After struggling to buy their young son interesting new toys locally, Joel and Lindsay Meyer-Nicholas approached BRAVE Enterprise with their idea for a new business.
The enterprising husband and wife previously both had well paid financial careers with Lloyds Bank in Bristol. But when Joel lost his job, the couple wanted to do something more fulfilling than work in the corporate world and saw an opportunity to open their own toy shop in the city.
So they attended BRAVE’s free Thinking About Business workshop where they heard about the New Enterprise Allowance scheme. The programme is designed to help unemployed people set up their own business and is delivered locally by BRAVE.
The couple enrolled on the scheme and were supported by an experienced business mentor, Emma Smith, who helped them write a professional business plan. They also received a weekly allowance to help make ends meet while they got the business off the ground.
“The original plan was to open a toy shop which would be supported by an online store,” said Joel. “But when I first pitched the idea to BRAVE we came to the realisation that opening a shop can be risky.
“So we decided to focus on getting our Toyville website up and running first with the aim of opening a shop at a later stage.
“We want to fill a gap in the local market by selling classic wooden toys that have stood the test of time, as well as new toys from less well known brands that have the potential to become future classics.
“We can’t compete with the big retailers, neither do we seek to, which is why we decided to focus on selling more niche toys that offer something a bit different to children in Bristol and beyond.
“Although we only sell online at the moment, we really want to be seen as a local company based in south Bristol, offering free deliveries to local families where possible. We have also had stalls at local events including the North Street Fair which have been a real success.”
Joel added that the support he and Lindsay had received from BRAVE while on the New Enterprise Allowance scheme had been “invaluable”.
“They helped us to see reality and consider things that we hadn’t thought about, such as the importance of having a healthy cash flow and the legal aspects of running a business,” he said. “They gave us realistic targets to aim for and made sure we had covered all the potential pitfalls rather than going into it blindly.
“We also attended BRAVE workshops on PR and social networking to learn how to promote ourselves effectively.”
Joel added: “Due to the success of the website, the positive reception at local events and the fantastic support we have had from BRAVE, we are already looking for premises for our shop which we hope to open sooner than planned.”
For more information visit Toyville Shop