Suzanne suffers from fibromyalgia, a debilitating and painful muscle condition. Until recently she was also the full-time carer for her sick son, and a lone parent mother to two children. She had not worked for a number of years. When her son was well enough to return to school, Suzanne was considering her options about returning to work. She was referred to the Get Ready for Work Programme: eager to set up a business, but without the knowledge of what to do or the confidence to start. In the six months since she joined she has: set up her own stall, where she sells her own products; set up a sales website where she sells online, and has a social media presence on Facebook and Instagram as Luna Wisdom.
In her own words:
“Because of my health problems I knew that working full time in an office was not an option for me. Setting up my own business seemed like the ideal scenario because it would give me the flexibility I needed to support my family as my son returned to school. As I made my own jewellery, I already had ideas about what I wanted to do but the problem was that I had no direction and just didn’t know where to start!
“I heard about GRoW through the Job Centre and was drawn to them because they supported mums who wanted to work part-time. I was placed onto the ‘GRoW Your Own Business’ Workshop run by Mercedes Grant – another mum who had also been through the GRoW programme and set up her own business. Because they were run in school hours, I was able to attend all the sessions.
“The Workshop really helped me. I was overwhelmed with ideas before I started. I am 10 years clean and sober from addiction and the promotion of self-care is very important to me. I had begun practising Reiki 2 years before, practising on friends and family but I didn’t have the confidence to step out on my own. I had so many ideas about my business, tailoring it towards natural healing and helping people return to their authentic self, to learn who they are and what they want, what their passions are and to discover what’s blocking them. Mercedes really helped me focus on what I needed to do to set up a VIABLE business.
“In the short bite-size sessions she showed me how to handle my own accounts, how to write a business plan and to do my marketing, but most of all she gave me the encouragement and the push I needed to believe that I could actually do it.
“In the last session Mercedes set me a challenge to run at least one stall before Christmas and just a month later, in November 2018 I set up my business Luna Wisdom. I took a stall at the Uxbridge Craft Market and set up a website to promote my Reiki, jewellery and other products like my home-made bath bombs made with essential oils. I now run a stall every week.
“Most of my orders come from social media, which was something that I learned to use for marketing through GRoW. And what is clear is that the harder I work on my social media the more orders I get.
“I am now confident enough to be setting up meditation groups – and because of what I have been through I am making sure they are community based and low cost so that people like the me I was before I started can join in too.
‘I’m so happy to be working, doing something I really enjoy and also something that helps other people improve their wellbeing, I feel confident that I can develop a business that will support my family.
Liz Sewell FIEP GRoW Director adds: “Suzanne has been great to work with. Her barriers were high, but her determination was strong. She attended all her sessions, doing her homework and saving money so that she could start her business without going into debt. Most new businesses fail and making a profit is hard. Suzanne had to set her business up and make the dreaded move onto Universal Credit at the same time. It is a testament to her commitment that she is now making a profit and thinking how to expand.
“Belina has followed her story from her first stall and Suzanne has since returned to advise other mums at GRoW, helping them understand that it is having passion and starting small but thinking long-term that makes a difference. We featured her in the International Women’s Day edition of our Newsletter. Her story has also been acknowledged by her local JCP who are delighted by her success and promoted by G4S who have sent out her story to all their sub-contractors as an inspirational good news story. In fact, Suzanne is an inspiration to all her who hear her story.
“We believe that hers is a really significant achievement that shows how you can overcome barriers and still follow your dream, balance family life and create a business.”