“In the Autumn of 2021, Purple shoots were kind enough to give me a starter loan. The loan helped me purchase stock, materials and pay for my time at Cardiff Christmas market and other events. The Christmas period went very well and I had enough funds to pay for the deposit on a production facility in Llandeilo. The business progressed and in July I acquired the lease on a shop in the town centre where I have been warmly welcomed by customers and other traders. Business is going quite well and I picked up another award as the most Environmentally sound Welsh Health and Beauty manufacturer. We now have 6 of us involved in the business all with health problems and a disability of one form or another. One of the roles if for a visually impaired young person who attends for training/work experience with her carer.

Like most businesses we have problems with cash flow, managing the peaks and troughs. However, the biggest problem is still the banks and their restrictive practices. Getting any flexibility in terms of loans and overdrafts is still an issue despite clearing all the issues with my credit history. To give you an idea of how difficult the banking is: in cash I have over £100.00 in pound coins alone and over £600 in notes with all the other small change I have over £1,000. I have to wait until I have too many £20 notes (it sounds ridiculous to have too many £20 notes!) and then pay them into the bank. If I were to pay it into my business account, it would cost me £15.00 in fees (3% or a minimum of £3). If I want coins out, it is again £3 or 3% and I have to give the bank 24 hours notice and collect between noon and 2pm when it is our busiest time. Contacting any bank by telephone is 45 minutes and then finding someone to speak to is impossible. Lending/Overdrafts impossible to speak to someone or get passed to an automatic eligibility checker.

Personal income improvement is a difficult one to answer, as general costs have gone up and what extra income I get I plough back into the business. However, what I do have is more confidence that if I need to, I can pause the business investment and take funds out to meet bills. Something, I could not do before. Personally, as well I have cleared off any bad credit and residual finance arrangements only leaving the Purple Shoots facility. That itself is very positive.

One of the issues that politicians don’t understand is the emotions involved when you are at the bottom and want to turn your life around and everywhere you turn to, there is a barrier. Your comment about “we support good people” is where we should be, my previous history was not perfect but trying to show you want to move on and put that behind you is so difficult. When I spoke to Carmarthenshire business Hwb, they mentioned that 90% of business enquiries from females, never get progressed beyond their first meeting. This is either through funding, confidence or lack of knowledge or feeling that they cannot do it because of their background. Getting a Purple Shoots loan does give you that confidence that someone outside of your family has faith in you. Giving somebody hope for the future cannot be underestimated. To be able to plan and dream about the next few years is magic.

This year has been about re-establishing the business post covid and post parents’ injuries, getting the premises. Next year I really want to push on even though the economy is looking a little difficult. I will return to the Event sales and with a huge amount of effort (and good fortune) should top £200,000 of sales.

One last thing, that I have learnt over the last 4 years – the people who have made it, should stop with the fibs on how they started – “I gave up work and from my kitchen table started my business with £250 and now I am a millionaire”. I wish I could live on fresh air, have free housing, utilities and excused travel costs whilst I build my business! Statements like the one above really knock people’s confidence when things don’t turn out. I would not be where I am without the help from my parents or from Purple Shoots. Next year’s plans are hugely dependent on having cash for stock and also to take on more staff. Without the cash, I will get there but it will be a much longer journey.”