horizon Community College when she decided to enter the town’s I Know I Can Challenge.
Says Eve: “My original Barmy Bunting venture began after a conversation with my lovely Auntie Helen – a real inspiration – and led to a presentation that I put forward to the ‘Dragons Den’ at Horizon. I managed to finish in the top three – and was complimented on a ‘fantastic presentation’! (youtu.be/OHJ6Fma6lag – have a look!)
“I received £25 and began making Barmy Bunting! Through word of mouth, recommendations and my Facebook and Twitter pages, I managed to sell my bespoke pieces and make a bit of a profit(!).
“I went on to win three awards at the 2013 Gala Night IKIC presentation: Best Use of Online Resources; Most Innovative Business; and Key Stage Four Best Business.
“I received my awards from the BBC’s Young Apprentice winner Ashleigh Porter-Exley (see picture below, of Ashleigh, Eve and ‘Auntie Helen’) and I have remained very good friends with her ever since.
“A few months after my success in the Barnsley IKIC Challenge I was approached by Barnsley Council’s Enterprising Young People project (EYP), who wanted to help my business grow. I was successfully put forward for an EYP grant (of up to £2,000) and feature on their promotional video, which can be seen here: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=pg1nwPWCa4M&sns=tw&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3Dpg1nwPWCa4M%26sns%3Dtw …
“I had to juggle the business with my studies, but I’ve always taken pride in the fact I’m a bit of a never-say-die, grafter. I’ve had to be in some respects. I had a few operations when I was a baby, and ended up losing my sight in one eye. But you battle on don’t you?
“I’ll never think of myself as a straight A* student, but I emerged from Horizon with 16 GCSE’s and a business that’s getting bigger and better by the week, and I’m proud of that. Shelley College, A Levels and more of ‘Barmy’ are the next steps in the journey!
“At the Council’s request I have been involved in ‘Ambition Barnsley’, which is an events-based project that gives people the opportunity to learn about the employment opportunities and businesses in the area, as well as being invited to the 2014 Yorkshire Women of Achievement Awards in Leeds.
“In a role reversal, I was also asked to be a ‘Dragons Den’ style judge, along with Barnsley business leaders, that chose the 2014 IKIC entrants at Horizon College.
“My business, now simply known as ‘Barmy’, has gone from strength to strength, as this great, e-commerce website shows, and as well as bunting I aim to introduce other products to the ‘Barmy’ range, including ‘Barmy Baubles’.
“I like to engage with my customers, and get to know their likes and dislikes. I listen – and then make bunting specially to order.
“Communication is key, together with the passion I put into the product and the business. When making bunting for someone you have to make it personal to them – special – and something that not only I would be proud to be associated with but also the customer is proud to put up in their home or office, or pass on as a present.
“Bunting has such a universal appeal – and my business is a family affair – I felt it was tailored to everyone, not just a particular category. It can be produced for babies, christenings, parties, Christmas, weddings, schools, anniversaries etc…
“My customers have come from all over, ranging from people in and around my hometown of Barnsley to Liverpool and London, France and even over the Atlantic Ocean to Miami!
“Selling my first piece of bunting – a Merry Christmas banner – to a Primary School teacher who wanted it for her pupils, not only made me happy but it is also one of the things I am most proud of.
“It gave me a warm glow inside to know that not only someone liked my bunting enough to buy it, but also wanted it to give children pleasure.”
BBC’s Young Apprentice winner Ashleigh Porter-Exley: “I believe Barnsley’s other young people deserve to have the privilege of having Eve to inspire them and provide them with a positive role model. I see in Eve something that I also see in myself; drive, determination and the ambition to do something out of the ordinary.
“Since leaving the BBC’s Young Apprentice show I have done work throughout the UK in various schools and enterprise schemes such as the Barnsley IKIC Challenge and I can hand on heart say Eve is one of the most polite, clued-up grafters I have ever come across.
“I’m pretty sure if Eve was my age and she had applied for BBC’s Young Apprentice I wouldn’t have had a ‘hope-in hell’s’ chance of winning that investment!!
“I expect to be competing or working with Eve in business for many years to come.”