THREE young entrepreneurs from Glasgow received prestigious business awards in Edinburgh last night in recognition of their use of e-commerce.
Fashion designer Rebecca Torres won the ‘Best E-Commerce Business’ award at the 2013 BT Scotland Young E-ntrepreneur Awards, along with Rachel Catherwood and Jennifer Semple who picked up the ‘Best Website’ award for their business, First Class Physiotherapy.
The annual business awards, organised by The Prince’s Trust Youth Business Scotland, recognise visionary young entrepreneurs who have benefitted from BT Scotland funding and have gone on to grow their businesses with the help of e-commerce.
Twenty-seven year-old Rebecca Torres launched her own label with support from BT Scotland Young E-ntrepreneurs fund two years ago. That same year, she was one of ten designers selected from the UK to design their interpretation of the ‘Evening Black Dress’.
The design became BrandAlley.com’s best-seller in 2011. After a further sell-out collection on ASOS.com of 2000 dresses, the Rebecca Torres label is selling well through her website www.rebeccatorres.co.uk, alongside other stockists. Last year, she was a Nominee at The Scottish Fashion Awards 2012 ‘Young Designer of the Year’. 2013 promises to be another successful year for the Rebecca Torres label, which is being showcased in Beijing in March and in New York at ‘Dressed To Kilt’, part of Tartan Week in April.
Rachel Catherwood, 24, and Jennifer Semple, 31 founded First Class Physiotherapy, based in Wellington Street in Glasgow, in September 2011 thanks to support from the BT Scotland Young E-ntrepreneurs fund. Both therapists have experience working in sports rehabilitation, neurological rehabilitation, respiratory, orthopedics, musculoskeletal injuries, occupational health, elderly rehabilitation and pediatric care.
Commenting on the importance of their website, Jennifer said: “Many people looking for a physiotherapist are keen to find out who will be treating them, what the clinic looks like and how much their treatment might cost. All of this information can be found on our website. This helps alleviate some of the worry that people in pain may be experiencing, and having that information available to them means that people are more likely to pick up the phone and call us for an appointment.”
Amy Dolan, founder of furniture re-design business, Ziggy Sawdust, received the ‘Most Environmentally Responsible Business’ award. Amy, 22, recycles retro and vintage furniture adding contemporary appeal with a design twist. She established her business, Ziggy Sawdust, in April last year with a loan from the BT Scotland Young E-ntrpreneurs fund, and during the last ten months her business has grown significantly.
According to Amy, ten million items of furniture are thrown away in the UK every year. Three million of these items could easily be re-used and more could be repaired.
She said: “The whole idea behind Ziggy Sawdust is to help stop beautifully crafted, solid wood furniture from being thrown away in favour of generic flat-packed furniture, simply because it is a little scratched, has a wobbly leg or is looking a bit out-dated.”
As well as commissions from private clients who enlist Amy’s help to source specific items of vintage furniture, Amy also customizes individual pieces for customers and her collections are also available to buy from selected retailers in Edinburgh. Ziggy Sawdust designs are also featured on www.moobi.com along with an international showcase of sustainable designs that are gaining increased recognition. The young designer is also exploring opportunities in the commercial market for a vintage and retro interiors design service. Long term she hopes to expand her design collection and open retail premises.
Winner of the Most Visionary Business was Natalie Crayton, founder of Hebridean Sea Salt. In between juggling the demands of two toddlers and a five year-old, Natalie spent every hour she could researching how to harvest sea salt. She received support to set up her business from the BT Scotland Young E-ntrepreneurs fund in 2011.
From her base on the Isle of Lewis, Natalie and her small team harvest sea salt, using Hebridean Sea Water, to produce completely natural, crunchy sea salt flakes. The gourmet Hebridean Sea Salt is now sold in hundreds of independent retailers throughout the UK and Natalie estimates 60 per cent of her stockists came from trade links on their website.
Liz Turner, head of corporate responsibility at BT Scotland, presented the award winners with cash prizes to further develop their business. During the last 12 years, BT Scotland has invested more than £570,000 in the Young E-ntrepreneurs programme, helping 170 young people to start-up in businesses. The funding programme encourages Youth Business Scotland-backed business start-ups to embrace electronic methods of doing business and to use the internet to deliver new markets, with support through grants and loans.
Speaking on behalf of BT Scotland, Liz Turner said: “It’s been another stellar year for our long-term collaboration with Youth Business Scotland. Year in and year out we never fail to be impressed and inspired by the young people who participate in the programme – as they grow, their fledgling businesses become part of the backbone of the Scottish economy. At a time when many young people are struggling to find employment, it’s essential we support our young entrepreneurs and hone and retain their business skills to benefit our nation.”
Heather Gray, director of The Prince’s Trust Scotland, added: “Thanks to BT Scotland’s significant and generous investment over many years, we are able to contribute to the information technology start-up costs for many of the young businesses approaching us, many of whom otherwise might not have been able to take the first steps towards successful self-employment.”
Issued on behalf by PTYBS Jen Nash, Panache Communications tel. 07971 466 220 Email Jen@panachecommunications.co.uk. For further information contact the BT Scotland press office: 0800 085 0660 or Margaret Gibson at Youth Business Scotland on 0141 248 4999.
NOTES TO EDITORS
Hebridean Sea Salt Ltd
Natalie Crayton (07787 850009) email: Natalie@hebrideanseasalt.co.uk
Rebecca Torres Limited
Rebecca Torres (07944 197171) email@ firstname.lastname@example.org
First Class Physiotherapy Ltd
Rachel Catherwood & Jennifer Semple (0141 237 2721) email: email@example.com
Amy Dolan (07772 479894) email: ziggysawdust.co.uk