Julie approached Purple Shoots lending when she was based in Monmouth in 2018.
She had already spent a number of difficult years trying to build her business alongside being a single parent, completing a law degree and working part-time in low paid roles. Julie had a strong career history before becoming a single parent in 2012 and the barriers to flexible work in-line with her skillset and pay scale meant a significant reduction in income, repossession of her property, high private rents, and an adversely affected credit file. Not wanting to be forced into relative poverty due to being a primary carer Julie continued to fight for her right to work within her skillset, to enhance her knowledge through law and to sustain and grow her business.
Julie had taken an initial loan with a charity in 2013, to launch her business before she had any sales, but it took a couple of years for her to truly understand her audience, by which time her marketing budget was all gone and her cost of living so high that she could not achieve the required level of exposure to the correct market. Her product is a pregnancy cushion that enables ladies to lay prone at variable stages of pregnancy, called a KIH Bed. www.kihproducts.co.uk Which she invented when she was expecting & named the product after her daughter. Her initial marketing budget was aimed at pregnant ladies but following a couple of years of organic sales she understood that instead her market was professional practitioners. (Osteopaths, Spa Hotels, Massage Therapists, Physio and Chiropractors). Sadly at which point she could not obtain further lending to market to the correct audience when she actually had sales.
With the frustration of not being able to secure part-time qualifying employment and being unable to find the budget on a low wage to pay for increased exposure for her business, Julie continued to work for low-pay, and continued to need to apply for some benefits, and to use high interest pay day loans to make up her rent shortfall. Julie ran a Facebook campaign to ask for legal work in school hours and this paid off. She has been working freelance as a Paralegal for two years, from home, Julie also carried out some freelance business development work for another company. Julie wanted to put all her struggles being a single mum to be able to help others & launched the Single Mums Business Network (SMBN) www.singlemumsbusinessnetwork.com
This was the point she was able to ask Purple Shoots for a loan, in the knowledge that she could repay in any event from all the activities even if the business side did not pick up quickly, and this money was used to exhibit her KIH products at the NEC in Birmingham & promote the SMBN. She was able to demonstrate the KIH bed, discuss with interested parties for both KIH & SMBN and even took a Purple Shoots banner to advertise there!
This exposure, to the correct market, turned her business around, and enabled her to truly identify what was holding her back. None of the high street lenders would help Julie, due to her adverse credit rating, and had it not been for Purple Shoots, Julie would still be working in an under skilled role, for low-pay, and likely still struggling to pay creditors with a long-term need for benefits. Instead, because she was given some humane trust, she is financially independent.
She now campaigns, via the Single Mums Business Network, for Government to recognise that it is the barriers to salaried work and finance that trap people in a long-term cycle of benefits. Through the SMBN she helps her members gain affordable exposure, so that they do not struggle for as long as she did.
Her company now supports 5 other UK manufacturers, a self-employed seamstress and a freelance executive assistant.
Julie supports Gingerbread charity with a 5% contribution of SMBN member fees and Julie repaid her loan in full to Purple Shoots, 18 months early.