Seamstress Rachel Devlin used to enjoy doing clothing alterations for family and friends but never dreamed she could make a good living from it.
The single mum is now using her sewing skills to build a successful business – Rachel’s Creations & Alterations – with help from BRAVE and the New Enterprise Allowance scheme.
“I heard about BRAVE at the JobCentre when I was looking for a part-time job during school hours,” said Rachel, who has a young son at primary school.
“I found it difficult to find work and they asked me if I had any skills that I could use to support myself. I said I did dressmaking and clothing alterations for friends and family and they put me in touch with BRAVE.
“I had an initial meeting with BRAVE and they thought I had a good idea for a business and helped me get the ball rolling.”
Rachel then enrolled on the New Enterprise Allowance scheme which helps unemployed people set up their own business and is delivered locally by BRAVE.
She was assigned her own mentor, Liz Gjoni, who helped the aspiring entrepreneur write a professional business plan to test the viability of her ideas. She also received a weekly allowance to help make ends meet while she got the business off the ground.
“Writing a business plan made me think about things I wouldn’t necessarily have thought about like pricing and where I was going to get my customers from,” added Rachel. “It also made me think about my business cash flow and my incomings and outgoings.”
She continued: “To get started I told all my family and friends about what I was doing and they spread the word, passing on my details to their friends.
“I also attended BRAVE workshops on marketing which taught me how to promote myself using social media. I recently launched my own Facebook page and really it’s snowballed from there.
“I also attended a workshop on bookkeeping and I met some lovely people on the courses who were in a similar position to me. One of them has since become a customer!”
Rachel is now looking to expand her offering by providing sewing lessons and will soon launch her own website.
“I’m really busy which is good and I have exceeded my forecast which is way past what I thought it would be,” she said. “But I’m not sure I would have had the confidence to make a go of it if I hadn’t had BRAVE behind me.
“They were brilliant. I give them 10 out of 10!”